See this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

This is the weekend of the Bastogne Historical Walk, so you know where we will be spending the weekend. We plan to be in Bastogne no later than 3 p.m. on Friday to see if we can help Ed and Marion Lapotsky with any last-minute registration duties. After dinner, we will be at the showing of the movie, “Bedford: The Town They Left Behind.”

Saturday morning we will be at the start hall bright and early. We like to walk and talk with WWII veteran and walk coordinator Maurice Spirandeau. He always has an interesting story or two to tell along the way. We walk with him until we get to the first group of re-enactors, then picture-taking causes us to fall behind Maurice as he continues to lead the way. Again this year, there should be re-enactors of both American and German soldiers. They will have uniforms, weapons, vehicles and other equipment from the Second World War. They usually dig foxholes, set up fighting positions and try to re-create the fighting conditions found around Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

After the walk, we will visit the small Christmas market, shop at some of the local stores and have a late lunch before attending the traditional Nuts Festival at city hall.

In the evening, we hope to go on one of the walking tours of Bastogne that starts at the Tourist Information Office. These guided tours are supposed to tell about life in the city during the war years. We hope they offer at least one of the walks in English, but we’ll go even if they don’t.

After a long day on Saturday, we won’t be out too early on Sunday, but we will be there to see the parachute jump at 11 a.m. near the Mardisson Monument. Of course, this jump depends upon the weather being favorable. We might be able to squeeze in a visit to the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters sometime also. Look for us in the mass of people in Bastogne this weekend as we honor those who fought and died in the historic struggle in Bastogne.

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We hope you are visiting Christmas markets wherever you live. As a general rule, the bigger the city, the bigger – and better – the Christmas market. However, don’t pass on the opportunity to visit a small-town Christmas market. Monschau and Gangelt, Germany, are two small towns that have very nice Christmas markets. They can get crowded quickly, but then the large Christmas markets get very crowded as well.

Some of the staples you should look for at a Christmas market are Ghlüwein, potato pancakes with applesauce, crepes, bratwurst and sautéed mushrooms. We are always on the lookout for a unique tree ornament or other item with gift potential. Of course ambiance is important, so visiting on a cold night with snow falling we think is the best time. On the other hand, getting to the Christmas market early, perhaps just before they open will make it easier to find parking. You might want to consider public transportation, too.

It is easy to focus on German Christmas markets, but don’t overlook your European neighbors. We have also been to Christmas markets in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands and have found them to be exciting. The central theme of Christmas is the same, but each country has its own unique cultural flavor.

This weekend there are a few walks that include, or are close to Christmas markets.

Saturday afternoon the walk at Bockenau, Germany, is along their permanent route and ends at the town’s Christmas market.

There is another Saturday afternoon walk in Brussels, which will be exciting with the town decorated for Christmas. However, with the shortest route being 12 kilometers, it might be a bit much for younger walkers.

Good luck to the Stuttgart German American Wandering Club as they head to Erstein, France, for the Saturday evening, “Marche de la St. Nicolas.” We hope they enjoy the French version of a volksmarch and Christmas market combination.

Sunday’s walk in Hamm, Luxembourg, is just south of Luxembourg City. After the walk it would be easy to visit their Christmas market.

No matter which Christmas market you choose to attend, just make sure you get out and experience one of these great European events.

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Thanks to William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro, Bob Gambert, John and Evelyn Golembe, Lew Harrison, Ramona and Horst Kechelen, Tim and Luchi Lynch, “Pat” and Cheryl Patterson and Nancy Shawley 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 prize at Oberasbach is an angel figure holding a candle.

* Kronau’s prize is a ceramic angel figure.

* Italian walking notes from Clark Soeldner: The prize for completing the walk at Asigliano Veneto is a bag of fresh radicchio. There will also be vendors selling all sorts of things made from radicchio, including bread and baked potatoes.

Christmas stockings will be the prize for the first 200 walkers at Porcia. At the end of the walk there will be tables with handcrafted Christmas items for sale.

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