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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

With Christmas falling on Monday this year, there are almost no walks this weekend and just a few on Tuesday. Maybe this is the weekend to give your feet a break. Let those boots air out, darn the holes in those hiking socks, and hope that Santa brings the Odor Eaters you asked him for. There will be more walks next weekend, so be prepared to log a few kilometers to finish out 2006 with a flurry and then start the New Year with a bang! We wish you a happy holiday season … have fun and drive safely! May 2007 be filled with gentle downhill grades for you all.

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Panoramaweg St. Goar after- action report: Back in November, we mentioned some of the permanent walks that could be found in an effort to supplement the decreased number of walks offered during the winter months. Loyal reader and frequent contributor Nancy Shawley called our attention to the permanent walk in St. Goar, Germany, so we went to check it out.

The walk

We started at the Hotel Loreleyblick on Highway B9 about two kilometers south of the city of St. Goar. During the winter months, the Tourist Information Office and the Rathaus are closed on weekends, leaving the hotel as the only start point.

We purchased our start cards at the reception desk and picked up the first trail sign as we walked out the front door and crossed the street. The signs we followed were made of wood and had a stylized silhouette of the city skyline and the letters “IVV.”

On one or two occasions the signs did not have the skyline, but did have the letters “PW” for Panoramaweg. This is important to note because there are other IVV markers for the Rundwanderweg trails that cross and sometimes follow the Panoramaweg route.

These other signs had IVV and a number designating which of the seven Rundwanderweg trails you are on. The trail took us along the Rhine, up through the castle gardens of Burg Rheinfels, along a nature trail above the city and down a valley south of the city.

There were two control points along the route where there was a letter and number combination, J88 for example, for us to write on our start cards.

Tips

¶ Pick up a flier at the start. The map inside is small, but it will help you with your “dead- reckoning” along the trail.

¶ Take your walking sticks — there were some pretty steep downhill grades that were made slippery by the recent rain and the freshly fallen leaves. If the ground was frozen, it would have been worse.

¶ Pack a lunch. There are several benches and covered sitting areas that have remarkable views of the Rhine as well as the Katz castle on the other side. Take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the view.

¶ Take plenty of water. Even in late November, we worked up a good sweat and went through the water we carried with us.

The hotel

The Hotel Loreleyblick is directly across the Rhine from the legendary Loreley rock formation, and it does give you an excellent view of the rock. The staff was very friendly and helpful and the food in the restaurant was excellent. Make sure to thank the staff for their efforts in maintaining the start and finish point on the weekends. For more information about the hotel, go to www.Loreleyblick.de.

The town

Wedged between 200-meter-high cliffs on one side and the river on the other, the city of St. Goar is a wonderful place to spend the day walking, shopping and grabbing a bite to eat. It is about 20 minutes off of Autobahn 61, can be reached by train, and is a stopping spot for some of the cruise boats that travel the Rhine. It is one of the most popular places where the Rhine in Flames fireworks display takes place in the fall each year.

No trip to St. Goar would be complete without a stop at Stefan’s Christmas-Paradise. The first floor is dedicated to Stefan’s extensive wine and brandy selection as well as general souvenirs. The second floor is a year-round Christmas wonderland. Nativity scenes, ornaments, candles, lights, music … he has it all.

St. Goar is also the spot where the 89th Infantry Division, part of Patton’s Third Army forced a crossing of the Rhine while under fire in March 1945. We did not see any monuments to this feat of arms, but seeing the terrain and the river makes one aware of the supreme effort it took to make this crossing, especially for a division with only two weeks of combat experience.

All in all, we were very pleased with our experiences in St. Goar, and look forward to going back to tackle the seven- part Rundwanderweg.

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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s Volksmarch events:

¶ Children will receive a small gift from St. Nicholas’ bag Tuesday at the walk in Mühlacker, Germany. The 6K and 10K begin between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. You must wrap up your course by 4 p.m.

¶ Nordic walkers are welcome to attend Monday’s event in Esting, Germany. Previous years’ souvenirs are available for completing the 5 or 10 kilometer courses. No group prizes will be awarded. Start between 8 a.m. and noon; finish by 3 p.m.

¶ Italian walking notes from our buddy Clark Soeldner:

“With Dec. 26 being a holiday, there are walks in Italy. I’ve done the walk in Canove di Legnano twice and it has been very cold both times.

“At Valle San Giorgio di Baone, you can choose between two 500 gram (about 1 pound) packages of pasta, a 500-gram package of pasta and a ceramic souvenir, or a liter of extra-virgin olive oil.”

E-mail Volksmarch schedule information to two.walkers@yahoo.com. Please mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703- 0278.


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