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Destination Dublin . . .

. . . Italian bike racing, and one great guidebook

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Dublin or Nothing
Once little more than a quaint but poor relation to London and Paris, Dublin has suddenly emerged as a hot destination -- thanks to Ireland's booming economy, its foot-and-mouth-free cattle, and a strikingly youthful population (almost half are 25 or younger). Dublin's ground zero is the newly gentrified Grafton Street area, with hard-to-find and even harder to get into clubs like Dakota (353-1-672-7696), 4 Dame Lane (353-1-679-0291), and Spy (353-1-677-0067). Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (353-1-676-4192) is the equal of New York's best, and newer spots like Bang Café (353-1-676-0898) and Pearl Brasserie (353-1-661-3572) offer haute cuisine at bargain prices. Stay at the brand-new Four Seasons Hotel (353-1-665-4000; doubles start at $318), or, for added cachet, consider the U2-owned Clarence Hotel (353-1-670-9000; doubles start at $239) or the Morrison (353-1-887-2400; doubles start at $284).

Easy Does It
We wish all guidebooks were as good as Malcolm W. Campbell's Play Hard, Rest Easy: New England, the first in a new series that serves serious outdoor types who want first-rate accommodations and restaurants. "Adventurous travelers don't necessarily want to rough it," says Campbell. "I grew tired of consulting multiple guidebooks just to plan an active yet civilized weekend away." Campbell accurately anatomizes eleven regions, from Vermont's Mad River Valley to the Berkshires, alternating between "Wide Open" sections -- think river kayaking in the White Mountains and snowshoeing in Connecticut -- with "Kick Back" sections, featuring options like antiquing, shopping, and spas. Dining and lodging descriptions are spot-on, with insider tips on which room to request and what food to order. In bookstores this June, from Walkabout Press, Inc. ($19.95).

Wheels of Fortuna
Ladies and gentlemen, start your macchine. Italy's legendary Motogiro motorcycle race is back after a 44-year hiatus. (Created in 1914, the 850-mile race fell into disfavor after the war and was canceled in 1957.) Over 300 bikers are expected on June 5 for the six-day, Ducati-sponsored tour, which begins and ends in Bologna, following much of the original course through Chioggia, Rimini, Terni, and Poggibonsi. While the touring class is open to all makes and models, there are only 120 spots in the racing class, reserved for those with pre-1957 bikes. The entry fee and hotel accommodations can be had for $450, and some discount plane tickets are available. Contact 39-011-8-173-486 or info@moto-giroditalia.com.
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Delay Satisfaction Skip the preflight shoe shine and have a massage instead: British Airways just opened a business-and-first-class club at JFK. Terraces Lounge offers free spa treatments (circulation massages, hydrating facials), soothing fountains, and chirping birds -- plus separate juice, cappuccino, and wine bars. Room with a Gpu Opening June 15 in the land of Microsoft and Amazon.com, the Elliott Grand Hyatt Seattle promises to set new standards for high-tech hotels, with laser Internet access, custom networks, e-mail accounts, Websites on the hotel's server, and, get this, a system that will ensure your cell phone works anywhere -- even on the thirtieth floor. Rooms start at $270 (206-262-0700). Ticket to Fly Priceline.com is making it easier for procrastinators with some new last-minute services. You can now book a hotel until 6 p.m. for the same night, and a car just four hours before you need it. And starting this week, Priceline users can buy plane tickets until 11 p.m. the night before departure.


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