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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

With Christmas falling on Tuesday this year, there are very few walks this weekend. However, there are a few Wednesday. We wish you a happy holiday season … have fun and drive safely! May 2008 be filled with gentle downhill grades for all of you.

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Despite the limited number of walks, there are still a couple of opportunities to enjoy a European Christmas experience. The walks in Namur, Belgium, Benfield, France, and Luxembourg City are all designed to show the cities lit up in their Christmas splendor.

Namur is a beautiful city on the Meuse River. We have Volksmarched through the city in the daytime and thoroughly enjoyed it. We are sure that the city will be beautiful with the Christmas lights.

Benfield appears to be a smaller city, but its walk will feature Walt Disney themes along the route. There will be Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Bambi and the Three Little Pigs, to mention just a few.

We did the walk in Luxembourg City several years ago and were amazed by this beautiful city. Loyal readers and frequent Volksmarch flier contributors, Bill Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro, sent an e-mail recently saying they attended this walk last year and loved it. This year, the walk begins between noon and 6 p.m. It will take walkers along a 5- or 10-kilometer illuminated route through the 1,000-year-old city and the Christmas market. Grab a backpack for the goodies you’ll buy in the market and the stores along the way and bundle up for the march, dressing in layers.

You can see the 10th-century Boch Casemates fortress, part of Luxembourg’s original castle, or the Grand Ducal Palace, official residence of the Grand Duke. There’s also the seventh-century Notre Dame Cathedral, shopping and an English-language movie theater. You should see this beautifully diverse city, lit at night by Christmas lights. It will be an experience you won’t forget.

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It always helps to have a Plan B. A couple of weeks ago we went to Niederheimbach, Germany, to walk its permanent Volksmarch trail. We found the start hall, but on the front door was a sign stating the organizers were on vacation until Jan. 8.

We quickly developed a Plan B — a visit to the nearby town of Bacharach. We had been there a few years ago in the summer and found it to be very pleasant. However, on a winter Saturday, we found few stores open and the one that was open was in the process of closing as we walked in at 12:58 p.m. However, the friendly clerk pointed out several points of interest in the town.

After walking through it and up to a panoramic overview, we found the Alt Backstubb and decided to take a break. After being introduced to a Rüdes- heimer Kaffee and its unique mug, we continued to our next destination, the Rüdesheim Christmas market.

After checking into the NH Hotel in Bingen, we walked about a kilometer to the boat ferry to cross the Rhine. Once on the other side, it was another kilometer into town and the market.

We were surprised by how large the market was. After following the riverside booths for quite a while, we turned into the city and even more booths. We found almost all the ingredients for a nice Christmas market: namely Glühwein, sautéed mushrooms with garlic sauce, potato pancakes and crepes. What we did not find were hot, plain roasted almonds. However, we might have been preoccupied with our other goodies and just walked past them.

We were very satisfied with the trip to Rüdesheim and its Christmas market. The market is open through Sunday and worth a visit.

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Thanks to Manfred Dahl, Lew Harrison, Wayne Henry, Tim and Luchi Lynch and Pat Patterson for sending in the envelopes of volksmarch brochures in date order. You all just continue walking no matter what the season!

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Miscellaneous short notes about week’s Volksmarch events:

The flier for Olching, Germany, is a bit confusing; it says the walk is “Tuesday, Dec. 26.” The DVV Web site gives the correct walk date as Wednesday, Dec. 26.Children will get a small gift from St. Nicholas’ bag Wednesday at the Mühlacker, Germany, walk. The 6k and 11k routes begin between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. You must finish by 4 p.m.Italian walking notes from 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. The IVV stamps, however, are given in a nice warm room.The prize at the Roncaglia di Ponte San Nicolo walk is a 5-liter can of extra-virgin olive oil. The cost of the walk is 16 euros.As it was last year, the event in Dardago is an informal gathering to walk the permanent trail. There will be a restoro at the halfway point.The seven- and 14-kilometer routes at the Portogruaro walk are repeatable; you just have to finish by 12:30. At the end, there’s a plate of beans for everyone.E-mail Volksmarch schedule information to Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.


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