Disposable electronic phone cards gain popularity in France
When in France, to telephone as the French do, use a telecarte. Telecartes are disposable phone cards that look like credit cards and are sold, in plastic wrappers, in cafes, at tobacconists and at post offices.
Although using one costs slightly more than calling from a residential phone, the cards are cheaper than calling from a hotel or using an American telephone credit card.
Public phones that accept coins or tokens are being replaced with telecarte machines. France-Telecom, the French telephone company, says that the system is available at about 25 percent of public telephones in France. Similar system are in place in Japan, Britain and Germany.
Each telecarte has a built-in golden microchip that acts as an electronic token when inserted in a public telephone. A digital display allows callers to know how much time is available. Telecartes come in 50 or 120 units. One unit is worth 73 centimes (about 15 cents) and can be used for a six-minute conversation to anyone in France.
Americans calling home should invest in the 40-franc (about $8.25), 50-unit card for at least a five-minute call or the 96-franc ($20), 120-unit for 12 minutes. When the card is about to run out, both parties hear a beep.
Resort hotel opens in Squaw Valley
Since the 1960 Olympics, Squaw Valley, Calif., has been known as a major ski resort. Its dimensions -- 2,850 vertical feet, 4,000 acres of skiing, 26 chairlifts, a tram and a gondola -- support the label, but Squaw Valley has never had sufficient overnight accommodations within walking distance of lifts.
The Resort at Squaw Creek, which opened Dec. 20, seeks to change that with its 405 rooms and suites, which have been added to the 60 rooms and 300 condominium units that existed at the base of the mountain.
The new resort is about a half-mile from the main base lodge. A high-speed triple chairlift takes skiers to the top of Snow King Mountain (formerly Red Dog Peak) at 7,550 feet, from which they can ski to lifts, trails and base facilities.
The Squaw Creek resort consists of two buildings, a nine-story hotel and a shorter structure with restaurants, retail shops, fitness center and conference rooms.
Soviet Union allows tourists to visit four new cities
Tourists may now visit four cities in the Soviet Union that had been closed: Cherski (within the Arctic Circle), Yakutsk (on the Lena River), Vladivostok (the Soviet Union's main Pacific port) and Magadan (the point from which prisoners were sent to the gulags of the Soviet Far East).
Tours have been arranged by Baylis International Journeys, appointed by Intourist. A 12-day tour is planned on May 22, offering five itineraries and ranging in price from $1,950 to $2,550 from the West Coast. A 19-day trip is planned for Sept. 12. It will cost $3,785, including air fare from New York.
Details: Baylis International Journeys, 2392 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, Calif. 94704; (415) 849-9572 or (800) 435-4334.
Birthday events for King Henry VIII
This year, England celebrates the 500th anniversary of the birth of Henry VIII. Hampton Court Palace, west of London, is first to celebrate with its exhibit "Henry VIII -- Images of a Tudor King" in the Renaissance Picture Gallery.
Tracing the evolution in images of Henry from accession in 1509 to his death 38 years later, the exhibit includes the only surviving portrait of him, a copy of one painted by Hans Holbein the Younger.
Admission to the exhibit is included in the entrance fee to Hampton Court Palace: $8, $5 for children. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; information, dialed locally, 977-8441.
Another exhibit, "Henry VIII at Greenwich," is planned May 1 to Aug. 31 at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich on the site of the jousting field and armories Henry built at Greenwich Palace. He and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth were born there. Fees and hours to be announced next month.
Other Greenwich celebrations include Tudor banquets in a 15th century barn and a July river pageant with the royal barge from the film "A Man for All Seasons." The annual Greenwich Festival (May 31 to June 16) will present Tudor music and films about Henry VIII. For information on Greenwich events: 858-4422. Health officials in Florida have lifted warnings about encephalitis-carrying mosquitoes for 27 counties in which they had been detected.
Officials said they were no longer advising against spending time outside at night in these areas but still were encouraging the use of repellent and long sleeves. They expect the mosquito threat to be gone as cooler weather and previous control efforts end the insects' life cycle. During the alert period that began in late summer, at least 153 confirmed cases were reported, and three people died.
Society offers booklet for outdoors volunteers