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Celebrating the EU

Fifty years ago, The Treaty of Rome was signed, an agreement that established the European Economic Community. The initial six countries signing were France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

This year, EU countries are celebrating the stability and prosperity the agreement has brought the continent with a number of events, including sports, music, cinema, dances, conferences and festivals. The Web site with details about the anniversary and events is http:// europa.eu/50/ index_en. htm.

Leonardo da Vinci has been selected as the personality to symbolize “50 Years of Europe.” From Aug. 18 to March 16, 2008, the exhibit “Leonard Da Vinci — The European Genius” will include original documents, working scale models and illustrations of his inventions.

It will be on display in Brussels’ National Basilica of Koekelberg, the world’s fifth largest church. The exhibit is organized around five themes: his life, his paintings, his writing, his machines and the European dimension of da Vinci.

www.expo-davinci.eu.

Learn Irish culture

If you want to learn more about the Irish language and culture, you might be interested in attending a course with Oideas Gael in Gleann Cholm Cille, in the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) area of southwest Donegal.

Through the summer, courses include the Irish language, Celtic pottery, flute and tin whistle playing, Irish heritage, archaeology, Donegal dances and bodhrán instruction, plus hill walking.

Course fees range from 170 to 220 euros. Accommodation costs are separate with options of bed-and-breakfast with meals or self-catering houses. Find details at www.oideas-gael.com.

Best BetsBelgium

In 1149, Thierry d’Alsace, the Count of Flanders, brought a relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus to Brugge, and since 1303 it has been paraded through the city so the townspeople could pay tribute to it. This year’s parade begins at 3 p.m. on May 17, Ascension Day. It’s divided into four parts: the Old Testament, the New Testament, Historical Section and Veneration of the Holy Blood. Information on reservations, prayer services, special Masses and other events can be found at www.holyblood. com/EN/A.asp. Brugge’s Web site is www.brugesinfo.com.

Germany

According to the Wolkenkratzer (skyscraper) Web site, Frankfurt’s nickname of “Main- hattan” is derived from the fact that it has the most and highest of these buildings in Germany — and its skyline resembles that of Manhattan. To celebrate this distinction, the annual Skyscraper Festival will be held in the city center this weekend. The limited tickets to visit the buildings have already been given out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join the party on the street with music, food, fireworks and other attractions. Details at www.wolkenkratzer-festival.de (in German).

Wiesbaden’s casino celebrates its 100th anniversary Friday through the weekend with free admission and extended hours. Events include a special dinner, ceremonies and, on Sunday, a historic park festival from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. taking visitors back to the beginning of the 20th century. Music from the Johann Strauss Orchestra will play and fireworks will end the evening. Details at http://english.wiesbaden.de/ index.php.

Switzerland

The finals to decide the queen in this year’s popular cow fighting competition take place Sunday in Aproz, near the city of Sion in the Valdais canton. Up to this time, regional heats have decided which six cows will enter the final round. The winner takes home a bell and its breeder wins prize money. The fights are bloodless: Most of the time the competitors push their foreheads together and twist each other’s horns to see which will back down. The subordinate cow eventually leaves, and some don’t even bother to battle. For more information, call the Sion Tourist board at (+41) (0)27-327-77- 27 or go to www.siontourism.ch.

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