NEW VISITORS CENTER IN LONDON. Now the British capital has one-stop shopping for visitor information. The Britain Visitor Center, 1 Regent St., near Piccadilly Circus, offers information about England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as a reservation service. The new center replaces the British Travel Center that was across the street from the new center. The new center is a joint venture between the British Tourist Authority and the tourist boards of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, as well as commercial enterprises including Thomas Cook Hotel and Travel Reservations Ltd., Globaltickets (from Edwards & Edwards), Stanford bookshop and FEXCO.
The center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For help planning your trip before you go, call the BTA's toll-free number, 1-800-462-2748, Mondays through Fridays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time. Or visit the Web at (www.usagateway.visitbritain.com).- WEB SITES ABOUT ISRAEL. A number of Internet sources have information about Israel that could be useful to travelers. They inclue:
- The Israel Ministry of Tourism (www.goisrael.com)
- Archaeological digs (www.Israel.org/archdigs.html#25)
- El Al Airlines (www.elal.co.il)
- ICC Jerusalem (Israel Convention Center) (www.iccjer.co.il)
- Israel Hotel Association (www.israelhotels.org.il)
- Israel Information Service (www.israel-mfa.gov.il)
- Israeli Opera (www.israel-opera.co.il)
- Online tourist pages (www.israel-embassy.org)
Other tourism news: The Nazareth Marriott Hotel, Marriott's first venture in Israel, is scheduled to open late this year. It will be the first international luxury hotel in the city. It overlooks Nazareth's Old City and the Basilica of the Annunciation, the largest church in the Middle East.
- CARIBBEAN ADVENTURES AFTER THE HURRICANES. Swim with dolphins or hike through a rain forest. According to Travel Holiday magazine, the top nature experiences in or near this turquoise sea include these and other activities. Here's a rundown:
Bahamas: Swim with a pod of spotted dolphins with Bimini Undersea's half-day excursion ($99 per person). 1-800-348-4644.
Anguilla: Hike through the rainforest in the center of this pancake-flat island with Oliver Hodge of the National Trust ($15 per person). 264-497-5297.
Cayman Islands: Follow a National Trust footpath on Grand Cayman that takes you through mangrove swamps, mango orchards and moderately rugged terrain with Geddes Hislop from Silver Thatch Excursions. He'll point out herbs that supposedly cure all ills, tiny wild banana orchids and the Cayman green parrot. ($50 per person). 345-945-6588.
Antigua: Visit an uninhabited off-shore island that is a hatching ground for colonies of noddies, terns, brown pelicans and whistling ducks as well as egg-laying sea turtles and the Antigua racer, a harmless local snake.
Dominica: Trek for four hours through rainforest, streams and the Valley of Desolation to reach this bizarre natural wonder. You'll stay in the eight-room Papillote Wilderness Retreat. An expert wilderness guide shows you the way. ($85 per person). 1-809-448-2287.
Martinique: V.T. Tilt's half-day bike ride traverses the island's lush Green Belt, exploring the Foret de Rabuchon, dense with bamboo and mahogany trees, crossing the White River where you'll stop for a swim and spinning past sugarcane plantations and horse farms. A gourmet picnic is included. ($50 including bike rental.) 011-596-660101.
Barbados: Visit the Andromeda Botanic Gardens on the clifftop estate of the late Iris Bannochie. Beginning in 1954, the proprietess planted 200 species of exotics from around the world. The garden includes six terraced acres of fern gullies, plant grottoes, orchids, oleander, bougainvillea and hibiscus. ($5 admission.) 246-433-9261.
Trinidad: Caroni Bird Sanctuary is on lush wetlands on the northwest coast and open only to small boats. Hundreds of scarlet ibis come home to roost every afternoon. Winston Nathan's 21/2-hour tours will get you there. ($10 per person.) 868-645-1305.
- ARTFUL WASHINGTON, D.C. The nation's capital will host two distinctly different exhibits in the near future. The National Portrait Gallery will feature 14 Andy Warhol prints that center around the assassination of JFK. Called "Flash . . . November 22, 1963" it includes silk-screens of the news images associated with the assassination.
The images are accompanied by wire-service type narration taken from news reports at the time.
The exhibit runs through Nov. 29. Information: 202-357-2700; (www.npg.si.edu).
- The National Gallery of Art will host the 70-painting Van Gogh exhibit. "Van Gogh's Van Goghs" is on loan from Amsterdam's popular Van Gogh Museum while it is closed for renovation and expansion.
The exhibit, which covers all phases of the artist's career, runs in Washington from Oct. 4 through Jan. 3, then shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from Jan. 17 to April 4.
Admission to the National Gallery of Art is free, although passes will be required for the exhibit. Information: 202-737-4215; (www.nga.gov).