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Christmas is rapidly approaching, and our thoughts turn to Christmas markets, shopping and traveling. It’s easy to forget that there are people out there who are targeting us. In the December Heidelberg International Wandering Club newsletter, president Mike Capp wrote an alarming article about his recent encounters with pickpockets.

While traveling over Thanksgiving, Mike and his wife were doing what most of us have done — dragging a suitcase onto a train on the way to an airport so they could see more of Europe. They were able to thwart a group of female pickpockets on the train in Cologne, but they were victimized in Rome at one of the crowded tourist areas. There were lots of people jostling and bumping into each other. Another place was not crowded, but Mike was bumped by a swarm of kids playing. At some point, his wallet was skillfully lifted from his pocket.

We mention this because of the many Christmas markets and crowded stores we all will be visiting in the upcoming days. We recently went to the Aachen Christmas market where there was a loudspeaker announcement in German, French and English warning people to beware of pickpockets. A lot of you will be traveling and using public transportation as well.

We hope you all remain vigilant of your surroundings and can avoid becoming victims. Remember, pickpockets come in all sizes, ages and genders, so be careful.

• The walk this weekend that caught our eye is in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday. This 10-kilometer event starts at 10 a.m. from the chocolate museum. This looks like a unique opportunity to combine a Christmas market, a chocolate museum and a trip to a Hard Rock Cafe.

• Saturday’s walk in Namur, Belgium, should be nice, too. The Christmas lights around the city will give walkers a unique perspective of the town. There are plenty of hills and steps, which we found slippery when we did this walk.

• The walk in Roncaglia, Italy (which we shortened from Roncaglia di Ponte San Nicolo in the walk chart that you can find at stripes.com/go/volksmarch) has a choice of prizes. The first 300 people will be able to get five liters of olive oil. Other walkers will receive five packages of pasta. The cost of the walk is 17 euros if you want the olive oil; 3.50 euros if you get the pasta.

• We know how easy it is to focus on German Christmas markets, but don’t overlook your European neighbors. We have also been to Christmas markets in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands and have found them to be exciting. The theme is the same, but each country has its own unique cultural flavor.

Wherever you find yourselves this weekend, we hope you have a unique European Christmas experience.

• If you’re looking for walks in the new year, consider the event in Grosbliederstroff, France, on Sunday, Jan. 29. The Heidelberg International Wandering Club will be loading up a bus for the trip. Contact Don Casper at Don.Casper1@t-online.de if you want to sign up. Make it soon, because these trips fill quickly.

E-mail volksmarch information to two.walkers@yahoo.com. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO AE 09752.

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