Ski package dealsJust in time for this year’s ski season, three hotels and a holiday park in the Zittau mountain range at the meeting corners of Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic are offering ski/winter packages Dec. 1-22 and Jan. 3 to March 31.

“Snow, Ice and Tropics in Zittau Gebirge” packages begin at 199 euros per person, double occupancy, and include three nights’ accommodations in a hotel or hotel park, breakfasts, ski-lift ticket to the Lausche Waltersdorf ski area or three hours in the local swimming pool, two-hour ticket for the ice-skating rink and a visit to the butterfly house.

Discounts are available for children up to 12.

Details at The site is in German. Enter the site, then click on “Reiseangebote” on the left and then “Oberlausitze Winterspass.”

Berlin’s tropicsIf you would rather leave the snow behind this winter, head to Tropical Islands near Berlin.

The summery getaway is in one of the world’s largest free-standing covered areas and features a tropical village, a tropical rain forest with jungle paths and thousands of tropical plants, 86,000 square feet of indoor beach, and a 45,000-square-foot South Sea and Bali lagoon.

Activities range from table tennis to daily beach volleyball, cultural entertainment in the Tropical Village, a Tropino Club for kids, massages, guided tours and evening show on the big South Sea stage.

A ticket costs 18.50 euros for adults in low season (add 5 euros for high season), 16.50 euros for children 4 to 14 (add 3 euros for high season) and free for toddlers up to 3. The price includes admission to the resort for an unlimited stay, daytime shows, night show, wardrobe locker and free parking space and shuttle service to the railway station.

The resort also offers package stays. Nearby one-night hotel deals start at 50 euros per person, double occupancy, with reduced rates for children 4 to 14 who stay with parents. It includes breakfast and admission.

Tropical Islands is frequently included in trips offered from U.S. military bases in Germany.

Find details on the resort at

Best BetsNETHERLANDS: Barbie herself will be in Amsterdam! At least that’s what the official Web site for the “Barbie in Amsterdam” show promises. The eternally young Barbie (she debuted at a toy show on March 9, 1959, making her 47 years old) will be the focus of a convention Sunday in the Mercure Hotel on Joan Muyskenweg 10. There, Barbie doll lovers can view thousands of Barbie products: the newest Barbie collectibles, fashions, accessories, furniture, books and one-of-a-kind Barbies. This year’s theme, “Around the World with Barbie,” reflects the doll’s travels throughout the world and its emphasis on international cultures.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are 3.50 euros for adults, 2 euros for children. Details at

If you’re more interested in beer than Barbie, head to the annual PINT Bockbier Festival Friday through the weekend in Amsterdam. More than 50 varieties of the brew will be there, including some from Belgium. The fest runs 5-11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. The event takes place in the Beurs van Berlage in the city center between the Dam Square and central train station. Admission is 5 euros.

If you’re up late, take advantage of Museum Night Amsterdam, which begins at 7 p.m. and runs until 2 a.m. Forty museums will be open with special events planned. Museum Night passes are available now for 14 euros at several locations, including the Amsterdam tourist board offices, with some of the sites adding on a reservation fee. The board advises visitors to buy tickets early because admission will be limited to 30,000 and tickets will cost 17.50 euros on the day of the event. For details, call the Amsterdam tourist board at (+31) (0) 20-551-2525.

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