For a tour of Beijing in November, it's wise to make arrangements in advance


Q: I will be in Hong Kong during the first week in November and want to spend two nights in Beijing.

I would like a guide to meet me at the airport with a car, take me to my hotel and then give me a tour of the Great Wall. He would also have to take me back to the airport.

Must I make these arrange ments before I leave for Hong Kong?

A: The first week of November is the peak of the high season for travel to both Hong Kong and Beijing, which runs from Sept. 15 to Nov. 15.

Because of this, a prudent traveler would make arrangements before leaving the United States, although people traveling on their own would probably find it still possible to reserve a room and book a flight from Hong Kong.

On average, prices would be around $1,100 a person for the two-day package of round-trip air fare from Hong Kong, a guide with a car and a hotel room for two nights in double occupancy. For single occupancy add about $100 a night.

Any of the following would be able to make the arrangements before you leave for Kong Kong:

* China Travel Service, 212 Sutter St., San Francisco, Calif. 94108; telephone (415) 393-9667, fax (415) 398-6669.

* Pacific Bestours, 228 Rivervale Road, Rivervale, N.J. 07675; (201) 664-8778, fax (201) 664-1497.

* Pacific Select, 120 West 45th St., Ninth Floor, New York, N.Y. 10036; (212) 575-2460, fax (212) 575-2468.

* Orient Flexi-Pak, 630 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017; (212) 692-9550, fax (212) 370-1477.

If you leave the arrangements until you get to Hong Kong, the following would be able to help:

* DragonAir Hong Kong, Package Tours Department, 22nd Floor, Devon House, Taikoo Place, 979 King's Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong; (852) 590-1133, fax (852) 590-1333.

* China International Travel Services, Sixth Floor, Tower II, South Seas Center, 75 Mody Road, Tsimshatsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong; (852) 732-5888, fax (852) 721-7154.

* Swire Travel, China Tours Division, 18th Floor, Devon House, Taikoo Place, 979 King's Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong; (852) 579-6699, fax (852) 590-0099.

For general information about China, contact the China National Tourist Office, 350 Fifth Ave., Suite 6413, New York, N.Y. 10118; (212) 760-9700, fax (212) 760-8809.

Q: I am interested in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Are there any festivals in England devoted to him that I might attend?

A: Few figures in legend or in history have gripped the English mind like King Arthur and his court at Camelot, but he seems to be honored more in literature than in life. Other than a re-enactment last month of Arthur's last battle, at Rhyd-y-Groes, Wales, the calendar is apparently clear.

Part of the problem may be that there is no general agreement on who he was or even where he lived. Over the years various cities in England have come to be associated with Arthur.

Colchester, in Essex, and Winchester, in Kent, have all been scrutinized by archaeologists in the quest for the site of Camelot.

And no city has been more closely associated with him in the popular mind than Glastonbury, Somerset, in legend the burial place of Arthur and Queen Guinevere.

The latest historical theory about Arthur's identity depicts him as a fifth-century warlord and his base of operations more than 100 miles north of Glastonbury, around present-day Shrewsbury and Wroxeter, Shropshire.

In their book, "King Arthur: The True Story" (Arrow), Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman say they believe Arthur was the British warrior who defeated the invading Anglo-Saxons at the battle of Badon after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the fifth century. He was, say the authors, a king of Powys, which covered the modern Shropshire and central Wales.

Based on the authors' research, Shropshire Tourism, a county agency, has set up the King Arthur Trail, a 138-mile route that is designed to be started in Wroxeter and continued in a clockwise direction, in a roughly semicircular pattern, through Cosford, Ironbridge, Long Mynd, Welshpool and Oswestry to Shrewsbury.

The route, which visits sites associated with Arthur, is designed to be seen by car in about a day, although a more leisurely pace is recommended so that the sites can be explored.

A foldout pamphlet containing a map of the trail and historical notes and background, as well as the authors' interpretation of the historical data, is available from the British Tourist Authority, 551 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10176. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. It is also available from Shropshire Tourism, The Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY2 6ND, England; (44 743) 252258.

A list of farmhouses, guest houses and hotels close to the trail is also available from Shropshire Tourism.

Q: I will be traveling in Europe in July and would like to find out which castle was used in the filming of the motion picture "Where Eagles Dare," which starred Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. Can you help?

A: The main shooting location for the movie, a British production from 1968, was Ebensee, a small town near Bad Ischl, in Austria.

The castle is Hohenwerfen Fortress, 25 miles south of Salzburg.

Dating from 1077, the castle was rebuilt in the 16th century. The outside of the fortress has undergone little change since 1565.

Today Hohenwerfen offers concerts, small theatrical performances, court dances, minstrel singing, medieval tournaments and banquets, hunting parties, horn-blowing festivals and other medieval festivities in the courtyard.

The castle, which is open for visitors and guided tours from April 1 to Oct. 31, also maintains an aviary with eagles, vultures and falcons.

Information on scheduled events at Hohenwerfen can be obtained from the Event Management Office, Schlossverwaltung Schloss Kless-heim, 5071 Wals, Austria; 85 08 85, fax 85 08 85 44 (the dialing code for Austria is 43; the code for Wals is 662).

The castle can be reached at Festung Hohenwerfen, 5450 Werfen, Austria; 7603, fax 76 03 4 (the code for Werfen is 6468).

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