QUESTION: Besides casinos, what are the sights in Las Vegas?
ANSWER: Perhaps the most popular attraction that doesn't involve gambling is the Hoover Dam, (702) 293-8367, about 30 minutes south of Las Vegas.
Tours are $1 and start at 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and are given every day except Christmas. The dam has formed Lake Mead, where fishing and boating are available. Lake Mead National Recreation Area: (702) 293-8367. Red Rock Canyon, 15 miles west of the city, has sandstone formations in the desert.
At the Guinness World of Records Museum, aside from life-size versions of the world's tallest man and the world's smallest woman, and so on, there is a display devoted to the history and attractions of Las Vegas. The museum is open Sunday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; open to 11 P.M. Friday and Saturday. Admission is $4.95. 2780 Las Vegas Boulevard South; (702) 792-3766.
At the University of Nevada at Las Vegas the Margorie Barrick Museum of Natural History displays Indian artifacts and plants and animals of the Mojave Desert. It is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free; (702) 739-3381.
The Nevada State Museum and Historical Society emphasizes Southwest subjects and artists; displays feature the history of Las Vegas and the flora and fauna of the desert. The museum is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and admission is $1. 700 Twin Lakes Drive; (702) 486-5205.
The Imperial Palace Auto Collection includes about 200 antique cars. It is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and admission is $6.95. On the fifth floor of the parking garage of the Imperial Palace Hotel, 3535 Las Vegas Boulevard South; (702) 731-3311. The Liberace Museum contains pianos, cars, costumes and jewelry owned by the entertainer. It is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The minimum donation is $6.50. 1775 East Tropicana Avenue; (702) 798-5595.
QUESTION: Some time ago I read that a new luxury train was to begin traveling across Canada. Do you have information?
ANSWER: The Canadian, which until early this year was run by Via Rail between Montreal and Vancouver, has been replaced by the privately owned Royal Canadian.
This nine-car train, holding a maximum of 188 passengers, will begin making three-day trips between Toronto and Vancouver on March 27, but only with a limited number of riders. Reservations are being taken for trips from July 1, when full service will start. The cost starts at $1,975 for a "luxury bedroom" with shower and all meals, wine and cocktails, up to $3,195 for a "stateroom" on the upper level with three windows and a viewing dome. Between Banff and Vancouver, rooms start at $715. The food service contract has been given to the Auberge de l'Ill, the three-star Michelin restaurant in Alsace. Reservations: Blyth & Co., 1 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1712, New York, N.Y. 10020; (800) 228-7712 or (212) 265-9600, in Canada (416) 964-2569.
Via Rail also sold its Rocky Mountaineer route between Calgary and Vancouver to another private company, The Great Canadian Railtour Co.
The company offers two-day trips between Calgary, Banff, Jasper and Vancouver. Unlike the old Rocky Mountaineer, the private version travels only during daylight so passengers can see the mountains and canyons along the way; riders stay overnight in the city of Kamloops.
The trains travel in 1991 between May 28 and Oct. 10. The cost between Vancouver and Calgary is $425 a person if two travel together or $465 for a single; between Vancouver and Banff or Jasper the cost is $390, $435 for a single. Included are two breakfasts and two lunches, plus a light dinner on eastbound runs.
Reservations: Great Canadian Railtour Company Ltd., 345-645 Howe Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2T6, Canada; (800) 627-6490 in the United States and (800) 665-7245 in Canada.
QUESTION: I have read about an inn in France where Van Gogh had spent his last days. How may I make reservations?
ANSWER: The inn is in Auvers-sur-Oise, 20 miles north of Paris, where van Gogh lived for the last months of his live, and where he committed suicide in a nearby field in 1890. The room van Gogh lived in has remained closed since then.
A Flemish entrepreneur, Dominique Janssens, has bought the building and is renovating it and restoring its name from van Gogh's time, Auberge Ravoux. Visitors will be able to see the small room restored to its appearance when van Gogh occupied it but no guests will stay there or any other room.
There will be a restaurant on the ground floor called Chez Vincent, and a more elegant one, Chez Docteur Gachet, in a museum to be built behind the auberge. The restaurants and museum will open in late 1991 or early 1992. Also, there will be a library and a slide show on van Gogh and the town, which also drew Cezanne, Monet, Morisot Renoir and Pissarro.