More options in -- and to -- new, bigger EU

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he European Union expanded to 25 nations May 1, and operators are pitching product to the 10 newest members.

Continental Journeys has 55 independent and escorted tours to eight of the countries, such as three-night city stays to seven World Heritage Cities in the region -- including Tallinn, Estonia; Budapest, Hungary; and Krakow and Warsaw, Poland -- priced from $199 to $249 per person, land, with hotel, breakfast, city tour and transfers.

Agent pay is 10%. For details, call (800) 995-8643 or go to www.continentaljourneys.com.

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Rail Europe and DER are pushing train travel by railpass as the ideal way to tour the new EU. Products include the European East Pass, which is valid on Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Slovak and Austrian trains, at $158 in second class or $225 in first, for five days of travel in one month.

Commission is 5% to 9%, depending on booking method. Contact Rail Europe at (888) 382-7245 or http://agent.raileurope.com, or DER at (800) 782-2424 or online at www.der.com.

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Getting to the bigger EU is a little easier this summer, with Austrian Airlines Group carrier Lauda Air adding one flight a week between New York (Kennedy) and Vienna.

From June 26 to Sept. 12, Lauda Air will fly from Vienna each Saturday afternoon, returning overnight on Sunday.

Austrian Airlines Group offers connections to Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Cyprus; call (800) 843-0002 or visit www.austrianair.com.

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Back in "Old Europe," Avis added Swiss, Italian and Belgian itineraries to its selection of Personally Yours self-drive guides.

The new guides cover Geneva and the Alps in Switzerland; Greek and Roman Antiquities and Tuscany in Italy; and Gothic Cathedrals and Battlefields in Belgium. Avis' brochures feature routes outlined on Michelin maps, pinpointing up to 12 towns; mileage between towns; and descriptive passages.

To order, call (800) 698-5674.

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Clients tooling around Belgium on a self-drive tour will probably stop in EU capital Brussels.

Summer discounts at hotels include a $129 nightly rate, with breakfast, at the Brussels Marriott, available daily July 17 to Aug. 2. E-mail [email protected] or visit www.marriott.com/brudt.

The Hotel Amigo offers $195, double, rates July 16 to Aug. 26; e-mail [email protected] or go to www.roccofortehotels.com.

And the Hotel Mercure's Belgian Beer Weekend is about $118 a night, with double room, buffet breakfast for two, two tickets to the Cantillon Brewery, four subway tickets and a map. It's available daily in July and August; call (011) 322-220-6908 or visit www.mercure.com.

To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].

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