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Stratford On Avon Inn Perfect For Low-Cost Visit With Shakespeare

Q. Can you suggest a small, clean hotel, budget hotel (not a B&B;) in Stratford On Avon, England, where we can stay for two nights while attending two plays? We will be driving a rental car, so we would like free off street parking. - W.G., Colfax.

A. I’ll bet you’ll just love the Moonraker Hotel, Alcester Road, Stratford On Avon, Warwick CV37 9DB; phone (011) 44-1789-299-346.

This fine 10-bedroom inn is just outside the city midway between Shakespeare’s birthplace and Ann Hathaway’s Cottage. All the rooms have private baths, classy coordinated decor and many have four-poster beds.

The hotel has a car park, lounge and garden patio and currently charges around $60 for a double room. You can send me a postcard from this bay-windowed beauty.

Q. If we based ourselves in Lisbon, would we be able to take day coach tours to other areas of Portugal or should we stay overnight in several towns? We do not wish to take a formal group tour and will be renting a car. However, we’d rather not drive more than we have to, so we would like to take a few tours without being locked into any overnight trips. - G.C., Sandpoint.

A. There are many half- or full-day coach tours operated by the RN Tours Travel Service, Avenido Fontes Pereira de Melo 14, 12th floor, 1098 Lisboa, Portugal. The company offers coach tours from Lisbon to the many nearby places of scenic or historic interest. RN also has its own fleet of rental cars and English maps and guidebooks.

The tours are well-organized and the coaches are modern and comfortable each with a multilingual hostess on board. I’d suggest you consider full day visits to the Royal Palace of Queluz and Sintra’s two royal palaces returning via Cascais and Estoril.

Another interesting full day would be to Coimbra, which would include a visit to the ancient seat of the Knights Templars, the beautiful 12th century Convent of Christ, and “Portugal in Miniature,” a display of the nation’s houses and monuments in scaled-down form.

A full day trip to the medieval walled village of Obidos is a must, followed by Alcobaca for a visit to the 12th century monastery, and the fishing village of Nazare, where the women still wear colorful costumes.

In the afternoon you can visit Batalha’s magnificent monastery and Fatima, then return to Lisbon along Ribatejo plain.

Half-day tours might include a trip to the fishing and summer resort of Sesimbra across the Tagus bridge, with a visit to the Jose Maria da Fonseca winery at Azeitao.

You can find information on all of the above tours and many others at your hotel and/or Lisbon tourist office.

Bottom line: Yes, you will surely enjoy staying in Lisbon several days to enjoy its treasures, as well as having easy access to the best of the countryside.

For a package on how to enjoy the the capital and the nation, write: Portuguese Tourism Promotion Board, Rua Alexandre Herculano, 51 - 1200 Lisboa, Portugal.

If I were you, I’d stay at the York Hotel, Rua do Pau da Bandeira, 4 - 1200 Lisbon; phone (011) 351-1-395-0005. A converted 16th century convent, the York is a bit out of the mainstream but an easy walk or drive to all the city’s major sights. Comfortable, hand-carved beds, fresh plants and flower-boxed windows make this little hotel a real gem in this fascinating city.

The “Cadogan Guide to Portugal,” (Globe Pequot Press) is an excellent new text to use in planning your trip.

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