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Editor's Note

Happy New Year! Since it's the holidays, we're taking a little break ourselves here at Frommers.com. We hope you enjoy some of these previously published pieces from the past year.
Deals and News
Sometimes, thinking outside the box can be very productive. That's the case with auto rental in Europe. Instead of looking only at the big names in car rental, take a gander at Renault Eurodrive, which has short-term leasing programs, one as low as $500 for 17 days.
There's a new Kind on the European budget carrier block offering certain one-way fares for as little as $20.
If you like freebies, take a look at the Holiday Inn promotion called "Next Night Free," which runs through February 28, 2003 for most properties. It allows you a second night free when you pay for one night, and you get up to a total of five nights gratis in all.
Watching skiers much of my life (but flunking out on the slopes, myself), I've always considered the cross-country folks a hardier breed than those just schussing downhill. Now comes along the Cross Country Ski Areas Association to tell us that Nordic vacations are cheaper than alpine sports--and easier.
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Reader's Voice
From Renee Thomas: "Just returned from a wonderful trip to NYC. It wasn't my first visit, but this time made the mistake of staying at the Hotel Carter on West 43rd St., just one block off Times Square (great location!) Their online pictures were greatly exaggerated, as was everything else they presented online."
From Alice Segal: "I was in Costa Rica earlier this month (December 2002), and stayed at Hotel Pasa Tiempo in Tamarindo. I chose the hotel because it was recommended by Lonely Planet, but I would caution anyone who values a good night's sleep not to stay there. Twice a week the hotel hosts a loud band which plays until 2am or so."
From Alex MacD: "I will be staying in Paris between 16 & 20 January '03 and would like to meet up with some fellow travellers for a drink and exchange of experiences. I am lucky enough to have visited the city many times and would be able to assist with any questions you may have about the city. If you are in Paris at the same time and fancy a beer and a chat please feel free to get in touch."
From Joe Vlasek: "We recently purchased a diamond from Diamonds International. When we got home and looked at the enclosed appraisal we found that it was different than represented in the store. When we tried to get our money back with there tirty day refund we were told to "POUND SAND" in other words sorry...NO REFUND!"
From Carlos Dellamaddalena: "I'm booked on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruies on the Norway for April and am interested in anyone's experience with booking shore excursions before the cruise begins. I've been contacted by Icruise.com with regard to booking them in advance. Is there any price difference between booking in advance or on the cruise? Also, what about booking on your own via the Internet?"

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