Welcome to 'The Rock'

Revamped tour of Alcatraz prison includes stories straight from prisoners' mouths

The Smart Traveler

May 27, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO

A WALK IN THE YARD

A Self-Guided Tour of the U.S. Naval Academy

Naval Institute Press, $21.95

Annapolis is a college town like no other. Cheek-by-jowl to the touristy Historic District, behind walls and gates, is the U.S. Naval Academy, whose verdant and resplendent grounds were just this side of a public park for Annapolitans before Sept. 11.

Entrance is much more difficult now -- civilians cannot drive onto The Yard and pedestrians must have identification -- but still worth it. A walking tour of The Yard, as it is called, can take several hours, a master's degree in U.S. military history or a paid appointment with one of the guides from the visitors center just inside Gate One.

Or you can simply purchase a copy of A Walk in the Yard, by Taylor Baldwin Kiland and photographer Jamie Howren, and focus on what appeals most -- the magisterial history of the golden-domed Naval Academy Chapel or the cool and haunting darkness of John Paul Jones' crypt.

The guide is filled with facts and anecdotes of the kind the midshipmen are required to memorize during their "four years by the sea," from the source and history of the torpedoes, cannons, masts and monuments that dot the yard, to the military biographies of the men for whom the buildings are named.

This slim paperback is complete down to its many, many details. But a walk in The Yard would bring it to life.

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[SUSAN REIMER]

ENGLAND

Pubs go smoke-free July 1

Joining the rest of Britain (as well as Italy, Sweden, Norway and Ireland), England will ban smoking in all enclosed public places and offices July 1 -- a law that will undoubtedly affect England's traditional pub scene. "The pubs that serve food should benefit from the ban," said Caroline Nodder, editor of The Publican, a trade magazine sent to about 33,000 pub owners each week. "But it is the traditional local pubs . . . that may not be able to survive the initial impact." Smoking is still allowed in pubs' and restaurants' unenclosed spaces.

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[NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE]

AIRLINES

Donate miles to soldiers

This weekend, in honor of Memorial Day, several airlines will match mile-for-mile your donation of frequent flier miles to Operation Hero Miles, a program that provides travel to members of the military. Hero Miles was created by Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland in 2003 to enable soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to fly home on leave for free. Today, it also helps family members visit wounded soldiers at military hospitals. Through midnight tomorrow, airlines -- including AirTran, American, Continental, United and US Airways -- will match donations to Fisher House Foundation, which administers the program. For details, go to heromiles.org.

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[MICHELLE DEAL-ZIMMERMAN]

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