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UK weekly edition, Wednesday, August 6, 2008

To our readers: Stripes UK is considering dropping the Cheap Seats feature. With escalating airfares that change on a daily basis, we fear the column is not serving our readers the way it should. If you have any thoughts on the feature or suggestions for a travel-related column you think would better serve you, please e-mail us at: uknews@estripes.osd.mil.

Next Month — Sept. 8-15

Smaland Province, Sweden: 71.04 pounds round trip

Fly Ryanair from London Stansted to Vaxjo.

Start your exploration at the heart of the province, Vaxjo. Learn about your Swedish genealogy at the House of Emigrants Museum or explore the ruins of Kronoberg Castle and the fields of Kronoberg Nature Reserve. Within the reserve are 75 graves from the early Iron Age alongside one from the Bronze Age.

While in Vaxjo, stop at the tourist information center to pick up a Glasriket Pass or Kingdom of Crystal Pass, which will provide a number of discounts and maps to help you navigate the Kingdom of Crystal, which stretches 70 miles between Vaxjo and the city of Kalmar. The region offers 15 glassworks, where visitors can buy a variety of crystal. Take some time to try glass-blowing or engraving.

Stop for a bite at one of the glassworks and enjoy a Hyttsill — a gathering featuring "smelting-works" herring or "hot stop" herring — with a piece of locally produced cheesecake.

Outside of Vaxjo, visit Huseby, a large farm, forest and industrial community with an old iron works museum, farm laborers museum, sawmill, nature museum, mill and manor house. Souvenirs from this idyllic village include ceramics, handicrafts and art.

Also worth a visit is Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby, a family park where visitors can get up close with the "Pippi Longstocking" author’s characters. For something sweet, visit the town of Gränna, where the famous polkagris — a red-and-white candy cane — is made. Have a sample of the many new flavors, or enjoy the standard classic peppermint.

From Gränna, take a 20-minute ferry ride to Visingsö, an island in Lake Vättern, to explore castle ruins, several medieval churches and a large herb garden while being chauffeured around by horse and cart.

Three months — Nov. 7-9

Lodz, Poland: 50.25 pounds round trip

Fly Ryanair from London Stansted to Lodz.

Lodz is Poland’s second-largest city and primarily an industrial town. However, over the years and through several large restoration programs, it has turned into a dynamic daytime cultural center with an exciting nightlife.

Start at the Museum of Textile Industry, which claims to have the largest collection of fabrics in Europe. Visit the Museum of Art, to explore one of the oldest museums of modern art, or the Historical Museum of Lodz, for a glimpse at the history of this manufacturing city.

Stroll the longest shopping promenade in Europe, Piotrkowska. There you will find shops, banks, tourist information, cinemas, restaurants and more. Piotrkowska also is home to the best nightlife that Lodz offers, with more than 100 clubs, pubs and discos.


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