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Hiking the BalkansLooking for some place new for mountain hiking? How about Bulgaria? BG Travel offers a variety of trips in this Balkan country.

For example, take the five-day hiking tour in the Pirin mountains, an area that features granite peaks, glacial valleys, waterfalls and lakes — and a high percentage of sunny days to view them. Pirin National Park is a UNESCO Cultural and Heritage site, known for its rugged beauty.

Daily hikes run between four and eight hours. The cost is 690 euros for two adults (for a family with two children, the cost is 869 euros in a shared room); larger groups pay less. The package includes four nights’ accommodations in three-star hotels, four breakfasts and dinners, transfer van, mountain guide and airport transfer. The trip is available through September.

For information on this and other tours, go to

Sailing in CroatiaCroatia Travel Agency offers several classes that let you combine trying your hand at sailing and exploring a resort area of Croatia.

One option is the seven-day beginners course, teaching basic sailing skills such as handling ropes and deck equipment, navigating, shortening sails, steering and avoiding collisions. The course, running through Oct. 6, costs 388 euros per person and includes instruction, accommodation, meals and course certificate.

If you complete the advanced course, you are eligible to participate in the regatta course (464 euros per person) in October and enter the Uskrsnja, Mrduja, Viska or Barcolana regatta. Or you might want to head out into the open waters of the Adriatic Sea and sail to Italy in October, facing more wintery weather in the Trans-Adriatic course (376 euros per person), or make a round-trip voyage to Malta in November (350 euros). Food lovers can sail for seven days and catch their own meals, prepared by a chef, on the Gourmand trip (560 euros — only beginner’s level required).

For details, go to The company also offers other services in Croatia, such as yacht cruises, accommodation and car rentals.

Military rates in NYCIf you’re a military member planning to visit New York City, here’s a way to cut hotel costs. The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club caters to current and former members of the U.S. armed forces and its allies, as well as their dependents.

The club, founded in 1919, is in two Victorian town houses in mid- Manhattan’s Murray Hill. It is within walking distance of Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The hotel has five floors of air-conditioned dormitory-style accommodations. Prices range from $25 to $47 per person, per night (children under 14 years pay $10).

For details, go to

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Best BetsENGLAND: Head to Earls Court in London for the annual Great British Beer Festival this Tuesday through Aug. 11. The event, which calls itself the “Biggest Pub in the World,” features more than 450 real ales (a brew using only traditional ingredients and secondary fermentation) from around the world. Look for stands with regional beers, beers from family brewers, new brews, bottled ales and Bières Sans Frontières international beers. The program includes music and provides a room with adult supervision for children. The festival runs 5-10:30 p.m. Tuesday, noon to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The cost is 8 pounds (about $16) Tuesday through Friday and 6 pounds Saturday. Find more details at

GERMANY: If you’re in the mood for a fair, check out the action along the banks of the Main River near Frankfurt’s Römerberg during the city’s Mainfest, which runs Friday through Monday. The event dates to July 23, 1340, when the Dreikönigskirche (Three Kings Church) was consecrated on the southern bank of the Main, and the inhabitants wanted to “thank” the river. Today’s festival celebrates with rides, game stands, food and drink, a fishermen’s tournament (Sunday from 4 p.m.) and a fireworks finale (Monday at 10 p.m.). The fair is open noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to midnight Sunday and Monday.

ITALY: The island of Pellestrina holds its annual regatta commemorating the feast of the Madonna dell’Apparizione on Sunday. The route of the race, which begins at 4:30 p.m., goes along the lagoon in front of the island

LUXEMBOURG: Built between the 11th and 14th centuries, Viandan’s castle is the site of a medieval festival Saturday through Aug. 12. There you’ll find a medieval market, camp, medieval games, fights, falconers, snake dancers and magicians. The festival is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and includes a historical parade through the town on Aug. 11 beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is 5.50 euros for adults, 2 euros for children. Get details at

— Jayne Traendly


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