Carnival in VeniceThe USO is running trips from Germany to Italy for those wishing to attend the annual carnival in Venice. One trip, run by USO Kaiserslautern, is already full. Here are details on two others:

• USO Rhein-Neckar’s trip Feb. 13-16 includes bus transportation, one night’s accommodation, a walking tour of Venice and a stopover in Verona. The cost is $210 for adults, $175 for children 4 to 11 years old, and free for those 3 years and younger. Departures are from Mannheim and Heidelberg.

A trip sponsored by USO Rhein-Main connects with the one run by USO Rhein-Neckar. The seats from Wiesbaden to Mannheim are sold out; however, you can contact USO Rhein-Neckar and still reserve seats from Mannheim.

• USO Stuttgart organizes its tours through Interra Reisen. Scheduled Feb. 14-16, this trip includes bus transportation, two nights’ accommodations, walking tour of Venice and Verona and an optional trip to the island of Burano. The cost is 349 euros for adults, 299 euros for children 3 to 12 and 140 euros for children younger than 3. It picks up in Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern, Heidelberg and Stuttgart. You also can reserve this trip through USO Rhein-Main.

Contact numbers for all USOs are here.

Film walk in BarcelonaWhat do actors Penelope Cruz, Dustin Hoffman and Cecilia Roth have in common? They’ve all made movies in which key scenes were filmed in Barcelona, Spain.

Now the city’s tourist organizations have put together several themed walks based on films shot in the city. To date there are four: “Pedro Almodóvar’s Barcelona,” based on his 1999 film “All About My Mother”; the “Erasmus Students’ Barcelona,” based on the 2001 film “L’Auberge Espagnole”; “The Barcelona of Perfume,” based on the 2005 film “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”; and “Barcelona of Manuale d’amore 2,” based on the 2006 film “Manuale d’amore 2 (capitoli successivi).”

Each section has a synopsis of the film, information on the cast and crew and the main awards won. There is also a “Did you know?” section with interesting details and anecdotes about the film. It includes a map of the movie locations as well as tourist attractions and information on the route.

For more information on the Barcelona’s film history and the movie walks, see (there is an English version).

Best BetsUNITED KINGDOM: Starting Monday, the British capital salutes its Chinese community and the lunar new year with the China in London festival, which continues through Feb. 1. More than 35 events, many of them free, have been scheduled. Among them are exhibitions, a variety show featuring acrobatic acts, martial arts, dancing, singing and a Chinese film festival. On Feb. 1 from noon to 6 p.m., the city celebrates the arrival of the Year of the Ox a few days late. There will be lion dances, fireworks and performances from Chinese artists on and near Trafalgar Square. According to the Chinese calendar, the ox symbolizes prosperity through perseverance and hard work. Find more details at

GERMANY: Mush! With this year’s generous snowfall, the shouting of hundreds of mushers and barking of thousands of dogs will ring through the Black Forest near Todtmoos this weekend as the town holds its annual international sled-dog races. The competition for the Black Forest Cup begins daily at 9:30 a.m. on the Todtmoos Trail. Sprint teams with four, six and eight dogs will run distances of about five to 17 miles. Also on the program is pulka racing (basket sleds, in which mushers stand on the runners) and skijoring racing, in which the musher is on skis. In addition to watching the races, you can talk to the owners and meet the dogs. A ticket costs 6 euros each day or 10 euros for the weekend. The price includes the shuttle bus ride from the town to the race site. The Todtmoos Web site is (in German).

ITALY: Chocoholics descend on Florence Thursday through the weekend for the city’s annual (and country’s biggest) Chocolate Fair on the Piazza Santa Croce. Some of the greatest Italian chocolate artisans will be present to show off their talents. And yes, there will be samples! Attend workshops on handmade gourmet chocolates, learn which chocolate goes with which drink and watch demonstrations of the masters at work. The show is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and entry is free. See

SWITZERLAND: What began as some Japanese artists carving a figure of Heidi out of snow has evolved into the popular International World Snow Festival. Now in its 27th year, the festival began Monday and continues through Saturday. The main highlight is the snow-carving competition, in which teams from around the world chip away at giant blocks of snow in the village center to sculpt figures using only snow, water and ice. After six days, specialists and the public will judge the entries. Grindelwald’s Web site is

— Jayne Traendly

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