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Visit Heidi’s villageWhat would Switzerland be without the story of Heidi, the child made famous by Swiss author Johanna Spyri? Written in 1879, the story of the girl who goes to live with her grandfather in mountainous Switzerland has been translated into 50 languages.

Maienfeld, Switzerland, is the site of the Heididorf, a small village that features the Heidihaus and serves as the center for a variety of programs in the area. The theme of the village is "Heidi: Yesterday — Today — Tomorrow," and while its main purpose is to publicize the story of Heidi, its founders also want to help preserve sites connected to the story, promote the local culture, protect the environment and organize programs to benefit children and youth. Some of the activities include visits and tours of the original Heidihaus, a petting zoo, post office (with a special cancellation mark) and holiday stays in the area.

The house is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 15 to Nov. 15. Tickets cost 7 Swiss francs (about $6.75) for adults and 3 Swiss francs for children.

For details, including information on the foundation that runs the house and its varying activities, see; there is an English version.

Reconstructing the HermioneInterested in American Revolutionary War history and 18th-century sailing ships? If you’re traveling in southwest France near Rochefort, stop in to see the Hermione-La Fayette Association’s project. Since 1997 it has been reconstructing the Hermione frigate, which in 1780 carried 21-year-old Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier — better known as the Marquis de Lafayette — to America to join the colonists in their fight for independence. The young Frenchman met up with Gen. George Washington’s troops, later winning decisive sea battles on the Chesapeake Bay and on land in Yorktown.

The Hermione-La Fayette project allows visitors to see naval construction techniques of the 18th century, performed today by 30 carpenters, shipwrights and blacksmiths. The ship is scheduled to make its maiden voyage in 2012 to ports on the U.S. East Coast.

The site is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. May through September and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. October through March. Entry with no tour costs 6 euros for adults and 2.50 euros for children 6 to 15; there is no entry fee for children younger than 6. Entry with a tour is 10 euros for adults and 4 euros for children 6 to 15; free for children younger than 6.

To learn more about the project, go to

Military rates in New YorkIf you’re a member of the military who plans to spend a few days in New York City on your way to or from overseas, here’s a way to cut hotel costs. The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club caters to current and former members of the U.S. armed forces and its allies as well as their dependents.

The club, founded in 1919, is in two Victorian town houses in mid-Manhattan’s Murray Hill. It is within walking distance of Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The hotel has five floors of air-conditioned dormitory-style accommodations in rooms with two to six beds. Prices depend on rank and range from $25 to $150. The charge for children 3 to 14 is $10; children younger than 3 stay for free.

Find details and make reservations at


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