Born-Again Baedekers

For a tourist abroad in 1895, Baedeker's guidebooks were the last word on where to put the servants up in Venice, which were the fashionable hotels in Paris and how to rent a carriage in Rome. The question now might be where to lay hands on those originals, which were published from 1832 to 1944 in famous exhaustive detail. (The modern Baedekers are neither as charming nor as collectible.)

Today, the original guides make fascinating reading about how we traveled back when the going was a lot slower and rougher. Bernard Shapero stocks more than 2,000 of the guides in his Travellers' Bookshop in London -- and publishes a catalogue, selling them to "keen collectors worldwide."

Prices start at 20 pounds (about $40) and go up to 500 pounds (about $1,000). Shapero also sells other antiquarian guides and travel literature, new and secondhand guides and travel ephemera. Send five pounds (about $10, depending on the exchange rate) for the catalogue and four pounds (about $8) to cover airmail postage to 25 Cecil Ct., London WC2N 4EZ, England.

The Gift of Experience

Money can buy experience, says Debra Keyes Denniston, who publishes a catalogue of gifts to be "experienced rather than possessed." Forget magazine subscriptions and ghastly cardigans: Send your mother-in-law sky diving for her birthday; give your boss a week at survival school; send your stressed-out spouse to join a demolition team for a weekend.

"A World of Special Experiences" sells all manner of primal and macho and glamour fantasies -- from flight of every kind (in helicopters, balloons, biplanes and Learjets) to makeovers with Ugo di Roma, stylist to the stars, to a shopping expedition with Mr. Blackwell (of list fame).

For a copy of the catalogue, contact Experientia Ltd., 419 N. Larchmont Blvd., Suite 97, Los Angeles, Calif. 90004, 213-962-6282.

Cabs Take Credit

With cash on hand in perpetually short supply, wouldn't you like to give a cabbie credit? Now you can -- at least in New Orleans, where United Cabs accepts charge cards for fares of $5 and more. They take MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover -- and airport reservations. Call 522-9771 (in New Orleans) or 1-800-323-3303. Just be sure you request a credit-card cab, since not all United cabbies are charge-equipped yet.

TRAVEL TRIVIA

When might an Italian yell "Pista!" at you?

ANSWER BELOW

TRIVIA ANSWER: ON A SKI SLOPE, MEANING "GET OUT OF THE WAY!"JUST ASKING

Attention, big-time tchotchke hunters. We're looking for donations. No, not samples of your souvenirs: We have plenty of snow domes, totally tasteless tea towels and artless artifacts. But we would like to know just what you collect as remembrances of trips past. Send a postcard to Worldwise, The Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. And watch this space for results. If there aren't any, it's your fault.