Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

We received two after-action reports from participants in the annual Paris volksmarch, a very popular walk through the heart of one of the most fascinating cities in the world. One was from Cheryl and "Pat" Patterson, the other from Dave Miller.

The Pattersons drove to Paris and found a hotel that was only about a 15-minute walk from the start hall. Unfortunately, the big-name hotel was poorly heated and they feared they might freeze to death during the night. The saving grace was the abundance of hot water in the shower.

On Saturday morning, they met some friends and toured the city, then in the afternoon took the Metro to the start hall and were fortunate to get their start cards without a long wait in line. They say the route was easy to follow because of the large number of walkers, but this made the control points chaotic. The first was in a small gymnasium near the Eiffel Tower. The second was on a street corner across from the Hotel de Ville. Both seemed to have plenty of people to sell food and beverages but only a couple to stamp start cards.

Based on this experience, the Pattersons offer these five observations:

• If you don’t like crowds, stay away from this event. There were 16,641 participants.

• The lights of the city were pretty, but it was too darn cold! Don’t do this walk unless the temperature is above freezing.

• If you drive, be prepared for tolls. They paid 52.80 euros on toll roads.

• If you plan to stay in a hotel, take plenty of money … nothing is reasonable in Paris.

• Take extra batteries for your camera for all the pictures you’ll be taking.

Dave’s trip was part of a cooperative effort between the Heidelberg International Wandering Club, the Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club and the Ramstein Roadrunners. Between these three clubs they got almost 50 people to share a bus for the trip to Paris.

After leaving Heidelberg at 5:30 a.m. Friday and picking up people along the way, they got to Paris early enough to spend Friday afternoon and evening seeing the sights. They also had Saturday morning free for touring the city. The Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and Place du Tertre, or artists square, were some of the more popular destinations. He called the weather "beautiful, sunny, but somewhat chilly."

We have gone to Paris by car and as part of a bus group. If you drive, the tolls do add up quickly. Then when you get to your hotel, don’t be surprised if there is an extra charge for parking — that is if the hotel even has parking. Traffic and parking in the city is so bad that when we drive, we leave the car parked at the hotel for the duration of the stay and take the Metro everywhere. We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to navigate the Metro. If you go on a bus tour, then the tolls and parking hassles are no longer a concern.

As far as the crowds are concerned, Paris is always a busy place. This is especially true for the big attractions, such as the Louvre and other museums. The excellent public transportation makes getting around a lot easier. Plus, we all love to walk, don’t we?

Make sure you develop a plan for your visit and allow plenty of time for each destination. The bottom line is that going with a group of volksmarchers on a club-sponsored trip is an easy way to visit a large, popular city. By joining a local club, you can take advantage of the opportunities these clubs offer.

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For all of you who mail us fliers, we now have a new postal ZIP code. There will be a transition period in which the old ZIP will still work, but please start using the new one as soon as possible. Our address is now:

Bob and Lorraine Huffaker

CMR 460, Box 278

APO, AE 09752-0278

A million thanks to this week’s contributors: William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro, John and Evelyn Golembe, Ramona and Horst Kechelen, Tim and Luchi Lynch, "Pat" and Cheryl Patterson, Wayne Henry and Bob Gambert,.

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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s events:

• Volksmarchers living in the Eifel, Baumholder and Kaiserslautern areas in Germany have the opportunity to attend a close walk this weekend at Kleinich. Located northeast of Idar-Oberstein, the Verbandsgemeinde Bernkastel-Kues holds its 33rd anniversary walk both days beginning at 8 a.m. The last start times are 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday for the five-, 10- and 15-kilometer trails. The club has no awards this year. Visit the Moselle town of Bernkastel-Kues while you’re in the area.

• Marchers at Forstfeld, France, might want to visit the local town of Soufflenheim, known for its earth-colored pottery. After walking Forstfeld’s 10k trail on Sunday, walk through the open shops in Soufflenheim, which display their pottery, usually painted with bold flowers. We bought some of this pottery at the Spangdahlem bazaar last fall and really like it.

Notes about walks in Italy:

• To get to the start of the walk at Povolaro di Dueville, exit the A-31 at Dueville and take the SS248 south for about two kilometers.

• The walk at Vallenoncello is pretty flat on a mix of asphalt and gravel.

• The town of San Vittore Olona is off SS33, 20 kilometers from Milano.

E-mail volksmarch information to Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09752-0278.

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