Beginning Oct. 15, you can get up close and personal with some of your favorite celebs -- Paul Newman, Woody Allen and even Babe Ruth, who's been dead for 52 years -- when Madame Tussaud's New York opens in Times Square.

The new location of the famous wax museum (others are in Las Vegas, London, Hong Kong and Amsterdam) will feature more than 200 life-sized wax portraits -- a virtual who's who from the world of film, television, sports, music and politics. No velvet ropes separate you from the figures, either, which means you are free to pose for pictures with the stars -- but touching is a no-no. The attraction features themed environments, including the Opening Night Party, where wax figures of New York's elite seem to be sharing the latest gossip; and Popular Culture, a chronological showcase of who's been hot when.

For more information, call the museum in New York after it opens at 800-246-8872, or check it out online at www.

Captain of your destiny

Harboring a boating fantasy? Crown Blue Line can make it a reality. The European company specializes in self-skippered boating holidays through the waterways of France, Holland, Ireland, Germany, Scotland and Italy -- and no previous boating experience is required.

When you arrive, a member of Crown Blue Line's staff will walk you through a boating lesson, after which you'll receive an official skipper's license valid for the duration of your cruise. Then you're off -- in charge of your traveling time and the places you visit. And your ship is no dinghy by any means.

The company offers 24 boat models with room for two to 10 people, and each is equipped with the basic amenities of a hotel and then some, including kitchens.

For information, visit Crown Blue Line online at, or call its American contact in New Jersey at 888-355-9491.

Food and wine in San Antonio

This fall, there's more sizzling in San Antonio than the temperature. Gourmet food, wine and celebratory spirits heat things up Oct. 26-29 during the first annual San Antonio New World Wine and Food Festival.

The four-day festival focuses on culinary decadence as chefs citywide hone their favorite recipes and season them with flavors from Central and South America and Mexico. Events include a meet-the-winemaker reception; black-tie dinner; cooking classes; Hemisfare 2000, which features food and wine of the Americas; wine seminars; and tastings galore.

Contact the San Antonio New World Wine and Food Festival at 210-518-1155, or visit the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site: For a free visitor information packet, call 800-447-3372.

--Tricia Bishop

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