Europe at a bargainMoney talks. And, when it comes to...

TRAVEL LOG

February 28, 1993

Europe at a bargain

Money talks. And, when it comes to travel, most people are seeking destinations that offer the best value.

With the recent devaluations of European currencies, Europe is looking its best in years as far as the dollar is concerned. This month, the dollar has been worth 15 to 50 percent more than it was last summer. "This is a real windfall for our American visitors," said Michel Bouquier of France, chairman of the 23-nation European Travel Commission. In countries such as Britain, Italy, Greece and Finland, the dollar is at its highest levels since 1986.

That means the cost of hotel rooms, meals and shopping will be lower for American travelers. While Mr. Bouquier believes the dollar's rise will continue into the summer, he also advises travelers to buy as much of their vacation as possible in advance to lock in good prices while they last.

AAA: Motorists beware

Prompted by a growing number of violent incidents involving motorists, the American Automobile Association is urging its 1 million mid-Atlantic region members to keep going if their cars are hit from the rear in minor accidents, to keep car doors locked and windows rolled up at all times, and to keep car keys separate from house keys.

Safety cards being distributed by the club advise motorists to motion to other drivers to follow them to the nearest police station or service station if hit from the rear. The advice is the same that some rental-car companies have been giving customers after a series of bump-and-rob crimes in Miami and elsewhere.

The AAA also encourages drivers approaching stoplights to leave enough space between themselves and the cars in front so that they can pull out if their cars are approached.

The safety card with its dozen tips is being offered to non-members as well and is available by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to AAA Mid-Atlantic, Public Affairs Department, 2040 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103.

Mexico visitor discounts

After the rainiest January since 1850, many hotels in Tijuana and other towns in Mexico's Baja California are reporting a 15 percent occupancy rate, compared with the usual 60 percent at this time of year, according to a spokeswoman for the region. In an attempt to lure visitors, some hotels are offering discounts of 20 percent to 50 percent through much of March.

Contact International Marketing/Promotion Associates, (800) 225-2786.

Just visit Morocco, Sam

The classic film "Casablanca" is 50 years old and was recently released in a stylish home-video package. But there are other ways you can celebrate its anniversary.

One is to visit Casablanca (don't go looking for familiar sites -- the film was shot in Hollywood) and include a stay at the Hyatt Regency Casablanca in Morocco, where most rooms overlook the Medina (old city).

An "As Time Goes By" package includes two nights' stay, an in-room gourmet meal and an in-room showing of the film. The Hyatt also has a piano bar featuring "Casablanca" memorabilia. (800) 233-1234.

The magnificent ruins of Angkor, which few foreign travelers dared to visit during Cambodia's long civil war, are once again a risky travel destination.

In an attack this month on Siem Reap, the provincial capital that borders on Angkor and is about 140 miles northwest of Phnom Penh, a Portuguese tourist was grazed on the forehead by a bullet that came through the window of his room in the Grand Hotel d'Angkor; three Cambodians also were killed. The uniformed gunmen have not been identified; the Cambodian government and the Maoist Khmer Rouge blame each other.

A 1991 U.N. settlement that ended the war in Cambodia is threatened by the refusal of the Khmer Rouge to disarm, and the Siem Reap province, with the fabled stone temples of the ancient Khmer empire, has been plagued by cease-fire violations.

The temples, built from the ninth to the 15th centuries by a succession of Khmer kings, are the country's most important cultural legacy.

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