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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

If you’ve ever thought of Volksmarching in Ireland, start planning for this summer’s four-day walking event in Castlebar. We attended this international walking festival in 2005 and had a wonderful time. It required some planning, so that’s why we’re mentioning it now. People from around the world attend, and we saw groups from as far away as Japan and Israel as well as just about every European country.

We flew into Dublin on Ryanair, and after spending one night, took the train to Castlebar. With a city map, we walked the two miles from the train station to our hotel. If a hotel is too soft for you and you want to rough it a little, you can do what one of our friends from Germany did: rent a car in Dublin and camp in a tent at a nearby campground. We saw cars with U.S. Army Europe registration plates, so taking your car over from Germany by ferry is also an option.

On each of the four days, there are 10- and 20-kilometer walks as well as a “ramble.” The rambles are about 30k walks done as a group. They often go cross country with one set of leaders in the front planting flags as trail markers and another group at the rear picking up the markers as they go by.

The Saturday ramble took us through some of the most beautiful country we have ever seen. We crossed streams, went through bogs and over the saddle between two mountains. The view was breathtaking. Ireland is such a beautiful, green country because of the rain. We had our rain jackets on and off several times as the weather changed. Good rain gear and hiking boots are a must.

Each night of the festival, the hosts provided entertainment, including live bands and Irish folk dancers. Of course, there was plenty of Guinness as well. We did walks on each of the four days, but if we go back this year, we might skip one day and take the train to Ireland’s western coast to sightsee.

After we took the train back to Dublin, we met our son, who flew over from his university in London, and spent two days exploring the city. You have to try a Guinness in the glass observatory above the brewery in Dublin.

It was a remarkable week of walking and touring. With some planning, you can have a noteworthy experience as well. The 2007 Castlebar International Four Days’ Walks are June 28 through July 1. This is the event’s 40th anniversary, so organizers know what they’re doing. Its Web site is www.castlebar4dayswalks.com.

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The walk this weekend in Oettingen, Germany, looks as though it has a lot to offer. The town is on the rim of a meteorite crater 25 kilometers in diameter. That must provide some interesting terrain. The prize is a B-medal, probably one of last year’s model semitrailers, at a reduced price of 2.50 euros. Start time for both days is between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.; finish by 4 p.m. both days.

There are several other interesting places to visit in the Oettingen area. The town of Nörd- lingen is high on our list of places to visit, as is Dinkelsbühl, another walled city. A few years ago, we enjoyed a getaway weekend in Dinkelsbühl, and we had a great time there. We enjoyed making the rounds of the city with the night watchman who was dressed in medieval garb. If you can’t wait until the end of the month to visit Rothenburg for its walk, Dinkelsbühl is close to it and has a permanent walk.

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A million thanks to this week’s flier contributors: Theresia Fontaine, Bob Gambert, Wayne Henry, Ramona and Horst Kechelen, James Kelly, Tim and Luchi Lynch, Dawn St. John, Jose Valdez and Ed Whitworth. We add an extra “thank you” to former columnist Jennifer West. She returned to Germany in December for a brief visit and not only found time to squeeze in a Volksmarch, but also to grab a few fliers to mail to us. Thanks also to first-time contributors “Pat” Patterson and the Reynozo Clan. We love to see new return addresses on the envelopes we receive, especially envelopes that are loaded with fliers.

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Notes about this week’s events:

n Neither of the two walks in the Netherlands this weekend is IVV sponsored, so you will not receive IVV credit. They are, however, very convenient for the Schinnen, Brunssum and Geilenkirchen military communities.

n The walk in Dörfles-Esbach appears close to the Bamberg and Schweinfurt communities.

n Volksmarchers living in the Eifel, Baumholder and Kaiserslautern, Germany, areas have a close walk this weekend at Kleinich. Located northeast of Idar- Oberstein, the Verbandsgemeinde Bernkastel-Kues holds its 31st anniversary walk Saturday and Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. The last start times are 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday for the 5-, 10- and 15-kilometer trails. Visit the Moselle town of Bernkastel-Kues while in the area. There is no award.

n Marchers at Forstfeld, France, might want to visit Soufflenheim, known for its earth-colored pottery. After walking Forstfeld’s 10k on Sunday, walk through Soufflenheim’s shops and galleries, which display their pottery.

n Clark Soeldner offers this Italian walking note: The walk in Fossalunga di Vedelago also is a competitive running event. If you are walking the 21-kilometer route, make sure you tell the IVV representative at the start before you leave, or he might be gone by the time you get back.

Please e-mail Volksmarch information for any country to two.walkers@yahoo.com.Mail brochures, in date order if possible, to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.

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