Stripes European Travel, Thursday, August 6, 2009

Turtle hatching trips

Turtles have it tough when they’re born. Imagine you and your brothers and sisters all hatching in the sand at the same time of night, then focusing on the brightest spot you see (hopefully the moon on the ocean), and heading through an obstacle course of hungry gulls, crabs, dogs and foxes to make your way to the water. Then having to swim through water, avoiding sharks, boats and fishing nets, to reach your first meal a few miles away.

According to the Web site, during August and September this is exactly what the green turtle and loggerhead turtle hatchlings face as they scramble down the beaches to the water in Northern Cyprus.

Since only about one in 1,000 of the endangered turtles survives, volunteers from Exeter University work with the Marine Turtle Research Group to monitor the turtles’ progress and help them on their way.

If you would like to catch this nature show, you can go to the main center at Alagadi Beach, east of Kyrenia, to the research group’s information center in a building known as “The Goatshed.” The people there will tell you when nest excavations will take place, usually starting at about 6 p.m. (except on Sundays).

Austrian wine site

Austrian wine enthusiasts may find useful information at the Austria Wine Marketing Board’s Web site at The site is divided into sections: “News & Media” (including a schedule of wine tastings), “Wine & Wineries” (including winery addresses), “Facts & Figures,” “Search & Service” and “Advenuretour” (including information on wine, food and educational tools).

Best betsFRANCE: Not only is Colmar’s annual wine fair a top international event for wine enthusiasts, it’s also a big draw for foodies and music lovers. “The capital of Alsace wine” holds the fair Friday through Aug. 16 in its Parc des Expositions, offering an open market with hundreds of wine and food producers selling their wares. Entertainment includes an American marching band, international dance groups, cabaret, fashion show and rock cafe. Evening concerts include performers such as Simply Red and Leonard Cohen.

The fair is open at 1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. Sundays. It closes at 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. From Monday through Saturday, tickets cost 1 euro from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 4 euros from 1:30-5 p.m. and 6 euros after 5 p.m. Tickets for Sunday cost 4 euros from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Concert tickets are sold separately. Find details at (in French and German).

Selestat, France, celebrates 80 years of flower parades through the weekend with flower exhibitions, a wine fair, concert, fireworks and, of course, a flower parade Saturday. Le Langage des Fleurs (“The Language of Flowers”) is this year’s theme, and the colorful floats, accompanied by marching bands, international folk groups and dancers, will travel through the city center at 6 and 10 p.m. Tickets for the parade cost 6 euros. Find details at (in French). The Selestat Web site,, has an English-language option.

GERMANY: It’s the year 1431. The city of Furth im Wald is winning the battle against the invading Hussite troops but has yet to deal with another enemy: a dragon freed from an ancient curse. Only a young knight and a beautiful damsel can save the city! Each year Furth im Wald relives this ancient legend with its grand Drachenstich historical play, the centerpiece of the Drachenstich celebrations held through Aug. 17. Show times this weekend are 8 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday. A knights tournament will be held Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. A grand historical parade takes off Sunday at 2 p.m. The play is performed again at 8 p.m. on Aug. 12-16. From Aug. 14-16, there will be sword fighting displays and a medieval market. A beer garden, amusement park and Germany’s first Dragon Museum are open daily as well. See (in German).

NETHERLANDS: Forty trucks with booming sound systems and 200 disc jockeys will take over the streets of Rotterdam on Saturday for the city’s annual dance parade. “Fit for Free” is this year’s theme. It starts with a warm-up party at noon before the parade at 1 p.m. and ends with a closing party from 4-11 p.m. The entire event, including the final show of bands playing on a huge stage at the Lloyd Multiplein, is free. The parade Web site is

SWITZERLAND: Meanwhile, in Zurich, the Love Parade, Europe’s largest techno parade, gets under way Saturday at 3:15 p.m. “Still have a Dream” is this event’s theme, based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech “I Have a Dream.” Zurich will rock with music from DJs’ sound systems on 25 Love Mobiles (mobile dance floors) that move through the city and four stationary stages along the 1.5-mile route. More than 100 parties are scheduled over the weekend, including pre-parade warm-ups, starting at 1 p.m. Find details at

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