WHAT The Richard Wagner Festival, held every July and August (next year, July 25-Aug. 28) in Bayreuth, Germany. But tickets must be ordered by Oct. 15.
WHY GO Because it's the operatic experience of a lifetime. Because, what- ever one thinks of the man personally, Wagner was a brilliant musician intimately involved in every aspect of his art. Because you will never see a more perfect setting for opera.
TICKETS For those with money, a tour operator is the way to go. The various Wagner Societies (see below) can sometimes get tickets (about $10 to $170 per opera) for members. The rest of us must write to the ticket office (Bayreuther Festspiele, Postfach 100262, D-95402 Bayreuth, Germany) and get on a waiting list. Not an exercise for the impatient: I waited nine years.
HOW TO PREPARE Start with the music; repeated listenings will help you discover the truth behind Mark Twain's statement, "I'm told Wagner's music is better than it sounds." Recommended reading: William Berger's "Wagner Without Fear" and Frederic Spotts's "Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival."
GETTING THERE Fly to Munich and take a train to Bayreuth, about a three-hour trip. Or rent a car for the three-hour drive.
WHERE TO STAY The festival's Hotel Reservations Office can arrange accommodations. We stayed in the Hotel Grunau, just east of Bayreuth, where rooms were about $80 per person per night, including a huge breakfast.
COOL SOUVENIR Buy postcards of the operas you are seeing (available at kiosks) and mail them to yourself at the special Festival House post office that opens an hour before each performance.
FOR MORE INFO The official festival Web site (www.festspiele.de/tmt/index.html) is in German; for an English rundown, check out www.bayerischer-hof. com/festival/info.htm. In D.C., the Wagner Society of Washington (301-907-2600, www.wagner-dc.org) offers lectures, workshops and a newsletter. --Garrett Peck
5 Nights in Paris for $70; Dulles and BWIA
WHAT'S THE DEAL?
* France Vacations is offering a Paris deal that's like getting five nights of hotel and breakfast for less than $70. The catch: You have to connect in Newark. The offer includes a Continental round trip (BWI-Newark-Paris), five nights at select hotels and daily breakfast for $579. (Travel between Nov. 1 and Dec. 11, 21-day advance purchase required, taxes additional.) The low price applies only if you stay at the plain, tiny-roomed, otherwise-$88-per-night JdP Montparnasse, in the 14th Arrondissement. Choose among 23 other hotels and the total ranges from $599 to $1,119. A room by the Eiffel Tower puts the total at $619; $689 puts you in a furnished flat (in Bastille, sans breakfast and housekeeping). To compare: Fly direct from BWI or Dulles for $516 on several carriers, and arrange hotels yourself. 1-800-720-6716 or www.france-vacations.com.
* On Oct. 31, British West Indies Airlines will resume service from Dulles to a handful of islands and is celebrating its return with fares $65 to $200 lower than usual. Nonstop flights to Barbados are $354, to Antigua $388 and to Port of Spain in Trinidad $399. Travel must be completed by Dec. 8, and you must depart on specific days (for example, Barbados travel must be on Wednesday or Sunday). Taxes are not included and 14-day advance purchase is required. 1-800-292-1183 or www.bwee.com.
SITE OF THE WEEK
For low air fare updates: http://yahoo.travel.com
Just like those e-mail fare-tracker services, the Best Fare feature of Yahoo's Travel page tracks low quotes along your selected routes--but posts them, with constant updates, on a Web page. Use the "Edit" key to select your favorite/obligated travel destinations, bookmark the page after you're done and you'll always have an updated, one-click-away report showing lowish fares to the places you're likely to go.
TRAVEL TIP 115
It Happened One Flight
PROBLEM: You're traveling to cooler climes and would like to pack long underwear, but can't spare the luggage space.
SOLUTION: Take a pair of real silk pajamas--the classic, unisex, "It Happened One Night" type. Not only are they comfortable, multiclimate pjs, but they can double as emergency long johns.
TIP REPORT: Silk is the key, emphasizes tipster Melissa Ennis of Arlington. "Silk under pants-shirt-jacket is a terrific insulator. Poly isn't. But real silk is washable and can be had cheap on sale."
Send travel tips (100 words or less) to us by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org); postcard (Travel Tips, Washington Post Travel section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071); or fax (202-334-1069). Winners receive a Washington Post Travel section T-shirt. No purchase necessary. Tips become the property of The Washington Post, which may edit, publish, distribute and republish the information in any form.
HOME NEXT WEEK?
D.C.'s Festa Italiana has opera, espresso and more. Oct. 10, Third Street NW between F and G, 301-249-5524.
Smyrna, Del.: Oct. 9, Snow Goose Festival, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, 302-653-6872. It's time for 100,000-plus snow geese to fly south; Delmarva celebrates with birding tours, waterfowl- calling lessons and a . . . snow goose cooking demo?
Oakland, Md.: Oct. 9-17, 150th Birthday Celebration/ Autumn Glory Festival, 301-387-6171, www.garrett- chamber.com. What do you get a town for its sesqui- centennial? Freshly churned apple butter and more.
Ketchum, Idaho: Oct. 8-10, Trailing of the Sheep, 208-725-2111, www.visitsunvalley.com/media- center. Pamplona for the sheepish. Run with the ewes as they migrate down Highway 75 and through Main Street.
Tempe, Ariz.: Oct. 17, Fiesta Bowl Duck Race, 480- 350-0909, www.tostitosfiestabowl.com. At this fund- raiser, rubber duckies are tossed into the Salt River Canal Project, where they bob down a 1/4-mile course.
Gifu, Japan: Through Oct. 15, Cormorant Fishing Festival, 212-757-5640. Local fishermen forgo night crawlers for the skilled birds, which catch the fish, then cough them up. Reserve an onboard seat--to cheer, sip sake and taste the freshest sushi.
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