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Next month — Sept. 28-30Altenburg, Germany: 46.13 pounds round trip

Fly Ryanair from London Stansted to Altenburg

Sightseeing in Altenburg, the German capital of playing cards and home of the card game Skat, should start at the Castle of Altenburg. Visitors can explore the various staterooms, hallways and ballrooms containing collections of precious clocks, arms and porcelain while wondering about early ducal life. Also housed within the castle is the Playing Card Museum containing an extensive collection of cards.

Bring your own playing cards with you or visit the tourist information center on Moritzstrasse to purchase special-edition cards to be “baptized” in the Skat fountain in the center of the old town square. According to the tourist information center, cards that have been “baptized” at the fountain will bring luck to their owners. Official card “baptisms” or Kartentaufe can be booked in advance from one of the local guided tour companies.

Art lovers should wander into the Lindenau Art Museum housing a collection of Italian Renaissance art, ceramics and statues. This privately run museum boasts a reputation as one of the most important museums in Germany.

Parched holidaymakers should stop at the Altenburg Brewery.

Three months — Nov. 23-25Jerez, Spain: 70.95 pounds round trip

Fly Ryanair from London Stansted to Jerez

At first glance, a weekend in Jerez may appear to be all about wine, brandy, horses and flamenco, but don’t be fooled. This city has much more to offer, including sport and relaxation.

Start a weekend in Jerez with a tour of one of more than 30 bodegas (wine cellars) devoted to making sherry and brandy. A visit to the Bodegas Williams and Humbert includes a tour of its museum with a comprehensive collection of old winery utensils dating to the 17th century and a room containing vintages from the 1920s forward. If that weren’t enough, visit the show ring within the cellar, hosting free equestrian shows twice a week.

For more equestrian entertainment, visit the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art to see thoroughbred horses perform dressage movements to music. The Hierro del Bocado Stud Farm offers tours allowing visitors to see beautiful horses groomed and trained.

According to the Andalusian area tourism office, Jerez is the birthplace of flamenco and offers the best of flamenco daily in its clubs. The Andalusian Centre of Flamenco uses a specialized library and a comprehensive sound archive to provide a glimpse at the history of flamenco.

For visitors needing to relax, the Hammam Andalusi offers Arabic baths in an extravagant 18th-century town house with treatments including mud scrubs and massages.

Airfare prices include estimated taxes and are courtesy of the Web site Prices were verified as of Monday afternoon when Stripes UK went to press. Deals are not guaranteed to be available; restrictions may apply.


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