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October 31 — November 3Trieste, Italy: 49 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Stansted.

The oldest part of Trieste is found at the base of Capitoline Hill. Stop by the Arco di Riccardo, a Roman arch built in A.D. 33 in honor of Emperor Augustus.

From there, walk about 10 minutes up Capitoline Hill, where most of the city’s interesting museums and monuments are located. Visit the Cattedrale di San Giusto, whose exterior contains fragments of Roman tombs and temples. Inside, delight in the 13th-century mosaics and frescoes and the wooden ceiling studded with stars.

Just above the cathedral sits the Castello di San Giusto, a castle built by the Venetians in the 15th century. It now houses exhibits on weaponry and armor, Flemish tapestries and period furnishings.

The oldest place of worship in Trieste is the San Silvestro church, dating from the 11th century, which is said to have been erected on the site where two local martyrs once lived.

Enjoy an espresso at one of the many cafes that line the streets. During December, many of the cafes have live music and are surrounded by traditional Christmas market stalls. The city’s many churches host live music and holiday events. A large exhibit of original Nativity scenes is set up at Palazzo Vivante.

December 27 – 31Riga, Latvia: 131 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Stansted.

The history- and culture-rich city of Riga sits at the mouth of the Daugava River. Start at the Dome Square in the heart of the old town, a U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site. Visit the Ethnographic Open Air Museum that includes Latvian houses, farmsteads, windmills and churches representing Latvia’s different regions and time periods.

In the old town is the Dome Cathedral, which houses a collection of artwork and an impressive organ. The cathedral often serves as a concert hall and is also home to the Riga History and Navigation Museum.

Head to Riga Castle, the residence of Latvia’s president, and visit the National History Museum inside. Also in the old town is St. Peter’s Cathedral, where visitors can take the elevator to the viewing platform around the spire for a 360-degree view of Riga.

Venture out into modern Riga and stop at the Riga Motor Museum, a paradise for auto enthusiasts. The museum displays Western as well as Soviet-era cars and motorcycles, including the cars of former Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Josef Stalin.

In the city’s center is the Freedom Monument, a statue almost 140 feet tall inscribed "For the Fatherland and Freedom." An honor guard in front of it changes every hour on the hour, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Stripes in 7



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