Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

If you are reading this Thursday morning, you might still be able to get to the Ramstein Turkey Trot! As long as you’re there before 1 p.m. you can go on the walk, but we cannot guarantee there will be any of the great B-medals left. You can still enjoy the trail and the chance to visit with other volksmarchers, so get out there and get the metabolism going full steam before you dig into the turkey and the trimmings later in the day.

The event begins at the TV 03 Turnhalle at Jahnstrasse and Landstuhler Strasse in Ramstein village, Germany. The easiest way to get there is to take the road connecting the towns of Landstuhl and Ramstein, head toward Ramstein village and you’ll see the Turnhalle on your left, less than a half-kilometer from the little traffic circle near the Shell gas station. Have fun!

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This is the weekend that many Christmas markets open across Europe. Some of the markets date back centuries. Dresden’s Christmas market was first mentioned in a document dated 1434, and Augsburg, Bad Wimpfen, Frankfurt and Rothenburg also have markets that were established in the 15th century. Nuremberg’s market dates to at least 1628.

Regardless of age, Christmas markets have been known to develop their own unique characteristics. Aachen’s Christmas market is known for its gingerbread Aachener Printen. Dresden is known for its Stöllen. Dortmund is known for the largest Christmas tree, and Osnabrück for the world’s largest music box. While Berlin’s market at the Memorial Church draws almost 4 million visitors a year, the city has several smaller markets distributed across the city. The largest Christmas market in one centrally located area is believed to be the one in Stuttgart. If you live in the Stuttgart area or are within traveling distance, the market sounds like an excellent place to experience a traditional German Christmas market.

But Christmas markets do not have to be large to be worth a trip. The little town of Monschau, Germany, nestled in a valley near the border with Belgium, has been one of our favorite places to visit each year. This market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. Like most Christmas markets, parking can be a challenge, so dress warmly, be prepared to walk and be sure to enjoy the foods, drinks and music of a Christmas market near you.

A word of warning: Some German Christmas markets may be open on Saturday, but with this Sunday being the first Sunday of Advent, the chances are that most, if not all, will be closed on Sunday.

Even though a Christmas market is not mentioned on the flier, this Saturday the town of Colmar, France, is offering an evening walk through the city that will be resplendent with Christmas lights and decorations. The walk starts between 3 and 9 p.m. and closes at 11 p.m. Make sure you get back before the start hall closes so you can get your IVV credit.

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Here’s a reminder to pencil in on your calendar the 16th annual Metz Illuminée in Metz, France, on Dec. 6. This is a "must-do" walk! The 10-kilometer trail winds through the historic part of the city as well as through several Metz Christmas markets. The start location is the Complexe Sportif Saint-Symphorien, and walkers can start the trail between 3 and 8:30 p.m.

Also that evening, there is a walk through the Montmarte district in Paris. You can start between 3 and 7 p.m. at the Gymnase Leon Biancotto, near the Porte de Clichy.

Other holiday walks include:

• Alt-Hürth, Germany, on Dec. 7; walk goes through its Christmas market.

• Echternach, Luxembourg, on Dec. 13; a walk that includes a Christmas market.

• Arlon, Belgium, on Dec. 13; evening illumination walk.

• Erstein, France, on Dec. 13; evening illumination walk.

• Dörrebach, Germany, on Dec. 13-14; a day walk that is a short drive from Bingen, where you can catch a ferry across the Rhine to visit the popular Rüdesheim Christmas market. Our suggestion is to park on the Bingen side and ride the ferry as a pedestrian.

• Benfeld, France, Dec. 20; evening illumination walk.

• Luxembourg city, Dec. 20; evening illumination walk.

• Namur, Belgium; Dec. 20; evening illumination walk.

We hope you visit as many of these walks as you can squeeze into your schedule. Next week we’ll give a list of New Year’s walks.

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We have noticed that the new walking books have started to come out. We picked up the 2009 book for Belgium last week. If the Germany books are not out yet, they will be soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

• • •

Bitte to the following contributors to this week’s column: William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro, Ramona and Horst Kechelen, Tim and Luchi Lynch, Lew Harrison, Wayne Henry, Pat Patterson, Dawn St. John and Nancy Shawley.

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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s events:

• Folks in the Bitburg and Spangdahlem, Germany, area: Why not try the nearby walk in Landscheid on Sunday?

You can start the five- and 10- kilometer routes between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. This walk is for IVV credit only.

• The Neustadt, Germany, volksmarch is offering a prize of a 10-inch-tall stuffed Christmas bear with a hat and scarf for completing one of its trails. Start

at the Haus der Begegnung on Queralle street on Sunday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. (finish by 4 p.m.). If you plan to take your children, consider being in the start at 11 a.m. as St. Nikolaus will make an appearance.

• An unusual prize is being offered again this year in Teunz, Germany. The flier does not say how big it is, but it is described as a Christmas lantern lit by an LED light. If it is small, it could be a very pretty tree ornament.

The two trails (5k and 10k) start Saturday between noon and 2 p.m. and finish by 4, and Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon, finish by 3. Children with a valid start card will receive a free gift from St. Nick.

• Speaking of tree ornaments, the Windach, Germany, walk is offering a set of three ornaments as its prize.

Notes from Clark Soeldner, our Italian walk expert:

• On Dec. 20, there will be the inaugural walk for the year-round trail in Aviano, Italy. The start is at the bar next to the famous church with the silver dome. Starting time is between 8:30 and 9 a.m. The trail will officially open on a daily basis on Jan. 1.

• The Breganze walk is in the Torcolato hills begins at Cantina Beato Bartolomeo, a wine company that is offering a 10-percent discount between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. with your start card.

• The prize at the Istrago di Spilimbergo walk usually is a T-shirt.

• The food prize at the Bergamo walk is limited to the first 1,500 walkers.

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

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