Spain pilgrimage tourFor some, making the 465- mile Camino de Santiago walking pilgrimage in northwestern Spain’s Galicia region to receive the Compostela pilgrim certificate is a challenging dream. But those who aren’t fit enough or don’t have enough time to do the entire route can earn the certificate by walking only 110 kilometers — about 68 miles — of the route.

Spanish Steps and Roman Roads, a travel agency based in Colorado, has created a seven- day tour called “Pilgrim Special: Sarria to Santiago, the Final 100k,” for those who want to make the shorter version. The paths are well-marked and allow a look at the beautiful countryside.

Tours run Oct. 4-10 and 11-17. The cost is $1,000, and includes inns, meals and a guide.

The company also offers longer Camino de Santiago walks, as well as walks along different sections of the trail. Details at

Family historical eventsEnglish Heritage, an organization that protects many of England’s historical properties, offers a summer family program throughout the country.

For example, families can spend July 14 having medieval monastic fun at Rievalux Abbey in North Yorkshire, and on the 15th, work hands-on with real archaeologists for Archaeology Days. Wartime England is explored with “Hands on History Crew: Forties Style!” in Scarborough Castle July 23-27. And children can learn to be a knight or princess at the castle during Medieval Mayhem, July 30 to Aug. 3. How about trying a pirate’s life on Aug. 20-24 during “Hands-on History: Pirate Party”?

The “Children’s Roman Festival” at Birdoswald Roman Fort in Cumbria Aug. 4-5 lets children join and drill in a children’s Roman army.

Would-be archers can have a go with a bow at Audley House and Gardens Aug. 8-12. Also on the property’s program are demonstrations of owls, hawks and falcons in flight Aug. 22-24. Young squires can train as a knight Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 in the Knight School.

Prices for adults are between 3 and 6 pounds (about $6 to $12) and 2 to 4 pounds for children.

For more details, go to

Free France guideIf you’ll be spending time in France this year, you might want to get a complimentary copy of the French government tourist office’s FranceGuide 2007. Download one under “Publications” at

Best BetsAUSTRIA: Salzburg’s 11th-century Hohensalzburg Fortress, Europe’s largest, hosts the city’s medieval festival this weekend. A Middle Ages atmosphere will be created by jugglers, minstrels, fencing groups, musicians and a medieval market. Admission is 4 euros for adults, 2 euros for children.

GERMANY: Frankfurt’s pedestrian zone between the Konstablerwache and the Hauptwache becomes one great beer hall through Saturday as the city welcomes the Beer Fair to its shopping street. More than 1,000 beers from 75 countries are on the menu, ranging from the unusual, such as Mississippi Mud, Pharaoh beer and Tattoo Beer, to favorites, such as Belgium’s Stella Artois, Ireland’s Guinness and Munich’s Hofbräu brew. The “House of 131 Beers” offers 200 brands of bottled beer from around the world, and collectors can buy beer mats, T-shirts, posters, pins, glasses and other souvenirs. The fair is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

While you’re in Frankfurt, you might want to head to the Museumsufer (museums river bank) between the Untermainbrücke and Eisernem Steg on the Main River to catch the dragon boat races and festival Friday through the weekend. According to the event’s Web site (in German and English), Chinese legend attributes the first race to fishermen wanting to rescue politically exiled poet Qu Yuan in 300 B.C. from dangerous fish by combining loud drumming with fervent paddling. Since then, the festivals have represented the search for the poet’s soul. The teams of paddlers will race 300 meters, starting from the bridge. A music and culinary program provides riverbank entertainment. Details at

NETHERLANDS: Go behind the scenes of Amsterdam’s canal-side gardens Friday through the weekend during the city’s annual Open Garden Days. This year’s theme is “Garden Houses and Arbors,” which focuses on not only the gardens but also the houses and arbors in which the owners enjoy their hidden green getaways. The gardens are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A ticket costs 12 euros. You can buy tickets at the Theatermuseum, Herengracht 168; Bijbels Museum, Herengracht 366-368; Huis Marseille, Keizersgracht 401; Museum Van Loon, Keizersgracht 672; and Museum Willet- Holthuysen, Herengracht 605. Advance tickets are available from the tourist board. Find more at

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