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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Made Your Plans for Y2K?




Torn between Let's-go-somewhere- fun-for-the-millennium and It's- only-another-New-Year's-after-all- so-why-bother attitude? You may as well leave this philosophical puzzle for later and book a trip now. Otherwise, you won't have a choice: You'll just stay home.


Anyone who has traveled during the winter holidays knows all about inflated rates and desperately sold-out economy class. However, booking a flight to even the most popular destinations is still possible, and fares seem not much higher than in summertime - so far. Travel agents say those who wait until after Dec. 15 should expect to pay about 20 percent more.


Booking hotel rooms is a different matter - they are harder to find and generally much more expensive than usual.


Ticket availability is already starting to become completely unpredictable, Moscow travel agents said this week. Airlines flying to Paris, New York, Berlin, Rome and London have seats for certain dates - but if they are available in the morning it doesn't mean they won't be gone by the end of the day.


Yet even those who wait until the last minute have hope of finding a flight, said Irina Makarova, who works at the Travel House tour agency. Many people change their travel plans at the last minute and many airlines either cancel flights or set up others, especially this year because of the Y2K scare. Makarova said it's best to avoid flying from Dec. 30 to Jan. 3, when flight cancellations and delays are expected.


Absolutely all destinations are popular this year, but South Africa, Thailand, Bali and Singapore are in particular demand, according to Makarova. They offer sun, and the pricey flights are compensated for by cheaper accommodations and food than in Europe and America.


For example, Travel House can book a double room in a five-star hotel in Bali for $400, while the same class hotel in Paris goes for double the price.


Paris appears to be many Russians' first choice for New Year's. Aeroflot has already sold out all its flights to Paris at the end of December. Air France, though, still has $550 flights for any day around Christmas.


The French capital is celebrating the new millennium by laying an egg - literally. At midnight, a giant "egg" at the base of the Eiffel Tower will crack open and reveal a wall of video monitors broadcasting images of Year 2000 celebrations from around the world. On the tower itself, 20,000 lights will shine in honor of the new millennium.


An equally dramatic light show will take place around the Arc de Triomphe. On New Year's Eve, the dozen avenues that spill into this famous circle will each become one of the hours on a clock, with rotating laser beams atop the arch indicating hours and seconds. At exactly midnight, the beams of light will converge on the Champs-Elys?es.


Or you can join the million or so folks expected at Times Square, where New York is planning a mega-event at "the crossroads of the world" that is billed as a celebration of all peoples and cultures on the planet.


Every hour beginning at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Dec. 31, when 2000 is being greeted in the South Pacific, giant video screens around the square will broadcast a "cultural moment" highlighting the sights and sounds of 24 countries around the world - until the New Year has been celebrated in all 24 time zones.


The Tesis travel agency (Tel. 937-4827) offers non-refundable tickets on Delta to New York for $589. Mosco travel agency (Tel. 956-5445) has Delta tickets for $540 if you leave after Dec. 16 and return after Jan. 10.


If you want to be among the first to see the sun rise in the new millennium, go to Australia. Sydney Harbor will be the site of a 24-hour blowout party, featuring a spectacular fireworks show. After the fireworks, the party will move to Hyde Park, with music, food, drink, and dancing into the next millennium.


The major Australian travel company in Russia, TSI, (Tel. 937-7838, 7836) sells week tours, including stays in four-star hotels in Sydney and on the Gold Coast. A $3,400 Japan Air package is planned for Dec. 22 to Jan. 4, and a Air China package, running Dec. 27 to Jan. 10, costs $2,900.


One of the greatest millennium shows will take place in Egypt, which is also one of the more affordable destinations. Especially for the event, famous light-and-music artist Jean-Michel Jarre has composed an electronic opera called "12 Dreams of the Sun." The concert, accompanied by surrealistic laser pictures projected on the Giza pyramids, will go on for 12 hours.


Troyan tour agency (Tel. 916-4131) is offering a trip to one of the most popular Egyptian resorts, Hurgada, combined with a two-day visit to Cairo for the show.


A week in a four-star hotel in Hurgada costs $1,275 including airfare. A round-trip flight to Cairo, concert ticket and a night at a hotel is an additional $470.


Or what more appropriate place to meet the new millennium than in the Holy Land of Israel? The Madrigal tour company (Tel. 924-4775, 7651) organizes a trip to Israel starting Dec. 24, just in time for Western Christmas. The trip includes four days in Jerusalem and then a bus trip following the path of Jesus from the Dead Sea to Eilat on the Red Sea. The $1,550 package includes stays in five-star hotels and excursions.