You can go to Europe and return with the same photographs as all your friends - Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate.
Or you can try something different and return not only with unusual pictures, but also with one-of-a-kind experiences to go with them.To help you, here are suggestions on out-of-the-ordinary ways to see Europe.
These trips can be arranged through a travel agent or by contacting the touring company directly. All prices are based on double occupancy and do not include airfare unless specifically mentioned.
Ireland: The Troubles
Go from the pubs of Dublin to a Belfast prison to meetings with women's organizations and trade unions, and even join the country's annual famine walk. What you get is an in-depth look at the region's civil conflict.
This two-week "reality tour" is July 27-Aug. 10. Price: $1,800. Contact: Global Exchange, 2017 Mission St., No. 303, San Francisco, CA 94110. Or call 1-415-255-7296, noon-8:30 weekdays.
England: Nursery Rhymes
Humpty Dumpty, it turns out, was a big, fat cannon that fell from a wall and broke during a battle at Llancaiach Fawr Manor in Wales. "Ring around the rosey" was a person with the red, ring-shaped rash caused by the black plague.
Go to the historic sites connected with so many of our familiar rhymes and learn about the times and the stories behind them.
The nine-day tour, June 27-July 6, will include visiting London, Winchester Cathedral, Salisbury, Bath, prehistoric sites, King Arthur's Glastonbury Abbey and Stratford-upon-Avon.
The price per person, based on double occupancy, is $2,055, covering hotels, motorcoach transportation, breakfasts, most dinners, workshops and seminars.
Contact Ancestral Tours to Great Britain Ltd., 24 Murray St., Norwalk, CT 06851. Or call 1-800-846-8980 anytime.
France: A Villa Pour Vous
Here's a terrific deal. Fly to Paris, stay two nights in a Left Bank hotel, then on to Provence and spend seven nights in a private villa with a rental car. Then fly home. All this, including the flight from the United States, can be had for an astounding low price from Country Cottages Inc., if you don't travel in the summer months.
Prices are based on the number of people who book into a villa.
Contact Country Cottages at 2300 Corporate Blvd, N.W., No. 236, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Or call 1-800-674-8883, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Spain: You Can Dig It
You help with an anthropological dig at two sites called Black Cave and Big Hill at Murcia in southeastern Spain. Already found are the remains of 21 Neanderthals, remnants of extinct animals and stone tools used to butcher them.
Working as a volunteer for 14 days, you'll contribute to work that might determine why these Neanderthals disappeared 35,000 years ago and whether they were the true ancestors of modern humans. Projects start on July 10 and 24, and Aug. 7. Price: $1,795. The cost, plus the air fare, can be deducted from an itemized income tax return; most is credited as a charitable contribution but a small part is covered by expenses incurred while volunteering.
Other European volunteer projects include studying wild goats on Crete, restoring an 18th-Century manor house and fields in Hungary and studying Copper Age people who lived in Spain's Balearic Islands.
Contact Earthwatch Institute, P.O. Box 9104, Watertown, MA 02272-9104. Call 1-800-776-0188, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.
Swing into the saddle, pardner - or whatever the Greek equivalent is - and ride along Greece's Pelion Peninsula. Swim with your horse in the Aegean Sea, trot through mountainous woodlands of hazelnut and beech and see the brilliantly whitewashed buildings in the villages. And it's not only not very expensive, it's easy enough for nonexpert riders.
The eight-day trips, including six days of riding, are set to depart May 30, June 20, Sept. 5 and 26, and Oct. 10. Price: $900. Other European rides in England, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Estonia and Italy. Contact Equi-tour, P.O. Box 807, Du Bois, WY Or call 1-800-545-0019, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays.
Russia: Volga Boating
Take a two-week trip down the famed Volga River from Moscow to St. Petersburg and get a close-up look at Russia as it awakes after decades of communism. You'll also take in historic sites, including Kishi Island's wooden Church of the Transfiguration.
Departures June through August are sold out, but space remains on sailings Sept. 11 and 23. Prices start at $2,695. Other boat tours are available for the Barvarian Alps to Paris; the Danube from Budapest to the Netherlands and from Berlin on the Elbe into Bohemia and Saxony, and along the Rhine and Mosel from Cologne, Germany, through the Alsace region to Switzerland.
Contact INTRAV at 7711 Bonhomme Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105-1961. Call 1-800-456-8100, 10-6:30 weekdays.
Italy: Stroll the Lakes
Here's a walking vacation for those who not only like great views with a little exercise, but also like to stop to buy bread in a local bakery or sip a mid-morning cappuccino in a cafe.
It's an eight-day walk, from six to eight miles a day, through the Lake District with views of the Matterhorn and the Jungfrau, then along wooded trails and including a ferry ride across Lake Como. Walks begin June 13 and Sept. 19. Price: $2,295. Contact: Euro-Walking Tours, P.O. Box 990, DeKalb, IL 60115. Call 1-800-321-6060, 10-6 weekdays.
Belgium: Pushing Pedals
Here is a nifty bike trip with a tempting price of just over $100 a day. For 14 days, travel from London through Colchester to Harwich, take a boat to the Netherlands, then pedal on to Brussels, passing through Amsterdam and Gouda in the Netherlands and Brugge, Ostend and Ghent in Belgium. Included are overnights at hotels, villas, pensions and B&Bs. Departs July 11. Price: $1,595.
Other biking tours include the Swiss and Italian lakes, Italy and the South of France, Ireland's southwest coast, Paris to Frankfurt and Zurich to Geneva. Contact CBT Tours, 415 W. Fullerton, No. 1003, Chicago, IL 60614. Or call 1-800-736-2453, 9-7 weekdays, 9-1 Saturday.
Spain: Habla Usted Ingles?
Teach English to children in the public schools in the seaport city of Rota on Spain's southwestern tip. Each volunteer will teach four one-hour classes a day, using the rest of the time to prepare. Some volunteers may teach cab drivers, EMS professionals or tourism office employees. The two-week program runs March-May and October-November. Price: $1,795, which covers food and lodging.
Now get this, everything - including airfare, which is additional - is tax-deductible if you itemize. Most of it is covered as a charitable contribution.
Other European programs are in Poland, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Ukraine and Ireland. Contact Global Volunteers, 375 E. Little Canada Road, St. Paul, Minn. 55117. Or call 1-800-487-1074, 9-9 weekdays.