Tip Sheet


Trips For Trailblazers

If you relish beating the crowds to up-and- coming destinations, you should be looking at central Africa, and at Libya. The North African nation has long been popular among British, German and Italian tourists. Now the Americans are coming. Since Washington lifted a 23-year-old travel ban to Libya in February, more than a dozen U.S. tour operators have begun organizing trips. The Libyan Embassy in Canada, which currently accepts North American applications, received more than 60 U.S. requests in March alone.

There is plenty of reason to go. Libya boasts five World Heritage sites--including Leptis Magna, the largest and best-preserved Roman city outside Italy--and Cyrene, an ancient Greek city that's home to the temples of Zeus and Apollo. The accommodations are improving, too; Tripoli has the five-star Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel, and the Netherlands and Italy recently announced plans to build resorts along the Mediterranean coast.

Adventurers have been heading to war-ravaged Uganda and Rwanda since the United States and Britain lifted travel restrictions nearly two years ago. The chief attraction: tracking the region's 650 remaining mountain gorillas. Rwanda issued 7,305 gorilla-trekking permits in 2003--up from 2,155 in 2001.

Such trailblazing trips are not for the faint of heart; Rwanda recently boosted its military presence in Volcanoes National Park after a fire fight between Rwandan rebels and the Rwandan Army near the gorillas' habitat. But they can be rewarding. A sampling of tours:

Primate Safaris (prima-tesafaris@rwanda1.com) Arrive in shape for four days of gorilla trekking in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park; it can take hours of hiking up volcanoes before you find a gorilla family to watch. From $1,450.

Volcanoes Safaris (volca noessafaris.com) The Classic Uganda and Rwanda 12-day safari includes rare overnight stays in all three gorilla parks--Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda, and in Rwanda. Professional trackers follow gorillas at night so guests can see them in the morning. From $3,600.

Dragoman (Dragoman.com)

The North Africa, Libya and Cairo trip begins with three weeks in Libya. After visiting the ruins, you cross the Sahara by camel and jeep, then decamp in Egypt. From $3,015.

Bestway Tours & Safaris (www.bestway.com)

The 13-day Libya: From the Sahara to the Mediterranean tour stops frequently at local markets and mosques. Libyans even invite groups into their homes. From $2,800.


Adriatic Jewel

George Bernard Shaw called Dubrovnik, Croatia, paradise on earth. The rest of Europe has caught on; this gem on the Adriatic is the in place to be this summer. Tip Sheet paid a visit before the crowds to check it out:

STAY at the Grand Villa Argentina (hoteliargentina.hr), which is close to the Old Town and boasts a private beach, gorgeous rooms, a spa and indoor and outdoor pools.

EAT next door at the Taverna Rustica for delicious seafood and a fabulous view of nearby Lokrum Island. Or try Dundo Maroje, a cramped but cozy local favorite in the Old Town.

SHOP at Dardin Gallery for gorgeous (if overpriced) chunky jewelry. Excellent art galleries--like Studio 57 and Gallery Sebastian--are scattered through the Old Town.

TOUR the city walls--the most dramatic in all of Europe--for exceptional views. From here you can see how the city's been refurbished since the shelling ended in 1992. (Nearly 70 percent of all Old Town buildings took at least one direct hit.)



A quality cut and blow-dry don't come cheap. Fortunately, several upscale hairdressers have student salons to ease the pocketbook pain:

Trendy Toni & Guy has academies from London to Tokyo, where a cut and blow-dry cost $9 (normally $86; www.toniandguy.co.uk).

Custom color treatments at Vidal Sassoon's schools in the United States, Germany, Britain and Canada start at $30 (normally from $45; sassoon.com).

Ecofriendly Aveda Advanced Academies--in Berlin, London, Minneapolis and Toronto--will cut your hair at no cost (aveda.com). The catch: you must be "open-minded."


Reruns On The Go

Couch potatoes are so '90s. With Sharp's Wireless Aquos liquid-crystal TV, you can catch "Friends" reruns while wandering the house. The LC-15L1U-S model ($1,800) has a 15-inch screen with up to three hours of battery time. The set comes with a Wi-Fi transmitter for easy hookup to cable feed, camcorder or DVD player. But you have to stay within 50 feet of the box.


A Thorny Pastime

Ah, the joys of gardening: spring sunshine, muddy knees, gorgeous pink peonies. It's good for both body and soul. But tending to your flower or veggie bed can also do damage--especially to your back and joints. Before you even start the digging, do a five-minute warm-up: stretch your arms and legs, take a quick walk around the yard. Reduce your odds of strains and sprains by avoiding the squats and bends as much as possible. Long-handled tools limit the awkward stretching that can hurt your back, which should be flat, not twisted. Cushioning pads or a sitting stool will reduce pressure on the knees. And shears with soft grips can help ward off repetitive-stress problems. Be sure to mix up the tasks. "Dig one or two holes, then do some pruning," says horticulturist Charlie Nardozzi of the U.S. National Gardening Association. "That way you're not stressing the same area of the body over and over again." Wear a hat and gloves, drink lots of water and slap on the sunscreen. And, of course, don't forget to smell the roses.