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Take a tour of Cyprus

Question: Are there tours that go to both the Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus?

Answer: The head of the Turkish-occupied northern side of the island opened the border in late April and Cypriots have been going back and forth since. American tour operators, though, have not yet scheduled trips that include crossings of the border.

But some companies can arrange custom tours that include trips to the Turkish side. For example, Kyle Ekinci, general manager of Sunny Land Tours, 166 Main St., Hackensack, NJ 07601, toll-free 1-800-783-7839, fax (201) 487-1546,, said it could arrange for a guide to tour the Turkish side or even a stay at a beach resort there. It is possible, he said, to fly into the Greek side, cross over, take a ferry to Turkey and return home from there.

At Homeric Tours, 55 E 59th St., New York, NY 10022, toll-free 1-800-223-5570, fax (212) 753-0319,, Anastasia Philippis said it, too, could customize a tour that visited the Turkish side.

In general, according to Maria Zoupaniopis, a spokeswoman for the Consulate of Cyprus in New York, (212) 686-6016, travelers cross to the occupied area at four checkpoints (the main one is at the Hotel Ledra in Nicosia). They must enter the island at the normal ports of entry (where visas are obtained) and have valid passports. The government recommends against overnight stays on the Turkish side because there are no embassies or consulates.

Tourists are not allowed to take rental cars to the northern part of the island. Most take taxis or walk across the buffer zone to rent cars.

Vassilis Siavelis, information officer at the Cyprus Tourism Organization, 13 E 40th St., New York, NY 10016, (212) 683-5280, fax (212) 683-5282,, said you could hire guides on the island to travel to the occupied area.

Touring auto plants

Question: A pilgrimage by my husband and 10-year-old son to the Mercedes, BMW and Porsche birthplaces is on hold. Are any American sites (Detroit? Lansing?) worth a visit?Angeles

Answer: You would, indeed, have to leave American soil to see where Porsches are manufactured. But tours for the public are available at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala., near Birmingham, and the BMW plant in Spartanburg, S.C. There is one small problem, though: the minimum age for visitors is 12. There are other possibilities, but not in Michigan.

Whatever plant tour you take, remember cameras and open-toed shoes are prohibited and sometimes so are cell phones, backpacks, purses and briefcases; photo ID's and reservations may be required. Because of plant shutdowns, it's a good idea to call ahead.

The Mercedes-Benz plant, toll-free 1-888-286-8762,, is where SUVs are made. Nearby are a visitors center and a museum, where the highlights include an 1885 Daimler motorcycle and an 1886 three-wheel Benz patent motorwagen. Tours: Monday to Friday at 10 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. and at 1 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. Admission: $5.

The BMW plant, (888) 868-7269,, is where the Z4 roadster and X5 sports activity vehicle are built. On the site are a visitors center and museum, where the highlights include a 1928 Dixi and at least one of the Art Cars made by such people as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Tours: Tuesday to Friday at 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., 1 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Admission: $5.

Plants where children 10 or younger are welcome include these:

Kentucky: The GM Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, (270) 745-8287. Reservations are not required. Tours, which are free, are given Monday to Friday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Minimum age: 7. Highlights at the nearby National Corvette Museum, toll-free 1-800-538-3883, online at, include a Corvette from 1953, the car's first year, and prototypes that never made it to the showroom, including the only 1983 in existence. Admission to the museum is $8; it is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no age minimum for the museum. The Toyota plant in Georgetown, toll-free 1-800-866-4485,, runs a tram tour Monday to Friday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. On Thursday there is a 6 p.m. tour. Minimum age: first grade. Free.

Tennessee: The Saturn Spring Hill plant, toll-free 1-800-326-3321, Free tours, on a tram, are Monday to Friday at 8:30 and 10 a.m. and at 1 and 2:30 p.m. (No 8:30 tour on Wednesday.) Visitors can book three months ahead. Minimum age: 6, or 42 inches high. Tours of the Nissan plant in Smyrna, (615) 459-1444, aboard a tram, run Tuesday at 8:30 and 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Minimum age: 10.