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18-30 trips

British company Topdeck Tours is offering trips for travelers 18 to 30 years old. Accommodation is generally in two- to four-person rooms and transportation is by bus.

Winter season tours are now available. The seven-day "Caesar’s Footsteps," for example, begins in Rome and makes its way to London via Switzerland and France. The Rome portion of the tour offers a walking tour of the city and of Vatican City. Other stops include a walking tour of Florence, Italy; city tour of Lucerne, Switzerland; and a tour of Paris. There’s also free time.

Cost is 469 pounds (about $825) per person and includes six hotel nights, tours, bus transportation, English Channel ferry crossing and the services of a trip leader.

The company also offers trips to Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Israel; sailing trips in Croatia; and ski trips in Europe.

The Web site is

Kafka Museum

Born in 1883 in Prague, Franz Kafka grew to become one of the world’s great literary figures.

His relationship to the capital of the Czech Republic is a strong one, with all his work containing a constant sense of its presence.

The city’s Franz Kafka Museum has a long-term exhibition for those interested in experiencing the relationship between Prague’s most famous writer and his city. Originally created in Barcelona, Spain, in 1999, "The City of K. Franz Kafka and Prague" aims not only to show the documents of his life but also to re-create his surreal world in Prague.

The exhibition is divided into two parts. "Existential Space" is a chronological look at his life. "Imaginary Topography" shows how he transformed the reality of the city into his own works’ metaphoric images adding 3-D installations and audiovisual technology to first-edition works and personal letters, diaries, drawings and photographs.

The museum is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closing at 5 p.m. in January and February). Entry is 120 koruny (about $7).

Details at

Irish roots

If you know someone who has Irish roots or is environmentally conscious, you can buy him or her a piece of Ireland as a gift: a memorial oak tree in County Armagh.

"Rooted in Ireland" is a project developed in Drumconwell, outside of the city of Armagh. According to the project’s Web site, Ireland is now the most treeless land in Europe, with County Armagh the worst affected. Yet the area is historically fascinating, with people first arriving in 4,500 B.C. It was the center of St. Patrick’s congregation, former stomping grounds of Cromwell and the burial place of legendary hero Brian Boru.

Today Drumconwell is an active city with a cathedral.

The project’s directors came up with the idea to help the area’s environment and set up the tree site on nine acres of farmland overlooking the city. They hope to expand it to a total of 10,000 trees.

A memorial tree costs $99. A sapling will be planted in the name of the recipient, whose name and inscription is entered into a Tree Ledger, along with the tree’s number. He or she receives a certificate of authenticity, photo of the site and personalized letter. When the site is finished, the tree can be visited.

For details on buying a tree and on the area, go to

A Dickens Christmas

Christmas comes early at Dickens World in Kent, England, an "interactive indoor visitor complex" that celebrates the life and works of Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s most celebrated Victorian authors.

The park will begin celebrating on Nov. 8, when Father Christmas drops from the skies and abseils down the building. He will then take up residence in the attraction’s Victorian town courtyard.

Dickens World is open 10 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m. daily. Admission is 12.50 pounds for adults (about $23.50), 7.50 pounds for children ages 5-15 and 10.50 pounds for seniors and students.

Contact Dickens World by calling (+44) (0) 1634 890421 or visit its Web site at

Best betsGermany: On Friday, the lord mayor of Stuttgart, Germany, taps the first keg to officially open the city’s annual Cannstatter Festival. Running until Oct. 12 on the city’s Cannstatter Wasen near the Neckar River, the festival has grown to be a major beer celebration, second in size only to Munich’s Oktoberfest, and one that is celebrated in various U.S. cities as well.

Seven large beer tents will offer lots of seating, but some suggest you make reservations. Beer, entertainment, food, rides (including what’s touted as the world’s largest transportable Ferris wheel) and an open-air market will fill out the program.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, a historical parade will march through the Wasen. Wednesday and Oct. 8 are designated family days, with ride discounts starting at noon.

The fair is open noon to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and noon until midnight Friday and Saturday. Find more details at

Ireland: One of the highlights of the Dublin cultural scene, the Dublin Theater Festival, starts its season Thursday, offering 27 international productions through Oct. 12. In addition to works ranging from Tennessee Williams’ "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to American author Joan Didion’s "The Year of Thinking Magically" with Vanessa Redgrave, the festival offers panel discussions, creative-dance workshops and other special events.

For more information and reservations, go to

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