Vacationers will vie for a $100,000 prize in global contest
Globetrotters looking for the ultimate in vacation adventures might want to grab a like-minded friend and take a look at GreatEscape2001.com, where they can enter the first Great Escape global scavenger hunt and compete for the title of "World's Greatest Traveler" -- and also $100,000 in cash and prizes.
The fun doesn't come cheap, though. Each of the 25 teams of two people must pay a $22,000 entry fee, which breaks down to an $11,000-per-person trip in which meals are not included. But what a trip:
From May 5 to 27, teams will compete in an around-the-world scavenger hunt by unraveling clues and riddles that will direct them through four continents and at least 10 countries. Along the way, they'll ride elephants and camels and learn the quickest way to hail a rickshaw. The first team to complete the course with the most points wins.
The contest has a goal of raising $1 million for charitable causes, including UNICEF and International Special Olympics. For more information or to enter before the Jan. 31 deadline, visit the Web site or call 310-281-7809.
SWEPT UP IN STORMS
Tempest Tours beckons tornado chasers
Most people run for cover when spring storms hit, but not those at Tempest Tours. Instead, they actually chase the storms, and you can tag along.
Tempest Tours, which begin in early May, seek out nature's most spectacular and destructive weather -- from lightning storms to tornadoes -- throughout Tornado Alley: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and the Dakotas.
The idea, says Tempest founder Martin Lisius, is to "remove the Hollywood hype and show our guests what storm chasing is really like."
The 10-day trips include educational lectures, long drives and lots of waiting for storms to brew. Prices start at $1,900. For more information or to sign up, call 817-274-9313 or go to www.tempesttours.com.
Russian ballet fans heading to festival in St. Petersburg
Fans of the Kirov Ballet, which has produced such masters as Mikhail Baryshnikov, are traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the first International Ballet Festival. In honor of the event, the five-star Hotel Astoria is offering elegant packages ranging in price from $2,704 to $3,369, double-occupancy.
The packages include five nights with four theater performances (or four nights and three performances), champagne welcomes, backstage tours, gourmet meals, vodka tastings and such extras as dinner with conductor Valery Gergiev.
The festival features a combination of famous ballets from the Kirov Theater's repertoire, such as "Sleeping Beauty," "The Nutcracker Suite" and "Swan Lake."
For information, go to www .rfhotels.com / russia / stpetersburg / astoria / hotels_ astoria.html or call the reservation line, 011-7-812-313-5032.
-- Tricia Bishop