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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

With Christmas rapidly approaching, we are looking at pretty slim pickings for volksmarches this weekend.

The ones we do have are pretty nice. The walks in Namur, Belgium; Benfield, France; and Luxembourg city, Luxembourg, are all designed to show you the cities lit up in their Christmas splendor.

Namur is a beautiful city along the Meuse River. The city lights reflecting in the water should be very pretty. We have volksmarched through the city in the day and thoroughly enjoyed the walk. We are sure that the city will be beautiful with the Christmas lights. As a note of warning, watch your footing as the city has some steep hills and the route could be slippery.

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.

The walk in Luxembourg is another great Christmas experience. We did this walk several years ago and were amazed by the beautiful city. The shorter routes begin between noon and 6 p.m. Walkers can take a five- or 10-kilometer illuminated route through this 1,000-year-old city and the Christmas market. This year organizers have added a 15-kilometer route which you can start between noon and 4 p.m. Grab the backpack for the goodies you’ll buy in the market and the stores along the way, and bundle up in layers.

The flier recommends that you park at the central train station. When we visited in August, there was a lot of construction going on and parking was a challenge. Just look for the road signs for the station and then the club should have signs directing you to the start hall.

See the 10th-century Bock Casemates fortress, part of Luxembourg’s original castle, or the Grand Ducal Palace, the official city residence of the Grand Duke.

You should see this beautifully diverse city lit by Christmas lights at night. It will be an experience you won’t forget.

If you are in Italy, you can help the Aviano Road Runners kick off their new permanent trail Saturday. The start is at the bar next to the silver-domed church, also called the "chrome dome," between 8:30 and 9 a.m. The five-, seven-, 12- and 15-kilometer trails are on dirt paths and gravel roads in the foothills of the mountains.

After the walk, you can stop in and take a look around the church, if you are dressed properly, and then stop in the bar to try their nice selection of sandwiches. It’s not often that you get a chance to help open a trail. You’ll always have bragging rights to say you were among the first to walk the route.

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We hope you are visiting Christmas markets wherever you live. We have made three trips into Germany for the Aachen, Gangelt and Alt-Hürth markets. Aachen was the largest of the three, and it had a wider variety of booths with more foods, drinks, crafts and other items to choose from.

Some of the staples you should look for at a Christmas market are Glühwein, crepes, sautéed mushrooms and potato pancakes with applesauce. We are always on the lookout for a unique tree ornament or other item with gift potential.

Of course ambiance is important, so we think visiting on a cold night with snow falling is the best time. On the other hand, getting to the Christmas market early, perhaps just before it opens, makes it easier to find parking. You might want to consider public transportation, too.

No matter which Christmas market you attend, just make sure you get out and experience one of these great European events. We wish you a happy holiday season … have fun and drive safely!

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Miscellaneous short notes about week’s events:

• The prize at Bierbach, Germany, is an angel figure holding a candle.

Italian walking notes from Clark Soeldner:

• The walk under the listing "Roncaglia" is in Roncaglia di Ponte San Nicolo. It has a choice of prizes: 500 people will be able to get a 2-pound, 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano for 11 euros. Another 500 will be able to pick up a 1-pound baked item for 3.50 euros.

• If you want either pastachutta or fagioli at the end of the Portogruaro walk, be sure to say so when you sign up. The 12-kilometer route will take you past the Julia Concordia archaeological site.

E-mail volksmarch information to Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.


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