Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What To Do On The Costa Brava

What To Do On The Costa Brava
by: Rob Carlton

Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya, one of the richest and most fiercely independent regions in Spain. Catalan people speak their own language and many do not believe themselves to be Spanish. The golden age of Catalunya was around the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, when Barcelona was the centre of the great seafaring empire of Aragon. In addition to Barcelona, Catalunya is made up of the cities of Lleida, Girona and Tarragona, and the long Costa Brava, stretching from the French border to Valencia.

Barcelona has become a real tourist trap for the fantastic mixture of activities on offer there. Its coastal location attracts sun worshipers who enjoy the beach front resorts along the coast, as well as the vibrant nightlife of the city centre. The cultural and historical delights of the town appeal to the sightseer, visiting for a long weekend, and the more active will love hiking in the nearby mountains, where skiing can be found in winter.

The most famous symbol of Barcelona and one sight that all holidaymakers want to visit is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Even those that have not visited the city will be familiar with the dripping wax image of the main fa├žade. The famous architect began work on this church in 1882, however the task took a long time as the building work relied on donations, and it had not been completed in 1926 when Gaudi was struck by a train and died. Work has since recommenced on the church and much has been added since Gaudi’s death, but there is speculation as to whether the building will ever be completely finished, or in fact whether it really should be.

You can pay to go up inside one of the towers, of which there are now eight, each one over one hundred meters high. The initial design was meant to incorporate eighteen towers, one for each of the twelve apostles, four for the Evangelists, and one each for Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Other piece of Gaudi’s work can be seen all over the city. You will want to pull the Park Guell, La Pedrera and the Mila house into your itinerary if you possibly can.

You can get detailed information about the sights of Barcelona before you go from your travel agent, the internet, or the tourist information office in Barcelona’s main square once you get there. Make sure you pick up a map showing all the main sights as well as the major stores, restaurants and hotels. Also consider going on a bus tour of the city. It is a great way to get your bearings in a very busy and crowded city, and give you an idea of the distance between places of interest. Talk to your guide, they may be able to give you local information about great eating places and temporary exhibitions that will not be marked on your map. You will never get bored in Barcelona; your only concern will be how to fit in everything you want to see.

About The Author
Focusing on latest news in Barcelona, Robert Carlton writes articles most often for Barcelona Information. His work on Sagrada Familia are published on Sagrada Familia and also other websites.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Toothache While Backpacking - What To Do

A Toothache While Backpacking - What To Do
by: Steve Gillman

Getting a toothache while backpacking can be more than just annoying and inconvenient. It can end a good wilderness trip. Here are some tips for preventing a toothache before you head down that trail, and for treating it if you get one anyhow.

Wilderness Dental Care

First of all, don't ever go on a long backpacking trip if you have an unresolved tooth problem, or even the hint of a toothache starting. Go to your dentist and get it taken care of. If there is lingering pain, be sure to also get a prescription pain reliever to take with you.

Have dental work done far enough in advance of your trip to be sure that it is completely done. Sometimes a high spot on a new filling will start to cause severe pain days after it is put in. Your dentist can easily solve this by grinding it down, if you are not already in the middle of the wilderness.

Avoid doing anything that can cause toothaches or other dental problems while backpacking. I have almost cracked a tooth on a hard corn nut while backpacking. I opt for corn chips now instead. Popcorn, fortunately not a common backpacking food, may be one of the worst foods for damaging teeth.

A toothbrush and floss are a good idea on any backpacking trip (floss can also be used as fish line and to tie things together if need be). If you forget a toothbrush, you can chew the end of a dogwood twig until it is brush-like, and use that. This is about long-term care, of course. What if you have a toothache that starts when you are days away from your car?

Toothache Treatment

Hopefully you at least brought aspirin with you. Tylenol #3 is even better for a severe toothache. An antiseptic containing benzocaine, applied directly to the irritated tooth and gum will temporarily relieve pain. Oil of cloves (eugenol) will also may help. Don't apply aspirin or other painkillers directly to gums, as they may burn your gum tissue.

Some toothaches do not originate in the teeth or gums, but in the sinus cavities. If your tooth pain is hard to pin down to one spot and is felt deeply, it may be a sinus infection putting pressure on the gums from above. In these cases, you may need to eliminate the infection to get relief. Use antibiotics if you are sure this is the cause. You might get temporary relief if you can clear the sinuses a bit by steaming (carefully) your face, or eating hot sauce.

If your teeth are temperature sensitive, you should obviously avoid hot and cold drinks. Warm your water bottle under your jacket if you have to. It can also help to breath through your nose. Breathing through your mouth can send cold air flowing over your teeth and cause a lot of pain.

I have a tooth problem right now - the inspiration for this article. A few days ago, I noticed that each time we drove over a mountain pass here in Colorado, the pain intensified. Coming back down below 8,000 feet seemed to always take the pain away. Watch for this problem, and you might resolve some of the pain by hiking down to a lower elevation.

Out of pain relievers? Get out your plant identification guide. Try chewing on catnip leaves for relief. You can also make tea out of the willow twigs or poplars leaf buds. These both contain varying amounts of some compounds that are similar to aspirin.

If a toothache has begun, you probably shouldn't hike any further into the wilderness. If it has become painful enough to suck the fun out of your backpacking trip, you should head for the car. It is time to see a dentist.

About The Author
Copyright Steve Gillman. Visit his website for ultralight backpacking tips, photos, gear recommendations, a free book and a new wilderness survival section: The Ultralight Site.