Had you asked Santa for the vacation of a lifetime, what would it have been? Running a river in New Guinea? Touring Europe's romantic capitals? Diving along Australia's Great Barrier Reef?

After we asked Deseret News Travel Section readers a month or so ago to send us their idea of a dream vacation, we discovered, not unexpectedly, that they have a wide range of interests.One respondent wants to do Mexico, Central and South America by train (an itinerary that we found was impossible) and continue to Antarctica by boat. Cruising the fiords of Norway captivates another reader. A walking tour of Prince Edward Island is the fantasy of yet another travel enthusiast.

Some readers indulged in personal obsessions. A Springville resident who describes himself as "the ultimate Disney nut" dreams of visiting all four Disney theme parks.

Even sports stepped up to bat. A Bountiful woman wants to take her family to a World Series game featuring the New York Yankees.

To the readers who responded to our query, we promised we'd approximate the cost of their dream vacation, a difficult job at best. (Our hats off to travel agents who put a price tag on itineraries every day.)

We found that cost depends on a slate of variables including the day of the week you fly and whether it's high-season or low-season. High-season in Scandinavia, for example, is mid-summer while winter is high-season in the Caribbean.

We'll spare you further details. Let's just say these are ballpark figures. Sometimes the ballpark is enormous.

For specifics, contact your travel agent. In the meantime, dream on.

Prince Edward Island

Dear Travel Editor: I would love to combine my enjoyment of walking with my great desire to visit Prince Edward Island. My other dream destination would be a walking tour in England to see the homes of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. - Ann M. Dibb, Salt Lake City.

Dear Ann: Prince Edward Island tourism officials suggest a five-day walking/driving vacation. You would fly in and out of Charlottetown, the province's capital.

Day 1: Check in at the Elmwood, a charming inn in the residential part of Charlottetown. From there you can walk to Province House where the Confederation of Canada was first discussed in 1864; St. Dunstan's Basilica; Peake's Wharf and the waterfront; St. Peter's Cathedral; Fanningbank (residence of the lieutenant governor); and Victoria Park. Take in a performance of "Anne of Green Gables," which plays to full houses at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Day 2: Drive west from Charlottetown to the hiking trails of Bonshaw Hills and Strathgartney Park. Spend the afternoon walking through the village of Victoria-by-the-Sea with its tree-lined streets, tea rooms, craft shops and galleries. Spend the night in one of the town's charming inns.

Day 3: Drive to PEI National Park and walk along one of the marked trails. You could also walk the park's shoreline known for its white sand beaches. Or tour the Green Gables House at Cavendish and stroll down the Haunted Wood or Balsam Hollow trails. Stay at the Barachois Inn in South Rustico. An evening stroll will take you to historic Farmers Bank and the Old Forge Pottery Studio.

Day 4: Drive east to the Rails to Trails Project that will eventually connect one end of the island to the other. Now, the finished portion begins at the Railroad Museum at Elmira and takes you through Townshend Woodlot, a virgin stand of Acadian forest. Or walk the trails at Brudenell Provincial Park or one of the Scenic Heritage Roads. Stay at the Mathew House Inn in Souris; The Ark, isolated on a point overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence; or the Inn at Bay Fortune.

Day 5: Fly home.

The approximate cost, excluding meals and entertainment: $825 (U.S. dollars).


Regarding your second fantasy, a walking tour to the homes of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte: You can go by foot to virtually any destination via a network of foot paths that crisscrosses England. From 1809-1817, Jane Austen lived in the village of Chawton in the county of Hampshire southwest of London. (An easy day trip from the capital city, by the way.) The home, where she wrote or revised her six novels, is open to visitors.

A number of tour operators offer walking vacations in Great Britain, but we couldn't find one that included Hampshire in its itineraries. You'd be on your own for that one.

The Brontes lived in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire, a 4 1/2-hour drive north from London. The family home is England's second most visited literary shrine next to Stratford. A company called The Wayfarers specializes in walking tours and includes one to James Herriot's Yorkshire. Though it doesn't take you to the Bronte home, you could stroll by, so to speak, at the conclusion of the tour. (The nearest train station is at Keighley.) The price of a five-day, six-night Wayfarers walking tour is $1,380 per person, excluding air fare and transportation to the nearest train station, in this case Harrogate. Quaint country inns and hotels provide accommodations and meals. Delta Air Lines quoted us an off-season roundtrip airfare from Salt Lake City to London of $823.


Dear Travel Editor: If I had a genie's lamp, the vacation I would ask for would be to go to a game of the World Series with the New York Yankees playing in Yankee Stadium. I would top it off by going to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The thing that would make it perfect is to have all four of us go so my family could enjoy my baseball fantasy with me.

- Gail Pack, Bountiful

Dear Gail: Ticket prices for the next World Series have not yet been set. In 1993 they were $45 for reserved seats and $60 for box seats. Price, however, is the least of your problems. Procuring tickets is the greater challenge. The majority are distributed to participating teams. A few are made available to the general public by means of a drawing. To be eligible for the drawing, send a postcard any time after the baseball season starts to Major League Baseball, 350 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022; Attention: World Series tickets.

Your chances of winning are better in Las Vegas.

Accommodations at the Days Hotel in mid-town Manhattan for four nights (four people) plus round-trip airfare from Salt Lake City using Delta Dream Vacations is $2,479. The hotel is in the theater district.

Cooperstown is a four-hour drive north from New York City. Artifacts on display include Ty Cobb's sliding pads and his Detroit Tigers sweater; Lou Gehrig's first baseman's glove from Columbia; and Babe Ruth's locker and the bat he used to hit home run #60. Vintage photos cover its walls. Admission is $8 and museum officials suggest allowing three hours. The town happens to have a plethora of baseball memorabilia shops.

It will cost you about $323 (that's the current rate - another rate may apply later) to rent a car for a four-day excursion to Cooperstown where accommodations go for as little as $40 a night. The town is on the shore of Otsego Lake. Highlights, in addition to the baseball museum, include the Fenimore House with exhibits of folk, academic and decorative art; the Farmers' Museum and Village Crossroads, a living history museum showing life as it was between the Revolutionary and Civil wars; and the Corvette museum.

Then it's back to the Big Apple to catch your homebound flight.

P.S. The last time the Yankees played in the World Series was 1981.


Dear Travel Editor: Being a very big Disney enthusiast, and also a Disneyana collector, the vacation of my dreams would be a trip to all four Disney theme parks in a row in a two-week period. All the accommodations would be Disney-owned. This would be the ultimate Disney vacation for the ultimate Disney nut.

- Scott Carrasco, Springville

Dear Scott: The price tag (for one person) to visit the Disney parks in Tokyo, Paris, Orlando and Anaheim, comes in at a hefty $9,447 and doesn't include a trip to the hospital to treat your jet lag. You would stay in Disney properties everywhere but Japan, where the theme-park giant doesn't own hotels. For you, a Disney maniac, the package in Orlando is particularly appropriate. It includes breakfast with Disney characters and a portrait session with Mickey Mouse.

Norwegian fiords

Dear Travel Editor: I have dreamed of cruising the fiords of Norway like the Vikings long ago and to experience the beauty of Norway that inspired Edward Grieg. I'd like to see the quaint villages along the shores and watch seagulls gliding off the bow of the boat. I'd like to listen to Norwegians talk about the legends of the trolls and watch a full moon come up over Bergen. This to me would be the perfect vacation.

- Ruth G. Reid,

Salt Lake City

Dear Ruth: Prices vary widely, depending on how fancy you want your hotels to be. Holiday Tours of America says its three-day tour of Norwegian fiords - by rail, ferry and motorcoach - starts at about $600, including air fare from New York. That includes a ride on the Flam Railroad, famous for spectacular scenery.

South America a la carte

Dear Travel Editor: My dream vacation began when I was a missionary in Brazil in 1969. I've always wanted to go by train from Salt Lake City to Argentina's Tierra del Fuego, the southern-most point of South America. On the way I'd like to cruise the Amazon River from Manaus to Belem, and visit Machu Picchu in Peru. I want to take a boat from Tierra del Fuego to Antarctica. Then I would fly home.

- Jerry R. Fisher

Dear Jerry: Panorama Tours, a local wholesaler that specializes in tours to Latin America, puts a price of approximately $8,468 on your dream vacation. That excludes, taxes, tips and incidentals. According to Gary Taylor, sales and marketing analyst for Panorama, trains between South American countries are rare, slow and unreliable. "Most train routes have been replaced by flight schedules," he says.

Your itinerary in brief:

Day 1: Evening flight from Miami to Lima, Peru. Day 2: Afternoon tour of Lima. Day 3: Fly to Cuzco and tour Incan ruins. Overnight in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Day 4: Take early morning train to Machu Picchu. Overnight in Cuzco after the train ride back. Day 5: Fly to Lima. Take evening flight to Santiago, Chile. Day 6-8: Arrive in Santiago and connect to a flight to Punta Arenas. Board a ship for a cruise to Ushuaia viewing glaciers and sea life in the Strait of Magellan. Day 9: Disembark in Ushuaia. Tour the "museum of the bottom of the earth." Day 10: Tour Tierra del Fuego on horseback. Day 11-16: six-day cruise to Antarctica aboard the M/V Skorpios, including a tour of the Chilean Naval Base there. Day 17: Fly from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires where you'll stay overnight. Day 18: City tour and shopping in Buenos Aires. Day 19: Fly via Rio to Manaus, Brazil. Day 20: Explore the Amazon. Day 21: Board the M/V Rio Amazonas for a four-day cruise on the Amazon River to Belem. Day 25: Tour Belem, shop and relax for your flight home the next day.

Swedish Christmas

Dear Travel Editor: Our dream vacation would be to tour Sweden from the southern tip to the northern end. My husband was an LDS missionary in Sweden. He arrived in Gothenberg the night before the Swedes celebrate Lucia Day. He was awakened in the middle of the night by girls wearing crowns of candles. Since our marriage we have celebrated a Swedish Christmas to honor my husband's Swedish heritage and his love of the Swedish people. Our dream trip is the topic of family conversations. Just how much would such an experience cost?

- Nadine Riddle,

Salt Lake City

Dear Nadine: A six-night Sweden package including airfare from Salt Lake City starts at about $1,000. To rent a car for your daily excursions would cost about $258. Holiday activities include the Christmas fair at Skansen where you'll find Christmas decorations, jams and Christmas mustard in specially made pots; the crafts show at Bjalbo Castle, built in the 1200s, where artisans sell needlework, smithwork, hand-woven tablecloths, items made from birch bark, etc. Up north in Dalarna, you could snowmobile into the pine forests the evening of Dec. 23 where you'll see by light of fire St. Nick and his elves making final preparations for their big day. If you venture north to Jukkasjarvi, you can spend the night in the world's largest igloo. "Arctic Hall" is 1,200 square meters and includes a hotel, art gallery, cinema, chapel and restaurant. Inside temperature is on the cold side: 27-45 degrees F.

Tibet and Mongolia

Dear Travel Editor: I would like to know the cost of a trip to Tibet. There I would visit the palace of the Dalai Lama. Then I would spend three days with a nomadic Mongolian tribe as they pack up and move from one area to another. A little sightseeing at those destinations.

- Sterling Larson,

Salt Lake City

Dear Sterling: Abercrombie & Kent, which arranges tours to some of the world's most exotic locations, came up with an itinerary for you. The cost, excluding air fare from the United States to Aisa, is $3,160. We suggest you get out your atlas and follow along. From Beijing you fly to Hohhot where you meet your guide. You travel overland from Hohhot to the Damaoqui grasslands where you visit a farm, ride horses and spend the night in a yurt. The next day return to Hohhot where you'll visit the Inner Mongolian Regional Museum, the Buddhist Lamasery, the city markets and the Temple of Five Stupas. The following day you board the train to Datong. The train, we're told, has soft seats. Stay overnight in Datong in a hotel we're told is "not good." Sights to see the following day include Buddhist cave art, the Huayin Monastery, the nine-dragon wall screen and the Datong steam engine factory. The following day you visit Xuankungsi (the hanging temple) and board the overnight train back to Beijing. It, too, has soft berths. The next afternoon fly to Chengdu. The following day fly from Chengdu to the Gonggar Airfield that serves Lhasa, Tibet. Relax at your hotel (a Holiday Inn, believe it or not) and get used to the 12,300-foot altitude. During your two-day stay in Lhasa you'll visit the Johkang Temple, the Barkhor bazaar, the old city of Lhasa, the Potala Palace (winter residence of past Dalai Lamas), the summer residence of past Dalai Lamas and two monasteries. The next day you'll travel overland from Lhasa to Gyantse where you'll visit a monastery, the city markets and the Xigaze carpet weavers. The following day you'll visit the Kumbum Stupa and the city market and return to Lhasa. Overnight in Lhasa and fly to Chengdu. Catch connecting flight to Hong Kong.

Historic Puerto Rico

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Dear Travel Editor: When my grandmother was a young girl she lived in the very house in San Juan, Puerto Rico where Ponce de Leon lived. The famous explorer, of course, had met his end many years earlier, but I like to think that perhaps his spirit still wandered around the home, called Casa Blanca, contemplating just where he might look next to discover the Fountain of Youth. Grandma's father was an Army doctor stationed in Puerto Rico and Casa Blanca was at that time the officers' quarters. This house has the distinction of being the oldest residential structure in the Western hemisphere. My dream vacation would be to take Grandma back to Old San Juan and have her share with me the adventures of her childhood among those historic walls and paths. We'd travel the dangerous route she took when she foolishly begged a young lieutenant to take her out to see the eye of the storm in the midst of a hurricane. We'd visit the old El Morro Fortress guarding the Bay of San Juan, where she could reminisce about the exquisite picnics she used to have there. At the harbor, she could share her memories of anxiously watching for ships to bring in food and milk from the United States. We'd experience the breathtaking sight of Phosphorescent Bay where tiny plankton make flashes of light on the water on moonless nights. And we'd journey out to Luquillo Beach where Grandma loved to spend the day swimming. I'd want to know about beautiful Camay caves and visit the El Yunque rainforest that is supposedly unchanged from when Grandma was there as a girl. Who knows? Maybe as Grandma and I take a walk down memory lane together reliving her childhood, she'll be the one who will discover the Fountain of Youth.

- Barbara McKeown,

Salt Lake City

Dear Barbara: It would take about a week to see all the sights you mention. Accommodations average about $150 a night, double occupancy, and you'd pay about $50 a day for a rental car. Round-trip fare on American Airlines from Salt Lake City during the high season (that's now) would be $620 plus taxes. Ponce de Leon died just before Casa Blanca was finished in 1521. Two years later it was virtually destroyed by a hurricane. Ponce de Leon's descendants occupied the house for 250 years. It later became headquarters of the U.S. Army commander in Puerto Rico. Today the building, refurbished to look like it did originally, is a museum.

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