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Turkey at New Year’sEsendal International Tourism & Travel in Turkey is offering a five-night “New Year in Istanbul” package Dec. 28 to Jan. 2.

It includes sightseeing visits to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, the ancient hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Roman underground cistern, St. Sophia Church, Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye Mosque, Kariye (Chora) Museum in the church of St. Saviour in Chora, Byzantine dungeons, Pierloti Loti House and holy shrine, the Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, Dolmabahce Palace, Sadberk Hanim Museum and Bosphorus boat ride.

A New Year’s dinner also can be arranged, as can a day trip to Ephesus.

The price depends on the number of people participating and the hotel, either the Hilton Istanbul or the Maramara Istanbul. Per person, a single at the Hilton costs $2,210; two people pay $1,230 each; three to four pay $1,120; five to six pay $970; seven to eight pay $890; and nine to 10 pay $840.

Prices at the Maramara (all with a sea view) are slightly lower. Accommodations at four-star superior hotels also are available at lower prices.

The price includes five nights’ lodging, breakfasts, three lunches, three days’ sightseeing, entrance fees, airport transfers, boat trip on the Bosphorus, tour guide, service charges and taxes.

Two reach the company, call (+90) (0)212-661-57-35 or (0) 212-661-57-37, or e-mail esendalitourism@superonline.com or esendaltravel@turk.net. Web site: www.esendaltravel.com.

USO Italy dealsThe United Service Organizations in Italy has arranged tour packages for those who want to see Naples and Rome.

The Napoli VIP Package includes two nights in a four-star hotel and guided tours to Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. It costs 199 euros per person, double occupancy. Details at www.uso.it/usonaples.

The USO Rome offers three- and four-night Roman Holiday packages. They begin at 439 euros per person, double occupancy, in low season (Jan. 3 to March 14, July 1 to Sept. 5, and Dec. 1-26).

The price includes lodging, tours (Vatican and St. Peters, Magical Rome City Tour and Rome of the Caesars, plus Catacombs of Rome for the four-day deal), some dinners and lunches.

The USO notes that due to the number of holiday visitors during the holiday season, it is no longer offering Vatican tickets to the special Masses at Christmas and New Year’s. These tickets are available directly from the Vatican at (+39) 06-6988-3865. Details at www.uso.it/usorome.

Pyrenees skiingInterested in skiing the Spanish side of the Pyrenees Mountains? Check out the province of Lleida, which includes the largest ski area in Spain.

It has 11 ski resorts, six for Alpine skiing and seven for Nordic skiing. A full ski catalog is available under “Skiing” at the Web site www.lleidatur.es.

The area is also worth a visit in warmer weather. It is a popular spot for year-round sports including hiking, for cultural activities and for its food and wine.

It contains the largest number of locations for cave art in Europe. UNESCO has recognized 16 of the caves as World Heritage sites exhibiting the art of primitive Mediterranean civilization. Several are open to visitors.

Women’s travel sitesIf you’re a woman and don’t want to travel alone, you might be interested in two clubs that offer travel ideas and trips with other women.

The Women’s Travel Club was started in 1992 by Phyllis Stoller, who wanted to find other women to travel with when her husband “became a workaholic.”

The annual membership fee of $35 entitles you to full details on any trips on the Web site and numerous discounts, newsletters, other travel specials and access to a bulletin board to find fellow travelers.

Members’ ages range from 30 to 65. They are both married and single. Private tours also can be arranged. Its Web site is www.womenstravelclub.com.

The Journeywoman site (www.journeywoman.com) offers a wealth of travel information, including recommended restaurants, shopping tips, what to wear when and a travel search engine. The “Best Bets” section covers topics such as “Women Writers Share Travel Secrets,” “What’s a Girl to do in Berlin?” and “Women Worldwide Share Gift Shopping Tips.”

Best BetsBelgium

Admire the beauty of frozen art at Brugge’s annual Snow and Ice Sculpture festival opening Friday and running until Jan. 14 in the city’s Station Square. The sparkling exhibition of crystal carvings has been created by a team of 40 international ice sculptors working with nearly 350 tons of ice and 400 tons of snow in a thermal tent maintained at about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Tickets cost 11 euros for adults, 7 euros for children ages 4 to 12, and free for those younger than 4. Details at www.ijssculptuur.be/index.asp?tall=uk.

Switzerland

The smell of sweet onions will welcome visitors to Bern starting Monday as the city puts on its annual Zibelemärit, or onion market. The event, which dates to the 18th and 19th centuries when farmers’ wives took their vegetables to the city to sell during the two-week Martinmas Fairs, features more than 50 tons of onions as well as onion dishes, other produce, mulled wine, souvenirs and a fairground for children. The day begins at 5 a.m. Details at www.berninfo.com.

— Jayne Traendly


Stripes in 7



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