In Finland, skiing is uphill, too
Just about anyone can ski downhill. But uphill?
In Finland, all things are possible when it comes to winter fun.
Skiing uphill is easy, the Finns say, with the aid of a parachute. Lessons begin on a frozen lake in northern Lapland. Complete lessons and equipment begin at $125 a person.
Other ideas for winter fun include 14-day ski treks into Russia, snowmobiling along trails used by Finnish bootleggers in the '20s and reindeer safaris. One of the most enjoyable may be a cruise on an icebreaker in the Gulf of Bothnia. After the ship breaks the 20-foot-thick ice, passengers can jump in for a swim. The cruise costs $560 a person from Helsinki.
For information on these outings, write to the Finnish Tourist Board, 655 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017; (212) 949-2333. Now that the Soviet Union has come to an end, where do travelers apply for a visa? And do you need two visas to travel from one independent republic to another? So far, arrangements for obtaining visas have not been altered, according to travel officials who have been fielding such questions recently.
"The political changes are not really disturbing tourism," said Betty Vaughan, a spokeswoman for Intourist. "Visitors can get a visa from the former Soviet Embassy in Washington or Soviet consulates and visit anywhere, with just one visa -- except the Baltic states -- provided they have reserved a hotel room." Visas for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia can be obtained at their borders.
Travel officials believe that visas will still be relatively easy to obtain now that the new Commonwealth of Independent States has taken power from the old Soviet Union.
Last-minute travel bargains
For last-minute travelers, TWA is offering discounted fares with no advance-purchase requirements from now to Jan. 3. Fares begin at $108 round trip and only require a two-day minimum stay; no Saturday overnights are required. For information, call TWA at (800) 221-2000.
Take a Mate is a deal from Air New Zealand that offers a companion ticket for $250 with the purchase of a round-trip economy-class ticket that begins at $1,298 from Los Angeles or San Francisco to New Zealand. Tickets must be purchased by Dec. 31 for travel between Feb. 1 and March 31. For information, call (800) 262-1234.
Another easy-to-take companion deal is being offered by Delta to Montreal. Buy a $259 round-trip ticket from Boston to Montreal good Jan. 6 to March 12 and you can bring a companion free. For details, call Delta at (617) 567-4100. And Montreal is easy to take in the winter with its vast underground shopping and entertainment complex, and ski centers just outside the city. For information on Montreal, call (800) 363-7777.