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Briefs: Australian tour indulges in epicurean delights

| Sunday, March 26, 2006

Australia 2000 Travel has created the 2006 Australian Epicurean Extravaganza, a 16-day tour for food-and-wine aficionados. The tour, which runs from Sept. 10 through 25, visits popular regions of Australian wine country, including the McLaren Vale, home to olive and almond groves, specialty cheeses and small wineries. The trip begins in Sydney, where visitors sail Sydney Harbor and tour the city's fish markets. Travelers then head to the south Australian wine country for a picnic lunch along the Wine Coast of the Barossa Valley.

The last stop in south Australia is the Clare Valley, an area reminiscent of Tuscany. Here, travelers get a cooking class with local produce and more private tastings. Cost: $9,675 per person, double occupancy, and includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles. Travelers flying from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles should add on $300 for a round-trip airfare.

Details: 248-647-4530 or www.australia2000-travel.com .

Garden gems in Germany

Stroll the gardens of Germany from Berlin to Dessau on a tour leaving Sept. 11.

The eight-night trips cover the region that was East Germany. The group will tour Berlin and the Charlottenburger Schloss garden along the Spree River. Other stops will include Branitz, Spreewald and Pillnitz. The group will travel along the banks of the Elbe River to Dresden to see the Royal Garden, Gross-Sedlitz; take a gondola ride through the Woerlitz garden; and tour the former homes of Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius and painters Paul Klee and Wassili Kandinsky. "German Garden Tours has found a niche in eastern Germany that has been overlooked," said tour representative Dolores Habberstad. Cost: $4,495 per person, double occupancy ($785 single surcharge), including hotels, most meals, ground transportation, boat rides, entrance fees and airport transfers. Airfare to Berlin is not included. The trip is organized by German Garden Tours; Hazel Phillips Travel Service in Oregon.

Details: 800- 622-5588 or www.gardentours-online.com .

Armchair traveler

Fodor's has published "Around Washington, D.C., with Kids." The nation's capital is home to plenty of kid-friendly attractions, including the International Spy Museum, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoo. The book was compiled by writer Kathryn McKay, who regularly visits the D.C. area with experts -- her two children -- in search of family activities.

Among the 68 attractions listed in this fifth edition are lesser-known sites such as the National Capital Trolley Museum and Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, a jousting contest and medieval feast held in a replica of a castle in Hanover, Md. There's also Discovery Creek Children's Museum, where kids can build a volcano or watch a chameleon change colors.

The book also lists nearby places where parents can feed their hungry offspring, while Mount Vernon and the Lincoln Memorial can make history come alive for the kids. Best of all, many of the places listed are free. (Fodor's; $9.95; 160 pages; softcover)

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