German gemsThe German Tourist Board offers these suggestions for visitors who want to get out into the country while also visiting some important cultural sites:

• A pilgrimage route called Jacob’s Trail runs through several European countries, with its final destination in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Two paths cross through Germany in Rheinland- Pfalz. Both begin at Speyer’s cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and end at Hornbach Cloister on the border with France.

The southern route goes via Landau and Bad Bergzaubern, and the northern route goes from Neustadt on the Weinstrasse past Landstuhl. For details, see the Web site, or contact the tourist board at, or by calling (+49) (0) 6321-39160.

• Go monastery hopping along the Cloister Route and stay two nights in Calw with a package offered by the city.

A 60-mile route through the northern Black Forest connects the Benedictine abbeys at Hirsau and Alpirsbach with the Maulbronn Cistercian Cloister (a UNESCO World Heritage site). The area is the cradle of the Benedictine reformation movement.

The two-night package “Monastery Route of the Northern Black Forest” costs 110 euros per person, double occupancy, and includes lodging with breakfast, tours of the abbeys and visit to a glass-blowing factory.

Get details from the tourist board at, or by calling (+49) (0)7051-968-810.

• After 1½ years of renovation, the birth house of Martin Luther in Eisleben has reopened. The building is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A permanent exhibition in the house, titled “I’m From There — Martin Luther and Eisleben,” looks at the life and times that influenced the great reformer.

The house is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Mondays. Admission is 2.50 euros per person. Tours (in English) cost 22.50 euros. Find details at

Safari parkGermany’s only safari park, Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, opens March 24.

The park in northwestern Germany includes four “Worlds of Experience”: Monkey Land, with 200 apes and 20 species; Water Land, with slides and boats; Leisure Land, with rides; and Animal Land, a free range with 1,500 animals, including lions, zebras and elephants (car visit only). The park also includes Europe’s largest petting zoo.

The grounds are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is 22 euros for adults, 18 euros for children 3 to 12, free for those younger than 3. Find details at

Send announcements of tours or other special travel deals to

Best betsBelgiumAccording to legend, Charles Martel, the Christian general who won the Battle of Tours against a Muslim army in 732, killed a bear with a hammer when he was 9. From that time, the bear has been the symbol of Andenne, the town where he was born. Today the bear is celebrated at an annual carnival, which takes place Saturday. At 2 p.m., a grand parade of bears, people dressed as bears and floats with bears takes to the streets. At the end, the carnival king and queen stand on a balcony and throw hundreds of little stuffed bears to the throng. For more on the town, see Andenne’s Web site, (click on “Tourisme” for information in English).

GermanyEaster eggs brighten the town of Michelstadt in the Odenwald this weekend during the annual Easter Egg Market in the Odenwaldhalle. Sixty-five artists use their imaginations and techniques employing gold and silver, acrylic paint, straw, paper and pearls to decorate the eggs with intricate and colorful patterns. Other Easter accessories also are on sale. The market is open from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Entry for adults is 3 euros; children up to 14 enter free.

Ireland“Legendary” is the theme of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin, and the program is full of activities through the weekend. On Saturday, the grand international multicultural parade sets off at noon from Parnell Square with giant inflatables, costumed participants and theater. Other events include a fair, comedy circus, concerts by musical groups Clanned and The Waterboys, a ceili mor (Irish dance), Irish culture and language workshops, tours and films. Details at

ItalyVenice hosts its sixth International Boat Show Saturday through March 25 at the Naval Station in the city’s port. On the program are more than 500 exhibitors from boat and manufacturing companies, special events and the Trends Area, with the latest in sea wear. There also will be three new exhibitor sectors on scuba diving, fishing and inflatable boats. The show is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Admission is 12 euros for adults and 10 euros for children.

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