Better book quickly for Rio's party time Carnaval: Dates for merrymaking are set

Travel Q&A

ticket prices will be soon. Hotels expect to be fully booked by middle of December.


My husband and I are planning to visit Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February. When is Carnaval? What are some of the major events?

The 1998 Carnaval will run Feb. 21-24, and Rio will be packed. Representatives of several hotels say that well over half their rooms have been reserved for Carnaval, and they expect to be fully booked by mid-December. So if you haven't done so already, make a reservation.

In addition to the indoor balls and the afternoon and evening street fairs that erupt spontaneously around roving samba bands in the Copacabana and Ipanema beachside areas, the samba schools parade is the major event. It takes place in two parts, starting Sunday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. with nine schools taking part, and another nine bands on Monday, also at 6 p.m. Ticket prices to watch on Avenida Marques de Sapucai will vary according to location. Last year, bleachers 7 and 9, for foreign visitors, cost between $100 and $150. Ask your travel agent about ordering tickets, which will probably be available in December.

Travel agents will also be able to order tickets for the various Carnaval balls. The most exclusive ball, the Baile de Gala at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, requires formal attire or Carnaval costume. It will take place Saturday, Feb. 21. Last year, tickets started at around $100. Call Rio's tourist office, Riotour, (55-21) 542-8080.

I am interested in taking my grandchild, age 13, on a trip to Europe or in the United States. I am looking for companies that cater to grandparent-grandchild travel.

There are a number:

* Grandtravel, 6900 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, Md. 20815; 800-247-7651. Grandtravel has about 18 itineraries designed to appeal to older and young travelers. Among the destinations in Europe and the United States are Alaska; New York City; England and Scotland; and London and Paris. For example, the 10-day Western Parks, Western Space tour departs July 2, and includes Rapid City, S.D.; Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming; the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana; and Yellowstone National Park. Fishing, cowboy demonstrations, horseback riding and calf-roping are among the highlights. The cost is $3,350 a person double occupancy, excluding air fare. Children taking the trip must be between the ages of 12 and 17.

* The American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, N.Y. 10024, 800-462-8687, is offering five educational tours for families. For example, the 12-day Family Barge Adventure is a barge trip through France, departing July 11. Stops include Paris, Les Andelys, Rouen, Caudebec, Honfleur and Caen. Participants will march in a Bastille Day parade, and trace the history of Joan of Arc in Rouen. The cost will be about $3,900 a person, excluding air fare.

* Other organizations offering family tours include Familyhostel, sponsored by the University of New Hampshire, 6 Garrison Ave., Durham, N.H. 03824, 800-733-9753, and Frontier Tours, 1923 North Carson St., Suite 105, Carson City, Nev. 89706, 702-882-2100.

I will be traveling to England in search of remnants of Regency towns and architecture. Can you offer information?

The Regency style, inspired by the designs and ornamentation of other architectural traditions (including neoclassical and Palladian architecture), flourished during the regency and reign of George IV (1811-1830). John Nash and Sir John Soane are among the architects associated with the era.

A good starting point is the Sir John Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, in London. This was the architect's home from 1813 to 1847. The mansion, sheathed in brick and Portland stone and bursting with Soane's vast collection of artwork (including William Hogarth's "Rake's Progress"), is noted for its vaulted ceilings, lantern skylights and terra-cotta reliefs. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free (although there is a $3.40 charge to view the current exhibition, "The Soanes at Home"). Information: (44-171) 405 2107.

Elements of Regency architecture can be seen in London at Apsley House, the Wellington Museum at 149 Piccadilly and at Pitshanger Manor Museum, the country home of Soane, at Mattock Lane, Ealing, London, about 12 miles west of London's center. Also in London, there are several Regency-era buildings, and crescents designed by John Nash can be seen on Regent Street and in the Regent's Park area, as well as along Park Crescent, Park Square, Park Square West, Park Village East and Park Village West.

Some of the best examples are in the seaside resort of Brighton, known for its Regency terraces and squares and, of course, the exotic Royal Pavilion, symbolic of the more outlandish tastes of the era. Brighton, 50 miles south of London, became fashionable when George, Prince of Wales, acquired a home called Brighton House in the 1780s. Around 1815, he, along with Nash, began transforming the building into the Royal Pavilion, an Indian Moghul palace, replete with onion domes, spires and minarets. The Royal Pavilion is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is about $7. Information: (44-1273) 292599.

Regency buildings can be found in the Clifton area of Bristol, 120 miles west of London, and in the spa towns of Cheltenham and Leamington Spa, both some 110 miles northwest of London.

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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