They're telling us that more than 6 million people rode Eurostar, the Channel Tunnel train, last year. A cool quarter of a million of those riders, they say, were Americans. We take it that that's not enough.
From now until March 31, you can get a "Winter Discount" on the three-hour ride between London and Paris or between London and Brussels.
They -- the people at Rail Europe -- will sell you a one-way first-class ticket for $149 (regularly $219) or a one-way second-class ticket for $89 (regularly $149). Call 800-EUROSTAR.
To some, the words "New York City" bring visions of hundred-dollar bills floating away on gossamer wings. But a trip to the Apple doesn't have to be expensive. The Hampton Inn chain says that a family of four can have a fine weekend for about $500 by staying near Manhattan but not necessarily in it, avoiding costly restaurants, taking advantage of free or low-cost attractions, and walking or using public transit whenever possible. Some examples:
* Enjoyable restaurants that won't bust the budget include the Jekyl & Hyde Club (1409 Sixth Ave.) with its mad-scientist wait staff; the Stage Delicatessen (834 Seventh Ave.) with its gigantic sandwiches; Hamburger Harry's (145 W. 45th St.), where the specialty is you-know-what; and the Film Center Cafe (635 Ninth Ave.), featuring vintage Formica tables, old film reels, wall murals of film studio logos and a Sunday home-style brunch. In all of those restaurants, you should be able to get a meal for $10-$15 a person.
* There are several low-cost attractions, including the Children's Museum of the Arts, the American Museum of Natural History and that perennial favorite, the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
* Many of the city's free attractions are well-known. Eight-hundred-forty-three-acre Central Park has unique features such as the Alice in Wonderland statue and attractions such as the Central Park Wildlife Conservation Center. The Statue of Liberty National Monument and nearby Ellis Island Immigration Museum are more than worthwhile. The four-story Sony Wonder Technology Lab offers fun interactive exhibits. And you can't beat window shopping along Fifth Avenue, with a stop at the world's largest toy store, FAO Schwartz.
United Airlines is offering tickets that combine air travel between three of its U.S. gateways and Paris with fast train service between Paris and Lyon, France.
The carrier, which offers nonstop service from Chicago, San Francisco and Washington (Dulles International Airport) to Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, is timing its flights to connect to SNCF-French Rail's high-speed TGV train service from the airport to Lyon; the flights connect to four daily southbound trips and three daily northbound trips to and from Lyon, a major center for business in France.
Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for United, a unit of UAL Corp., said that prices for the combined airplane-rail tickets were competitive with those for one-stop air travel, through Paris, between the three U.S. cities and Lyon. United passengers who take the TGV earn 500 miles in the carrier's frequent-flier program for each round-trip rail trip and 250 miles for each one-way rail trip purchased.
To make the connection between United's flights and the TGV, travelers must take a short bus ride to the train station, which is located at the airport. Molinaro said that later this year travelers would be able to use a new tram service at Charles de Gaulle to make the transfer.
Virgin Atlantic now offers first-class passengers a "LimoBoat" service, which whisks them by limousine from London's Heathrow Airport to Ferry Wharf in Brentford, where the boat takes them into London on the Thames. Virgin also has chauffeur service for its big-ticket customers.
There will be more cheap international courier flights from the United States than ever before, says William C. Bates, president of the International Association of Air Travel Couriers.
The number of scheduled courier flights from U.S. cities will top a record 40,000 this year, according to the IAATC's Air Courier Bulletin, which tracks courier flights worldwide.
What this means is that those interested in giving up their luggage space to courier firms in exchange for a discounted air ticket will have more opportunities. Typically, a courier will carry shipping documents to be turned over to the courier company's agents when the aircraft lands.
What kind of deals are out there? How about $150 to $300 to Europe and even Asia? You have to be flexible; you travel on the courier's timetable, but you can expect to stay from three days to several weeks.
For information, call 561-582-8320 or visit the Web site at http://www.courier.org.
Pub Date: 02/07/99