Travel briefs

Rejuvenate mind and body during a week of fitness training and meditation in the Umbria region of Italy.

The Sept. 30 tour visits the hill towns of Deruta, Spello and Assisi.

“Umbria is called the green heart of Italy,” said tour leader Tannis Kobrinsky. “It’s becoming a real choice destination.”

The group will stay in a 12th-century villa near Gubbio, where cooking classes, yoga, Pilates and massage are available.

“It will be restful, but we’ll be going to museums and on guided tours and there will be leisure time to explore on your own,” Kobrinsky said.

Other activities include hiking, archaeological tours and visits to artisan workshops.

Cost: $1,800 per person, double occupancy ($721 single surcharge), including lodging, meals, classes, excursions, taxes and tips. International airfare and massages are not included.

Contact: Health Habitravels, Los Angeles; 213-482-3150,

Irish theater festival

Attend the Dublin International Theater Festival on an eight-night journey that includes a tour of southern Ireland.

During the tour, which begins Sept. 30, the group will attend three of the plays featured at the festival and other performances in the city.

Participants also will visit the studios of wool, crystal and ceramics artisans in Dublin and travel to Killarney, the Ring of Kerry and the port city of Cobh in County Cork.

Cost: $2,797 per person, double occupancy ($776 single surcharge), including castle and hotel accommodations, most meals, ground transportation, tickets, entrance fees and taxes. International airfare to Ireland is not included.

Contact: Theatours, Los Angeles; 323-656-6309,

Ski the Andes

Hone your skiing skills in the Andes Mountains on an eight-night trip to Portillo, Chile, sponsored by the North American Ski Training Center.

The trip, which begins Aug. 19, includes eight days of instruction by professional ski instructors and a day of sightseeing in Santiago. Instruction ranges from basic to tactical.

The group stays in a hotel at the 9,000-foot level.

Swimming, sauna and massage are available at the hotel.

Participants will have one day to ski independently to Inca Lake, ski in the back country or heli-ski.

Cost: $4,695 per person, quadruple occupancy, $5,505 per person, double occupancy ($1,260 single surcharge), including round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, hotels, meals, instruction, ski lift tickets and hotel amenities.

Contact: The North American Ski Training Center, Truckee; Calif.; 530-582-4772;

All about saunas

Sauna aficionados are building a global sauna village and museum on the bank of Torne River along the northern Swedish-Finnish border. The area, just below the Polar Circle, boasts one of the Nordic region’s strongest traditions of sauna bathing.

The site is envisaged as a “living” sauna museum and has opened for visitors and guided tours. Ten saunas – including a public sauna seating 54 bathers – of the total of 40 planned saunas, steam baths and tub baths are already complete. The village will also feature a replica of a sweat lodge used by the Maya Indians thousands of years ago, but will use reindeer skin instead of buck or deer.

Apart from different types of saunas or steam baths, dating back to different periods and different regions, the site will also house a library with books, pictures and art related to sauna bathing history.

Accommodations range from cabins to camp tents. The town of Haparanda, about nine miles from Kukkolaforsen, has several hotels.

For more information about the Sauna Museum and the Kukkolaforsen area, go to

More flights to Bermuda

New flights and a new airline have produced an increase in the number of arrivals to Bermuda International Airport, officials said.

Overall arrivals were up 6 percent, or about 4,000 people, and arrivals from New York rose 26 percent in May alone, according to airport General Manager James Howes.

The increases coincide with the introduction of New York flights by low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways and new flights to London by British Airways.

JetBlue’s entry into the market prompted other airlines, including American Airlines and Continental Airlines to cut their prices and caused an overall spike in traffic to the British territory, Howe said.

Last year, the number of air arrivals to the island dropped, which the Department of Tourism blamed on high fares and fears about storms among tourists.

Restroom paintings

If you’re passing through Yellow Springs, Ohio, and you’d like to see some local artwork, head for the bathroom.

Dubbed the ChamberPot Gallery, the exhibit in a public restroom is the brainchild of two local artists in this artsy village, which has a 1960s ambiance and is home to Antioch College.

The restroom is located in a replica of an 1880 train station, next to a bike path frequented by hikers, bikers and joggers.

Some of the 19 works, mostly by local artists, are bathroom-themed, including a dress made of pink, blue and yellow tissues, and a person’s face screaming out: “Got Paper?” Some paintings are abstract. Other subjects include an outhouse and a person blowing soap bubbles.

The paintings will be displayed for a year. After six months, the artwork in the women’s room will move to the men’s room and vice versa.

For details, go to

Yosemite road reopens

The highest elevation route through the Sierra Nevada has reopened for the season – Tioga Road, one of Yosemite National Park’s most scenic drives.

Tioga Road opened in late June between Crane Flat and Tioga Pass, at the eastern entrance of the park at 9,945 feet elevation.

The road will give visitors another entrance option after a massive rock slide closed Highway 140, the central route into the park from the west side. Drivers can also use State Route 41 from the south.

Tioga Road is closed much of the year due to heavy snowfall and the threat of avalanches. Plow crews worked for weeks to clear it for summer visitors approaching from the east and for those heading from Yosemite Valley toward the Tuolumne Meadows area.

Utah ski crowd grows

Utah, the No. 4 skiing state, is fast approaching Vermont for drawing crowds of skiers.

Final figures for the 2005-06 winter show Utah ski resorts had 4,062,188 skier visits, a record increase for the third consecutive year, according to the trade association Ski Utah.

That was barely 38,000 behind Vermont, the No. 3 skiing state. A skier visit is one person skiing at a resort for part or all of a day.

Utah’s challenge to Vermont is mostly symbolic – the nearly 2,000 miles that separates one state from the other makes them less competitive than Utah and neighboring Colorado, which widened its lead as the nation’s most popular place for skiing.

Colorado ski resorts reported a record 12.53 million skier visits for the 2005-06 season. No. 2 California gets nearly 8 million skier visits a winter, said Kate Powers, member services director for the National Ski Areas Association.

Utah’s 13 resorts have shown steadily increasing skier numbers since the 2002 Winter Olympics were held here.

Travel deals

Kids travel free on VIA Rail Canada this summer. Through Sept. 15, a passenger over age 18 purchasing a senior, student or adult ticket can take along a child age 2 to 11 on any VIA train systemwide. Info: 888-842-7245,

Go Barging is offering a discount of $650 per person on the Aug. 27 departure of the L’Impressionniste barge. The six-night cruise on the Rhone River through the South of France now starts at $3,300 per person double. Info: 800-394-8630,

Travel classes, seminars

Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door hosts free travel classes most Saturdays at 10 a.m. at the Edmonds Theater, 415 Main St., Edmonds.

* European rail skills, Gretchen Strauch, July 1.

* Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Margaret Hemmen, July 8.

* Italy, Colleen Schaffer, July 15.

* Simple Italian for travel, Josette Hendrix, noon to 1:30 p.m. July 15.

* Eastern Europe, Cameron Hewitt, July 22.

* Scandinavia, Dave Fox, July 29.

* Packing light and right, Joan Robinson, Aug. 5.

* European rail skills, Laura Terrenzio, Aug. 12.

* Venice, Florence and Rome, Reid Coen, Aug. 19.

* Greece, Colleen Murphy, Aug. 26.

Classes are free, reservations recommended. Call 425-771-8303, ext. 298, or visit

The Savvy Traveler offers travel seminars at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. most Saturdays at 112 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds.

* Packing like a savvy traveler, 10 a.m. July 8.

* Italian for travelers, 6 p.m. Thursdays, July 27 through Aug. 31.

* Packing like a savvy traveler, 10 a.m. Oct. 7.

* German for travelers, 6 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 19 through Nov. 23.

* Explore Northern Italy, 10 a.m. Oct. 21.

* Southern Italy and Sicily, 1 p.m. Oct. 21.

* Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic, 10 a.m. Nov. 4.

* Slovenia and Croatia: Jewels of the Adriatic, 1 p.m. Nov. 4.

* France: Paris and Provence, 10 a.m. Nov. 18.

* Stunning Greece, 1 p.m. Nov. 18.

Classes are free, reservations recommended. Call 425-744-6076, 877-225-1994 or visit

Traveler’s Language Cafe: The NW Language Academy presents nine-hour language-intensive courses, designed to conversational travel language. Instead of memorizing phrases, participants learn patterns of conversation that apply to a variety of circumstances, comprehension and pronunciation.

For information, call 360-914-0391 or visit

* Simple Italian for Travel, 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 9:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays, July 28 and 29, Aug. 18 and 19 at Harbor Inn, 130 W. Dayton, Edmonds.

The Herald is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with cruise lines, travel agents or tour operators.

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