Is Commuting Worth It?

The art of commuting is an acquired taste. I had planned to travel from my home town into the big city for just a year. I’d managed to secure a fixed term opportunity, and a hefty pay rise. I felt as though I could cope with a two hour journey to work, and a two hour journey home, every day. Just for a year.

Twelve months turned into twenty four months, and eleven years later, I’m still commuting.

If you are applying for jobs that require a commute, you must consider the implications on your entire life. Whether your journey goes smoothly or not is beyond your control. You may not have as much spare time to do the things that you enjoy. From experience, life all too easily starts to revolve around the commute.

To decide whether commuting is really worth it for you, you should;

Do Your Sums

Can you afford to commute? Think carefully about all the costs associated; train fares, additional fares (bus or subway), car parking costs, petrol. These costs add up – an increase in wages may be cancelled out entirely by your increased costs. Plus, train fares increase annually; will your wages increase, too?

Become a People Person

Whether you currently like to smell second hand kebabs at close quarters, or enjoy strangers touching you for an entire train journey, as a commuter, you’ll have to get used to it. Seriously. Space is tight, and personal space is a luxury that no rail season ticket can afford.

Plan Ahead

Try to test the journey out before accepting a job with a long commute. There are peak times, and those times are the most popular for fellow commuters. Could you start your day a little later or earlier to ensure that you get a seat on the train? If you don’t manage to get a seat, can you stand for the entire journey? Start thinking about what you’d need to take with you each day – travel cards, laptop, work files, lunch box… these things start to pile up! Can you physically carry all that you need each day, on and off the train when it is packed full?

Have a Goal

If you are hoping to take on a job with a long commute, you are clearly committed to your career. You should start thinking about your long term goals, in work and in life. Would you move to the big city if you could? What job do you hope to be doing after this one? By having a goal in mind, you may be better able to cope with the daily grind!

After considering everything, a job is a job. We all need to work in order to have shelter, food and clothing. To desire anything else really is a luxury! You should make sure that you have a good work life balance. Always remember, your work to live. Simply living to work is not really living at all.

Hitting the Pistes in La Tania

Situated in the Courcheval area in the south-eastern part of France, not too far from the Italian and Swiss borders, the La Tania ski resort sits 1400 metres above sea level. When you fly into the area and arrive at the small resort, the first thing you will notice is that the whole centre of the village is traffic free, allowing you to walk around freely without the worry of stepping into the path of oncoming cars or crossing snowy roads. But although the village of the La Tania ski resort is extraordinarily lovely, wandering its streets is not why people really book holidays to this destination. People come from all over to hit the ski slopes of the Three Valleys, of which the resort is a part. This is an excellent place to go skiing, no matter what your level of experience may be.

The beginners

The La Tania ski resort area is one of the best places to go if you are just a “newbie” when it comes to hitting the slopes. Not only does it have plenty of easy green slopes for you to get your ski-legs on, but it is also home to the largest ski school in all of France, the École du ski Français. There is also the large Magic in Motion ski school, which can teach you all the ins and outs of skiing, snowboarding, speed-riding, tricks and more. Depending on what level you are at when you arrive, and what sort of snow-sport you want to undertake, there is something for you right in the heart of the area.

The skiers

Those who head to the La Tania ski resort with the knowledge of how to ski or snowboard already are in for a real treat. The village itself is served by a 12-person gondola to take you up to the next point. You can then take one of the three pistes back into the village and catch the gondola up again, or you can opt to head over to the Courcheval or Meribel areas.

The experts

The region gives you access to one of the largest skiing areas in the Alps, with a massive 175 lifts, 293 marked runs and a slew of off-piste runs to really test your skills and get your adrenaline pumping. Head over to the amusingly named Plumber’s Crack, and above Cote de Loze, which as at least three runs that are very popular. From the top of the Cote de Loze, there is an excellent spread of off-piste runs with drops and mild cliffs that take you down into the Meribel Valley. Plus, if you want to go further afield, there really is no end to the exceptional off-piste skiing in the area near the La Tania ski resort. But remember, whenever you plan to go off-piste, take care and use the necessary precautions.

Holidays to Sicily – Syracuse, a Southeastern Paradise

Holidays to Sicily are on many people’s “bucket list”, and for good reason. Every year, travellers from all over the globe come to this Mediterranean island (as well as its smaller surrounding islands), drawn by its sunny climate, breathtaking scenery, many gorgeous beaches, cultural diversity, scrumptious cuisine, and historical, architectural, and artistic treasures. In fact, this island boasts no fewer than six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) in Agrigento, which comprises the most well-preserved Grecian temples in the world, to Mount Etna in Catania, one of the largest (two and a half times as large as Mount Vesuvius) and most active volcanoes in the world, holidays to Sicily promise non-stop adventure and endless surprises.

For lovers of history, Syracuse should definitely be on the itinerary. The entire city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Named for its abundance of water, Syracuse was once the home of Archimedes and was described by Cicero as being “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”. Despite being nearly three millennia old, Syracuse retains much of its ancient heritage and the treasures that made it one of the greatest cities of the Magna Graecia. Below, we present a few ‘must-visit’ attractions in Syracuse. Any holidays to Sicily would be incomplete without experiencing these wonders.

The Necropolis at Pantalica

One of the most amazing attractions is the necropolis at Pantalica. Both an environmental wonder and an archaeological treasure, the necropolis at Pantalica is one of the most extraordinary burial sites in the world. The site includes, among other things, the remains of an ancient royal Mycenaean palace (called the Anaktoron). It is situated on a hilltop, with underground caves housing more than 5,000 tombs dating back to 13th century BCE, which bear clues as to both how these ancient citizens lived and died. Offsetting these macabre images is the immense natural beauty of Pantalica itself-a natural oasis supporting an explosion of rare colourful flora (orchids, in particular).

The Archaeological Park

Holidays to Sicily give travellers the opportunity to see various historical amphitheatres, but none are more impressive (or more historically significant) than the Greek amphitheatre in the Syracuse Archaeological Park, upon which Aeschylus once produced his plays. One of the largest in the world, it can seat 15,000 spectators and is still used for the city’s annual Greek theatre festival. The neighbouring 1st century Roman amphitheatre, which once featured gladiators battling against wild beasts or fellow gladiators for the (morbid) amusement of blood-thirsty viewers, is equally impressive.

Piazza Duomo

Visiting historical sites doesn’t have to be all sombre and morbid. For a change of pace, head to the Duomo, a cathedral that has been a place of worship, in one form or another, for nearly three millennia. It began existence as a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena and currently functions as a shrine to Santa Lucia, the patron saint of the region. The square is also the centre for the twice-yearly citywide festival celebrated by locals in honour of their beloved patron saint.

What To Expect From A Design Hotel, Rome Style!

In some cities, it is inevitable: people will have – and become known for – a rather distinctive set of personality traits, quite unlike those of other nationals from the same country. New Yorkers, for example, are not like the rest of Americans, nor are Londoners quite like anyone from elsewhere in Britain. Perhaps this phenomenon is most common in capital cities, seeing as it also happens in Italy’s capital.

Guests visiting this iconic European capital should be prepared to come face to face with a certain quirkiness on the part of the locals, which should be accounted for in order to make their stay in the city smooth and hassle-free. Visitors should also be warned that this quirkiness will spread to all sectors of life – from public services to the management of a stylish design hotel, Rome and it’s locals’ personality will shine through no matter what.

The Accommodation Example

But how exactly does this unique personality exhibited by Romans apply to the running of a design hotel? Rome hotels are always in high demand, so surely they must be run professionally? Well, the truth is, the true local citizen will not let his or her character traits get in the way of their professionalism, but their way of running a business may be more than a little influenced by them.

One Roman character trait that will definitely influence the way a manager may run a design hotel, for instance, is the adaptability the people of this city display. Much like their conquering ancestors, Romans have highly-tuned survival instincts and are rather flexible, traits which translate perfectly into a managerial environment. Guests staying at an upmarket city establishment can therefore expect to have their needs accommodated to the highest degree.

On top of that, Romans are also renowned to be happy-go-lucky, kind, polite, caring and imbued with a certain nobleness of spirit. It is easy to see how all of these traits would contribute to create a certain unique style of management when at the head of a design hotel. Rome hotel managers can therefore be expected to care for their customers and offer them nothing but kindness and politeness. The also rather Roman trait of not letting anything worry them overmuch should not, therefore, be mistaken for aloofness – it simply happens that citizens of Italy’s capital prefer to have their minds at ease whenever possible.

Guests arriving in the Italian capital should, therefore, be prepared to accept and adapt to the locals’ personality and lifestyle – even in the context of their accommodation. After all, as the saying goes, ‘when in Rome… ‘

Top Skiing in the Terrific Three Valleys

Known primarily as a region with great slopes for skiers, the Three Valleys in the Tarentaise Valley is situated in the southeastern part of France, not very far from the Italian and Swiss borders. One of the major benefits of this region is that it is the largest ski area in the world, with a series of connected lifts and slopes, allowing you to take advantage and hop from one area to the next – all without vehicular transport. Since 1973, a lift pass making this access simple and direct has been available. With more than 370 miles of slopes to test all abilities, there is something for everyone here. You can even tailor your stay by choosing which of the small resort villages that make up the ski area is most suited to your tastes.

Courchevel

As one of the largest villages in the Three Valleys, by virtue of the fact that it is actually several small villages set at different altitudes all referring to the same area, Courchevel is a popular choice, offering some great slopes for skiers. With its world-class ski lift system to prevent overbearing queues, here you can hit the slopes in no time. And, with 58 lifts serving over 150 kilometres of slopes, there’s a plenty for you to enjoy! With a choice of beginners’ slopes (ZEN area), and 19 green and 39 blue slopes, all abilities are suitably catered for.

La Tania

Located near Courchevel at an altitude of 1400 metres, La Tania is the epitome of a quaint holiday escape, but which still allows for excellent access to great slopes for skiers. With a traffic free centre of the village, it is a perfect place to relax in the evenings after spending all day on the slopes. With a gondola directly serving it, you can get access to the Three Valleys system from above the village, linking you to other ski areas where you can test your limits and even go off-piste if you are skilled enough.

Les Menuires

One of the main draws of the resort area of the Three Valleys is its proliferation of great slopes for skiers mixed with an excellent variety of après ski entertainment, accommodation and nightlife. As the host for the Men’s Slalom Alpine Skiing event in the 1992 Olympics, you can rest assured there are some excellent slopes for those who know what they are doing, but they also cater to those who may not be so experienced as well. With 49 ski lifts and 62 trails, there is something for everyone here in Les Menuires.

Exploring Rome in Style and Comfort

In any city in the world, the best option for a traveller wanting to travel in style and comfort as well as be located near the destination’s main landmarks and tourist attractions is to book in to a design hotel. Rome gives particular truth to this statement, as most of this particular style of hotels are centrally located and allow tourists full, easy access to the breath-taking Italian capital.

The Monuments At Your Feet

Indeed, for tourists staying at a design hotel, Rome is likely to withhold very few secrets. Most of these establishments are located in such a way that the city’s main monuments and sights are within walking distance or, alternatively, a short ride away using public transportation. From the best known attractions – the Coliseum and the Sistine Chapel – to some of the lesser-known museums and monuments just waiting to be discovered, guests will find that, when staying at a design hotel, Rome is almost literally at their feet.

Eateries For All Tastes

Another of the perks of booking a stay in a centrally located, upmarket hotel is the chance to eat at all sorts of cuisine in a variety of different establishments. From traditional trattorias frequented by the locals to exclusive luxury restaurants, most of the best eating places in the Italian capital will be just a short distance away from your accommodation. In addition, food tours can easily be accessed from most of these hotels, allowing guests to experience the best of Roman cuisine in an organised and structured way.

Family Fun

Although an upmarket establishment may not always be the most usual type of accommodation for them, families can also benefit from lodging at this type of facility. Not only are most of the city’s attractions a short distance away, eliminating the need for the younger members of the party to walk long distances, but many family-friendly and children-oriented activities are also close at hand.

Parents can, for instance, take their children on Segway or bicycle tours of the city, as well as enjoy skip-the-line tours of many other monuments. Alternatively, the many parks and the Appian Way are easily accessible. By booking a family stay at a design hotel, Rome therefore opens itself to the younger members of the family as well!

The benefits of booking in to a stylish establishment in the Italian capital are evident – this type of accommodation perfectly balances luxury and convenience.

How to Plan a Vacation

A vacation is something that everyone looks forward to, especially in the context of the 24x7x365 wired world that we function in.

A true vacation is one that takes you away from your cacophonic, unruly lifestyle to one of calm and quietude that helps one recharge body and mind with ‘the basics of life’. Where the sounds of everyday life overpower every minute of your day, the ‘sounds of silence’ are even more deafening because they heighten your senses to every activity around you, like the gentle breeze among the trees, the rustle of dry leaves and the gentle lapping of water.

That’s why most people call a vacation ‘a once a year or so spiritual retreat’; and that’s what it truly should be.

But holidays and vacations needs a lot of planning and forethought to take care of essential nitty-gritty’s, the lack of which may hamper your holiday and make it a non-starter before it even starts.

There is no one set manual or instruction guidelines for holiday planning but the broad thoughts can be classified and customized to individual needs.

1. Research, Prepare and Pack

a. Plan a destination keeping in mind your and family’s needs

b. Prepare a travel / stay budget to help with expenses depending upon mode of travel, accommodation, food expenses; should include contingency plan measures.
Always look for comfortable stays that offer good rates on food; places that have activities for children offer great plans for families that include food and accommodation plus sightseeing trips round the destination. Keep an eye out for discounts, special offers and off-season times to get best value for money

c. Budget should also take into account sightseeing expenses like day trips to zoos and theme parks where entrance fees, photograph charges, cost of snacks and drinks etc. will make a considerable hole in the pocket

d. Pack bags suitable for carrying; carrying smaller bags distributed evenly among your group is ideal

e. Ask around the location to see if there is a medical practitioner or doctor on hand close by or a hospital that can handle emergencies

f. Pick out clothes suitable for weather, light-weight and drip-dry so they can be washed and used again to lessen luggage weight

g. Comfortable and suitable walking shoes that can double up as slip-ons

h. Toiletries, night clothes, undergarments, towels

2. Prepare for unexpected situations to make travel smoother

a. Extra set clothes in case plans change midway for whatever reason/s

b. An umbrella or lightweight rain coat

c. Foldable mat or mattress and inflatable pillows in case of breaking journey during road trips

3. Check what each family member would like to do on way to travel destination or at location so that time can be best allocated and utilized. Of course compromises are the need of the hour if everyone’s plans can’t fit in.

4. If you have a pet or pets at home, find a good pet-sitter ahead of travel schedule; best is to get them to visit you and spend time with your pet so that initial hiccups are overcome.

5. Lastly, there are basic essentials that one must take on a trip.

i. Medicine kit – apart from general medications, antiseptic creams and ointment, scissors, cotton roll, gauze, bandages, medicines for migraines, upset tummies, allergies etc. any specific medication for kids and elderly must be put in.

ii. A map of the area – in case you have extra time you can always give yourself a surprise by throwing in another location to visit provided it is within your expense budget and you are absolutely sure that no unpleasant surprises await you – e.g. bumpy and unsure terrain that can cause breakdowns leaving you in the middle of nowhere, lack of eating places and toilets along the way etc.

iii. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast – unexpected rains or inclement weather can throw you plans out of gear. Ensure you have at least a couple of umbrellas or light-weight raincoats.

iv. Carry along a mat or foldable mattress with inflatable cushions or pillows to add the zest of a day picnic for the family; this simple way of relaxation bonds the family

v. Board games, pack of cards, favorite coloring or story book are some essentials when travelling with children; even adults can benefit from playing a game of cards or mind games that can bring a spurt of energy and enthusiasm to both body and mind.

Cure Spring Fever In Breckenridge

Springtime in Breckenridge, Colorado means Breck Spring Fever. April marks the last month of snow sports in the mountains, and the town of Breckenridge is hosting a month-long festival celebrating sun and snow. This month is a great time to come to this Victorian mountain town and join in winter’s last festivities on a Colorado snowmobiling vacation. Get your snowmobile rentals in Breckenridge or take one of the Breckenridge snowmobile tours and experience the thrills of speeding through High Country meadows one last time.

Snowmobiling is an exhilarating experience all winter, but springtime is particularly special. The weather is kinder, making it even more enjoyable to take Breckenridge snowmobile tours through the lush White River National Forest, laced with groomed snowmobile trails that beckon Colorado snowmobiling enthusiasts ever higher. You can reach elevations of 12,000 feet, ride the Continental Divide, and enjoy 360-degree panoramic views on Colorado snowmobiling excursions.

April is a favorite for those who prefer high performance snowmobile rentals in Breckenridge. Spend a sunny Saturday morning racing snowmobile rentals through the open meadows of High Country at 9,000 feet, then come back to Breckenridge for an afternoon of music with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Enjoy Colorado snowmobiling all day Saturday, and spend all day Sunday in Breckenridge eating, enjoying a craft beer or two, and listening to the sounds of Blues Traveler at the base of Peak 8. Free concerts are held weekend afternoons during the entire month of Breck Spring Fever. However you mix it up, snowmobiling is twice the fun during April’s Breck Spring Fever.

If you usually come to Breckenridge during Breck Spring Fever for the skiing, let this be the year you try Colorado snowmobiling. There are abundant opportunities for first-time snowmobilers to spread their wings on snowmobile rentals or go on breathtaking Breckenridge snowmobile tours. Experienced guides show you how easy it is to get started, how safe Colorado snowmobiling is, but mostly show you what you’ve been missing going places you can’t easily access on skis or on foot. If you really want to see it all on your Breckenridge vacation, then Colorado snowmobiling is the way to do it.

If taking out snowmobile rentals on your own or going on Breckenridge snowmobile tours takes you too far out of your comfort zone, try a snow coach tour instead. The same outfitters who offer Breckenridge snowmobile tours also have snow coach tours. You ride inside a climate controlled, thirteen-passenger, four-track vehicle to the elevations of over 12,000 feet as guides educate you on the history of the area and inform you about its geography. Enjoy unbelievable views on a sunny morning snow coach tour plus lunch, and return to Breckenridge in plenty of time to dive into more of the town’s Spring Fever fun. Check out all the Breck Spring Fever activities, so you can plan your springtime Colorado snowmobiling vacation.

Superb Skiing in La Plagne and Les Arcs

When you’re considering where to go on your winter holiday, it’s better to plan well in advance. Why not consider booking one of the prestigious mountain resorts in the Courcheval region in eastern France? Located right near the border of Switzerland and Italy, in the heart of the Alps, staying in one of the prestigious mountain resorts in the area ensures that you and your group are well catered to. From family groups who want to stay in a small village-like setting like La Tania – where the cars are banned and they can easily stroll around – to couples who want to stay in a quieter area and just soak in the countryside, this part of France is ideal. One of the best places to go is the Paradiski region, which is home to La Plagne and Les Arcs.

La Plagne

Since around 1961, La Plagne, in the Tarentaise Valley, has been one of the go-to places to for a ski trip. With a variety of prestigious mountain resorts populating the area, it nevertheless manages to retain its natural charm. La Plagne has 39 square miles of ski area spread across four different communes: Champagny-en-Vanoise, Bellentre, Aime, and Mâcot-la-Plagne. With 225 kilometres of slopes, it is one of the best local areas to ski, snowboard, or cross country ski. It has 134 slopes, most of which are for the intermediate level skiers. But though the intermediate skiers are well catered for, so are those who know what they are doing on and off a piste. The four villages that make up La Plagne each have their own vibe and highlights, but all of them afford access to the larger network of skiing in the area and are ideal bases.

Les Arcs

Not far from the area of La Plagne, is the exciting region of Les Arcs. With five main ski areas: Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950, Arc 2000, and Bourg-Saint-Maurice, and some exceptionally prestigious mountain resorts in the vicinity of each, Les Arcs is another destination hotspot. Since the opening of the Vanoise Express Cable Car in 2003, Les Arcs has been connected to the large Paradiski ski area. One interesting aspect of the Les Arcs area is that the architecture is what has been called “heritage of the 20th century” and is quite modernist in its leanings. The mix of open and wooded runs, both on and off-piste opportunities are excellent. Les Arcs also boasts a great terrain park for snowboarders and the broad valley areas make for nice, gentle skiing runs for those less sure about their abilities.