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Throughout March, enjoy strong beer in Munich

It might be Lent in Germany, but in Bavaria at least, there’s no prohibition on enjoying a hearty brew. When monks of the Middle Ages fasted at this time of year, they made up for the lack of food by crafting a beer almost as hearty as bread — and with nearly the same calorie count. The tradition lives on to this day, and from now until Easter, Starkbierzeit, or Strong Beer Season, can be enjoyed nowhere better than in Munich.

How to recognize a Starkbier? It has a beautiful golden-yellow color, and with a 7.5 percent alcohol content, it’s twice as strong as your average Munich keg beer. nother way to determine the nature of the brew is by its name: If it  ends in “-ator” (Maximator, Animator, Triumphator, Optimator), it’s almost certainly a member of the strong beer family. The daddy of them all is the Salvator, brewed by the Paulaner Brauerei.

Glacierbike downhill in Switzerland

Those short on their fill of Alpine adventure this winter can head to the ski area of Saas-Fee, Switzerland, on Saturday, March 2, for a day out that includes more than the usual skiing and boarding.

The 10th edition of the Glacierbike Downhill kicks off at 8:30 a.m., when a couple of hundred brave bikers will gather on the Mittelallalin, some 11,500 feet above sea level, to face down a steep, curving track covered in snow and ice. The race finishes in the village of Saas-Fee, at a height of around 5,900 feet. An awards ceremony takes place immediately following.

Mountain Film Festival flickers through Germany

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour makes its way through Germany Feb. 16 to March 24.

The Banff Centre, a Canadian institution promoting art, culture and education, is the organizing force behind the festival, which each fall showcases films about mountain culture, sports and nature.

Ticket time for 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Fairly certain you'll be in Europe this same time next year? If so, attending the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics might have sprung to mind.
 
Americans wishing to get individual tickets to the games can do so through CoSport, a leading provider of Olympic Games packages and a U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor, starting Feb. 11. Tickets go on sale at noon Eastern Time.  Packages that combine tickets with hotel stays are already on offer on CoSport's website. An account is needed to buy tickets, so it may be advisable to set one up beforehand. Note also that a Visa card is needed to complete any transactions.
 
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics take place Feb. 7-23 not in Sochi proper, but in the suburb of Adler and the mountain resort of Krasnaya Polyana. This resort area by the Black Sea has long been popular among Russians as a summer-sun destination. Even in the winter, temperatures there are mild in comparison with the rest of the country.
 
Bear in mind that U.S. citizens traveling to Russia need visas to enter the country. Visas can be obtained at Russian consulates in countries outside of the U.S., although these services generally cost more for foreign citizens than for residents of the country in which the consulate is located.

 

Try an Austrian spa getaway for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, those with a travel-loving partner might be on the hunt for a romantic destination offering something out of the ordinary. You might consider the four-star Romantikhotel Im Weissen Roessl, in Austria’s Salzkammergut region, which is surrounded by mountains and sits on the banks of Lake Wolfgang.

The hallmark feature of the White Horse Inn, as it calls itself on the English pages of its website, is a year-round heated pool, installed directly into the lake and maintained at a constant temperature of 86 degrees. The lake pool and a heated outdoor whirlpool make up part of a sprawling wellness area built alongside Lake Wolfgang. Other spa facilities include a sauna with a lake view, a panoramic sport and fitness area, salt steam baths and sun terrace with heated lounge chairs.

 
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About the Author

Karen Bradbury has lived and worked in Europe for more than fifteen 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: bradburyk@estripes.osd.mil