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March 2008

The London Underground

10

March

For travelers who have never been to, or aren’t familiar with London, the underground rapid transit system, much like the subway system in New York, can be a great help for getting around, quickly from place to London Undergroundplace. With hundreds of stops, detailed schedules, service near airports, hotels, popular attractions, and virtually everywhere, The London Underground is one of the most popular ways to traverse the city, for both locals and those there on vacation. Urban areas can be frustrating, and hard to reach if you’re not sure where you’re going, or don’t do so well with directions. However, reading over the schedules, many tourists will find that the rail runs pretty much everywhere, and at various times, which can help a frustrated situation as well.

The London Underground, despite being a very old rapid transit system, will never remain a stagnant railway. Throughout the years, quite a few different changes have been taking place in the Underground’s railways. The city of London has expanded over the years, which means that the city’s transit must as well, and several new projects for expansion are in the works for the Underground. Some examples of new projects are the new station for the Heathrow Airport, on the Picadilly line, another new station on Wood Lane for patrons at the Westfield London shopping center, as well as others. Some projects are more time consuming, like the re-extension of the Bakerloo line to Watford Junction; it used to end at Harrow and Wealdstone.

One of the newest ways for travelers to take advantage of the London Underground, is called The Oyster Card, which is basically a prepaid card for all public London transportation, whether it’s the tram, the Underground, or the bus system. This is probably the most convenient of travel fund methods for travelers; having to keep track of multiple tickets and payment methods and prices can be a hassle. The Oyster Card is also cheaper to pay for than so many separate tickets; there’s a lot of encouragement to use the Oyster Card so there are significant prices differences in the usual rates for the transportation were it to be all paid for with separate tickets instead. More and more frequently increasing as well, are the number of routes on which passengers can pay as they go.

Information for travelers is available in the many different Underground stations found throughout the city, as well as online. Some helpful trips for traveling are to keep your travel information and tickets readily available, in your wallet or purse, so that you can check on important information at the last minute. Also be sure to bring a map of the route, know where your stops are, and at least have a cursory knowledge of the area. If you’re traveling with a family, be sure to bring snacks if it’s going to be a longer trip, but keeping an eye on your small children is very important, public transportation is dangerous in many ways to small children, with strangers, and a fast-paced atmosphere. Keep a close eye on any baggage or belongings as well.


Val-d’Isère-Timeless Memories

10

March

The location of Val-d’Isère is one of perfect convenience for what it offers travelers. The famous ski resort is in France, of course, but since it lies merely three miles, or five kilometres from Italy, most people traveling to the valley can get both a vacation to France, and a vacation to Italy all in one deal. Aside from the convenience of its location, most famous about Val-d’Isère is the fact that it is one of the world’s largest existing ski areas. Also a fact, is that the small town prides itself so much on the resort’s beauty, that their resort is self titled as “The Most Beautiful Ski Area In The World.” The town itself, is most recognizable because its beautiful French architecture; most of the building and public structures are hundreds of years old, and have been preserved and repaired, or added onto, over the years by villagers who want to protect their historic town.

The activities tourists will find in Val-d’Isère are winter based, but happen to be much more than skiing. There are a wide range of cozy, relaxing things to do, and adrenaline-pumping, cold weather sports.

  • Tourists who want to spend a relaxing vacation, can lay at their leisure and be pampered in a massage parlour, or a soothing whirlpool bath.
  • For those seeking a fun chance to learn something with the entire family, Val-d’Isère offers cake making classes; what a skill to go home with, being taught how to make a French cake from scratch, by the French themselves!
  • Another exciting winter activity offered in Val-d’Isère is dog sledding. Pile into a sled while a team of huskies drag you all over Val-d’Isère’s frozen plains.
  • For those who prefer to be the ones in the driver’s seat, you can amp up your vacation by speeding over the snow and ice in a rented snowmobile.

Besides just these are many more activities, like ice skating, sky diving, parasailing, learning to walk in snowshoes, and many others.

The culinary arts practiced in Val-d’Isère are traditionally French, which are generally considered by the world to be the most elegant and refined. French hot cocoa is probably going to be one of the highlights of your trip, as it is served made from real regional cocoa, and milk. Fancy dinners can be found in the resorts, with the traditional grace of French cooking, however, once most people have settled in they realize that French stews, and soft pastries, are more warming than the delicious, but light meals served at high prices. French bakeries are world renowned for their soft, delicious breads, and their genius with sweet pastries. French wines and cheeses also await the palate of any visitor in Val-d’Isère, as well as cozy warming comfort food, such as chicken soups, beef stews, and warm bread.

Accomodations in Val-d’Isère range from the luxury catered chalets, to more modest bed and breakfast establishments, or rooms opened by local families on farms or in town. The ‘catered chalet’ is basically a villa, or small home, especially for vacations, there are supplied with service and food, by the resort that owns it. Other options are lodgings within the cozy hotels in the area, rather it is of luxury five star standards, or simply a nice warm place to relax after a cold day of winter fun. Transportation around the town is easy; a free shuttle, or bus runs throughout the town providing free transportation for both tourists and the locals. The town is small enough, that you can also get around quite easily on foot, but the bus is definitely a convenience for tired feet.