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UK weekly edition, Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Next month — Sept. 21-23Zurich, Switzerland: 72.98 pounds round trip

Fly Easyjet from London Luton to Zurich.

Start an exploration of Zurich, the banking capital of the world, at the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum has a large number of Edvard Munch paintings, Alberto Giacometti’s stick figures and works by Monet, Van Gogh, Rodin and Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler, so a visit could take several hours to complete. The museum also hosts an extensive collection of 15th-century religious iconography.

For a unique look at design, architecture and photography, visit the Zurich Museum of Design, which has an exhibition examining dendrites, or tree-shaped structures, found throughout nature.

The Swiss National Museum, housed in a castlelike building with a distinctive tower, contains a comprehensive collection of artifacts from the Stone Age to modern times. Look for an exhibit of wheels found in Zurich that are believed to be the first-ever discovered, or explore an exhibit on Swiss clock-making.

The official Web site of Zurich tourism, www.zuerich.com, recommends visiting the Fraumunster Church noted for five stained-glass windows created by Marc Chagall in its choir section and its enormous and elaborate organ.

For a little window shopping, visit the Bahnhofstrasse, advertised as one of the most beautiful shopping streets in Europe. Along with the Paradeplatz, this street on the left bank of the River Limmat is home to elegant boutiques, specialist shops, trendy cafes, restaurants and bars. There you will find Switzerland’s own Freitag bags made from recycled truck tarpaulins.

Less expensive shopping, eating and drinking can be found on the right bank of the river.

Three months — Nov. 15-17Casablanca, Morocco: 67.50 pounds round trip

Fly Easyjet from London Stansted to Casablanca.

Many visitors to Casablanca may be a bit disappointed to see that this cosmopolitan city is lacking the romantic, oriental look portrayed in the 1943 movie “Casablanca.” However, this port city has plenty to offer for the weekend visitor.

The easy-to-locate Cathedral of Sacre Coeur is a prime example of how the area’s architecture has mixed traditional Moroccan design with European style. Although entry is forbidden due to interior neglect, the exterior is still a wondrous sight. Traveling south, holidaymakers can visit the Church of Notre-Dame de Lourdes. This smaller church is still in use and is admired for its beautiful stained glass.

Another church of interest with a bit of American history is the Church of St. John the Evangelist where many Americans still attend service. During World War II’s Operation Torch, the church was filled with American troops including Gen. George Patton, who gifted the current oak pulpit, “in memory of the men of all nations who fell in the fighting around Casablanca.”

Not to be missed is the Hassan II Mosque built on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Designed by a French architect, the mosque has a capacity for 25,000 worshippers within and a courtyard with space for another 80,000. The mosque’s glass floor reveals the ocean below and its 210-meter (689-foot) minaret stands as the world’s tallest, according to www.religionfacts.com. The mosque is open to all for one-hour accompanied visits every day, except Friday.

Beyond the mosque is the beach suburb Ain Diab, packed with beach clubs — most containing pools — restaurants, sports facilities and discos. Shop around as some of these clubs are quite expensive while others run specials from time to time.

Airfare prices include estimated taxes and are courtesy of the Web site www.skyscanner.net. 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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