News for the Traveler

In Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum with only a few minutes before your tour bus takes off for Delft? Can't find the one Vermeer you traveled 3,500 miles to see? Thomas Hoving, former director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, has an interesting suggestion for museumgoers on a tight schedule. To avoid missing great masters or works of special interest, proceed first to the postcard rack in the museum store and choose the works you'd most like to see. Then ask museum guards to point the way to paintings of your choice. Since most museums print postcards of their most famous works, you'll be guided directly to the highlights. And, as a fringe benefit, you'll have an exquisite postcard collection to take home with you. (Hoving shared this professional tip with American Express cardholders in a recent newsletter.)

Few visitors to bustling Hong Kong know that miles of impressive and easily accessible parkland surround the densely populated city. Traversed by series of hiking paths called "The MacLehose Trail," these park areas -- totaling 172 square miles behind the city -- have become so popular that as many as 40 hiking clubs provide recreational activities there every weekend. Many welcome visitors. Walks on "The MacLehose Trail," linking eight of the area's most beautiful parks, are well patrolled and graded according to difficulty. For additional information about Hong Kong's mountain and beachside trails, contact Joyce Martin or Priscilla Howe, Hong Kong Tourist Association, Hill and Knowlton Inc., 633 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017 (212-697-5600).

A new series has just been published to restore belief in the truly economical adventure. While the traveler will have to cover gasoline costs or bus fare, all the tours and outings in "The Best Free Attractions" are strictly free of charge. In four regional volumes -- one for the East, West, South, and Midwest -- John Whitman guides the penny-wise traveler to unique spots in all corners of the country. While it may still cost something to eat there, for example, visitors must at least stop and see the "First Diner in America," the shiny blue enamel "Miss Worcester," off Route 95 in Massachusetts. Equally alluring may be the 70-foot brontosaurus, free for viewing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Yale's Peabody Museum in New Haven, Conn. For more information about Whitman's useful guidebooks, write to Meadowbook Press, 18318 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven, Minn. 55391.

The city of Luceme, Switzerland, will open all its doors to musicians and concertgoers between Aug. 15 and Sept. 8 for its end-of-summer International Festival of Music. One of the most important annual events of its kind, the three week festival brings both world-class musicians and exceptional local talents to Lucerne for a richly diverse musical celebration. Tickets for many of the outstanding programs must be booked in advance.

This season's festival theme, "The Breakthrough from Romantic to Modern," will be explored by exemplary talents Vladimir Ashkenazy and Leontyne Price, and over 40 other soloists, symphonies, and ensembles. Of special interest this year are concerts by the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. For additional information about the festival or for ticket purchase, contact the American Express Company, 65 Broadway, New Yo rk, N.Y. 10019 (or branch offices).

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