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Vienna packagesTwenty-seven hotels in Vienna are offering several themed packages through Oct. 31 to help visitors focus on their interests while visiting Austria’s capital city. Here are a few of them:

• The Outdoor Fun for the Family package takes you on a three-hour guided tour through the city by bicycle (Vienna is a bicycle-friendly city). It also includes a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater park and admission to the Schönbrunn Zoo. Accommodations are for three nights and include a breakfast buffet. Depending on the hotel category, prices range from 185 to 693 euros per person.

• The "Sweet Vienna" package includes two nights’ accommodations, admission to the apple strudel show in the Café-Restaurant Residenz at Schönbrunn Palace, coffee and cake in Café Schwarzenberg and a Vienna Card good for 72 hours on public transportation and discounts at various sites, shops and restaurants. The cost ranges from 163 to 429 euros per person.

• The "young wine" package offers two nights’ lodging with breakfast; a "Viennese Heurigen Serenade" evening with city tour and show at a country wine tavern with three-course dinner, wine and entertainment program of Viennese songs, operetta melodies and dancing; and a glass of wine in the Old Viennese Vinothèque next to the Augustiner Cellar.

Prices range from 157 to 456 euros per person.

For more information on these and other packages, go to

Svalbard tripsSudden temperature drops and polar bears — these are two of the potential dangers you face when you go out into the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard, halfway between the North Pole and Norway. But the reason visitors travel here is that the area offers a fragile, untouched wilderness with beautiful mountains and vast glacier ranges (60 percent of the area is covered in these ice masses).

If exploring this kind of environment is your idea of a vacation, you might be interested in a few days at Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions’ wildlife camp this summer, with trips ranging from two to four days.

The three-day trip, for example, runs Fridays through Sundays until Aug. 29. It takes you to the Ymerbukta campsite by boat. While there, you paddle in kayaks to the Esmarkbreen glacier one day. On other days, you hike the glacier and around the area. In the evenings, you enjoy the bright Arctic nights. The price for this trip is 6,900 Norwegian kroner (about $1,350) and includes transportation to camp, food, tent and guide.

Also available are a two-day trip for 5,200 Norwegian kroner, and a four-day trip for 8,200 Norwegian kroner. For details, go to

Best BetsDENMARK: The Danes claim a distant — but strong — connection to Santa Claus. Greenland is part of the country, and, according to Greenland’s tourist board, Santa Claus lives in Greenland, between the North Pole and Norway mainland. Therefore, it might not be a big surprise that the country is the site of the annual World Santa Claus Congress at the Bakken Amusement Park near Copenhagen. This year’s confab will be Monday through Wednesday. Visitors will be able to see more than 120 Santas working out the logistics of Christmas, such as present delivery, reindeer rights and working conditions. It’s not all work for the Santas, however. They’ll also be ready for fun with a noontime parade, visits to the beach to cool off in the summer heat, greeting visitors and enjoying the park’s rides and games. The park’s Web site is

GERMANY: Beer lovers, head to Mainz. Friday through the weekend, the city will conduct its annual beer fair along the Rhine across from the Hilton Hotel. Up to 1,000 beers from 75 countries will be served, with Italy’s brews making a strong showing this year. More than 200 bottled beers will be offered in the House of 131 Beers, including one of the newest, Chingis Lager from Mongolia. You might even want to try a beer jelly or to cook your own beer with a beer powder from the Czech Republic. Participants can enjoy their favorite drink in normal-sized glasses or pay 2 euros for "tasters," glasses holding one-tenth of a liter, and sample a variety of beers for 1 euro each. Souvenir beer glasses, coasters, posters, pictures and pins also will be for sale. The fair is open 3 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

ITALY: Out of gratitude to God for having saved Venice from the plague in 1576, residents built a church dedicated to Christ the Savior. The Church of the Rendentore on Giudecca island was reached via a temporary bridge that connected Zattere to Giudecca, and every year since it has been reassembled for a Sunday Mass and procession. The event this weekend isn’t all religious: On Saturday, the Venetians decorate their boats and gather in St. Mark’s Basin and Giudecca Canal to await a fireworks display, which begins at 11:30 p.m. Find more details on the Venice tourist board Web site, in English, at

— Jayne Traendly

Stripes in 7

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