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The Germans’ fascination with America’s West began around 1825, stimulated by a translation of James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Leatherstocking Tales.” Most images were not necessarily realistic as they were determined by the particular romantic viewpoint of the artist or writer.

The Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt is presenting these images through Jan. 7 in an exhibition that focuses on the West through the visual arts. “I Like America, Fictions of the Wild West (1825-1974)” includes more than 150 paintings, films, drawings, engravings and documentary material, with works by American and German artists such as George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, Alfred Bierstadt, George Grosz, August Macke, Emil Nolde and Carl Wimar.

According to the museum, German emigration to the American West was significant during the mid-1800s, with a record 100,000 in 1848. Many of these emigrants prepared for their new home by reading Cooper’s book. In time, German magazines began publishing Wild West travel narratives, a favorite topic being the “Red Man” with whom the Germans felt a kinship (versus the American view of the Indian as a savage).

Later images came from accounts of the “Indian Wars” and Buffalo Bill shows. German Karl May’s “Winnetou” trilogy, which romanticized nature, was highly popular. Indians were even taken to Germany and exhibited throughout the country, the most popular a presentation of Sioux Indians in 1910 in Hamburg.

Films kept the Wild West popular, both the American and German versions (“Sauerkraut” westerns). After World War I, they were valued as an escape from the aftermath of the war.

The Schirn, located on the Römerberg, is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Friday through Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Admission is 7 euros for adults and 5 euros for children. The Web site is www.schirn.de.

Dine on a Ferris wheelFerris wheels are not just for viewing the scenery, at least not the Giant Ferris Wheel in Vienna. Now you can add a meal to the up-to-213-foot perspective and have a romantic dinner for two in one of the exclusive carriages. The cost starts at 142 euros for two and includes a three-course menu with wine.

Other meal options include a Viennese Imperial Breakfast, afternoon coffee and cake and champagne and canapés.

For information and reservations, call (+43) (0)1-72954-3014 or send a fax to (+43) (0)1- 72954-3020. The e-mail address is info@wienerriesenrad.com. Details on the wheel are at www.wienerriesenrad.com.

Holidays in SpainIf you’d like to spend Christmas and/or New Year’s in Madrid or Barcelona, Spain, you might be interested in some packages offered by Rafael Hotels. All prices are per person, double occupancy.

The three-night Christmas-in-Madrid package costs from 240 euros and includes accommodations, airport transfer, Christmas lunch at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, one-day Madrid Card and souvenir. The five-night package costs from 347.50 euros and includes the above plus a fast-train ticket to Toledo and a two-day Madrid Card.

The three-night Madrid New Year’s Eve package costs from 430 euros and includes airport transfer, New Year’s Eve dinner and party in a restaurant selected from a list, plus a one-day Madrid Card. The five-night package costs from 537.50 and includes the above plus a fast-train ticket to Toledo and a two- day Madrid Card. A package for both holidays starts at 644 euros.

There is also a three- or four-night New Year’s Eve package in Barcelona. Each includes accommodations, breakfasts, New Year’s dinner, tourist bus tickets, visit to the aquarium and late check-out. Three nights begins at 250 euros, four nights at 267 euros.

Offers are valid Dec. 21 to Jan. 14. A second room for children under 16 gets a 30 percent discount. Details at the Web site www.rafaelhoteles.com/promociones.php?%20lng=uk.

Safari discountThe Washington Post reports a $1,000-per-person discount on a 12-night African safari.

The Kenya Safari Explorer trip, offered by Wildlife Safari, starts at $3,350 per person, double occupancy, for the Dec. 18 or Dec. 25 trips. Trips include accommodations at six lodges and one hotel, most meals, domestic flight, land transfers, escorted game viewing and park fees.

International airfare is extra. Find more information at www.wildlife-safari.com.

Best betsGermany: If you like to make holiday presents instead of buying them, check out Wiesbaden’s Kreative Welt, one of the country’s largest hobby shows, for ideas and materials.

Through Sunday, up to 400 exhibitors in six halls of the Rhein-Main Messe will display their talents and wares in painting, patchwork, dolls, jewelry, wood arts, floral decorations, ceramics, mosaics, Barbie dolls and more.

Some will be offering workshops. For example, the English-speaking owner of a Teddy bear store in Wiesbaden has organized three daily workshops (10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.) for making Teddy bears at stand 312, Hall 3. The lesson and material cost 13.50 euros. You learn how to stuff the bear (the body is pre-sewn), select and sew on its eyes, nose and ears, and embroider its paws (sign up early before 11 a.m. as spots fill fast).

A special Teddy bear exhibit also will be on display, as will a Christmas crafts show. The fair is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

An adult day ticket costs 7.50 euros (11 euros for two days); the charge for children up to 6 is 3.50 euros. Its Web site is www.kreativ-welt.de (in German).

Meanwhile, movie-goers might want to head to Frankfurt next week for the second annual International Film Festival, which runs through Nov. 12. Under the patronage of director Wim Wenders, the audience-oriented event will feature 120 productions from 30 countries in five of the city’s cinemas (several are in English).

In addition to the entries, a collection of actor Dennis Hopper’s favorite films will be shown. Tickets cost six to eight euros and can be reserved in advance. For details, go to www.ifff.de.


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