QI'm looking for a tour group that runs bike trips in the western United States or Europe, hopefully one that caters to single travelers. Any ideas?

Scott Kirkwood


ABackroads (800-GO-ACTIVE, www.backroads.com), an upscale outdoor tour company, offers the largest selection of bike tours for singles. It has 11 biking itineraries for singles in Europe and nine in the western United States. The company will match you with a roommate and won't charge a single supplement, even if it doesn't find you a roommate -- as long as you book more than 60 days in advance. A six-day California wine country trip is $2,298 per person double, plus air. A nine-day camping tour in Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon national parks for advanced bikers is $1,698 per person double, plus air.

If you want a cheaper trip, try Cyclevents (888-733-9615, www.cyclevents.com). It doesn't offer trips just for singles but says about two-thirds of its participants are single travelers. The company has tours in Europe, Alaska and Hawaii and also organizes riding events, such as "SPUDS-Cycling Around Idaho," a five-day trip that costs $350, plus air, with camping. A nine-day "Best of France" tour with camping is $1,100, land only.

Other companies include Experience Plus (800-685-4565, www.experienceplus.com), which provides bike tours for singles to Italy, France, Greece and Costa Rica; and the World Outdoors (800-488-8483, www.theworldoutdoors.com), with multisport trips in the United States, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.

My daughter and I plan to spend one night in Victoria, B.C., and two nights in Vancouver following an Alaskan cruise. We'll be staying in downtown Vancouver and at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. We'll be dependent on public transportation. Can you suggest where to go and what to do?

J. Cadeaux

Silver Spring

Victoria, on Vancouver Island, is about a 90-minute ferry ride from the city of Vancouver.

Victoria's Fairmont Empress is a fully restored historic hotel within walking distance of many sites, including Craigdarroch Castle, a 39-room Victorian mansion; Thunderbird Park, with its collection of totem poles; and the adjacent Royal British Columbia Museum, which hosts the special exhibit "Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art From the British Museum" starting in July. Butchart Gardens, 55 acres of plantings, is about 14 miles from Victoria; Gray Line (250-388-5248, www.grayline.com), which offers a four-hour Butchart Gardens and Butterfly Gardens tour for $43.50 that leaves from the Empress Hotel daily. For more info: Tourism Victoria, 800-663-3883, www.tourismvictoria.com.

You can also walk to many sites from downtown Vancouver, or you can take the Vancouver Trolley tour, a 23-stop, $20 tour that hits all the key sightseeing spots. City highlights include Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America and home to the Vancouver Aquarium; Granville Island, a combo artists colony/farmers market; Gastown, the city's old town area; and the Vancouver Art Gallery, with 8,000-plus artworks. Info: Tourism Vancouver, 604-682-2222, www.tourismvancouver.com.

I want to visit the island of Iwo Jima next February/March for the 60th anniversary of the battle that took place there and the site of the famous flag-raising photo. Are there any tours?

Tom Stiltner

South Beach, Ore.

Military Historical Tours Inc., of Alexandria, is under contract by veterans groups to conduct a tour March 8-14 to mark this epic battle, which involved 70,000 U.S. Marines. More than 6,000 Marines were killed during the invasion, which many know best through the picture snapped on Feb. 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal.

Tour participants will primarily be veterans and their family members, but the tour is open to others. The group will travel to Saipan and Guam before going by charter plane to Iwo Jima on March 12 to attend a memorial ceremony, which will include dignitaries from both the United States and Japan. Tentative cost is $3,395 per person double, including air from Los Angeles; an optional three-day Peleliu Battlefield tour is about $995. Info: 800-722-9501, www.miltours.com.


Several readers have favorite small-group tour operators to add to our list (Travel Q&A, May 16). Joan Mitchum of Springfield recommends TraveLearn (800-235-9114, www.travelearn.com), which takes a maximum of 20 participants per tour. Mitchum said her trip to Egypt in February had only seven members. "It was such a wonderful trip that we have booked Costa Rica with them," she said. Hugh C. Foster of Reston recommends Overseas Adventure Travel (800-493-6824, www.oattravel.com), which limits its tours to a maximum of 16, and Odysseys Unlimited (781-370-3600, www.odysseys-unlimited.com), which takes between 12 and 24 on each tour. Caroline Pickens of McLean says she had a "terrific tour of Eastern Europe with just eight other people" with Earthbound Expeditions (888-842-9799, www.earthboundexpeditions.com), where groups average 17 participants.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071).