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January 8, 2000

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A Lunchtime Steal

When was the last time you had lunch in any of New York City's swankiest restaurants for $20 per person? Probably the last time you ordered only bread and a bowl of soup. Well, seven years ago, some of the top restaurants in Manhattan began a summer tradition of serving several-course lunches for a fixed price related to the year. In 1998, that multi-course meal cost just nineteen dollars and 98 cents.

Well, those summer events were such a hit, that for the first time, they're giving it a try in the winter. From Monday, January 31st through Friday, February 4th, you can have a three-course, fixed-price lunch at such culinary cathedrals as Asia de Cuba, Aureole, Nobu, Palladin, Union Square Café, and the Tribeca Grill for, you guessed it, 20 bucks per person. Now, that doesn't include drinks, tax or tip. But it's a great deal by New York standards and a good way of checking out some of the places you've read about, but never visited.

Starting Monday the tenth, click on www.nycvisit.com for a list of participating restaurants. Then call immediately for reservations. Rudy booked two lunches with no problem a couple of days ago, but these tables fill up quickly!

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Computer Glitches Cause Delays
For months we heard baggage claim conveyors, air traffic systems, everything was just fine for Y2K. But then, wouldn't you know, the Tuesday before New Year's, the F.A.A. discovered a huge glitch in some air traffic computers. Okay, it was a back-up to a back-up system, and they did get it fixed in time. But all that meant was that the real headache didn't start until after the new year.

Last Monday, the main air traffic computer in Boston went down, causing delays all over the Northeast. Then, Thursday morning, another computer in Washington, D.C. stopped working. Now, the F.A.A. fixed both those problems in a matter of hours, but the result was hundreds of delayed and canceled flights all over the Eastern U.S.

Nevertheless, though, the F.A.A. maintains the sky is not falling. After an investigation, they declared this week's failures not Y2K-related.

New Fare Wars
So there, maybe the sky's not falling...but, here's some year 2000 good news: air prices sure are. On Monday, T.W.A. cut fares by as much as 42 percent. Other major airlines quickly followed suit and before you knew it, fare war!

Now, of course there's a lot of fine print. Let us try to sum it up. The price drops are generally good until mid-May. But you have to book by January 14th. That's not a lot of time to plan your trip. You also have to buy at least two or three weeks ahead.

But heck, with our Year 2000 travel fears on the wane, why not splurge and take a little weekend trip? Start the new century right...with travel.

Severance Pays Off
Lucky travelers in Cleveland this weekend will be treated to more than just this music. It's the grand re-opening of Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra. After a $36 million renovation, critics are calling Severance one of the best concert halls in the country. And no one's more excited than Don Rosenburg. He writes about classical music for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Rosenburg: "Oh, I've been looking forward to it like crazy because the hall has been closed since last March and everybody wants to know -- well, a lot of people want to know -- what it looks like. Most of us want to know what it sounds like, because that's the key element."

For the eyes, there's new handpainted murals, woodwork and gilt ceilings. But for the all-hearing ears, they've completely re-built the bandshell.

Travel Advisory
with Cheryl Glaser

Europe Recovers from December Storms
Western Europe is still recovering from December's storms, which wreaked havoc all over the continent. But France bore the brunt of it. Wind and rain smashed pinnacles at the back of Notre Dame in Paris and ripped over 10,000 trees from the grounds at Versailles. The gardens will most likely reopen next week.

Other cathedrals in Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Chartres were also damaged, as was the chateau at Chambord in the Loire Valley. Of those, only Chartres Cathedral is closed, because of loose and falling stonework. But damage to some French forests was so extensive, it may take over 200 years to fully recover.

Potential Strike to Close French Border
And the news doesn't get better. On Monday, French truckers are planning a protest and pledging to close border crossings into France. The action is supported by many French labor unions and, the truckers say, will continue indefinitely.


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