Something To Declare: Santa country; riding America's rails
Saturday 17 December 2005
Warning of the week: Santa country
This is peak season for visits to Lapland (above), which is perhaps why the Foreign Office this week issued updated travel advice. Just in case you were wondering, "Finland can be affected by severe cold weather in the winter months, particularly in the North. You should be prepared for harsh conditions."
And just in case you were contemplating driving a sleigh or similar, be warned that "the drink drive limit in Finland is 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (lower than the UK)".
Oh, and while you're planning your shopping, bear in mind that "Khat [a natural stimulant] is illegal in Finland and those who try to import it are summarily deported."
Bargain of the week: riding America's rails
Given the stress of travelling by air within the US, you may prefer to take advantage of the heavily subsidised rail network operated by Amtrak (00 1 800 872 7245; www.amtrak.com). It can cost £10 a day or less. To cover the whole country, a National Rail pass costs $550 (£314) for 30 days. Individual regions have their own passes. An East Rail 15-day pass costing $325 (£186), or $405 (£231) for 30 days, allows travel as far west as Chicago and New Orleans.
A West Rail pass covers everything past these points including Louisiana, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, and the ski areas of Colorado, Montana and Idaho (below) - plus California, Oregon and Washington, a part of the US highly recommended by Peter Bass, editor of the Thomas Cook Overseas Timetable: "It's absolutely stunning. You look out over the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other."
The Northeast Rail pass covers the best-served part of the network, from Boston via New York and Philadelphia to Washington DC. It extends as far south as the Virginia coast, and covers trips to Montreal and Niagara Falls.
A five-day pass costs $175 (£100), which is about the price of the cheapest return ticket from Washington to Boston; $211 (£121) and $247 (£141) cover 15 and 30 days respectively. Regional passes are not valid on Acela Express high-speed trains, but slower trains are covered.
Finally, if you want to cover Canada as well, the North America Rail Pass allows 30 days of unlimited travel for $766 (£438) on both Amtrak and Via Rail Canada.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Businessman charged £75 for three small bottles of water in London hotel
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...
Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...
£45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...