The lowdown on Lisbon

Our travel expert's tips for Portugal info, spa getaways, great road food and freighter trips.

Published April 29, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

For a budget trip to Lisbon, Portugal, can you suggest some sources of

Among sites to tap are the
Rec.Travel.Library site; Virtual
which calls attention to discounts at certain hotels; and the Portuguese
National Tourist Office

You can also turn to the independent traveler guides for budget travel ideas, and
several of them have Web sites that make it easy. Among them are Lonely Planet, Rough Guide Online and Rick Steves' Spain & Portugal.

Another book for side trips out of Lisbon (or for anyone heading to Portugal)
is "Fielding's Paradors, Pousadas and Charming Villages of Spain and Portugal,"
by A. Hoyt Hobbs (Fielding Worldwide, 1997).

I'm considering spa vacations in Mexico or the Southwest. Where can I find
comparative descriptions?

A New York company called Spa-Finders publishes an
annual guide that covers hundreds of spa properties, indexed by location and
divided into categories such as fitness and beauty, luxury, weight loss,
medical wellness, new age, mineral springs spas, adventure spas and resorts
with spas.

Spa-Finders' agents, who book more than 200 spas, are very knowledgeable when
it comes to helping people find what they're seeking. Even if you don't use
the booking service, the guide is an excellent, up-to-date resource. The current Spa-Finder directory costs $7.95, postage paid, and can be ordered online or
by calling (800) 255-7727 or (212) 924-6800. A new guide will be available in
early May at the same price.

Another source is Specialty Travel Index, which
lists dozens of spa locations around the world as well as many other kinds of
specialty vacations. An annual subscription, including Spring/Summer and
Fall/Winter issues, costs $10 from Specialty Travel Index, 305 San Anselmo
Ave., San Anselmo, CA 94960.

There are numerous guides to spa vacations, including "Fodor's Healthy
Escapes" (Fodor's Travel Publications, 1999) and "Spas & Hot Springs of
Mexico" (Roads Scholar Press, 1998). Another recent guide on a related
theme is" Healing Centers & Retreats: Healthy Getaways for Every Body and
Budget," by Jenifer Miller (John Muir Publications, 1998).

Is there a guidebook about diners similar to the "Roadfood" book by Jane and
Michael Stern? I love to eat in diners but don't know where they are when I

Get a copy of the Sterns' most recent book of that ilk, "Eat Your Way Across
the USA: 500 Diners, Lobster Shacks, Buffets, Pie Palaces, and Other
All-American Eateries," which was
published in 1997 by Broadway Books and is widely available. Broadway is scheduled to bring out a new edition of the book in May.

You can find additional road-food commentary from the Sterns in their columns
for Epicurious.

There are several regional guides to diners and related books, such as "Where
the Locals Eat: A Guide to the Best Restaurants in America" (Magellan Press,
1996), which recommends eateries in more than 1,000 cities large and
small. Another is "Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History," by John
Egerton (University of North Carolina Press, 1993), in which he writes about
Southern food in more than 200 restaurants across the South, noting
specialties and recounting his conversations with restaurant staff and
customers, plus scores of regional recipes.

One of my dreams is to roam the world on a freighter. Could you please furnish information on where to find out about freighter

A handful of organizations and companies promote -- and book -- freighter
travel. One is the TravLtip Cruise & Freighter Travel Association, which publishes a useful brochure called "35 most-commonly asked questions about freighter travel." Check out the TravLtips site, or order a free copy of the brochure from
TravLtips, P.O. Box 580188, Flushing, NY 11358; phone (800) 872-8584.

Freighter World Cruises publishes the
Freighter Space Advisory. It's located at 180 South Lake Ave., Suite 335,
Pasadena, CA 91101-2655; phone (626) 449-3106.

Another source is the Freighter Travel Club of America, which began in 1958
and which publishes the monthly Freighter Travel News. Besides reviewing freighter trips, it carries advertisements for agencies
specializing in freighter travel. For details, check out the Web site or contact the Freighter Travel Club, 3524 Harts Lake Rd., Roy, WA 98580; phone (360) 458-4178.

The Internet Guide to Freighter Travel gives contact information for other
booking agents and a wide range of other freighter information.

A useful book on the topic is "Travel by Cargo Ship," by Hugo Verlomme (Cadogan Books,
1995). It's in bookstores or available through (800) 243-0495.

By Donald D. Groff

Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

MORE FROM Donald D. Groff

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