Pick the winner with the German Rail Bahncard

From June 10 through July 10, European eyes will be glued to TVs and the big screens set up in outdoor spaces, as 24 national soccer teams face off in their bids to be champions of the UEFA EURO 2016. (We’ll reveal some of the best places for public viewing as the dates draw near.) The once-every-four year competition is hosted by France this time around. Will Spain retain its crown, or will reigning World Cup champion Germany come out on top? Stay tuned…

German Rail is using the event to promote the purchase of its 25% and 50% discount rail cards with a clever campaign. Those who buy the three-month introductory Euro 2016 “Sieger” Bahncards before June 11 have the chance to predict the winner of the European Cup. All those who guess correctly will be rewarded with free travel on ICE, IC/EC trains and IC buses within Germany during the month of August 2016. The cards do not entitle holders to free travel on regional or local trains.

Germany’s auto-free cycling days start May 22

With more than 40,000 miles of cycling routes, Germany’s a great place for exploring by bike any day of the year. But it’s hard to beat an “auto-free” day, when a normally busy highway is shut down to all forms of motorized traffic, and cyclists, skaters and hikers come out in the tens of thousands to enjoy food, drink and endless forms of entertainment along the route.

On May 22 there are two events not far from military communities. The “Happy Mosel” will offer around 50 miles of auto-free road along the Moselle River between Schweich and Reil. The event kicks off officially at 11 a.m. in the town of Leiwen, where live bands play music for all tastes. Other activities in the villages along the route include martial arts demos, an old tractor display, face painting and other activities for the kids. Despite the road’s closure up to 6 p.m.; it’s possible to reach all the towns along the route by car. The event website states that Happy Mosel will be held for the last time ever in 2017, so maybe this is the year to get out and enjoy it? Learn more at happy-mosel.com/de (German only).

Star spotting in Cannes

Star struck? On-screen heroes have their feet on the ground at the Cannes Film Festival. The 69th edition of one of the film industry’s biggest events kicks off May 11 and continues through May 22.

What are the chances that an ordinary soul can rub shoulders with Bono, Leo and Lupita?

Every year, celebrity magazines publish a list of spots where you’re most likely to lay eyes on film royalty. The obvious point for a stakeout is the Palais des Festivals et des Congres, located just off the beachside strip known as Boulevard de la Croisette. From here it’s possible to see the red-carpet entrance to the Grand Theatre Lumiere, where two gala screenings are held each evening. Insiders suggest standing on the road, rather than alongside the carpet, where your view will be obscured by accredited photographers and cameramen.

Other reputed A-list hangouts include the area’s Michelin-starred restaurants (L’Oasis, La Palme d’Or), the trendy nightclubs (Le Baoli, Gotha Club) and luxury hotels (Hotel Martinez, InterContinental Carlton, Hotel Majestic Barriere). The secluded Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, at the southern tip of the Cap d’Antibes, harbors celebrities, too.

Between star gazing, one can always loll on one of the area’s beaches, enjoy a cocktail at a pop-up bar along the Croisette or check out the yachts in the harbor. In the evening, the Cinema de la Plage offers open-air screenings of out-of-competition films and Cannes classics. Request an invitation at the Cannes tourism office, located at 1 Boulevard de la Croisette. Learn more at www.festival-cannes.fr/en.html.

Check these old favorite bands on tour

Music fans with a good few years under their belts have felt their world rocked of late by the untimely passing of some of the musicians they’ve grown up listening to. The brighter news is that a slew of bands that emerged in decades well past are still going strong and even continue to tour. Here's a sampling of a few of our old favorites (in a few cases, what’s left of them!) who might soon be playing at a venue near your present home, or failing that, a place you’d like to build a trip around. This list was assembled just as a taster, and the dates indicated don’t represent the extent of an artist’s tour. For tickets, a good starting point either is www.eventim.com or the artist’s home page.

Beth Hart plays Frankfurt May 27; Dortmund May 29; Grolloo, Netherlands, June 3; and Ludwigsburg, Germany, June 6.

Celebrate May Day the German way

Throughout much of Europe, May 1 is recognized as International Labor Day and treated as an official holiday. In Germany, celebrations start the night before and last well into the wee hours. In most years, those working a typical U.S. schedule miss out. This year, however, May 1 falls on a Sunday, meaning everyone can enjoy the festivities with no compromise to work-day productivity.

On the night of April 30, communities gather in public places to participate in “Tanz in den Mai,” or Dance into May. The celebrations, often organized by local clubs or branches of political parties, might include treats from the grill, wine and beer, and entertainment. In some towns, you may witness the setting up of the Maibaum, or maypole. Later, bars, night clubs and other establishments offer live entertainment and special programs, often requiring a cover charge.

The crowds will also be out in force on May 1, celebrating their work-free day with the usual assortment of performances by local talents and stands selling typical fest foods, coffee and cake. To find out what’s going on locally, just search the Internet with the name of your home town and the phrase “Tanz in den Mai.”

Culinary and wine hikes

In many of Germany’s wine regions, vineyards double as giant playgrounds, a sprawling, atmospheric backdrop for wine festivals, hikes and culinary experiences. One of the season’s first opportunities to get out and enjoy wine culture comes Sunday, April 10.  Oppenheim, a small city on the Rhine between Mainz and Worms, hosts the spring edition of its Schlemmerwanderung, a culinary hike through the vineyards.

The pace is slow, the slopes aren’t too steep and the stops are frequent along the hike’s 4-mile course. Ten stands along the route serve some of the region’s best wines, from elegant Rieslings to aromatic Grauburgunders. The culinary offerings include grilled steak and game, pasta dishes and tempting cakes. Kids can enjoy a jumpy castle, a stuffed wild animal display, hay bales and castle ruins. The route is suitable for baby strollers.

Volksfest season means springtime fun

Need another way to indulge your inner child? Make way to a Volksfest, an event that’s part fun fair, part market and part beer festival. Volksfests appeal to all ages: There are pony rides, bumper cars and stalls filled with random items, such as dental instruments and oddly flavored hard candies. Eat fried squid rings, quaff beer by the liter, dance on a table, get lost in the House of Mirrors or part with euros at an alarming pace at the many games of chance.

The spring editions of many a Volkfest are already nigh. Have a look at all the fun you could be having.

Check out these flea markets for spring and summer

We all love a bargain, and when that something procured on the cheap comes with a bit of history behind it, that’s just an added bonus. Those whose thoughts run along such lines, and moreover love to travel, certainly appreciate the joys of European flea markets. While cities such as Vienna and Brussels have great markets on a weekly basis; others organize massive affairs just once annually, or perhaps a spring and fall edition. Some of the best events see entire communities turn out to peddle their no-longer-needed wares in affairs that can stretch from dusk to dawn. Here are a few flea markets that could be worth staking out this spring and summer. This list is by no means comprehensive, and the smaller markets found below are made note of due to their proximity to U.S. military communities.



City: Ciney

Name: Ciney Expo Flea Market

Music rocks the Alps

For millions of party people, attending a multi-day outdoor music fest packed with performances by their favorite artists is a highlight of the year. For ages, that meant waiting for mega-events staged in the summer. In recent years, however, more Alpine ski resorts have begun to hold huge slope-side parties combining skiing, snowboarding and other winter fun with concerts by top-name acts and plenty of DJ music. The Alps provide a stunning backdrop for more than just rock concerts and massive raves, however. Some smaller resorts host programs peppered with indie artists, jazz musicians and folk music.

With the latest snow reports calling ski conditions at present close to ideal, coupled with early spring’s longer hours of daylight, might it be time to get in on the action? Here’s a sampling of just some events helping to wind down the winter season.


• Resort: Gastein
Event: SNOW JAZZ Gastein 2016
Date: March 11-20

The 15th edition of this event focuses on musicians performing in trios. Jazz, blues, tango, chamber music and other genres will echo through hotels, ski lodges, and clubs.
Tickets: Tickets to the various concerts can be booked online or bought at the door, barring sell-outs. For example, tickets to Mario Rom´s Interzone “Everything is Permitted” on March 19 at the Saegewerk in Bad Hofgastein go for 24 euros, or about $26.50, at the door, subject to availability.
Website: www.gastein.com/de/snow-jazz-gastein

Computing expo in Hanover March 14-18

Techies won’t want to miss CeBIT, a trade show billed as the world’s foremost platform for the digitalization of business, public administration and society, which takes place in Hanover March 14-18. 

CeBIT covers all aspects of the digital transformation. For the first time, the show will feature a central hub dedicated to drone technology and the resulting new business models. Switzerland is this year’s partner country, and many of its businesses and institutions boast a strong presence there. Guests include include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who plans to tour the show on March 15.



About the Author

Karen Bradbury has lived and worked in Europe for more than 15 years. She has called Moscow, Copenhagen, Rome and now a small wine-producing village along the Rhine in Germany home. When she's not working, whatever the season, she's probably traveling.

Email: news@stripes.com