New Cash for 2008 Andorra Ski Holidays

Austria, Switzerland and Andorra were among the European ski countries last year who saw a decline in ski holiday visitors, and Andorra has been investing in her facilities to try and tempt the skiiers she lost back for the 2008 season.

In the past Andorra has grown in stature from a destination offering cheap ski holidays to one that can compete with the best that Europe has to offer, with a growing number of ski holidays being taken in the country over the last decade to the point where it was attracting some ten million tourists a year.

But unexpectedly the rise in visitors to Andorra came to a screeching halt for the 2006/7 ski season, and the ski slopes closed two weeks earlier than anticipated due to a lack of snow that saw many other resorts in Europe, especially in countries with low lying slopes like Austria, badly affected by the lack of natural snow.

The Andorra economy is unusually reliant on the ski holidays industry, the other main activity being the financial and banking industry due to her tax haven status, and the weather in Andorra refused to play her part last year. Some estimates suggest takings for supermarkets, petrol stations, department stores and supermarkets were down some 40 per cent compared to 2006 in the main ski holiday areas.

The good news for the Andorra ski holidays industry as it hopes for an improved 2008 holidays season is that the snow – notably absent last year – started to fall in November, and long range weather forecasts suggest that January through to April could see enough snow to give Andorra skiiers good snow depth, and little if any need for snow cannons to make up any shortfall.

But the tourist authorities are determined not to be caught out again, and continue with the progress made in the last twenty years that has seen Andorra rise impressively from a cheap ski holiday destination to one that caters for the middle and upmarket price range with UK ski holiday specialist companies like Crystal ski offering a full range of holidays in Andorra.

Private money as well as finance from the banks in Andorra have helped to upgrade Soldeu, a main Andorra ski holiday resort, to a high class status with new hotels and upgrades for existing ones.

Andorra Weather

In total it is estimated that nearly 200 million Euros has been invested in Andorra’s on-mountain ski facilities, and the figure rises significantly when off-mountain spending is taken into account, such as the new hotels in Andorra, notably in the top ski areas of Soldeu and Arinsal.

The ski areas of Andorra have been praised by many in the industry for having the capability of producing enough man made snow to cover over 40 per cent of the ski domain, but investment has continued to further this already high amount by having for the 2008 ski holiday season over a thousand snow cannons in place – although it is hoped they don’t have to be used much.

‘The aim of the Andorra tourist authorities’, comment local travel guide, ‘is to ensure that when skiiers choose Andorra the resorts will do everything they can to make their holiday a memorable one for all the right reasons – and to see them again in future years as they decide Andorra is a good skiing holiday destination.’

The upgrading of facilities and road infrastructure has also increased interest from those looking for a European tax haven and considering taking Andorra residency.

Andorra is one of the most sought after tax havens in Europe with no income tax for her residents, and is second in popularity only to Monaco, but enjoys the same tax benefits.

One of the big differences between the two is the cost of a property. Real estate in Monaco is among the highest in the world with a studio often costing over a million Euros, while Andorra real estate is considerably less with good two bedroom two bathroom apartments for sale from around 300,000 Euros.

To show the skiing fraternity that Andorra is capable of meeting their expectations for the 2008 holiday season, and importantly to meet the expectations of ski companies like Thomson ski, Andorra will have 450 ski instructors over seven different resorts, and to maintain her family friendly atmosphere four creches.

All in all, Andorra will be able to compete as one of Europe’s top skiing destinations this year.

Hiking Tips you Haven’t Heard Before

Do you need these hiking tips? You do if you ever get blisters or twisted ankles or knee pain. In fact, I stopped getting blisters at all over ten years ago. More on that in a moment. First, lets look at some basic preparation and precautions to take when planning a hike.

Hiking Tips – Preparation

If you haven’t done anything physical in a while, you really should try to get in shape before taking a long hike or a backpacking trip. Not only will it make much more enjoyable, but the process of getting ready will point out any problems you might have (sore back, knee problems, blisters, etc.).

Take a hike near home with a fully loaded pack to see how far you can comfortably go. If you are going to be backpacking in running shoes rather than hiking boots, you’ll want to strengthen your ankles. A simple way to do that is to hike on uneven ground. This will flex and exercises your ankles if you do it at least several times in the week or two before your trip.

If you will be traveling in the mountains, try bicycling to get ready. This uses a lot of the same muscles you use when hiking uphill. Of course, regular bicycle rides are also a fast way to boost your aerobic capacity. That can help you walk faster more comfortably.

Buy the right equipment before your hiking or backpacking trip. To be honest, on a short hike you can get by with almost anything. But if you plan to be deep in the wilderness, get some decent clothing for that purpose. Jeans get soaked easily in the rain and stay wet, which is uncomfortable, and can be dangerous if it is cold outside. A nice hat can keep the sun out of your eyes, and a rain jacket can keep you safe and warm.

Carry enough water. If you have any problems with pain when hiking, you should probably carry aspirin or other pain relief, even on short hikes. Map and compass are a good idea of course, and tell someone where you’ll be.

Hiking Tips – Taking Care Of Your Body

I stopped getting blisters the moment I gave up hiking boots and hiking socks. They create a hot, humid environment that is perfect for creating blisters. Even on longer backpacking trips, I use thin nylon socks and lightweight running shoes. You may want to try it. Chances are, you’ll never go back to heavy socks and boots. If you are worried about ankle support, strengthen those ankles! (See above.)

You should also develop a routine for keeping your feet dry and comfortable. Stop occasionally and take off your shoes and socks. Air out your feet for a few minutes. If the socks are wet, replace them and hang the wet ones from your pack to dry. Remove any sand or small sticks and stones from your shoes. If your feet get particularly hot, soak them in a cold stream for a while. Do this, and you’ll get a lot more comfortable miles out of them.

If you get knee pains when hiking, the long term solution may be special exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Short term, you can buy a simple elastic knee brace to see if that helps. You might also want to try arch supports. They cost less than ten dollars and can help stop knee and back problems that are related to over-pronation (flattening of the foot when walking). The combination of these two seems to have cured my knee problems.

What if you are out hiking and get sudden knee pain? Here are a few tips: Icing the knee for a while with cold water from a stream or with snow can help. Resting with the leg elevated usually helps a little as well. Making a walking stick from a branch or small tree and using it especially on downhill stretches can take some of the pressure of the knee.

Still too painful to walk? The inner bark of willows and poplars contains a compound that is similar to aspirin. You can scrape the spongy bark off and make a tea of it, or try just chewing some up. Better yet, just use the hiking tips in part one and be prepared.

Budget Hotels in Florida and California

Budget hotels are hotels that offer discounts, freebies and packages for their guests. Florida and California have many budget hotels.There are various budget hotels, Luxury Inns, and beach resorts in Florida as well as in California. Some of these resorts are St. Augustine Beachfront resort, Avalon Waterfalls front Inn, and the Continental Hotel. The resorts, hotels, or what so ever in the areas mentioned above has different tourist packages. The Florida Hotel and Beach resort even offers a free trip package around the Universal Studios and Disney World.

Florida Area

Listed below are some budget hotels in Florida.

• Pensacola Best Value Suites and Inn

This inn has many freebies once you have checked-in. The freebies include unlimited local calls, breakfast every morning, drinks plus a snack. Pensacola is located at #7159 Boulevard Pensacola, Florida. It offers sixty charming guestrooms that have the following amenities:

  • cable television
  • radio
  • hairdryers
  • clock
  • business services
  • wake up call
  • iron with ironing board
  • refrigerator

Pensacola Best Value Suites and Inn charges a minimum of only 40 US dollars per night.

•Daytona Value Inn Beach Resort

This attractive, charming, and beautiful Inn is located at #1350 South Ridgewood Avenue Daytona, Florida. The resort offers free food, snack, drinks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has seventy guestrooms that have the following amenities:

  • television
  • clock
  • microwave oven
  • hairdryer
  • refrigerator
  • iron with ironing board
  • radio
  • wake up service
  • 24 hour security

Thus, Daytona Value Inn beach Resort offers reasonably priced accommodations for the budget-conscious vacationers. It has an average price of 30 US dollars a night.

•Kissimmee Hotel

This hotel is just near Disney World. The exact location of this hotel is #193-highway boulevard, Florida. Many tourist attractions are just in close proximity with this hotel such as the Florida Theme Park, the Disney World, Universal Studios, EPCOT, Sea World and some major parks. It is a perfect site for the family, newly wed couples and for business trips.

Hotel amenities include:

  • friendly room service
  • clean accommodations
  • cable television inside the guest rooms
  • internet access
  • coffeemaker
  • bathtub
  • air-conditioned rooms
  • over-sized beds
  • microwave oven
  • Jacuzzi
  • Spa services
  • Disney ticket center
  • Shuttle services to attractions
  • Tours and activities
  • hairdryer
  • radio
  • refrigerator

This hotel allows smoking and pets inside the rooms. Kissimmee Hotel has a discounted, low-cost package for vacationers. The hotel charges 87 US dollars a night.

California Area

Hotels in California are like the hotels in Florida for they also offer huge discounts and vacation packages. Low-priced services are charged by some hotels that are fit for the whole family as well as your colleagues if you are planning for a business trip and of course, for the tourists. Some of the attractions in California include Disney land, Lego land, Gas Lamp and other the wonderful beaches, them parks and historical structures.

Listed below are some of the most affordable hotels in California.

•Estancia La Jolla Hotel

This beautiful, attractive hotel’s address is 97600 North Torrey, California. This affordable hotel offers spa designed guest rooms. It also gives the guests free food, drinks as well as snacks throughout their reservation.

Hence, many enjoyable activities are offered by the hotel through their packages such as horse back riding, boat riding, swimming, and snorkeling.

The hotel amenities are the following:

  • cable television
  • refrigerator
  • internet access
  • microwave oven
  • iron with ironing board
  • business services
  • coffeemaker
  • parking
  • of course, air-conditioned rooms
  • hairdryers
  • 24 hours front desk service
  • room service

Thus, Estancia La Holla hotel allows smoking within their areas. The average cost of this hotel is 45 US dollars per night.

• Florence Hotel

This budget-friendly hotel is located at 29 Boulevard Avenue, California. It is perfect for wedding receptions, group vacations as well as family vacations. This hotel is also good for business trips and for the budget-conscious customers. The hotel serves complementary breakfast and dinner.

The hotel’s 64 guest rooms have the following:

  • Radio
  • Coffeemaker
  • Air-conditioner
  • Iron with ironing boards
  • microwave
  • Cable TV
  • Internet connection

Florence Hotel does not forbid any pet inside the guest rooms. Parking, laundry, wake up calls and dry cleaning services are also provided with a fee. Rooms are available at a low price of 43 US dollars a night.

•Heritage House and Hotel

This hotel is ideal for business trips and honeymoons. It has a distinct relaxing ambience and breathtaking scenery. This charming hotel is located at 5300 North Highway, California. It has a 24-hour service, parking areas and gives free breakfast for its guests. The guest rooms are culturally designed.

Overall, the Heritage House and Hotel has 44 guest rooms and all of which have the following amenities inside the rooms: internet connection

  • cable television
  • refrigerator
  • coffee maker
  • alarm clock
  • iron with ironing board
  • air-conditioner
  • hairdryer
  • microwave oven

All rooms are discounted and are being offered at an affordable prize. The hotel charges 50 US dollars per night.

Packing Tips for Coping With Airlines’ New Carry-on Restrictions

travel packing tips
Flying can be confusing these days, with rules and regulations that seem to change on an almost daily basis. If you are flying, one of your most important concerns is the weight and size of your carry on bag, as well as what is allowed on board and which items are prohibited. Knowing what is allowed on a carry on is important because it can help you save time at the airport.

One reason that the carry on policy is confusing is that it not only varies by airline, it can vary depending on your destination. Whether you are in first class or not also influences what is allowed in your carry on. The Association of Flight Attendants has been campaigning for some time for a consistent carry on bag rule, but to no avail. The best advice is to carefully check your airline’s website for their rules and if something is not clear, call them. You should also check with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) before you travel, for the most up to date information.

In general, most airlines still allow you to take one carry on bag as well as what they call a personal item. These items include a backpack, purse, laptop or camera. The maximum allowable size of your carry on bag can vary, but as a rule of thumb, it has to be able to fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. The maximum weight limit on the carry on bag is usually around 40 pounds; the maximum size usually around 45 linear inches. This is defined as length, height and width added together.

There is not really a clearly defined size or weight limit on the personal items. Some passengers see it as a way to take two carryon bags, but unfortunately, this limits the available storage space in the overhead bins for everybody else. At least one airline has taken steps in an effort to enforce the carry on policy. In early 2008, Delta announced that they would label all carry on items for international flights with a tag indicating that they had been approved to carry on board the flight.

Many passengers are still understandably confused over the rules concerning liquids in their carryon bag. You are still allowed to bring liquids onto the plane with you, but they must all be in containers holding 3 ounces or less. All of the containers must be able to fit inside a one-quart size Ziploc type bag. The definition of a liquid includes creams, lotions, gels and shampoos (you can only take a drink on board the plane with you if it was purchased after you passed through security).

The plastic bag then has to be passed through the X-ray screening device separately. If you have liquids in larger containers or too many containers to fit in the one plastic bag, you may have to put them in your checked luggage. Exempt from this 3-ounce rule are baby formula and medication and if you do carry on medication, it should be in the original labeled container. It is also a good idea to take a prescription or doctor’s note, just in case you are asked for it.

So what should you pack in your carryon bag? It is a good idea to have all your essentials in your carryon bag in case of delays or the airline losing your checked bag. In

your carryon bag, you should include your prescriptions, basic toiletries, plane tickets, passport and any other important paperwork. A change of clothing is also a good idea. Some experienced travelers only pack a carry on and do not bother to check a bag. This saves time and eliminates the possibility of the airline losing their checked bag.

The importance of packing lightly and efficiently cannot be stressed enough and many airlines are flying smaller planes on their routes, which mean overcrowded flights and less carry on space.

Packing a carryon bag can be a difficult task due to the laws that seem to change regularly. The best way to ensure a stress free flight is to research your airline ahead of time because the airline should have their rules available. This allows you to know exactly what is allowed. The basics of packing a carryon bag include remembering that liquids have to be in a 3oz bottle. It is also a good idea to pack clothing, necessities such as medication, a passport and other important documents. Many problems can occur with checked luggage and it can sometimes become lost. This is the most important reason for including your most valuable items in the carryon bag. Consider these tips next time you are planning a flight, but you should also check with your airline.

Getting to Michigan Craft Shows

by Gary Tristan

Activities are always abundant at fairs and festivals. There are always a variety of themes, from the traditional carnivals with sometimes a nod to the old renaissance niche some people like. But whatever the theme may be, there is always one common factor that makes these events the same in nature: The craft shows are always there.

All people enjoy seeing amazing pieces of arts and craft once in a while, but buying one of your own is a bit better, even. And there’s no better place to shop around for nifty finds than in the different festivals and fairs held around Michigan. If you’re looking for something like an intricately carved piece of wood, or even a gorgeously embroidered piece of cloth to put in your home, you’re sure to find these items at the fairs.

Also, if you have some skill or talent of your own, you may also opt to showcase your stuff, instead. If you are skilled at glassblowing, for example, why not try showcasing your wares at a fare? Don’t let just family and friends appreciate your art, it’s a good idea to register at shows and let other people see what you can do. All it takes is a bit of looking around for the right event for you.

Now, on the matter of choosing the right event, there are two things that have to be considered. Firstly, it has to be held in a place that is most convenient to you. If you have to cross the Mackinac bridge to go there, for example, it may not be such a good idea. Travel expenses disqualify the idea from being worthwhile.

Next, it’s also advisable to check out the craft show you are eyeing. Has it been successful in the past? If the show takes place annually, it’s a good idea to ask around for the show’s credentials. The event organizers will be glad to answer any questions you have. A craft show that does well is, of course, proud of their standing and will not mind answering such questions.