Travel notes: from a pub crawl to museums

It’s the ultimate pub crawl. Trafalgar Tours, a Toronto-based travel operator, and the Upper Canada Brewing Company have joined forces to provide beer lovers a hands-on exploration of some of the world’s great beers and their equally famous breweries. In September, the 16-day tour starts off from Upper Canada’s Toronto micro-brewery, flies via KLM to Holland and then on to Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic, finishing off at Munich’s famed Oktoberfest, the granddaddy of all beer bashes. It’s just like a classic wine tour for beer lovers. For details, contact Trafalgar Tours at (416) 322-8466 or see your travel agent.

Israel celebrates half-century birthdayIsrael marks its 50th anniversary April 30 with a series of birthday celebrations, concerts and special events to herald a half-century of independence. While the main celebrations will be in Israel, festivities also are scheduled throughout Canada and the U.S. In Toronto, 150 organizations and 10,000 participants will stage a gala party at the National Trade Centre for the city’s mega-tribute to Israel. When the year-long birthday celebrations end, Israel will launch equally festive events leading up to theear 2000. Israeli officials have been working for over a year with the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority, which governs Bethlehem, to herald the new millennium throughout the Holy Land. For information, contact the Israel Government Tourist Office, 180 Bloor St., W., Suite 700, Toronto, Ont. M5S 2V6; or call (416) 964-2420.

New self-drive trips with CanAm HolidaysCanAm Holidays, one of Canada’s most highly regarded travel companies specializing in escorted motorcoach tours, has just published a 60-page brochure featuring 60 different tours in Canada, the United States and Mexico. CanAm’s Pierre LePage has added a new concept for ’98 — self-drive tours in addition to the regular coach trips. For the self-drive tours, CanAm handles pre-arranged accommodation, attractions and a rental car. The package includes driving instructions, notes on areas worth visiting, maps, roadside stops of interest — it also includes pre-booked hotels. Tours on offer include the Maritimes, the Rockies and New England. Three-time Canadian Coach Operator of the Year winner, CanAm tours can be booked only through travel agents.

An Alaska cruise for healthy agingIt’s a special seven-day cruise from Vancouver to Alaska in September for people interested in preparing for and coping with healthy aging as well as those involved in the care of an older person. On Holland America’s newest ship, the 5-star Maasdam, the cruise will visit the Inside Passage, Juneau, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. On board, giving a daily series of presentations, will be doctors from the University of British Columbia’s division of geriatric medicine. A wide range of shipboard events and land excursions also are scheduled. For information, contact Travel Cuts at (604) 822-3334.

Canada 3000 takes off for the Emerald IsleCanada 3000 will be flying to Ireland with direct, non-stop weekly flights every Friday starting May 1 to Dublin, Belfast and Shannon. The flights, which start at $519 per person round trip, will be sold through Signature Vacations, Conquest Tours and Sunflight Holidays.

Québec’s activities are on the InternetWinter or summer, Québec is a delightful province to visit. It offers a feast of quaint villages, fascinating towns and cities, awesome scenery and friendly people. It’s also now on the Internet. For details on La Belle Province’s 19 tourist regions, nature activities and festivals, contact Tourism Quebec at For what’s on and events in Québec City, try; and to complete the roundup, check out for the latest activities and events in Montréal.

Air Canada voted our best airlineAir Canada has been awarded the prestigious “Best Airline for Travel in Canada” title by readers of Business Traveller magazine for the sixth consecutive year. Runner-ups were American and Delta airlines.

Shaw Festival opens ’98 season April 15The very popular Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake will this year feature Bernard Shaw’s social satire on the topic of war and greed, Major Barbara. The playbill for ’98 will also include such gems as the comedy You Can’t Take it With You, the witty melodrama Lady Windermere’s Fan plus The Lady’s Not For Burning and John Bull’s Other Island. The Shaw presents a 29-week season of 11 plays in three theatres with 758 performances running from April 15 to Nov. 1. For ticket information or to receive the 1998 brochure, call toll-free 1-800-511-7429.

Belleville’s Ramada named Canada’s bestThe best Ramada hotel in Canada is the Ramada Inn on the Bay in Belleville, based on quality assurance scores and other service standards. The 124-room Inn was selected from 40 Ramada properties across Canada.

Arizona guide free for the askingArizona’s many natural and man-made treasures are listed in the new Arizona Journeys, available free by calling toll-free 1-888-520-3448. The 96-page booklet features the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s most popular tourist destination, plus more than 250 golf courses.

German bases on memory tourSpecial memory lane tour packages to former Canadian military bases in Germany’s Black Forest, in Lahr and Baden Sollingen, have been organized by Canadian tour operator DER Travel Services. From the end of World War II until three years ago when the last Canadian base closed, more than 500,000 Canadians were stationed at the Black Forest bases.

Offered are fly/drive/rail and hotel packages including hotel accommodation and use of a rental car or train passes. Also, EuroTours International has an escorted seven-day motorcoach tour which includes an extensive sightseeing program in the Lahr area and the southern German province of Baden-Wurttemberg. For details on the Black Forest packages, contact the German National Tourist Office at 175 Bloor St., E., North Tower, Suite 604, Toronto, Ont. M4W 3R8 or call (416) 968-1570.

Best Western guides cover 75 countriesFor a quick getaway or an extended trip, Best Western’s Travel Guides are a handy planning tool. The guides cover Best Western’s 3,700 hotels in 75 countries and are broken up into three booklets: Americas, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. In addition to maps and directions to Best Western hotels, the guides also contain business facilities, business attractions, leisure attractions and general information. For a free copy of the region you wish to visit, call 1-800-528-1234.

Globus highlights U.S., Canada tripsGlobus, one of the world’s largest travel companies specializing in escorted bus tours, is launching six new tours in its ’98 U.S. and Canada program. The new program consists of 49 tours with 1,782 departures. One of the feature events is a “Glorious Wine Country” tour of California’s Napa Valley. Another is the “Great Cities of the East,” a nine-day tour of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington. For details on all Globus tours, Toronto area residents should call (416) 787-1281, elsewhere phone toll-free 1-800-268-1639.

van Gogh Museum closes for a faceliftThe van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Holland, will close on Sept. 1 until April 1, 1999 for a $20 million renovation. Included in the extensive construction will be a new wing to better showcase the works of the famed painter.