USO Christmas market tours

Expand your Christmas market experiences in Germany, France and the Netherlands on one-day tours organized by the United Service Organizations. Depending on the location, you may travel by bus or by train to some of the markets that travelers fly great distances to visit.

For example, the Rhein Main USO offers trips to Trier, Nuremberg and Cologne by train for $47 per adult as well as to Mainz ($19) and Frankfurt ($27). Trips by bus include Valkenburg and Maastricht in the Netherlands ($59), Rudesheim ($19), Rothenburg o.d. Tauber ($59), Germany, and Colmar, France ($59). It also offers a Rhine river Christmas cruise that stops at Rudesheim for $59. Children’s prices are available.

For dates and more information, stop in at your local USO. Get contact information on the Web at

Botticelli in Frankfurt

Through Oct. 28, 2010, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, will show 80 works by the great Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli, his workshop and contemporaries. It’s the first exhibition focusing on the 15th-century artist in German-speaking countries.

According to the museum’s Web site, Botticelli’s works are the ultimate in Florentine painting in the Golden Age. The artist had mastered the Florentine traditions — including idealized portraits with religious themes — but also was receptive to the humanist influences of those around Lorenzo de’Medici, in whose good graces he remained throughout his life. Because of his high standing, he was invited to work on the Sistine Chapel in Rome by Pope Sixtus IV in 1481.

The exhibition is organized into three parts: The first shows his portraits and allegorical paintings; the second, his famous mythological representations of goddesses and heroines of virtues; and the third, his religious work.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Weekend tickets cost 12 euros for adults and 10 euros for children. Weekday tickets are 10 euros for adults and 8 euros for children.

Find details at; there is an English-language version.

Passion Play 2010

From May to October, the Bavarian village of Oberammergau will be holding its Passion Play, which is performed every 10 years. The world-famous play on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was first performed in 1634 to fulfill a pledge made by the villagers in a plague outbreak during the 17th century’s Thirty Years War.

The five-hour play on an open-air stage will include more than 2,000 villagers acting, singing, playing instruments and working the stage.

According to the Passion Play ticket office, single tickets have been sold out. There are some one-night packages available starting at 199 euros per person, but the best bet is a two-night package beginning at 275 euros per person, double occupancy. It includes lodging for two nights, breakfasts, first-night dinner, lunch before the play, dinner during the play intermission, shuttle in Oberammergau and nearby villages, admission to the play, program, admission to the Oberammergau Museum and visitor’s tax. Find more information at; there is an English-language version.

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