As spring progresses, Bad Dürkheim could also serve as the starting point for a scenic drive along the German Wine Road. From there, a 50-mile marked route meandering toward the French border is referred to as the Mandelpfad, or Almond Path.
In the weeks to come, day trippers will delight at the sight of tender pink spring blossoms, visible even before the first big bursts of green come out to brighten the tired landscape.
A well-timed afternoon outing would allow for viewing the spring blooms, perhaps best enjoyed by a stroll through one of the groves.
Published: February 26, 2014
Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain’s grand bash to celebrate the arrival of spring, involves plenty to stimulate the senses. The annual festivities grow ever more raucous as the event reaches its climax March 16-19.
A visual highlight of the festival are the giant papier-mâché figures, some towering more than 20 feet, known as ninots. They often are inspired by politics, popular culture or sport, particularly public figures who have fallen from the public’s grace. The statues go on display throughout the city from noon March 15.
Don’t-miss events include ceremonies to honor the city’s patroness March 17 and 18, in which residents from throughout the state of Valencia dress in colorful costumes and offer floral tributes to a giant image of the Virgen de los Desamparados. March 18 is known as the Nit del Foc, with its giant fireworks display.
Festivities draw to a close March 19 with La Crema, in which the effigies are set on fire, banishing the evils of the past. The official program is available at www.fallas.com (Spanish only).
Published: January 23, 2014
Musical genius and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, on Jan. 27, 1756. For more than 50 years, his native city has celebrated the date with a festival of classical music including solo, ensemble and orchestral performances.
The program is conceived with the aim of presenting his works from continuously evolving perspectives, allowing an international audience to hear them anew.
The city, often blanketed in snow at this time of year, adds a cozy charm to the event.
Mozart Week runs through Feb. 2, and, as usual, the program is bound to delight fans of this musical great. This year marks the 300th birthday of Christoph Willibald Gluck, a renowned composer of the pre-classical era; his “Orfeo ed Euridice” will be presented as the operatic highlight of Mozart Week.
Other not-to-be-missed performances include those by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and soloists Anja Harteros, Kristian Bezuidenhout and many others. The works of Richard Strauss, whose 150th birthday occurs this year, figure into the program as well.
A special Mozart Week package available at press time includes a chance to meet Vienna Philharmonic musicians before watching their performance at the Grossen Festspielhaus on Jan. 29, along with entry tickets to the houses where Mozart was born and lived, both now museums, for 99 euros.
For details on all performances and buying tickets, visit the website of the event organizer, the Mozarteum Foundation, at www.mozarteum.at.
Published: December 27, 2013
Between Christmas and New Year's, the kids are off from school, friends or family are visiting, and the gang’s itching to get out of the house. Where can everyone enjoy a good day out? Here are some ideas for those based in Germany.
• Garmisch-Partenkirchen: The favorite Alpine playground of many Americans hosts the International Jura City-Biathlon Friday, an event that takes the competitors through the middle of town, to the delight of the crowds that will gather to watch them pass. This free event kicks off at 5 p.m. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/l8r58ql.
Published: December 18, 2013
Ever need to get from Point A to Point B on public transportation but have no idea whether a bus, train, plane, boat or a combination is the best option?
A multimodal travel search engine that’s generating a lot of buzz is www.rome2rio.com, which contains more than 3,200 transportation operators in its database and continues to grow steadily. It’s also available as a mobile app.
Rome2rio is easy to use. Simply plug in your starting point and destination, and it will supply potential itineraries involving a combination of air, rail, coach or ferry, along with a rough cost estimate for the travel options.
Suppose, for example, you are based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and want to visit Aviano, Italy. In just one click, you learn the cheapest option may be the train to Ludwigshafen, Germany; the 140 Hahn-Express bus to the Frankfurt Hahn Airport; a Ryanair flight to Venice Treviso; a bus to the Treviso Centrale train station; and bus 13 to Pordenone.
The site also provides the websites of all the transportation providers you would need to book a trip.
Published: November 27, 2013
Enjoy extreme outdoor endeavors without fear of loss of life or limb by checking out the collection of films showcased in the European Outdoor Film Tour, being screened in various German venues through late January.
Nine short films and documentaries complete the program, which includes some 120 minutes of film viewing, punctuated by a half hour break, host commentary and a sweepstakes.
Activities to enjoy vicariously include whitewater kayaking in the jungles of Mexico, tackling mountain summits by bike in Kyrgyzstan, surviving the winter in a homemade hut above the Polar Circle, off-width climbing in Utah, and other hair-raising pursuits.
Tickets to the shows cost 14 euros and tend to sell out very quickly. A sporting goods store in each locality serves as the ticket seller; purchase them well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Venues hosting the tour near U.S. military communities include:
• Nuremberg, Meistersingerhalle, Nov. 25, 8 p.m.
• Bamberg, Konzerthalle, Nov. 30, 5 and 8:30 p.m.
• Regensburg, University-Audimax, Dec. 6, 5 and 8:30 p.m.
• Mannheim, Capitol, Dec. 18, 8 p.m.
• Wiesbaden, Thalia, Jan. 28, 8:00 p.m.
• Karlsruhe, Konzerthalle, Jan. 31, 8 p.m.
For the complete list of cities hosting the festival, tickets sales and more about the films, see www.eoft.eu.
Published: October 28, 2013
German Rail is offering a special chance to enjoy a short Saturday getaway. From now through Dec. 11, a “Samstags-Ticket” lets two people travel together to destinations countrywide for just 59 euros total. The catch? All travel must be completed within the same day.
The deal applies to trains classed as ICE (Inter City Europe), Intercity and Eurocity, as well as local trains. A third, fourth or fifth person can join the party for just 10 euros per person. Children ages 6 to 14 can travel with a parent free; note that their names must be listed on the group ticket. Children younger than 6 also travel free, but need not be named on the ticket.
There are, of course, some limitations to the offer. Tickets must be purchased at least three days before the start of a journey. Spaces along some of the most popular routes might be sold out on desired travel dates. The deal cannot be used in combination with trips outside the country.
Find information (in German) at http://tinyurl.com/pdovofw.
Published: September 26, 2013
The Fotofestival Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg, Germany’s biggest curated photography festival, celebrates its fifth anniversary through Nov 10.
Artistic partner to this edition of the festival is the highly regarded Magnum Photos, a worldwide photo agency established in 1947 that provides documentary and artistic images to the press, publishers, advertising, galleries and museums. The festival takes place across eight exhibition venues, three cities and two federal states.
Published: September 20, 2013
Munich’s Oktoberfest might be the mother of all beer festivals, but sky-high hotel prices or the hassle of finding a seat in a tent without reservations are enough to put some people off. Luckily, it’s also possible to get into the spirit of the season by attending an Oktoberfest-style event outside of Bavaria.
Here is a sampling of places where readers can heft a frothy mug of suds in the weeks to come:
Published: September 10, 2013
There’s still time to sign up for the first-ever edition of the Fisherman’s Friend StrongmanRun Luxembourg. The event, first held in Germany in 2007 and since staged in a half-dozen other which has been held in several European nations, debuts in the Duchy on Oct. 20 in Differdange.
Strongmen and strongwomen will cover a distance of some about 12 miles in two laps, overcoming 15 obstacles with each pass. Participants will climb, jump and swim across gravel pits, tire swings, bales of hay, wire, reinforced steel and frigid waters. With so many participants battling through simultaneously, organizers note the real risk of injury.
Entrants must be older than 16; those under 18 must have parents on hand to grant permission at the start. Registration costs 69 euros ($91); a mandatory chip for time measurement is an extra 30 euros, 25 euros is refundable upon return of the chip. See www.strongmanrun.eu.