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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

Happy New Year, everybody! We hope your new year is off to a great start and that you have an abundance of volksmarches in store for you this year! If you keep the fliers coming our way, we will provide you with plenty of options for your weekends of walking. Remember, set a reasonable goal for your walks for the year 2009, and get out there and attack that goal one walk or one weekend at a time. You’ve got a year to reach your goal … good luck!

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Although we have not yet received our copy of the big international IVV book yet, we will list a couple of the walks we have received fliers for so you can start planning.

• Next Saturday, Jan. 10, is the annual Paris walk. We think this is a walk that all serious volksmarchers need to do at least once while in Europe. Make sure you dress warmly and take the camera! For information on this walk as well as the club’s other walks this year, go towww.godillot-familial.com.

• Feb. 28 and March 1: Rothenburg ob der Tauber. One of the most enchanting cities in Germany is hosting a weekend of excellent volksmarching. Mark it on your calendars now and plan to attend. Just as Paris is a must-see city, so is Rothenburg. Both places can be addictive — if you go once, chances are you’ll want to go back.

There will be more information on these walks as they get closer and as more fliers and facts roll in. If your club is hosting a walk, please let us know well in advance so we can "talk it up" for you. We need an absolute minimum of two weeks notice to meet our publication deadlines. This also applies to any upcoming walks that you consider to be exceptional. Let us know why you think it is great, and we will share your enthusiasm with your fellow readers. We look forward to your feedback and input.Drop us a few lines attwo.walkers@yahoo.com.

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Bastogne Historical walk after-action report: This walk was the highlight of a wonderful weekend in Bastogne. We arrived Friday afternoon and went immediately to the start hall to meet with friends during the registration period. It was good to see Tom Larsheid and his wife, Carol, Ed and Marion Lapotsky and Jerry Luchesi. We also had the pleasure of a long chat with Maurice Spirandeau, a veteran of Patton’s Third Army.

After checking in at the Hotel Melba, we met friends Serge and Diane Duplain, who had driven up from Luxembourg. Just a short walk away on McAulife Square is the Restaurant Georgio where the food is both very good and reasonably priced. Bob’s favorite is the pizza Ardennase. If you like pizza and like Ardennes ham, this is the meal for you.

Saturday morning the weather was cold, but dry. We were at the start hall bright and early … uh, well, early anyway, and listened to Ed Lapotsky as he invited us to remember those who fought and died in the area where we would be walking.

There was little fresh snow on the ground, but the old snow had been packed down and was very slippery in some spots. The wind was rather strong once we were out in the countryside away from the shelter of the houses in town. These adverse conditions were offset by warm beverages along the way and by the fact that we could keep on walking and remove or replace layers of clothes as needed.

We were impressed by the re-enactors who had to dig fox holes in the frozen ground and then hunker down and try to stay warm. We took a lot of pictures of the re-enactors and their equipment because we think it adds immensely to the historical component of the walk. Our favorite stop was at the German first-aid station, which was complete with tents, nurses and cooking fire with a soldier chopping vegetables to add to a big pot of soup.

After the longest 12 kilometers we’ve ever walked — one person with a GPS said the 12k trail was closer to 18 — we found ourselves at the Bastogne Christmas market where we picked up our certificates of participation and visited the various booths. Although not as elaborate as a typical German Weihnachts Markt, Bastogne’s market has gotten a little bigger each of the past few years.

After the Christmas market, we found a place to have a late lunch and watched the afternoon parade from our window seats. Then it was time to do some more shopping in the stores along Bastogne’s main street.

After all the walking during the day, we stayed in for dinner at the Hotel Melba and had an excellent meal with friends. We could not stick around Sunday for the afternoon parade, so after a leisurely breakfast we headed back to the Netherlands. We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and can hardly wait until next year’s walk.

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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s volksmarch events:

• Lahm-Itzgrund, Germany, is close to the Schweinfurt and Bamberg communities, so why not enjoy their walk and pick up the prize, a vase?

• The walk in Heimenkirch, Germany, is advertised as stroller friendly, but they also caution walkers about the possibility of ice on the trail. Ice is common at this time of year, so be careful wherever you walk. Slow down as you drive to the walks as well.

• If you’re off to Allersberg, Germany, this weekend for the walk, they are offering B-medals. Last year they offered a unique prize of a model of an old sailing ship. Perhaps they’ll have some left over for this year.

• Clark Soeldner, our Italian walking expert, tells us the walk in Bevilacqua will award 700 grams, about one and one-half pounds, of mushrooms to the first 400 walkers.

• Says Clark: I’ve done the Avesa walk several times and always enjoyed it. After a hot chocolate boost at the start, you head uphill through olive groves. This is a very pretty walk through the hills and you’ll see great panoramas, especially just past the midpoint restoro. There is no set cost, but donations are welcome. There will be a large restoro at the end.

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

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