'04 Olympics...Lille, France...Sydney for vegetarians
Can I still get tickets for the summer Olympics—and an affordable hotel room in Athens?
—K.M., GUILFORD, CONN.
The official ticket agent of the United States Olympic Committee, Cartan Tours (800/360-2004; www.cartan.com ), projects that tickets for individual events at this year's games (August 13-29) will be available through July and range from $14 to $410. But to improve your chances of seeing a popular event like the men's gold-medal basketball tournament, place your order soon—seats for these high-profile competitions typically sell out months in advance. If you're traveling with a group, renting an Athenian residence through Filoxenia '04 (30-210/327-7408; www.filoxenia2004.com ; from $1,846, six-night minimum ) is a better value than booking a hotel room. Rentals—which can accommodate two to eight people—range from apartments within walking distance of Olympic venues to villas with private pools. (Airport transfers, maid service, liability insurance, and a 24-hour English call center are also included.)
I'm visiting a friend in Lille, France, this month. What activities or events should we look into?
—N.T., VIA E-MAIL
Lille is sharing the title of European Capital of Culture this year (with Genoa, Italy), so now is the perfect time to visit this oft-overlooked city, just a 60-minute TGV ride north of Paris. Some 2,000 cultural events are scheduled throughout the year, including an interactive exhibition on the history of video games, an avant-garde circus inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales, and a reconstruction of Shanghai's Ramblas, complete with an imported tea pavilion. Two must-see events this month:
• Through June 14, a new Rubens retrospective makes its debut at the Palais des Beaux-Arts Lille (Place de la République; 33-3/20-06-78-00; www.exporubens.com ; $10 per person ). On view will be 165 of the 17th-century artist's most famous paintings, sketches, drawings, and tapestries.
• From May 14 through 16, the Rococo fêtes galantes of French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau will serve as a backdrop for three nights of classical and jazz concerts at Le Phénix theater in nearby Valenciennes. (Centre de Congrès; 33-3/27-32-32-32; www.lephenix.fr ; from $9 per person ).
My partner and I are headed to Sydney. Any good vegetarian restaurants to recommend?
—D.G., EL CERRITO, CALIF.
Australia may be known for its meat-centered barbies, but Sydney has a sophisticated vegetarian scene. Half of the menu at Harvest Vegetarian (71 Evans St., Rozelle; 61-2/9818-4201; dinner for two $53 ), just west of downtown, is vegan. Standouts include sweet-potato gnocchi and tarts filled with leeks, Gruyère, and walnuts. The Chinese yum cha (known as dim sum in the States) is a lunchtime institution at Bodhi Restaurant (2-4 College St.; 61-2/9360-2523; lunch for two $27 ). The city's five Iku Wholefoods (www.iku.com.au ) are sleek macrobiotic cafés, serving meals that are free of animal and dairy products, cane sugar, and preservatives. The most upscale outpost, in the hip Darlinghurst area (62 Oxford St.; 61-2/9380-9780; lunch for two $22 ), embraces this asceticism without sacrificing taste: think rich soba laksas with pickled sprouts on the side, and tofu cheesecake sweetened with palm syrup and topped with vanilla-soy cream. For dinner and a movie, look no further than Govinda's (112 Darlinghurst Rd., Darlinghurst; 61-2/9380-5155; dinner and movie for two $29 ). After a buffet that includes south Indian lentil soup, spiced tofu, pakoras, and chocolate mousse, diners head upstairs to an intimate movie theater to see recent Hollywood releases.
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