Published: April 16, 2009
Have you taken your bicycle out of storage yet? Spring is a great time to get your wheels in gear and start exploring what lies round yonder hill or in a neighboring village.
Germany is blessed with plenty of trails that can be ridden on any given weekend; alternately, get out with thousands of other cyclists, hikers and in-line skaters for an auto-free day, when huge swaths of highway are taken up by people traveling under their own steam and cars are banned.
Published: April 13, 2009
It was a long time coming, but spring, glorious spring, is here at last. And what better sign of spring can there be than flowers?
Many of Europes parks and gardens are throwing open their gates around this time. Those that operate on year-round schedules may be opening additional outdoor venues that have lain dormant throughout the winter. Most of us have heard of Keukenhof gardens, near Lisse, Netherlands, which opened for business on March 19, and will be welcoming visitors until May 21, 2009. Having been there just twice, I cant speak with too much authority, but the more impressive visit of the two was the one that came on a weekend in early May, when the tulips were at their peak. So you still have time to put together a trip to Holland, or make things easier on yourself by signing up with one of the numerous trips offered by your local MWR.
If you're in the UK and longing for blossoms, make your way to the highly-regarded RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to be held May 19-23.
While these two are surely among Europes best garden parks and shows, there are countless others, many of which are much closer to home, just waiting to be discovered.
How to find a park nearby in which you can revel in spring blossoms? The Web site www.gardenvisit.com allows you to search by country, and might well provide you with inspiration.
Many parks lie in close proximity to US military communities here in Germany. These places could make for a pleasant day out and about, and theyre only the tip of the iceberg. Note most of these sites charge admission fees.
Throughout Bavaria for parks and castles throughout the region, see www.schloesser.bayern.de/englisch/palace/uebers/landshut.htm
Throughout Baden Wurttemberg www.schloesser-magazin.de/de/263038.html?objekt=garten
Ansbach Residenz Court Garden and Organgery, open year round
Bamberg Seehof Palace Park; see Stripes article.
Herrenchiemsee Palace park
Kaiserslautern Japanese Gardens and Gartenschau Kaiserslautern both opened April 1.
Linderhof Palace park
Mainau, Lake Constance http://www.mainau.de/htdocs/de/0201.htm
Mannheim Luisenpark; see Stripes article.
SaarbrÃ¼cken German French Garden
Schwetzingen Palace garden
Between Nuremberg and Mannheim/Heidelberg Weikersheim Palace
Looking to avoid admission charges altogether? A trip along the southern stretch of the German Wine Route at this time of year will give you the chance to catch almond blossoms at their peak. But hurry by mid-April, the show will be over for another year.
Not in Germany? Here are a few other good bets:
Brussels, Belgium -- Royal Greenhouses open to public, April 17- May 10.
Florence, Italy -- International Iris Competition, May 4-9.
Morges, Switzerland -- Tulip Festival, through May 12.
Where do you go to get your flower fix?