Spotlight on Britain's dark past

Tours, museums explore slave trade on 200th anniversary of its abolition

The Smart Traveler

May 06, 2007

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

CLASSICAL DESTINATIONS

Amadeus Press / $30

Only rarely is a foreword worth the pages it occupies. But the one here by actor Simon Callow, who also serves as host of the televised series Classical Destinations, not only shares the philosophy behind the project -- a travelogue to the Europe of classical composers -- but actually gets you excited about the subject. "It's inconceivable," Callow writes, "that the geniuses you will read about in this book ... would not have responded viscerally to their surroundings. Whatever it is that makes the architecture of Italian or German or Austrian cities so unmistakable is also to be found in the music [that was] written in those cities." The photography of Wendy McDougall captures each city at its glowing best.

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[JUNE SAWYERS]

CRUISES

Launch vacation out of Norfolk

For cruise lovers, there is now another gateway to Bermuda and the Caribbean. The new Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk, Va., launched its first passengers April 28 aboard Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas. Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines will sail from the new $36 million center with destinations in Bermuda, the Bahamas and Canada / New England. For more information, go to cruisenorfolk.org.

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[FROM STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS]

HOTELS

Compact rooms for tight budgets

It might seem impossible to fit an extra-long bed, a living area and desk, and a Philippe Starck bathroom into a 75-square-foot space, but that is exactly what the owners of a new chain of hotels have done. They are banking that Qbic, whose first hotel opens in Amsterdam this month, will be the next accommodation craze to sweep Europe. The key element in the Qbic hotel room is a pre-assembled living pod called the Cubi. The rooms will be cheap, with rates starting at 39 euros, or about $53. Get more details at qbichotels.com.

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[NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE]

10 FOR THE ROAD

Kings of the castles

The top castle hotels in Europe (with average nightly rates), according to traveler popularity and tripadvisor.com editors:

1. Ashford Castle / / Cong, Ireland ($362) 2. Thornbury Castle / / Thornbury, England ($409) 3. Chateau de Bagnols / / Lyon, France ($663) 4. Inverlochy Castle / / Fort William, Scotland ($932) 5. Castle Hotel Auf Schoenburg / / Oberwesel, Germany ($240) 6. Parador de Cardona / / Cardona, Spain ($166) 7. Swinton Park, Masham / / North Yorkshire, England ($463) 8. Castle Stuart / / Inverness, Scotland ($475) 9. Castelletto de Montebenichi / / Arezzo, Italy ($242) 10. Castle ten Berghe / / Brugge, Belgium ($177)

TENNESSEE

The fast track at Dollywood

A new $17.5 million roller coaster at Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park welcomed its first guests April 13. Parton personally greeted the 56 inaugural riders of the Mystery Mine coaster at the park in Pigeon Forge. Each bid $625 in an Internet auction for the first ride. The 1,811-foot steel coaster features eerie special effects of an abandoned mine, plus a vertical climb and a straight-down descent at 55 mph. Get more details on the park at dollywood.com.

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[ASSOCIATED PRESS]

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