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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

The weekend we have all been waiting for is here: It’s time for the annual Rothenburg ob der Tauber walk. The Rothenburg club will have six-, 11- and 21-kilometer courses outside the city on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as the 19th annual 11k old-city walk on Saturday afternoon, which will wind through the streets of Rothenburg. If these routes do not offer enough choices, you can also walk the 12k permanent trail, the Altstadtblick, which gives a panoramic view of the old city.

Start times are 7 a.m. until noon Saturday for the six-, 11- and 21-kilometer courses, and noon until 4 p.m. for the old-city walk. Sunday’s times are 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. for the six- and 11-kilometer marches and 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. for the 21k course. The prize is a B-medal Weizenbierglas decorated with an outline of the old city. The start is in the sport hall and, as in every year we’ve been there, there will be food, music, assorted vendors and a lot of volksmarchers.

There are some unique sights in and around Rothenburg. In March 1945, Rothenburg was bombed and about 40 percent of the city was destroyed. It is remarkable how it has been rebuilt and restored. There are several towers and gates in and around the city. Among the most famous are the oft-photographed Plönlein and Siebersturm. One of our favorite places to visit is St. Jacob’s Church. Inside is one of the huge, ornately carved altars made by master sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider in about 1500. You also have to find the Alte Schmiede, a centuries-old, triangular building that used to be a blacksmith’s shop. If the town hall is open, climb the tower to get a breathtaking view of the city and the Tauber Valley.

One place that is frequently visited and talked about is the Medieval Crime Museum. In it, you’ll find instruments such as the torture chamber and various executioners’ axes. You can have someone take your picture while you position yourself in the stocks outside the entrance. Then there’s the Doll and Toy Museum on Hofbronnengasse, just off the Marktplatz. In previous years, certain museums along the old town route gave discounts upon presentation of your IVV start card. Don’t miss the Käthe Wohlfahrt shop, either, where it is Christmas year round.

Saturday, there will be all kinds of shops open in the morning and early afternoon. Later in the afternoon, shops start to wind down, but there will still be a few open for souvenirs. There are a few nice art stores where you can buy a nice lithograph of the city sights. These make nice souvenirs. Also, look for stores that sell the RothenburgSchneeballen. These balls of dough come in many flavors and taste good as you work up an appetite walking. As you wander, make sure you walk along a portion of the wall that partially encircles the city. This will offer another perspective. If you are there in the evening, the city is usually lit up for even more beautiful sights.

When we did the permanent trail a couple of years ago, we went several kilometers outside the city and got a tremendous view of the old walled part of Rothenburg. As we worked our way back to the city, the trail took us across the double-decker Roman bridge and then into the city. There were several steep areas as well as stairs, so strollers could be challenged on the permanent trail.

The cobblestone streets in the city can be hard on the feet, so wear good walking shoes. The trails can be steep and pretty slick in places if it is a frosty morning, so watch your footing. The start hall can get very crowded, and a small dog might get tripped over, so if you’re walking with a dog, try to get there early to beat the crowd. Another tip is to buy your food and drink coupons before you walk. Once you’ve walked, you can go directly to the food and drink areas and not have to stand in line first for your tickets.

Whether you choose to walk the trails outside this city or the Saturday old-town walk within, plan to spend some of your weekend in Rothenburg, the best-known walled city in Germany. With any luck, there will be at least a little bit of snow on the buildings to add to the "wow!" factor. Take along extra batteries and memory cards for the camera.

Rothenburg is near the intersection of autobahns 6 and 7. No car? No problem! The start hall is at the sports hall, which is only a five-minute walk from the train station.

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On Saturday and Sunday, the Les Spiroux walking club will host a walk in Trois Ponts, Belgium. The Tri-Border Walking Club will car-pool to the event Saturday morning and have lunch at Five Points Café at the Baugnez Historical Center near Malmedy. The walk starts at the football field RRC Trois Ponts-Henri Moulin and closes at 5 p.m. In addition to IVV credit, you can pick up a sticker for your walking diaries.

The Baugnez Historical Center is about 11 miles from the end of the walk. Located on the site of the Malmedy Massacre and across the street from the large star-shaped memorial, this museum opened about a year ago and has many excellent features. There are numerous dioramas, handsets in English that give descriptions of the displays, a film about the massacre in English, and a gift shop with a good selection of books in English.

The Five Points Café is on the ground floor of the museum. For more information on the Historical Center, visit www.baugnez44.be.

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The volksmarch in Mühlhausen, Germany, is the walk for folks in the Stuttgart area. The prize is a portable radio with ear buds and a flashlight.

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• The walk in Hermesdorf this weekend is convenient for readers in the Bitburg and Spangdahlem, Germany, area. It is for IVV credit only.

• An interesting-looking glass vase is the prize at the Dettingen, Germany, walk.

• At the walk in Oberviechtach the prize is a smiling, 8½-inch-tall figurine that looks like a garden helper.

• Dogs are not allowed in the start hall at Ettelbruck, Luxembourg.

The start for the Caselle di Selvazzano Dentro, Italy, walk is at the Mappa catering company.

• The start for the walk at Pieris di San Canzian d’Isonzo, Italy, is at the Azienda Agricola Lorenzon on Via Ca del Bosco.

E-mail volksmarch information to two.walkers@yahoo.com. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09752.


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