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UK weekly edition, Wenesday, September 5, 2007

Next month — Oct. 12-14Grampian Highlands, Scotland: 56.98 pounds round trip

Fly Easyjet from London Luton to Aberdeen.

Start your exploration of the Grampian Highlands in Aberdeen, Scotland’s third-largest city. Tourists can visit the Gordon Highlanders Museum and follow in the footsteps of this famous British Army regiment. The museum uses interactive maps, scale models, film footage, uniforms and stories about the awarding of 19 Victoria Crosses to tell the real-life stories of the brave men of northeast Scotland.

Another attraction worth a visit is the Duthie Park Winter Gardens, where visitors can see the largest collection of cacti in Britain alongside other exotic plants.

Before venturing out of Aberdeen, stop by the tourist information center to pick up a map that highlights the many trails available for exploring.

One to try is the Malt Whiskey Trail that will take vacationers to seven distilleries — each with its own process and recipes for the making of Uisghe Beatha or “water of life.” Visitors will be able to tour the distilleries and try several of the malt whiskeys. Of particular interest along this trail is the Spreyside Cooperage, where real coopers can be seen hard at work making their wooden barrels.

Another route to try is the Castle Trail, which leads visitors to 13 castles. Along the way, trail-goers will have a chance to explore the Craigievar Castle, with a fine collection of 17th- and 18th-century furniture; Crathes Castle, with some rooms still retaining their original painted ceilings; and the 16th-century Castle Fraser, with a collection of fine embroidery and immaculate walled gardens.

Other castles along the route not to be missed are the ruins of Tolquhon and Kildrummy.

Stop in the town of Ballater to do some shopping. There visitors can find many businesses that display the royal coat-of-arms plaques, indicating that they supply the royal family with goods or services.

Three months — Dec. 7-9Oslo, Norway: 50.63 pounds round trip

Fly Ryanair from London Stansted to Oslo.

Spend a day exploring Bygdoy peninsula, home to some of Oslo’s most popular maritime attractions. Start by exploring the Vikingskiphuset, or Viking Ship Museum, where three preserved Viking burial vessels are on display. Of particular interest is the 64-foot ship Oseberg, which was the burial chamber of a Viking queen.

Within the Kon-Tiki Museum visitors can see the balsawood raft that Norwegian explorer and archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl sailed in 1947 to Polynesia. The museum also contains exhibits on Heyerdahl’s visits to the Easter Islands.

For more maritime history, visit the Norwegian Maritime Museum, which boasts a ship’s deck with helm, sections of a passenger steamer, a polar vessel and other small craft. Outside the museum, people can visit the moored schooner Svanen.

Bygdoy is also home to the large open-air Norwegian Folk Museum, complete with 225,000 exhibits of furniture, tapestries, paintings, farming tools, household utensils and more on display.

Off the peninsula more attractions can be found including the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Ski Museum, Norway’s most-visited attraction, according to the Oslo, Norway, directory. A ride to the tower’s top offers visitors panoramic views of the city below. The museum traces 4,000 years of skiing history.

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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