Pilgrimage trailsFor some, hiking is a meditative activity. If you choose to hike in Austria, you can combine your walk with spiritual exercise by choosing one of the country’s pilgrim trails. The Austrian Tourist Board lists 13 possibilities.
For example, the 68-mile St. Rupert Pilgrim’s Trail in Salzburgerland runs from the European monastery of Gut Aich in St. Gilgen on the Wolfgansee to Bishofshofen, where St. Rupert, the first bishop of Salzburg, founded the cell of St. Maximilian. It takes five to six days to complete. One-day hikes along the way also are marked.
The famous St. James’ Trail to Santiago de Compostela in Spain goes through Salzburgerland and southeastern Bavaria (guided tours and cycling trips also are possible). For cyclists, there’s the demanding Donau-Alpen-Adria Pilgrims’ Trail, which travels the pilgrimage towns of Maria Hilf near Passau (Germany) and Grossgmain, Altenmarkt, Mariapfarr, Maria Gail (Austria) and Barbana bei Grado, Italy’s oldest pilgrimage site.
If you would like to do a short Tibetan Pilgrimage Trail, you can visit the Harrer-Museum in the mountain village of Hüttenberg. Heinrich Harrer, the explorer who spent seven years in Tibet and was close to the Dalai Lama there, donated parts of his ethnological collection from Tibet and other Himalayan countries, as well as South America, Africa, New Guinea and Borneo, to the village. A replica of a Tibetan pilgrimage trail is next to the museum.
The Harrer Museum Web site is www.huettenberg.at
‘The Third Man’
In 1949, the classic "The Third Man," with Orson Welles, was filmed in Vienna. The story follows the smuggler Harry Lime in post-war Vienna, a time when the city was divided into four zones occupied by the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Its black-and-white shots of the old town, sewers and famous landmarks present an interesting study of the war-torn city as well as a story of Cold War intrigue and the black market.
The city is still proud of its association with the film and has guided walks and a Third Man Museum dedicated to the topic.
If you haven’t seen the film, you can hit the Burg Kino ( www.burgkino.at) on the Opernring every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday to catch a viewing in English. Prices run 6 to 8 euros.
After that, you can follow in Harry Limes’ footsteps on a Third Man tour. The guided walk includes sites in the Old Town associated with the film, such as Josephsplatz and Mölkerbastei, and goes down through into the city’s sewers, where you will hear stories about the filming. Tickets cost 17 euros for adults, 8.50 euros for children.
If you want to just check out the sewers, you can take a trip into the underground water system for 7 euros adults, 5.50 euros children (minimum age is 12 years). Details at www.viennawalks.com and www.drittemanntour.at
Finally, you can visit the Third Man Museum (www.3mpc.net) 2-6 p.m. Saturdays. Its 10 rooms hold collections that catalog the film’s international success and give a view of daily life in post-war Vienna. Admission is 7.50 euros for adults and 4 euros for children 10 to 16.
If you find Italy’s hotel prices too high or just prefer a different kind of accommodation, you might find a better deal at www.bed-and-breakfast-in-italy.com
The site has a listing of more than 8,000 accommodations, mainly B&Bs but also guest houses, country houses, inns, holiday homes, apartments and small hotels. They’re located throughout Italy in cities and in the country, and, organizers say, feature low prices and a friendly atmosphere.
Each Web site entry includes a description, prices, contact information and location. The site also lists pet-friendly places, holidays and events and offers subscriptions to a newsletter.
Best BetsGERMANY: To celebrate the official opening of Frankfurt’s Mainfest on Friday, wine will flow from the city’s Fountain of Justice on the Römerberg before the Town Hall starting at 7 p.m. The traditional folk festival, which runs through Monday, is a family affair with carnival rides and games. There also will be water jousting on the river Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. and fireworks starting at 10 p.m. Monday. The festival is open noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to midnight Sunday and Monday.
LUXEMBOURG: Vianden Castle, one of the largest feudal fortresses in Europe, is the site of a medieval festival Saturday through Aug. 10. According to organizers, this festival’s attraction is its authenticity, with costumed people participating in camps, jousting events and craft markets, operating a banquet hall and taverns, and working as entertainers (including dancers with snakes). On Aug. 9, a historical parade with all the participants takes place at 8 p.m. The festival is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Find details at www.castle-vianden.lu; there is an English version.
SWEDEN: Travel back to 1361 and the medieval Hanseatic city of Visby on Sunday through Aug. 10 during the city’s Medieval Week, the largest medieval event in Northern Europe. The walled town, a UNESCO Heritage Site, today has 200 medieval houses and its winding streets and squares are a perfect venue for jousting knights, medieval games, crafts persons and entertainment from the Middle Ages. The event recalls life in the wealthy trading city before King Valdemar of Denmark and his army invaded in 1361 and massacred its citizens. For information on the festival and some ticket prices, go to www.medeltidsveckan.se