GREAT EUROPE ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

Su­per coach: The Sham­rock travel web­site claims to fea­ture ev­ery op­er­a­tor’s coach tour pro­grams for Ire­land, Eng­land, Scot­land and Wales, with cost-com­par­i­son charts. There’s a 2013 Fly Free to Ire­land of­fer for hol­i­day­mak­ers who book a Euro­pean river cruise via the site in con­junc­tion with an es­corted coach tour of Ire­land. More: sham­rock­travel.com.au. Screen le­gends: Rome’s 40ha Cinecitta (Movie City), founded in 1937 and work­ing home to fa­mous film­mak­ers such as Fed­erico Fellini and Franco Zeffirelli, plus pro­vid­ing sets for Cleopa­tra and Ben Hur, is open­ing to the pub­lic. New tours cover exhibitions and back­stage vis­its. More: cinecit­tashow­soff.com; italian­tourism.com.au. In­spired se­lec­tion: Trafal­gar has launched its 2013 Europe & Bri­tain First Class pro­gram, fea­tur­ing 104 es­corted prod­ucts, in­clud­ing In­spired Hol­i­days, com­pris­ing three niche itin­er­ar­ies — a 12-day World War1 and World War II Bat­tle­fields tour to Somme and Ypres; a nine-day English Coun­try Gar­dens hol­i­day; and a 10-day Flavours of Italy gourmet ad­ven­ture. More: trafal­gar.com. RAIL Plus is of­fer­ing live book­ings for Italo, Europe’s new­est high-speed rail net­work. The 300km/h ser­vices, with seats in three classes, op­er­ate be­tween Mi­lan and Naples via Bologna, Florence and Rome, as well as a non­stop Mi­lan-Rome route that ex­tends to Salerno. Next month, Italo will add its first ser­vices be­tween Rome and Venice, with stops in Florence, Bologna and Padua, and will ex­tend its Mi­lan-Rome ser­vice north to Turin. More: railplus.com.au. Canal hol­i­days in France: French Travel Con­nec­tion has un­veiled a 50-page guide to the wa­ter­ways of France, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion on self-drive canal boats, crewed canal barges and river cruis­ers, plus myr­iad hol­i­day op­tions. Some deals in­clude free bike hire for a sec­ond trav­eller on book­ings for one-week, self-drive canal boat hol­i­days. More: 1300 858 304; french­travel.com.au. Med for less: Monte Carlo and St Tropez on the French Riviera plus ports on the Span­ish Costa Brava are high­lights of a dis­counted one-week sail­ing next month on the 56-state­room SeaDream II; now priced from an allinclu­sive $US3426 ($3289) a per­son twin-share, de­part­ing Nice Oc­to­ber 20 with dis­em­barka­tion in Barcelona. More: seadream.com. Get crack­ing: Al­ba­tross Tours has a $600 early-bird dis­count per cou­ple on all tours in its 2013 Europe and Bri­tain pro­gram for book­ings made by De­cem­ber 22. On of­fer are north­ern sum­mer tours cov­er­ing Italy, France, Bri­tain, Aus­tria and Ger­many, plus itin­er­ar­ies that in­clude stays in pou­sadas in Por­tu­gal and paradores in Spain. More: hol­i­daystoeu­rope.com.au/spe­cials. Cas­tles and coun­try­side: In­sight Va­ca­tions also has new 2013 Europe and Bri­tain pro­grams with more than 100 itin­er­ar­ies across 42 coun­tries, cov­er­ing eight fresh tours and ex­ten­sions, in­clud­ing an eight-day Celtic Le­gends trip of Scot­land’s cas­tles and myth-laden coun­try­side; from $3565 a per­son twin-share, and an op­por­tu­nity to see the Ed­in­burgh Mil­i­tary Tat­too dur­ing Au­gust de­par­tures. More: in­sight­va­ca­tions.com.au.

VISIT BRI­TAIN Off the trod­den track: Back-Roads Tour­ing has a four- day win­ter tour ( no more than 16 per­sons) ex Lon­don ex­plor­ing the Cotswolds, Bath, Stone­henge and Wind­sor Cas­tle, in­clud­ing vis­its to tra­di­tional Christ­mas mar­kets, from $1295 a per­son twin-share, with three nights’ ac­com­mo­da­tion, break­fasts and se­lected meals, guide, mini-coach trans­port and en­try to itin­er­ary sites. More: 1300 100 410; back­road­s­tour­ing.com.au. Road war­riors: Sydney-based glob­alCARS is of­fer­ing free pick-up and drop-off (usu­ally up to $640 in Rome and Madrid) at 33 lo­ca­tions in Europe next year if you book and pay for leased ve­hi­cles by Oc­to­ber 31. A 26-day lease of a fac­tory-new Citroen costs $1100 ($42 a day) with un­lim­ited kilo­me­tres, com­pre­hen­sive in­sur­ance with zero ex­cess and 24-hour as­sis­tance and ser­vice sup­port at 15,000 cen­tres through Europe and Bri­tain. More: 1300 789 992; glob­alCARS.com.au. On the right tracks: Tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity John Burgess of Wheel of For­tune fame is host­ing a 27- day Christ­mas Trans-Siberian tour with Travel Di­rec­tors, de­part­ing De­cem­ber 14. High­lights in­clude a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh and lunch with a Siberian fam­ily on Christ­mas Day, and New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tions in Moscow’s Red Square. The rail jour­ney is from Bei­jing to Helsinki via Mon­go­lia, Siberia’s cap­i­tal of Irkutsk, Moscow and St Peters­burg; $13,947 a per­son, fully in­clu­sive. More: 1300 856 661; trav­eldirec­tors.com.au. Win­ter tales: Eastern Europe spe­cial­ist Be­yond Travel has launched its first cat­a­logue of win­ter hol­i­day op­tions for both eastern and western Europe, with a fo­cus on Christ­mas de­par­tures. There are well-priced cruises on the Danube and the Rhine and a se­lec­tion of city stays and rail pack­ages. Ho­tel deals in­clude four days in Prague (from $450), Mu­nich (from $315) or Salzburg (from $505). More: 1300 363 554; be­yond­travel.com.au.

Au­tumn in the Cotswolds in Bri­tain’s beau­ti­ful West Coun­try

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