Let’s Go / Best Bets
Free train to HamburgTo encourage visitors to see its attractions and Christmas market, Hamburg, Germany, is offering a package through Dec. 15 that includes a free second-class train ride to the city from anywhere in Germany and a three-night stay in a city hotel.
Reserve a room online at www.hamburg-tourismus.de by clicking on the image with the words “Kostenlos nach Hamburg.” then “Hamburg Travel” (in English) for specific hotels.
The packages start at 117 euros per person, double occupancy. They must be booked at least five days in advance with arrival on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.
Morocco in springSpend spring break, April 5-13, on an exotic trip to Morocco with the Meyer Travel Group and led by Katie Meyers.
Highlights include: the country’s business capital, Casablanca; Rabat (city tour, Roman ruins of Volubilis, sacred town of Mouylay Idriss); Meknes (Bab el Mansour and the old Medina); the medieval city of Fez; and lively Marra- kech. The trip also includes drives through the countryside and to the Ourika Valley in the High Atlas Mountains, with a Moroccan meal in tents and a folklore performance.
The cost is $1,799 per person, double occupancy, and includes round-trip air fare from Frankfurt, Germany, to Casablanca, all breakfasts, six dinners, six nights in four- and five-star hotels (local standard), guided tours and transportation in air-conditioned buses.
Details at www.meyertravelgroup.com.
Bike the BalticsThe Baltic region of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein advertises itself as bicycle country, offering 28 new cycle trails with lengths varying from six to 24 miles. The routes go both inland and along the Baltic Sea.
The tourist board offers several packages. The four-day “Romantic Days by Bike on the River Schlei and by the Baltic Sea,” for example, is available year-round. It begins at 94 euros per person, double occupancy, and includes four nights’ accommodations, breakfast, two days of bicycle rental, accompanied rides of 30 to 40 kilometers, a trip on a steamship, a guided tour of Schleswig and a gourmet trip on a ship.
Other packages are available spring through fall and include a bike-and-canoe combo and seven- and eight-day cycling trips.
Ferries also travel from Travemünde to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland for cycling in those countries. See details at www.ostseekuesten-radweg.de.
‘Swan Lake’ dealThose who love ice skating and ballet may want to catch Tschaikowsky’s “Swan Lake,” which will be performed for the first time on ice in the Alte Opera in Frankfurt, Germany, Dec. 18-31.
The Imperial Ice Stars, a team of 25 championship skaters, skate the story of Prince Siegfried’s love for Odette, who was transformed into a swan by an evil curse and who can be rescued only by a man’s undying love.
The city’s Marriott Hotel offers a package that starts at 310 euros per room and includes breakfast, tickets to the performance, cocktails and a three-course dinner. Get details at (+49) (0) 800-1854422.
Best BetsFRANCE: The Beaujolais Nouveau is released Thursday at midnight in France, starting a series of festivals that last through the weekend. The Beaujolais wine region is in the Rhône and Saône-et-Loire valleys. According to www.beaujolaisnouveautime.com, vines grown in the softer clay and limestone (about 30 percent of the soil) are ready earlier than others and create a wine that has “instantaneous pizazz.” Check the Web for more details on both the wine and how to celebrate it. Also see www.beaujolais.net.
ITALY: In the early 17th century, the plague hit Venice, killing tens of thousands of people. Unable to stop the spread of the disease, survivors organized a procession as a desperate plea to the Virgin Mary to save the city. They walked for three days and nights around Piazza San Marco and swore that if the city were spared, they would build a church to honor her. Twenty years later, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute was finished and the occasion was celebrated. To shorten the walk for participants, a bridge of boats was lined up over the water from the center of town to the church’s location. On Wednesday, the public will celebrate the event with the Festa della Madonna della Salute (“Feast of Good Health”), making their own pilgrimage to the church over temporary pontoons serving as a bridge.
NETHERLANDS: St. Nicholas, or Sinterklass, as he’s known in the Netherlands, is on the move! At 11:30 a.m. Sunday, he arrives by steamboat at Amsterdam’s docks by the main train station to start the “Sinterklaas Season.” After being welcomed by the mayor, he will ride a horse in a grand parade with colorful floats, bands and entertainers from the Damrak to Rembrandtplein and on to the Leidesplein. There he will speak to children and their parents from the balcony of the city theater.
For more on the event, see www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=105.
BELGIUM: The Brussels Expo in Heysel is the scene of the third annual Expo-Velo Sport 2007, an international cycling fair, Friday through Monday. Catch the latest innovations and cruise the more than 150 exhibitor stalls for information about how to add to your cycling experience. The fair is open 2-9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday through Monday. Entrance is 8 euros for adults, 4 euros for children 8 to 12, free for children younger than 8. Details at www.expo-velo.be (there is an English version).
— Jayne Traendly