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German gems

The German Tourist Board is highlighting several sites that tourists might want to visit in Berlin during this year’s 20thanniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

• In 1990, 118 international graffiti artists painted their political works on the remaining 1,421 yards of the Berlin Wall between the Ostbahnhof (east train station) and Oberbaum Bridge. The cement canvas was called the East Side Gallery, and became a popular tourist attraction. The artists have come back to refresh their pieces, and in November, a ceremony will be held celebrating the opening of the redone work. Find details at www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de (in German).

• Bernauer Strasse experienced many events during the Berlin Wall era. The houses on the east side were originally bricked up, then pulled down to make room for the "death strip" between the West and East. Escape tunnels were also dug under this street. In 1998, about 200 feet of this original strip, remodeled by a German firm, were dedicated as a Berlin Wall memorial. It tells the story of the wall’s rise and fall in photos, films and multimedia. See www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de; there is an English-language version.

• Between 1949 and 1990, 4 million people left East Germany, 1.35 million going through the Marienfelde Refugee Centre. Today the center is the site of an exhibition that looks at the reality and consequences of that journey, exploring why people decided to leave, how they crossed the border and how they were received in the west. There is an English section at www.notaufnahmelager-berlin.de.

Paris breather

Visitors to Paris can take a break from the city’s traffic, noise and fumes while seeing some of the popular parts of the city on a Sunday or holiday. Thanks to an initiative called Paris Respire (Paris Breathes), sections of city streets, including those in areas such as the Bois de Boulogne, the canal Saint-Martin, Montmartre, Luxembourg and the banks of the Seine are closed to cars but open to pedestrians, cyclists and skaters.

The routes can be found at www.paris.fr/portail/deplacements/Portal.lut?page_id=9109. he text is only in French, but click on the "Paris Respire quartier…" text for a map of the closed sections, months open and opening times (generally 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Click on the PDF format link under the Bois de Boulogne and Boise de Vincennes to find marked cycling paths.

Best betsFRANCE: The Automobile Museum in Mulhouse has a collection of more than 520 vehicles, and the French government has designed it as a National Heritage site. It’s no wonder then that Mulhouse is the site of the annual Automobile Festival, which runs through the weekend. Friday is dedicated to the museum, with tours of the cars, restoration workshops and buggy track. On Saturday, tourist rallies start on the Place de la Réunion, a children’s Auto Village is set up at the Parc Steinbach, an international museum show runs at the Parc Salvator and a musical show ends the evening. Sunday’s activities include the 2 p.m. Great Automobile Parade, a colorful procession about the history of the automobile. For more details, see the official Web site, www.festivalauto.mulhouse.fr.

GERMANY: Trier’s annual outdoor crafts market takes place around the grounds of the Porta Nigra, the old Roman gate. Artists will demonstrate their crafts and sell traditional and modern works, including gold and other jewelry, ceramics, blown glass and woven baskets. The market is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Trier’s Web site is www.trier.de.

MONACO: Only four times in its history has the Tour de France had its start outside France. This year adds another to that list when Monaco hosts the beginning of the 2,170-mile bicycle race that begins Saturday and ends July 26 in Paris. On Saturday, the racers tackle the first stage at the Hercule Harbour, and on Sunday they tackle the second stage from the harbor to Brignoles, France. The 19 remaining stages on the route will travel through France, breaking off for short periods in Spain and Switzerland. For complete details and a map of the course, go to www.letour.fr.

SPAIN: What are the most dangerous places for a runner along the route of the annual running of the bulls during Pamplona’s Fiestas of San Fermin? According to the festival organizer’s tips, the answers are the Lane Bullring (where eight of the 15 deaths since 1924 have occurred) and the end of Santo Domingo Street, where the run starts (three deaths). That’s good to know if you’re planning to join the other runners for the 8 a.m. races ahead of the bulls through the old city to the bullring. The festival is held in honor of San Fermin, but it’s hardly a solemn affair. Although the saint is recognized with a procession on his July 7 feast day, the rest of the occasion is a party filled with bullfights, music, dance, theater and parades until July 14. Get full details at www.pamplona.net or www.sanfermin.com; both have English-language versions.


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