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An inexpensive riding holiday in Europe, please

My wife and I are interested in riding holidays in Europe - preferably not too expensive. Any suggestions?

DM Walken

York

Jill Crawshaw replies: There are plenty of riding holidays on offer - though they tend to be expensive. They divide into two types - those where you stay at one centre, riding out each day, others where you ride from place to place, proceeding at a steady walk and occasional trot.

Among the first group; you can ride the famous Lipizzaner horses on one of Slovenija Pursuits (017063 852646) farmhouse holidays near the Lipica Stud founded in 1580 to provide horses for Vienna's Spanish Riding School. At Medljan Farm, the daughter runs her own riding school with seven horses. The cost is approximately pounds 320-pounds 380 for a week's self-catering in an apartment on the farm, near the coast.

In Corsica, where the coast and stunning interior are superb for riding, Corsican Places (01424 460046) offers full or half-day rides from two centres, led by qualified instructors along ancient tracks and through shepherds' villages. The cost of a week for a couple is from pounds 398 per person.

Inntravel (01653 628811) offers both centre-based and trail-riding holidays in Spain, France and Italy, as well as short weekend breaks in Normandy, so that riders can improve their skills or try out trail-riding. These cost from pounds 294 for 3 nights' half-board including the ferry fares.

If you want to see the treasures of Tuscany from the back of a locally- bred Maremma horse, you can spend a week based at the Rifugio Prategiano near the village of Montieri, riding out each day with picnic lunches (you may have the chance of going swimming with your horse) - the cost of a week's half-board by air is pounds 765-pounds 879. Centre-based and trail-riding in the Catalan Pyrenees, staying at a rural farming inn, with rides led by Englishman Michael Peters start at pounds 389 on a self-drive basis, pounds 550 by air, half-board.

Equitour or Peregrine Holidays (01865 511642) also has a brochure to stir your blood with riding holidays worldwide. Their choice in Europe varies from the Perigord Trail in the Dordogne, staying in local hotels en route (pounds 610) and the Castles of the Loire (pounds 995) to the Pilion Ride in Greece, 200 miles north of Athens, overnighting in local tavernas and houses (pounds 545).

Finally Arctic Experience's (01737 218800) Viking Horse Safaris (five to nine nights) and mini-treks of one to five nights cost between pounds 635 to pounds 1299 (including flights). All Icelandic horses are pure-bred and they tell me that no horse has ever been imported since the time of the Vikings. They're known as the "four wheel drive" horse and offer a great opportunity of travelling between glaciers, rivers and ice caps to parts that other forms of transport can't reach.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and a broadcaster.

Are university halls of residence a good deal?

I would be interested in staying in university halls of residence during the summer holidays. Is there a central agency that deals with self catering accommodation, or should one contact the colleges?

Jane Carnell

Leicester

The travel editor replies: University accommodation is fast becoming a popular alternative to hotels and B&Bs.

It is available during the Easter and summer breaks. At some universities there is also a limited amount available during term time. The British Tourist Authority has a guide which lists all London universities offering holiday accommodation. It can be contacted on 0181 846 9000.

However, the British Universities Accommodation (BUAC) is the central point of contact for organising acommodation anywhere in Britain. It markets facilities for individual and family holidays, conferences and study breaks. A venue -finding service for business conferences and other events, is also provided.

Having contacted BUAC with your specifications, you will be advised as to the colleges worth contacting. Alternatively you can ask to be sent a list of the universities providing the service and work through it yourself.

The options are extensive, ranging from single, twin and double rooms, to self-catering flats and houses. More often than not, sports facilities are available.

BUAC advertises facilities throughout Great Britain and Ireland (excluding southern Ireland). The price for accommodation will vary depending on where it is located and what facilities are required. As a rule, self- catering accommodation costs begin at around pounds 50 per week, bed & breakfast pounds 12-15 per day and an en suite in London, pounds 30-40 per day.

For further information or a BUAC brochure, write to: British Universities Accommodation Consortium, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD or telephone: (0115) 95 4571.

How best to get to Lisbon for Expo '98?

I would like to go to Lisbon for Expo' 98. Do you know of any companies offering inclusive trips with flights, three nights' B&B and a ticket to the Expo?

Jill Holt

Wiltshire

The travel editor replies: There are many tour operators offering trips to Lisbon Expo '98. Unicorn Holidays (01582 834 400) can offer tailor- made upmarket packages from pounds 456, which includes flights and taxes, three nights B&B at the five-star Ritz Hotel, and a one-day ticket to the Expo. A budget option would be to go for an ordinary short break city deal with an operator like First Choice. Their lead price of pounds 249 includes flights and taxes, and three nights B&B at the 3-star Hotel Roma. Once in Lisbon you would have to buy your own one-day Expo' ticket for 5000 Escudos (pounds 17). If these two options don't tempt you, call the Portuguese Trade and Tourism Office ( 0171 494 1441) who will be able to supply you with a list of tour operators offering tailor-made and short break packages. Bear in mind that the Expo will be taking place from May 22 to September 30 and accommodation is likely to be at a premium for this period.

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