World Cup lures fans abroad

German cities offer more than just soccer games to visitors

The Smart Traveler

May 28, 2006

BERLIN // Next month in Germany, more than 1 million visitors will marvel at world-class play during the World Cup soccer championship. They can also admire great art, stroll medieval town squares and savor some of the world's best beer.

The World Cup offers great tourism opportunities as well as sport. The 12 host cities include perennial travel favorites Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Nuremberg and Hamburg. With as little as two or three spare hours before a game, visitors can take in Albrecht Durer's "Self-Portrait" in Munich's Alte Pinakothek art museum -- or try a crisp-roasted schweinshaxe, or ham hock, with sauerkraut and a cold pilsner from a centuries-old local brewery.

JEFF SHAARA'S CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELDS: DISCOVERING AMERICA'S HALLOWED GROUND

Ballantine Books / $18.95

Many books have been written about the Civil War, but it is refreshing to see the war from the perspective of a best-selling Civil War novelist. Jeff Shaara is the son of the late Michael Shaara, author of The Killer Angels, a groundbreaking novel about Gettysburg, and he has written several of his own Civil War novels (Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure). Shaara chose 10 specific battle sites because he says they offer visitors the best Civil War experiences. Some sites are famous (Shiloh, Antietam and, yes, Gettysburg); others the casual reader may not recognize (New Market, Cold Harbor, Petersburg). He describes battle details, explains why the battle was important and recommends sights.

JUNE SAWYERS

LODGING

Hotel deals cut fuel costs

With gas prices soaring, hotel chains are offering gas-related discounts. Through Sept. 10, Gaylord Hotels, with resorts in Dallas, Nashville, Tenn., and Kissimmee, Fla., is offering $25 per day to guests who stay a minimum of two nights. Some Best Western hotels in California are giving gas credits. Apple Core Hotels' five Midtown Manhattan hotels (applecorehotels.com) have a deal in July at $159.99 a night. It offers unlimited-ride subway cards and round-trip train or bus tickets to Airports.

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PARKS

National preservation awards

An innovative volunteer program in Yellowstone National Park was one of four winners of national preservation awards. Tauck World Discovery, a tour operator in Norwalk, Conn., offers a program in which Yellowstone visitors can contribute a day's work on preservation projects. Tauck and the other winners were recognized with Preserve America Presidential Awards. The Maryland Heritage Areas Program also won an award; it encourages the linking of preservation efforts and tourism. For details, visit preserveamerica.gov.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK

Ticket to a new home

City officials have broken ground for a new booth for TKTS, a local institution that sells half-price, same-day tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway shows. The discount ticket operation in the heart of the theater district at Broadway and 47th Street has been a mainstay of theater lovers for more than 30 years, drawing long lines of tourists and New Yorkers looking for last-minute bargains. During the renovation, there will be a temporary TKTS booth on West 46th Street outside the New York Marriott Marquis hotel. The new booth will be built under a big red staircase to nowhere in Times Square. The steps will form an amphitheater 45 feet wide at the top and rising to 16 feet above the sidewalk. City officials hope to complete the project by the end of the year.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

GEAR & GADGETS

The Tracks Compact Travel Staff is a sturdy, lightweight aluminum hiking stick that collapses into three sections connected by elastic shock cords. The upper section has a push-button length adjustment to accommodate different heights, a contoured foam grip and an adjustable grip strap. Under the walnut knob, a universal camera mount turns the staff into a stabilizing mono pod. At the bottom of the staff, a molded flex tip with removable foot and trekking basket adds extra stability. The staff adjusts from 48 inches to 54 inches in length, and measures 19 inches long when collapsed. At 10.5 ounces, it's worth taking along in case the terrain gets challenging or you need some extra support. Tracks Compact Travel Staff is $79.95. Information: Cascade Designs; 800-531-9531; trackspoles.com.

JUDI DASH

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