The July 25 Travel Q&A column said that Finnish saunas are heated to 80 to 100 degrees. Those temperatures are Celsius; the Fahrenheit equivalent is 176 to 212 degrees. Another item in the column incorrectly referred to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas as the University of Las Vegas. (Published 7/27/04)
Q My wife has a desire to go to a major bull-riding competition. Can you give me info on when and where they are held?
AFirst, a quick primer for the uninitiated: The bull rider's goal is to stay on a bucking bull for eight seconds holding on with only one hand. Athletes win points based on their performances, and rankings for both riders and bulls are maintained.
In the past 10 years, bull-riding competitions have attracted an ever-increasing audience. In 1994, prize money on the Professional Bull Riders' circuit was about $660,000; in 2003, it was $9.5 million. Last year, 33,000 people attended the PBR's Atlanta Invitational in the Georgia Dome, a higher attendance figure than many professional baseball games. The top bull rider currently on the PBR circuit, Adriano Moraes, is from Brazil and has earned more than $1.6 million during his career.
There are several bull-riding circuits run by different organizations.
The Professional Bull Riders' circuit does not include any other rodeo events, and some of the world's top riders compete on its circuit. The organization's "major league" tour, which started in November, features 45 of the world's top bull riders. The season will culminate at the World Finals in Las Vegas, specifically in the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Oct. 22-24 and on the University of Las Vegas campus Oct. 28-31. Ticket prices will range from $40 to $160 the first weekend and from $42 to $162 the second weekend. Info: 719-471-3008, www.pbrnow.com.
The Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association's Xtreme Bulls competition, televised on ESPN, features some of the world's top bull riders competing in more than 40 events. The top five events each offer a purse of $75,000, and the final will be held Sept. 4 in Ellenburg, Wash. Info: 719-593-8840, www.prorodeo.org.
Do you know of any places in the region that have Finnish saunas?
Plenty of local resorts have saunas, but for an authentic Finnish sauna experience, you'll need to head West.
Sauna, which the Finns pronounce "sow-na," is a way of life in Finland. Nearly a third of the population has saunas in their homes. There are several variations, but basically the sauna room is warmed to between 80 and 100 degrees by throwing water on stones that are heated, preferably by wood. Nudity is the norm, and men and women go in the sauna separately unless they are in the same family. Birch whisks are used to clean the body and stimulate circulation, and the experience is often punctuated with a cooling dip in the sea.
Concordia College's Finnish language village, called Salolampi, near Bemidji, Minn., immerses campers in the "language, crafts, music, games, literature and lifestyles of the Finns," including a Finnish sauna. Info: 800-222-4750, www.cord.edu/dept/clv. Several sessions for children, adults and families are held, including an adult camp Sept. 10-16 for $455 per person. For a plusher experience, the Sonnenalp Resort of Vail (970-479-5404, www.sonnenalp.com) in Vail, Colo., has a Finnish sauna "with adjacent cold plunge;" rates start at $240 a night.
Kalevi Ruuska, a former employee of the Finnish Foreign Trade Association who represents several sauna manufacturers, has assembled a list of U.S. hotels with Finnish saunas, although he adds that few offer the traditional whisks and cold plunge finale. Contact Ruuska at 845-897-4773, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
I am planning a trip to China to the usual tourist spots. Are there any inoculations I should get? Do I need a visa? One guidebook mentions, but does not explain, single-entry and double-entry visas.
Hepatitis A and current tetanus-diphtheria vaccines are the only inoculations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (800-311-3435, www.cdc.gov/travel/eastasia.htm) for U.S. travelers visiting tourist areas of China.
Visas to China are getting more difficult to obtain, according to the consular information sheet issued by the U.S. State Department earlier this month. "Chinese authorities have recently tightened their visa issuance policy, in some cases requiring personal interviews of American citizens and regularly issuing one or two entry visas valid for short periods only."
To apply for a visa locally, you must go in person, or send someone in your stead, to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China (202-328-2500, www.china-embassy.org) on 2201 Wisconsin Ave. NW in Washington. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.; no appointment necessary. Fill out an application and submit it with a current passport. Cost is $50. A double-entry visa, which costs $75, is necessary if you plan to leave China to go to Hong Kong, for example, and then reenter the country.
Send queries by e-mail (email@example.com), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20071).