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JOTTINGS IN A JOURNAL INTERGALACTIC MATRIMONIES IN LAS VEGAS.

Byline: - Staff and Wire Services

Las Vegas has never been particularly inhibited when it comes to the staging of weddings.

Excess? Consider some of these offerings:

--At the Las Vegas Hilton, the bride and groom can dress in their intergalactic best and utter their vows aboard the USS Enterprise while ``Star Trek'' characters look on. The setting is the hotel's multimillion- dollar attraction, ``Star Trek: The Experience,'' and wedding packages start at $2,000. Information: (702) 697-8700.

--At the MGM Grand, Merlin is the master of ceremonies, woodland spirits escort the wedding party, and a fire-breathing dragon attempts to interfere with the vows. All this takes place on the stage of the lavish production show ``EFX.'' Packages cost $4,995. Information: (800) 646-5530.

--At the Treasure Island resort, the Britannia - a replica of an 18th-century British warship that does daily battle with a pirate ship - can be the setting for nautical nuptials. Someone dressed in the garb of a British sea captain will conduct the ceremonies. Packages start at $2,995. Information: (800) 866-4748.

Diamonds are a traveler's friend

Las Vegas recently passed Chicago to become the U.S. city with the most four-diamond rooms.

The American Automobile Association awarded Treasure Island with the prestigious four-diamond rating at the beginning of this month. That raised to 17,205 the number of Las Vegas rooms in the category.

Chicago is second in the nation with 15,758 rooms, San Francisco third with 14,084.

AAA annually rates more than 25,000 resorts on 30 different criteria, including quality of public areas and guest rooms. Only about 3 percent of the properties evaluated by AAA gain a four-diamond rating.

Fuel prices high not only at pump

Crude oil prices have soared, and air passengers are paying for it.

All of the major domestic airlines are imposing a fuel surcharge on domestic tickets. The charge is $10 on one-way tickets and $20 on round trips, except for Alaska Airlines, which is charging half as much, and US Airways, which is limiting the surcharge to advance-purchase fares.

Southwest, which has both low fares and short flights, is imposing a charge of $2 on flights up to 600 miles, $6 for 600 to 900 miles and $8 for longer flights.

The fuel surcharge is the equivalent of about a 3- to 4-percent increase in overall domestic fares, according to Brian D. Harris, airline industry analyst at Salomon Smith Barney.

Outlining the roots of your family tree

They're not what you'd tuck into your knapsack for picking out the best restaurants in Warsaw or a place to lay your head in Kiev, but Miriam Weiner's voluminous guides to archives in Eastern Europe could be very helpful for anyone trying to trace Jewish family roots to the vanished world of pre-Holocaust Poland, Ukraine and Moldova (which incorporates the former Bessarabia).

The encyclopedic volumes - ``Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova,'' published last year, and ``Jewish Roots in Poland,'' which came out in 1998 - offer town-by-town listings of archives, from birth, death, marriage and divorce records to voter and tax rolls, draft registrations and property listings, some going back to the 1700s.

The books, published by the Routes to Roots Foundation and the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, are lavishly illustrated with maps, photos and period postcards.

The books cost $50 (Poland) and $60 (Ukraine and Moldova), plus $8 shipping and handling. To order, call (800) 742-5403 or visit www.rtrfoundation.org. For more information about the book, call (201) 866-4075.

Following in their 19th-century steps

Paris, always a city for browsers, is even more so if you have in hand ``Impressionist Paris: The Essential Guide to the City of Light.''

Written by Julian More and published by Pavilion/Trafalgar Square ($19.95 for the paperback), the book provides detailed itineraries for 30 walks and drives in and around the city, along routes well worn by Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Pissarro, Sisley and their artistic brethren. It provides a way to see, or at least imagine, the charm and elegance of late 19th-century Paris through their eyes.

The book begins with a brief introduction to impressionism, from its early days in the Fontainebleau forest to its final days in Paris and southern France. Organized geographically, the chapters - on Montmartre, the Seine River valley, both banks of the Seine in Paris and the River Oise, to name a few - are full of information, both historical and practical.

Travel agents take exception

The consolidation of the airline industry represents a threat to competition and consumer interests, the American Society of Travel Agents argued in a recent filing before the Department of Transportation.

ASTA called for an investigation ``into the anti-competitive ramifications of the airlines' continued commission cuts'' and warned the DOT that the airline industry ``is rapidly taking on the characteristics of a global cartel.''

In recent years, airlines have cut agent commissions, formed alliances among themselves and encouraged the use of direct online booking by passengers. ASTA says all these steps point to ``one intended result, and that is a total domination of the distribution system under the guise of empowering the consumer.''

Smokies are packin' 'em in

More people came to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last year than ever before.

Nearly 10.3 million people visited the Smokies in 1999, park officials say. That's a 3 percent increase over 1998 and a record for the 65-year-old forest preserve on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. A mild winter and below-average rainfall may have been factors, says Acting Superintendent Phil Francis.
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Title Annotation:Travel
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 13, 2000
Words:920
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