Beer bathsImmerse yourself in the healing warmth of beer both inside and out with a beer bath at the Chodovar brewery in the Czech Republic.

The brewery, near the German-Czech Republic border west of Karlovy Vary, has been offering the baths in warm beer since 2006.

In the 20-minute soak, you’re submerged in a combination of mineral water and dark beer made according to a special recipe and warmed to around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The hops peel away dead skin, the yeast provides it with vitamins and other nutrients and the mineral water provides a relaxing carbonation.

To improve blood pressure and digestion, the brewery adds a glass of Chodovar’s chilled beer to the treatment.

The cost is 600 Czech crowns (about $30) for one person and 1,200 Czech crowns for two people in a double bath.

The brewery also offers malt draft remedial packs and massages.

The brewery has an on-site hotel. Depending on the season, a double runs from 1,450 to 1,890 crowns (about $70 to $90). Children receive reduced rates. Single, triple and four-bed accommodations also are available.

Find more details at

Italian cookingLearn to cook healthful Mediterranean meals from a professional chef and enjoy the beauty of the resort area of Lake Garda, Italy, on a three-day course organized by Gourmet Italia. Scheduled dates are April 4-7 at the Piccolo Mondo Hotel, and May 22-25 and June 13-16 at the Gaarten Hotel.

The program includes three days of cooking instruction 9 a.m. to noon, a guided winery tour and free time to use the hotel’s Wellness Center and to go shopping and sightseeing.

The price is $595 per person, double occupancy, and includes the cooking courses, three nights’ accommodations, full board, diploma of attendance, booklet of recipes, English-speaking interpreter and Gourmet Italia apron.

For more information, send an e-mail to The Web site is

Discount IrelandIreland Visitor Discounts, whose members include 123 of Ireland’s visitor attractions, theaters, festivals, craft and lifestyle venues, is offering a free 2009 online discount pass, which the company says can save holders up to 400 to 500 euros on their next visit to Ireland. Print the pass from the site and present it to participating businesses or attractions. The Web site is

Best BetsENGLAND: Since March 12, 1829, Cambridge and Oxford universities have competed in a rowing contest on London’s section of the River Thames from Putney to Mortlake. Cambridge holds a narrow 79-74 lead, with Oxford winning last year’s race. This year, Cambridge has issued the traditional loser’s challenge and the race is on again Sunday at 3:40 p.m. Watch from the riverbanks or join the party at a "Boat Race in the Park" event in Bishops Park and Furnivall Gardens. Big screens, food villages, beer tents and merchandise stands will be on hand from midday to 6 p.m. For more details, see

GERMANY: Drop back in time to a Middle Ages Easter market this weekend and April 4-5 on the historic grounds of Ronneburg’s 13th-century castle. Costumed vendors will sell period crafts and food, while jugglers, musicians, knights and musicians will provide the merriment. The market is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets cost 4.50 euros for adults, 3.50 euros for children 5 and older. See (in German).

THE NETHERLANDS: Until the 19th century, all cheese in the Netherlands was produced on farms specializing in dairy products. Today 21 factories have taken over, but more than 600 farms still use traditional methods to produce cheese. In Alkmaar, the tradition of selling the final product at the market is still practiced on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Sept. 4. In the early morning, large wheels of Gouda and Edam cheese are lined up in long rows on the Waagplein. Using a system of hand claps, the dealers sell their rounds while costumed members of the cheese porter’s guild carry them off on barrows after they’re weighed on the Waag (official scales). Details at

SWITZERLAND: Who says girls can’t fight? Don’t tell that to a Heren cow in the Valais canton. Named after the Val d’Hérens region, the females of this breed are known for their natural aggressiveness, a trait that allows them to establish the herd hierarchy. Each year the farmers enter their herd leaders in cow fights to find the top queen (whose market value also will increase). Sunday, this bloodless battle takes place in Raron, where the cows will butt heads, lock horns and push each other around until one gives up. It’s also a festive event with food and drink. For more information and other cow fight dates, go to

— Jayne Traendly

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