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Castles on the Rhine

Cruise the Rhine River, get the lowdown on Germany’s fortresses and castles and receive one college credit during a seminar June 19 and 20 offered by the Wiesbaden office of the University of Maryland University College.

The weekend lecture and cruise, called Fortresses on the Rhine, begins with a class conducted by George Neblett, a retired professor with the University of Maryland, on the real story behind the castles. The next day, the class boards a Cologne-Düsseldorf ship in Eltville for a cruise to view the 22 castles along the Rhine. The ride ends with a visit to the Marksburg Castle in Braubach, the only hill castle in Germany that was never destroyed.

In addition to the college fees, the boat ride is 35 euros. It includes the cruise, train ride up the mountain to the Marksburg Castle, guided study tour of the castle and return to Eltville.

Students’ friends and family are welcome on the cruise portion of the class.

For details, go to www.ed. umuc.edu and click on the Undergrad tab, then Class Schedules, then Wiesbaden. Or call the school office at DSN 337-5917 or Neblett at 06723-4858.

Romantic Road by bus

The Romantic Road in Germany, which runs from Würzburg to Füssen, maintains much of its medieval character to this day. This year the road, once a medieval trade route, celebrates the 60th year since its designation, an anniversary it shares with the Europabus buses, whose long-distance route along the road was established in 1950.

Through Oct. 24, the Romantic Road buses leave daily from Frankfurt and Füssen at 8 a.m. and from Munich at 11 a.m. for a tour of some of the highlights.

Depending on the direction, the route takes in the Residence Palace in Würzburg, the vineyards of the Tauber Valley and Rothenburg ob der Tauber before a lunch stop in the medieval town of Dinkelsbühl. It then continues to Nördlingen and Augsburg before arriving in Munich. From Munich it drives past the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau before arriving in Füssen. There are photo stops at several points along the way.

Prices depend on where you board and depart the bus. A one-way ticket from Frankfurt to Würzburg, for example, costs 23 euros; from Frankfurt to Munich, 81 euros; and to Füssen, 99 euros. Passengers can break up the journey wherever they want. Cyclists and hikers can use the buses for luggage transfer.

The company has various tour packages. For example, a three-day tour for hikers, bikers and visitors starts at 241 euros, double occupancy. It includes two hotel nights (double occupancy), breakfasts, bus fare, luggage transfer, bike transport and emergency help for breakdowns.

A five-day tour starts at 419 euros. Find more details at www.touring-travel.eu; the website has an English-language version.

Best Bets

GERMANY: Europe’s largest festival of African music and culture opens Friday and runs through the weekend on Würzburg’s Talavera Mainwiesen on the Main River. This year’s guest is South Africa, host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. More than 250 musicians will perform in tents and the open air, the music coming from South Africa, Algeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. Other events include exhibitions, films, wine tastings, a bazaar, food and drink and children’s program. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to midnight daily. Tickets to the grounds alone cost 5 euros for adults and are free for ages 12 and younger; daily tickets for the grounds and concerts (concertgoers must be 12 or older) are 33 euros. Family and four-day tickets also are available. Tickets for Sunday are sold out. Find more details at www.africafestival.org.

• The Goths invade Leipzig this Friday through Monday during the annual Wave Gotik Treffen. More than 150 bands on 20 stages will entertain, with music ranging from medieval to Goth metal to neofolk. Also on the program are a medieval market, a pagan village with readings, exhibitions, theaters, films and a variety of parties. See more details at www.wave-gotik-treffen.de/english.

ITALY: If it’s anything like last year, Sunday’s Vogalonga will feature more than 1,600 rowing boats on Venice’s canals. The noncompetitive regatta represents a revival of the traditional Venetian travel by rowboat and welcomes both amateur and professional rowers. At 9 a.m. participants leave from St. Mark’s Basin to follow an approximately 18½-mile route passing some of the city’s most picturesque scenes. The event ends at Punta della Dogane, opposite St. Mark’s Square. For details, see www.vogalonga.com/en.

NETHERLANDS: The Tong Tong Fair and Festival is under way on the Malieveld in the center of The Hague with a program of Indonesian culture that continues until May 30. The festival, blending East and West, features more than 400 performances in five theaters by a variety of artists. Also scheduled are lectures, films, workshops, cooking demonstrations and a grand bazaar. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Weekday tickets cost 11.50 euros for adults (14.50 on weekends) and 4.50 euros for ages 2 to 11. See www.tongtongfestival.nl.

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