B&Bs in Spain, Germany

Up to 18 percent of Andalusia, Spain, is protected as a nature reserve, making it a good place to vacation away from the stress of big-city life and to stay in simple, rural lodging.

A private Spanish company, Andalusian Network of Rural Accommodations, which goes by its Spanish initials RAAR, offers accommodations in 450 farmhouses, cottages, country homes, bed and breakfasts or hotels in the provinces of Almería, Cádiz, Córdova, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga, and Seville.

The company’s Web site,, allows you to choose the province, village, type of accommodation and level of quality. There is also a list of last-minute discounts and special offers. It has an English-language link.

In Germany, a company based in Hamburg that works with bed-and-breakfast agencies will help you find informal accommodations across the country. To find a room, you specify what area you’re interested in, the size and type of room you want and a few other characteristics to the company. It then checks its members and makes an offer. If you accept, you’re given instructions on how to reach the home.

Accommodations come in simple, superior and luxury categories. Rooms in Munich, for example, run 33.80 euros to 53.30 euros for a single, and 44.80 euros to 80.60 euros for a double. Apartments are also available.

To learn more, see; it has an English-language link.

Best betsBELGIUM: One of Brussels’ most spectacular pageants is the Ommegang ("to walk around") on Tuesday and July 2. The historical re-creation celebrates a procession staged by city officials in 1549 in honor of Charles Quint — also known as Charles V — and his infant son and sisters. The procession, which had its origins in the 14th century as a religious event, had become an opportunity for the rich to parade their wealth, and that is the one that is re-enacted.

Processions both days begin at 9 p.m. at Rue de la Régence and finish at the Grand Place, where a special performance re-creates the 16th-century court. Tickets for the re-creation in front of the Town Hall cost 45 euros; tickets for seats in front of the Dukes of Brabant house cost 32.50 euros, 45 euros and 67.50 euros. A free jousting tournament will be held at the Place du Sablon, and a medieval town will be open in front of the Sablon church beginning at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through July 2.

For details on the route and reservations, go to

DENMARK: During the Great Northern War against Sweden, the controversial Peter Tordenskjold rose through the ranks of the Danish-Norwegian navy to become a vice-admiral and naval hero known for his daring attacks on other ships regardless of the odds of winning. Friday through Sunday, the historic maritime atmosphere of the 18th century will be re-created in Frederiks-havn’s harbor during the Days of Tordenskjold festival.

Hundreds of participants from Denmark, Sweden and Norway will take part in the event, which will include fencing demonstrations (Tordenskjold was killed in a duel), a historic play, 18th-century fashion show, cannons and weaponry, three-mastered square-rigged training ships and a 330-foot-long banquet spread.

The festival’s Web site is; there is an English version after the introduction.

ITALY: The North and South battle it out Sunday on Pisa’s Ponte di Mezzo during the city’s annual Gioco del Ponte — Battle of the Bridge.

Believed to have begun in 1568, today’s competition is a colorful game between 12 districts making up two teams of six: the Mezzogiorno (south) and Tramontana (north). Before the event, participants march separately in colorful historical military uniforms along the Arno river to reach the battle site. The team that wins the bridge by pushing a cart and its opponents to the opposite side of a sliding rail is the victor.

Find details at Pisa’s Web site,

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now