A soldier's lifeThe Civil War took the lives of more than...

TRAVEL SMARTS

May 09, 1999|By Randi Kest

A soldier's life

The Civil War took the lives of more than 600,000 American soldiers, and those men are celebrated in the new National Museum of the Civil War Soldier scheduled to open May 28 at Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg, Va. Situated on the battlefield -- then a plantation -- where Union forces broke through Confederate lines on their way to Petersburg and Richmond, the museum traces a soldier's experiences from training camp to his choice of abandoning the battle or continuing to fight.

Before entering the museum's seven galleries, visitors select one of 13 soldiers on the audio tour to guide them through the museum. These audio guides are actual Civil War soldiers whose experiences were documented in journals and letters, and whose fates are each different. At the end of the tour, which will take about an hour, visitors learn whether their comrade made it safely home, deserted the war or died in combat.

This 25,000-square-foot museum is a $10-million philanthropic project of Robert B. Pamplin and his son, Robert B. Pamplin Jr., both of Portland, Ore. The Pamplins rank among the nation's 400 richest families and their ancestors owned the former plantation during the Civil War. Promoters hope the site will become a significant historical attraction on the scale of John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s Colonial Williamsburg preservation project.

Located at 6125 Boydton Plank Road in Petersburg, the museum will be open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $10 adults, $9 seniors, $8 for groups of 10 or more, $5 children 6 through 11, under 6 are free. Call 877-PAMPLIN or visit www.pamplinpark.org.

WALL ST. TO POST NEW GAIN: A HOTEL

One of New York's notable landmarks will soon become Wall Street's first hotel. The Regent Wall Street will open in early fall at 55 Wall Street, in the building where the Merchant's Exchange was born and where Herman Melville worked on his classic whale tale, "Moby Dick." The 140-room luxury hotel will be right in the middle of the city's financial center.

The price tag of the redesign, inspired by the Italian Revival style, was a hefty $80 million. Marble floors, high ceilings, Persian rugs and Italian light fixtures create the backdrop for furnishings covered in silk, velvet and chenille. Other amenities for business or leisure travelers include 24-hour room service, twice-daily housekeeping, laundry service and a spa.

Room rates start at $450. Call 800-545-4000.

Titanic exhibit sets sail in Orlando

A new 25,000-square-foot attraction in Orlando, Fla., hopes to keep "Titanic" mania afloat. The $7 million "Titanic -- Ship of Dreams" exhibit includes full-scale room re-creations, 200 artifacts from the ship and movie memorabilia. There's also a costume Leonardo DiCaprio wore in the hit movie, a second-class passenger list, a deck chair and a life jacket. "Titanic -- Ship of Dreams" is located at the Mercado, 8445 International Drive. Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Tickets: $14.95 adults; $9.95 children 6 to 11; free for children under 6. Call 407-248-1166.

Top 10 destinations

The World Tourism Organization has released 1998's tourist hot spots. The list shows percent changes since 1997 in parentheses and totals are in millions of international arrivals:

1. France (+4.7) ... 70

2. Spain (+10) ... 47.7

3. U.S. (-1.3) ... 47.1

4. Italy (+2.2) ... 34.8

5. U.K. (-0.2) ... 25.5

6. China (+1) ... 24

7. Mexico (-0.3) ... 19.3

8. Poland (-3.6) ... 18.8

9. Canada (+7.9) ... 18.7

10. Austria (+3.8) ... 17.3

Custom luggage tags

The baggage conveyor at any airport can resemble an assembly line of black suitcases, so be prepared to distinguish your bag from all the others. One way is with an unusual luggage tag selected online at Design Studio of APEX DigiGraphics. Visit http: //www.luggagetag.com to order five tags for $9.95 (plus 50 cents shipping).

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