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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thaw Out Locally, Travel Globally This Spring

Winter is over. The streets are cluttered with groups of women who have left their furs at home, and lovers walk while gazing into each others' eyes instead of down at potentially hazardous ice patches. Aside from just plain lust, spring also brings with it wanderlust.

To satisfy that desire in style, it's no longer necessary to venture outside the former Soviet Union. There is a new travel option -- staying in town and spending the weekend at the Moscow Country Club (Tel: 926-5919).

Located next to a 140-hectare forest one hour's drive northwest of Moscow's center, the country club is offering a weekend promotion at their European Spa and Sports Club, which is usually only open to members.

For $195 per person, guests get two nights of accommodation in the 120-room hotel and full use of the club's sports complex with its Turkish steam bath, Finnish sauna, Russian banya, or bath, swimming pool and gym. There are also two tennis courts, a squash court, a basketball court and a salon for hair styling, facials and massage.

A trip around the club's 18-hole golf course, which is curently closed for the winter, is not included in the price.

Club manager John Cairns said the weekend offering will not last much longer as it is designed to acquaint newcomers with the club's facilities.

For those who want to take more drastic steps and get far out of Moscow, there is good news. According to Michael Hart, the manager of Atlantic Travel (Tel: 155-0339), airfares from Moscow are dropping.

"Fares usually go up April 1, but they're getting more competitive," said Hart, explaining that because there are more airlines doing business in Moscow for more business travelers, prices have fallen. "The fares I have this year are lower than this time last year -- except Aeroflot fares, which are going up."

Examples of these low fares and novel package tours abound. Take Smart Travel International (Tel: 233-1765), which is offering an educational excursion to the Czech Republic. The topic for traveling scholars: beer. The trip, which runs from May 1 to 4, includes airfare to Prague, accommodations with breakfast and three dinners with beer as well as tasting tours of the Pilsner Urquell, U Fleku and New Town breweries. Also included is a sightseeing tour of Prague and bus transportation through Zatec, the hop-growing region, to Pilzen. The price is $560 per person and reservations must be made by April 22.

For those eager capitalists who have been cooped up for the winter with not enough to buy, MOSCO Travel (Tel: 956-5445) offers some cheap shopping tours -- specifically planned for people who want to travel to exotic locales and buy things.

For fashion fans, MOSCO offers a Thursday-through-Sunday trip to Milan, Italy, with airfare, accommodation in a four-star hotel, daily breakfast and dinner for $580.

To combine shopping and leisure, one week in Antalya, Turkey, including airfare, transfers and accommodation in a three-star hotel is $299, with upgrades available. Antalya, Turkey's principal holiday resort on the Mediterranean, is also known as the Turkish Riviera. It is a popular vacation destination for Muscovites because it's close and competitively priced.

Coral Travel International (Tel: 217-2191) is offering a package to Antalya that includes seven nights in a five-star hotel, airfare, transfers and a guide for $389.

SVO Travel (Tel: 202-2293) has a trip to the white-sand beaches of the Kemer resort of Antalya. The $598 package includes airfare and seven nights of accommodation in a five-star hotel with breakfast and dinner. A 14-night stay costs $943.

The same agency also has a package available to Spain. That trip consists of a flight on Aeroflot to Malaga, bus transfer to the Torremolinos beach resort, seven nights accommodation in a four-star hotel including breakfast and dinner for $795.

Super Nova Travel (Tel: 292-3019) also offers a package to Antalya of seven nights in a four-star hotel with breakfast and dinner and airfare for $512. A similar trip to the Limassol beach resort in Cyprus is offered for $587.

For those who would like to visit Antalya, or elsewhere, independently and not as part of a package tour, Alpha-Omega Travel (Tel: 928-9958) has tailor-made packages to Istanbul, Antalya and Budapest as well as more exotic destinations like the world's rain forests.

Alpha-Omega's director, Jim Kingston, said "If somebody wants to stay on a desert island in the middle of nowhere we can fix it."

Kingston declined to quote any prices.

In other travel news: SAS (Tel: 925-4747) is offering a promotion to introduce its new Moscow-Copenhagen connection. If a person buys a business class ticket, the spouse can buy an accompanying ticket for 10 percent of the fare. For example, if a business class ticket to London costs $1,568, a spouse can buy the ticket for $156. Besides offering cushier seats and better service and food, business class tickets can be rebooked as often as needed or refunded should you cancel your trip.