Published: June 27, 2008
Some spectacles just lend themselves to being performed in the great outdoors. A stunning backdrop can be just as crucial to the memory of the event as the performance itself. Because I happened to be in the area on business, I was lucky enough to see Luciano Pavarotti perform in the Pula Arena in Croatia in July 2004, an experience I wont forget.
One venue thats always appealed to me, yet Ive never been lucky enough to attend a show there, is the Verona Arena. Built in the first part of the first century, it can seat up to 20,000 spectators. The 2008 season will see the staging of the operas Aida, Nabucco, Tosca, Rigoletto, and Carmen. Tickets for the poshest seats are a pricey 200 euros, but cheap seats, way up high, go for as little as 24.50 euros. Seeing the arena awash in the light of thousands of candles in the hands of the audience must be an unforgettable sight. For booking and prices, click here.
Published: June 23, 2008
Harley fans might be interested in learning more about a current promotion being offered by the Marriott Hotel in Frankfurt.
The Easy Rider Weekend Feeling promotion offers two overnight stays at the hotel, buffet breakfast, ticket for public transportation within the Frankfurt area, and one day rental of a motorbike from the Harley factory. The package starts at 219 euros per person, based on sharing a double room, and is available Fridays through Sundays through Oct. 1.
Published: June 20, 2008
The days around the summer solstice have always seemed to me the most magical time of the year. Since coming to Europe, I have tried to make the most of this season, and all the glorious light, by venturing north. Ive been lucky enough to have experienced St. Petersburg and Karelia, Russia; Bergen, Norway; SkÃ¥ne, Sweden; and Denmark around this time of year. As the hour grows late, shadows stretch to unfamiliar proportions, and a dusky yellow light bathes the landscape. If youve never been in the northern latitudes at this time of year, I cant recommend the experience highly enough.
But its not only the far north of Europe that uses this turning point in the year as a basis for celebrations. From Bulgaria to Scotland, the days ahead will be marked in special ways.
Published: June 17, 2008
If you do a lot of bicycling around Germany, you no doubt appreciate all the well-marked cycling trails. Sometimes its OK to just follow random routes and see where you end up; other times, you may have a specific destination in mind. If thats the case, you can engage in some advance planning by visiting Web sites that allow you to plot out your bike route beforehand. Many of these sites work similarly to www.map24.com or www.mappy.com but for cyclists, allowing you to plug in your starting point and destination and then calculating a suitable route.
Most of the German sites that would aid a cyclist are based on the state you happen to be in, which can be a drawback if you plan to cross borders. For example, when I tried to calculate a route that started in Hessen and ended in Bavaria, Hessens site refused to kick out a response. When I kept my query within the confines of Hessen, however, it gave me not only a proposed route, but informed me of how long the journey might take, the temperature and wind direction in the towns through which I would pass, the height of the hills I would encounter, and a detailed description of when and where to turn.
Published: June 12, 2008
In Germany and looking for an afternoon out that wont cost an arm and a leg? Your kids might appreciate riding on one of the many steam trains that traverse the countryside. Many of these lines functioned for decades, were shut down, and subsequently reopened at the initiative of train enthusiasts.
Germanys official tourism Web site offers a directory of steam railways and trains. If one catches your eye, be sure to visit the routes own Web site and to take careful note of its operating days, as its generally not every weekend that these little engines that can chug over hill and dale.
Published: June 10, 2008
While you may be familiar with Web sites that allow you to compare the costs of a hotel room from one booking agency to the next, in my experience its a rarer animal that allows you to easily do the same with flights. So next time youre researching cheap fares, it may prove worthwhile to log onto www.billigflieger.de.
This site will search airlines, including some budget carriers, and online travel sites such as Expedia, in order to find you the best possible price on your tickets. The site is in German, but quite easy to use. You can also use it to compare prices of package deals and rental vehicles.
Published: June 6, 2008
Time and time again, the most memorable things about a trip are stumbled upon unexpectedly.
Having snapped up cheap airline tickets to Italy over Memorial Day weekend, I looked forward to such low-key fun as hanging out by the beach, sipping wine, munching on antipasti and hiking. Other than the hope for decent weather and a sandy beach, there was nothing in particular that drew us to our destination.
Published: June 3, 2008
Have you ever awakened on a Saturday or Sunday to find several hours of leisure time stretching before you? Should this happy chance occur, you probably arent going to want to hop in the car and drive for hundreds of miles. Instead, what youre looking for is a flea market, fest or family activity in the neighboring town. How to figure out whats going on locally?
A surprisingly good source of information for local events is the Web sites of public transportation networks. Some of these sites offer a calendar of fun stuff going on in the local area, whereas others make you work a little harder. The sites will provide you with lists of route changes, and its up to you to see what particular event will be snarling up or prompting changes to the public transportation network. Unfortunately, most of the information will be in German, but dont despair if your language skills are less than perfect. Youre aiming to get the gist of whats going on, not buy a house.