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March 8, 2004 -- Spring is in the air, and perhaps a degree of confidence is rising (like sap) in the veins of the travel industry, which senses the appeal of higher summer rates to come. So grab the opportunities while ye may, as they are still thick on the ground.

Like TourCrafters' neat deals to Central Europe, good for travel through March 31. These are big bargain packages to three of the continent's loveliest cities, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. All are for four nights and include roundtrip air from New York, daily breakfasts, hotel service charges and hotel taxes.

A Spring Break in Vienna includes the air from New York, as well as from Philadelphia or Boston, starting at $425, with a stay at the three-star Hotel Capri. Located between the Prater and Stephansplatz, the Capri has reasonably large rooms and is close to public transport. Hotel upgrades and flights from other US gateways are available for an extra charge. Departures on Friday through Monday also cost more.

For four nights in Budapest, you will pay from $522 and stay either at the three-star Hotel Emke or the four-star Starlight Suiten, both in the center of Pest. The Starlight has an indoor pool and suites. As for Prague, the same number of nights start in a package from $517, in which you stay at one of two four-star hotels, the Ametyst or the City Hotel Moran. The former is near public transport in the quiet Vinohrady district and has all modern amenities, while the latter is a modern hotel in an historic building close to the Vltava River and the tram to the Old City. In both hotels, daily breakfast and hotel service charges and hotel taxes are part of the package.

Prices are per person and for double occupancy, subject to availability. For more information visit the company's website at www.tourcrafters.com or phone them at 800/621-2259 during normal business hours.

Alumni Campus Abroad

Pricier AHI International takes you touring to splendid places, teaching while you're having fun. In this year's ten-day "Andalucia" program, you explore Seville, Cadiz, Jerez, Marbella and more, as well as spending a day in Gibraltar, last bastion of Britain's empire in these parts. Your headquarters hotel is the deluxe Parador de Ronda in the ultra-pretty walled town that is home to Spain's oldest bullring.

One evening is devoted to learning about flamenco dancing, while other programs deal with modern Spain and life after Franco, the Moors, the history of Andalusia and bullfighting traditions. There's also a Meet the People panel discussion, with local residents participating.

Costs start at $2,795 per person, with roundtrip airfare from the US to Malaga, transfers between airport and hotel, a seven-night stay at the parador, three full meals daily (dinner with wine), welcome reception, farewell reception and dinner following a "graduation ceremony." There are 11 travel dates for 2004, from March 22 through October 18.

Contact AHI International at www.ahitravel.com or at 800/323-7373 during normal business hours.