Dare to Dream of a White Christmas in Courchevel

Dare to Dream of a White Christmas in Courchevel

Imagine waking up to a scene of snowy mountains and pine trees capped with a fresh dusting of snow on Christmas morning. Well, if you book a ski holiday to Courchevel for the festive period, this is exactly what you and your kids can expect!
In addition to enjoying a perfect winter wonderland, you and your family will be able to enjoy many festive activities in the resort, ranging from fantastic French-cooked Christmas dinners to a torch-lit descent for the kids to enjoy when the sun goes down.

 

The best part is that all of this couldn’t be easier to reach from the UK, as there are regular flights to Geneva from most UK airports, as well as excellent transport links from Geneva to Courchevel.

Courchevel for Families

While the exclusive Courchevel resort of 1850 is a perfect destination for many couples and ski enthusiasts, families with young children may prefer the lower resorts of 1550 and 1650, which are smaller and have a more family-friendly and intimate feel.

All of the resorts have their own children’s ski schools (I highly recommend learning with the French ESF – let them know that your children are English, and they will put them in an English-speaking class). What’s more, there are nursery runs, snow playgrounds and beginner slopes in each of the resorts.

When you venture away from the slopes, you’ll find that there is as much to do off as on the snow. For example, why not take the family ice skating, bowling or to the cinema?

What to Expect During the Festive Season

As you make your way from Geneva to Courchevel, you’ll feel the excitement of your children growing when you drive into the heart of a Narnia-esque landscape of snowy mountains and pine forests.

When you reach the resort, you’ll discover that the French embrace the magic of the festive season just as much as we do back home. The high streets in all of the resorts sparkle with Christmas lights, giving the entire area a truly magical feel.

Festive treats are likely to include carols and fireworks, traditional markets, a parade, tons of hot chocolate and live music events, as well as traditional Christmas meals in its many restaurants.

Highlights for 2017 include a torch-lit descent that’s led by ESF instructors and that features Santa as a special guest, as well as a special Boxing Day luge event.

Lastly, don’t forget that you’ll also be able to ski on Christmas Day. All of the resort’s lifts and pistes are open all day. Who knows – you might even discover Santa practicing his carving turns!

How to Get There

The resort is served by four airports during the ski season: Chambery, Lyon, Grenoble and Geneva. For the most regular and stress-free connection, choose a flight to Geneva with providers such as easyJet, British Airways, Swiss International or Air France.

For a completely hassle-free way of getting your family from the airport to your resort, simply book an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct before you leave home.

Let us know how many of you will be travelling, how many child seats you will need, and what ski equipment you will be carrying, and we’ll meet you at the airport with the perfect transport for you and your family.

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Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

Giant tortoises are one of the best known animals in the Galapagos Islands. And, for nature lovers who choose wildlife holidays in the Galapagos, this is one of the most sought-after encounters. Like many other animals, however, despite its iconic status as the world’s largest tortoise, it faces the challenge of survival, and is now extinct or nearly extinct on several islands in the archipelago.
Of the 14 native populations, only eleven are left – with many of them considered to be highly threatened. The GTRI (The Giant Tortoise Recovery Initiative) is a conservation project  aimed at changing the flow and restoring its population across the island. Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

GTRI work

Established in 2014, GTRI has worked closely with the Directorate of National Parks to achieve a number of objectives. The long-term goals of the initiative include:

• Restoring population to historical summits throughout the archipelago. This includes breeding programs to recover the islands where endemic subspecies have become extinct. Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

• Rejuvenate and restore the required habitat.

• Survey of current population to inform future conservation research and efforts.

• Use genetic advances to improve future conservation programs.

Why Do They Need Help?

In an environment where it has no natural predators for millions of years, the Giant Turtles become the animals most affected by human arrivals on the islands. For years, they were used as a food source by settlers and maritime tourists, who managed to find out that they were able to survive for long at sea. They transport them aboard in holding the ship, and then kill them as needed.

In addition to being a source of food, the population is devastated by the introduction of animals such as dogs, goats, cows and pigs. Dogs and pigs loot eggs and hatchlings, while cattle and goats compete with the turtle’s own food source.

Although it is illegal to catch them today, and introduce animals gradually controlled or removed, in some cases too late. But generating an extinct subspecies, such as endemic disease on the island of Floreana, becomes a reality in itself by GTRI’s deductive work.

Progress Created

Species from Floreana Island have been deemed extinct since 1850. But thanks to advances in DNA testing, scientists were able to determine their genetic traces in 2008. They then tested the hybrid population on Wolf Isabela volcano island that has different DNA, and found that it fits well the extinct Floreana species. How this cross-crossing takes place is a mystery, although the most likely explanation is through human intervention, perhaps by dismantling them among the different islands.

A group of 30 have been transferred to a research center in Santa Cruz, where scientists can analyze their DNA even further. It was found that two were classified F1, meaning that they were descended from two elderly races. Through a breeding program, GTRI now intends to refill Floreana Island with the offspring of these animals – effectively bringing the species back from the dead.

Visit the Past and Future on Holidays in the Galapagos

Thanks to GTRI, past species are now closely related to their future, and it is highly likely that populations can be restored to their natural habitat. Visitors to wildlife vacations in the Galapagos can visit the Tortoise Center in Santa Cruz to see the resurrection of Tortoise Giant Floreana in (albeit very slowly). Restoring the Past in the Galapagos

All You Need is Lava: A Volcanic Hawaiian Holiday

All You Need is Lava: A Volcanic Hawaiian Holiday

Endlessly fascinating for their beauty and danger, volcanoes have thrilled us human beings for as long as we can remember. And if lazy days on the beach just aren’t for you, why not try a holiday with a little more excitement and head to the active volcanoes of Hawaii? In fact, the archipelago of Hawaii was created through volcanic activity and this fiery heritage is everywhere you look in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, USA. Travel insurance experts, however, say it’s safe terrain.
In the park you can get so close to active volcanoes that you can feel the heat from erupting gases and steam as you walk across lava fields in search of indigenous art…

 

Here are three expeditions you should make in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park if you want to experience the power of volcanoes first hand:

The Long One

The Crater Rim Trail is a fantastic trail for those who love their hikes with just a soupcon of danger! The trail is over 11 miles long and works itself around the summit of Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on Hawaii. Thousands of years old, Kilauea has been active non-stop for the last thirty years. The trail winds through contrasting sceneries of lush, green rainforests and sterile, steaming rockscapes. As you walk, look out for the earth cracks and vents that break the ground’s surface.

If you’re interested in the local culture you’ll want to know that Kilauea is believed to be the home of Pele – goddess of fire and creator of Hawaii. As the name Fire Goddess suggests, the area can be unpredictable and dangerous. With this in mind, be prepared for sudden trail closures. It’s also always advisable to stay on the marked paths and keep away from edges. Make sure you get out USA travel insurance before visiting – in case of an accident you are safely covered.

The Short One

Ha’akulamanu Trail, or the Sulphur Banks Trail, is much shorter, coming in at just over a mile in length. However, you know what they say: good things come in small packages! The intriguing landscape is devoid of trees as the intense underground heat makes it impossible for most roots to grow. The area is known for the beautiful crystal formations formed by escaping gases over many years. The gas is released through earth vents along with groundwater which is turned into steam and hangs in the air.

Just a warning – it does not smell good here! Rotten eggs anyone?

The Arty One

It’s not often that you can enjoy a nature trail and take in some local art on your way. However, nothing about this art is ordinary. The indigenous artwork found cut into Pu’u Loa, or the “Hill of Long Life”, is carved into the cooled volcanic lava of this sacred site. How amazing is that? There are over 23,000 petroglyphs showing a stunning variety of geometric patterns, human representations and images of the travels of the people of Hawaii around the island. A boardwalk allows visitors to easily view the artwork whilst protecting it and maintaining respect for the site.

TOP TIP: Before you embark on any journey, check your insurance! Designed with explorers in mind, Let’s Go Insure’s USA travel insurance will keep you covered on all your wild ventures.

Ready to have a blast? I’ll see you in Hawaii!

What Are the Most Effective Termite Control Methods

What Are the Most Effective Termite Control Methods

If your neighbor reports that they’ve had problems with termites, it’s time to get serious about taking precautions or even getting a professional to recommend termite control methods in Macon, GA. The ways to control termites have been researched for decades. In the past several years, professionals have made great advances in techniques to catch or kill termites quickly. You can combine some of the following control methods to meet your needs and ensure that any termites around your property are dealt with before they cause more damage.

Prevention First

What Are the Most Effective Termite Control Methods

Whenever possible, take steps to prevent termite infestation, so you don’t have to spend time and money correcting a problem later. The best way to keep an infestation from happening is to remove any pieces of wood on your home that come into contact with the ground. If termites are common in your area, which is usually the case in Georgia, putting wooden decorative elements around your house is unwise unless they are treated. You should also clean up any dead wood around your home as soon as possible.

Termiticide Liquid Treatments

Termiticides create a chemical barrier between the ground and your home. Termites need their subterranean home to survive. When they are burrowing in wood, they will need to eventually come back. When the area around your house is treated, the chemical gets into the soil and kills termites on the spot. Termites left burrowing in wood will try to return, but ultimately meet the same fate.

Pyrethroid Repellent What Are the Most Effective Termite Control Methods

Repellents are great for keeping termites away once you’ve addressed an infestation. You can apply the repellent in stages and talk to a professional about which areas of your home you should focus on most thoroughly. When you combine these termite control methods in Macon, GA, you’ll be on your way to a termite-free existence.

Gas Installation Companies Keep You Warm for Less

Gas Installation Companies Keep You Warm for Less

Many American homeowners with older homes are switching their heating fuel from oil to natural gas. Natural gas burns cleaner than oil and is a cheaper fuel. When looking at gas installation companies in Canton, GA, homeowners can expect them all to have the same procedures.

Source of the Gas

 

The most important thing for a homeowner to do is determine if natural gas is available in their community. Many urban areas may have the supply lines and depots installed to provide natural gas to homeowners, but that does not mean every neighborhood is hooked into the grid. Rural areas are too spread out to have gas available to everyone. Freestanding tanks are a second option for homes that can’t be connected. The gas company will periodically fill the tank with fuel for the home.

Call a Few Companies

The next thing homeowners will do is schedule a few of the companies to come to their homes and talk about their specific needs. A technician will walk through the house with them. The technician will offer suggestions for different appliances and the connections each will require. Then they will develop an estimate for the cost of the work. The homeowners can then compare the estimates and the companies to find the right fit.

Pipe It In

Many people are not aware that installing and maintaining gas lines is a plumber’s job. Gases and liquids follow many of the same physical laws and the same materials can be used for the pipes. Copper pipes are used to carry the natural gas into the house as well as to each appliance. Many homeowners use gas as a fuel for their stove and water heater because it heats more quickly than electricity. Some will add a gas fireplace that lights up with the flick of a switch.

When hiring gas installation companies in Canton, GA, homeowners need to be involved in the whole process. Most importantly, they need to be the ones to decide if they want to add natural gas to their home.

New dynamic atrium from Printemps

New dynamic atrium from Printemps

Printemps, the historic department store on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, France, gets a makeover with a stunning atrium that runs vertically from the lower floor to the 9th floor.
Through its long history, Printemps is the first department store to use electricity, lift lifts and introduce modern architectural achievements such as large spiral staircases and 42-meter-tall dome. As part of today’s Printemps reconstruction, the goal is to introduce a new atrium that allows visitors to see all levels. New dynamic atrium from Printemps

The interdisciplinary research-based architecture studio, UUfie, in charge of this dynamic feature applies the concept of vertical dome, which is also called the hijab into the atrium as it pierces the heart of the building; reminded and saluted the store iconic stained glass dome seen in 1894. The hijab weighs 24 tons, but appears to float in front of a vertical circulation with glass floors and mirrored ceilings. 25.5 meters tall and 12.5 meters wide, consisting of a white painted aluminum panel with approximately 17,200 axis shaped openings that reveal the glass layer of Dichroic, which changes color based on people’s point of view, which gives it colorful qualities. The floral relief created by two layers of aluminum surface is an interpretation of the image found in historic stained glass; diverted to repetitive patterns which are then randomized to form a color burst on the white surface. New dynamic atrium from Printemps

New dynamic atrium from Printemps geometry is understood by connecting the four angles of emptiness with simple curves in plan and elevation. The combination of two-dimensional curved panels gives the overall shape of the full veil. Proper assembly allows for perfect joint control between each panel. On the opposite side of the hijab is a one-way mirror wall covering the twelve newly installed escalators. This creates a reflection that complements the hijab symmetry and gives the appearance of a widened void.

Visitors approach the space through the dark hallway to the escalator behind a one-way mirror. Between floors 4-8, a hole in the wall of a one-way mirror gives an unobstructed view of the hijab. Development through space provides a variety of perspectives and moments to experience the ever-changing color and color changes in the void. Acting as the backbone of the main building, it channeled energy to different retail concepts on every floor and brought some of the building’s history to date.

To negotiate existing building constraints and strict fire regulations has resulted in a symbolic and expressive space of ingenuity in architecture and engineering. The entire project was built in just eight months, while the shops are still operating. New dynamic atrium from Printemps

Discover Ireland’s Grand Canal on a Barge Cruise

Discover Ireland’s Grand Canal on a Barge Cruise

For your next holiday, take a barge cruise down the Grand Canal and travel from Dublin to Shannon to discover all Ireland has to offer. You can admire the gorgeous green countryside and delightful little cottages that line the waterway, while diving into its interesting and intricate history as a commercial route which allowed the surrounding towns to prosper.
Length and Route

 

The Grand Canal in Ireland extends for 117 kilometres. Passing through Leinster, it flows from Ringsend in Dublin to the Shannon Harbour in County Offaly. This is the main route, built to connect the capital city with the country’s midlands. The waterway does also have another run that spreads from Lowtown in Couty Kildare to the River Barrow in Athy. There are also various branches that link up with four other towns, though it’s worth mentioning that your barge cruise will probably stick to the main route.

Along the way, you can enjoy beautiful views of Irish towns and villages with their charming little cottages, while admiring the many bridges that arch over the smooth water. The fauna and flora also remain untouched, with grassy towpaths and side roads lining the waterway and adding to the iconic Irish countryside feel.

History of the Grand Canal

Though the canal was closed to commercial traffic in the mid-twentieth century, it has since been restored to its former glory and regularly welcomes a variety of boats and barge cruises. It still features the original 43 locks, five of which are, from an engineering point of view, particularly interesting as they are double locks. Back in the day, these would have allowed the traffic to move faster as two boats can pass at once and there’s more chance of reaching a lock that’s in your favour. The lock-keepers’ cottages have also been refurbished to celebrate the history of this canal…

Relationship with The Guinness Factory

…And what a history it is! The Grand Canal played a crucial role in the creation and development of the Guinness factory. In 1759, two years after the construction of the canal began, Arthur Guinness founded his famous brewery. Thanks to the waterway, he could transport heavy loads of the raw materials he needed far more cheaply and effectively than by road. It was also an ideal way of exporting his finished product. When you pass through the eighth lock on a barge cruise, keep your eyes peeled for the Guinness filter beds which are still used by Arthur’s company today.

Impact of the Famine

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Ireland’s economy began to fail. As people lost their jobs, the Commission for Public Works set them to work on creating the canal. This was a successful scheme until the potato crops failed and the Great Famine broke out. Work had to be halted as labour became scarce. Eventually, trade and commerce on the canal declined, particularly as the construction of the railroads had just started.

By the 1980s, the Grand Canal had become something of a dumping ground. Thankfully, in 1986 it received a funding injection that sought to rejuvenate the canal and restore it to its former glory. Today boat traffic from barge cruises has increased and thousands are able to enjoy this historic waterway.

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK’s most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge cruise itineraries. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.

Go with Snow: Plan a Successful Ski School Trip

Go with Snow: Plan a Successful Ski School Trip

A successful school ski trip does not just happen. Every teacher who takes on the task knows that it takes planning and commitment to make sure everyone has a good time with snow! Success lies in the shoulders of those charged with the organization and, in order to make the schedule run smoothly and also offer an interesting prospect, the devil is very clear in the details.
Experts recommend early and systematic approaches to facilitate the logistics of school ski trips, to ensure that the slippery slope of the organization is navigable with ease. Go with Snow: Plan a Successful Ski School Trip

Setting a Budget

Setting a budget is very important to create a travel plan framework, and almost all other aspects depend on it. Working backwards is a very easy way to determine the right budget: how many parents or guardians are in a position to spend time on their child’s journey? This of course will depend on the demographic and water catchment areas of the school, but has a realistic figure to work in the most accurate way of managing costs from the start. Once the budget is set, it’s also a good idea to consult a Senior Leadership Team as they may be able to share valuable past experiences and suggestions. Go with Snow: Plan a Successful Ski School Trip

Get Students Involved

Involving students in the early stages of planning is a sure way to generate enthusiasm, but keeping them in the lead until departure can be a challenge in itself. Keep up-to-date with the conditions and facilities of the resort (both above and beyond the snow), show local videos and pictures, create regular social media posts during countdown (if any school guidelines), or make a PowerPoint presentation to give a detailed description of the resort and activities. And go heavy on the fun aspect!

Keep Everyone in the Circle

As registrations start rolling, it is very important that students, colleagues, parents or guardians are kept informed. Nightlife hosting information is an excellent tactic to ensure the lines of communication are opened, as well as the right moment to show presentations and travel.

Help list

It is undeniable that planning a school ski trip is a time-consuming exercise even for the most organized teacher; Signing up for help from a dedicated tour operator is one way to make life easier. Not only can they ease the pressure by making practical use of travel, transportation and accommodation, they also have the skills and resources to manage budget and administration tasks.

John Gardiner is Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specializing in school ski trips and educational tours for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. As a father and avid traveler, John is keen to provide students with a valuable and exciting learning experience outside the classroom. By sharing expert advice with teachers, he allows them to inspire their students and continue their studies into life. Go with Snow: Plan a Successful Ski School Trip

Courmayeur: the Ski Resort for Gourmands

Courmayeur: the Ski Resort for Gourmands

The Italian ski resort of Courmayeur has a rich tradition of fine-dining and gastronomy. It is a culture which the town is proud to celebrate in events throughout the year, including a range of food festivals highlighting everything from traditional local fare to international haute cuisine.
A Destination for Some of the World’s Top Chefs

 

It is this history of excellent food which has attracted many of the world’s leading chefs to the resort over the years. Leading names such as Heston Blumenthal, Sat Bains, Claude Bosi, Marcus Wareing and Jason Atherton have all made the journey from Geneva to Courmayeur to create gourmet experiences in the resort.

Blumenthal is so enamoured with the resort and its culinary pedigree that for the last four years he has hosted his own Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience in which he and other leading chefs create a gastronomic mountain treat for a select clientele.

Bookings are now available for the Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience 2018 (20-23 March).

Excellent Restaurants

Alongside the famous names with their Michelin stars are a fantastic range of local restaurants, many of them family-run, which serve excellent local cuisine of an exceptionally high standard.

There are so many that it can be hard to choose which to visit during a short stay, so here are my suggestions for the best places to eat in Courmayeur.

• Hotel Christiania Set in Plan Checrouit, the restaurant at the Hotel Christiania is run by its enthusiastic owners Carlo and Marisa. This is the place to come if you want to enjoy a leisurely lunch of pizza and pasta, done the authentic Italian way. Sit on the sunny terrace and soak up the atmosphere in this excellent eatery.

• Maison Vieille The food in the mountain restaurants of the resort is so good that the authorities have extended the hours of the cable car to midnight so that visitors can enjoy supper under the stars at restaurants like Maison Vieille. Here you will enjoy local meats, pastas and a range of delectable deserts. The wine list here is wonderful, full of local wines that the owners will encourage you to try.

• Chiecco For fine dining on the slopes, check out the traditional wooden chalet just above Plan Checrouit which houses Chiecco. The menu is made up of local produce and includes such mouth-watering treats as wild boar and polenta, ricotta ravioli and excellent ragùs.

• Chateau Branlant Dinner at the Chateau Branlant starts off with an exciting snow mobile ride from the top of the Dolonne or Courmayeur gondolas to the restaurant, with another one back at the end of your night. If this wasn’t reason enough to visit, then the delicious, authentic Italian cuisine should be. My advice is to try the daily specials, which are usually the best thing on what is always an exquisite menu.

Getting There

Foodies will have no trouble getting to the resort thanks to the wide range of flights into Geneva from the UK. The transfer journey from Geneva to Courmayeur takes around an hour and a half.

For an executive transfer from Geneva to Courmayeur, book online with Shuttle Direct before you leave home and one of our drivers will be waiting to meet you when you land.

Humboldt Current: blood from the Galapagos Islands

Humboldt Current: blood from the Galapagos Islands

The uniqueness of life on the Galapagos Islands is well documented and, for nature lovers, a visit to this region can be an inspiring and life-changing experience. For those who embark on the Galapagos wildlife voyage, understanding the reasons behind its extreme diversity can contribute to a deeper appreciation of this remarkable part of the world.
Natural phenomena Humboldt Current: blood from the Galapagos Islands

There is one natural phenomenon that can take great credit for the abundance and diversity of marine and terrestrial animals in the archipelago. The cool Humboldt now comes from Antarctica, driven by strong winds to flow to the west coast of South America and push the cool waters toward the path through the Galapagos Islands. It brings with it the nutrients it collects from dead and rotten objects on the seafloor, and when mixed with the warm Southern Equatorial currents, these nutrients rise from deep to maintain the plankton that form the basis of the food chain on the island. .

This current affects every aspect of life, both on land and around the ocean.

Water Temperature: Some people who visit Galapagos wildlife voyage are stunned by the cold water temperature, due to the Humboldt current. June to December is when the ocean is the coldest, because these months are marked by rising currents. From November to May, the flow is still there, but significantly weaker, allowing warmer waters to reach the islands. Humboldt Current: blood from the Galapagos Islands

Weather Pattern: The current is also responsible for two different seasons experienced in the archipelago: cool winters and warmer monsoon seasons. In the dry months (from June to October), strong trade winds cause currents to rise. Because the waters around the island are cooler, less evaporation, and therefore fewer rain clouds are formed. While Galapagos wildlife cruises can be enjoyed at any time of the year, two seasons can offer a very different experience.

Wild Animals: Even beyond these remote islands, Humboldt’s presence can be felt and credited as “the world’s most productive sea eco system” – responsible for 20% of the world’s amazing marine catch. Every single species – reptiles, mammals, birds, invertebrates or marine – on every single island, including the surrounding waters, is influenced by and dependent on this strong current. Nutrient waters that are brought directly or indirectly provide a source of food that supports large wildlife populations. Humboldt Current: blood from the Galapagos Islands

El Niño Effect

Current current effects may be most clearly visible when nonexistent. During a weather phenomenon known as El Niño, it is attenuated by warmer winds and decreases in air pressure. During these times, which occur cyclically every two to seven years, there is a marked decrease in the activity of local wildlife breeding. There are much fewer fish, and therefore a very large source of food in the archipelago, resulting in large numbers of animals starving to death.

The complex and definitive role played by these cold ocean currents in maintaining the rich biodiversity of the islands is an interesting aspect of one of the most interesting places on the planet. Humboldt Current: blood from the Galapagos Islands

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Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance writer with special interests in the Galapagos Islands. For those interested in the Galapagos wildlife voyage, Marissa recommends travel plans organized by Naturetrek, which has brought its unforgettable sightings of the various species in one of the most spectacular areas on Earth.