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Coming & Going: Europe, Istanbul, Stockholm, Birmingham, Munich

Stockholm is the first European Green Capital.
Stockholm is the first European Green Capital. (R. Ryan/stockholm Visitors Board)
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's new, Europe?

If it's 10 a.m., we must be in Turkey; 10:15, it's London; 10:30, Norway; 10:45, Austria. And so it went at the Visit Europe Media Exchange, an annual convention where CoGo found itself in another European "country" every 15 minutes.

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Presented by the European Travel Commission and held last week in New York, the event squeezes nearly 40 national tourism offices and other industry folks under one hotel roof. Travelistas spent the entire day hopping from (add country) desk to (add country) desk, plumbing the experts for tips, news and tour ideas. Here are some tidbits gleaned from CoGo's speed-dating session with Europe.

-- Istanbul, along with Hungary's Pecs and Germany's Essen, was named a 2010 European Capital of Culture. The Turkish city recently released its calendar of events, which are, of course, heavy on culture: http://www.en.istanbul2010.org. . . . Europe's largest aquarium, Turkuazoo, opened last month in Istanbul. Highlights include an underwater tunnel with 270-degree aquatic views and shark diving and feeding. Info: http://www.turkuazoo.com.

-- For a breath of carbon-free air: Stockholm was designated the first European Green Capital for 2010. . . . The Swedish capital has introduced a walking tour based on the "Millennium" trilogy by late author Stieg Larsson. Info: http://www.stadsmuseum.stockholm.se.

-- Go straight to the seafood source (read: fish and chips) at the new multimillion-dollar fish market complex on Brixham Harbour in southwest England. At the renovated port, scheduled to open next August, visitors can watch the fishermen in action, then eat their catches at a new waterside restaurant. Info: http://www.englishriviera.co.uk. . . . Next summer, London will unveil London Cycle Hire, a 24-hour, year-round bike rental operation based in nine boroughs and several Royal Parks. The program will launch with 6,000 two-wheelers. Info: http://www.visitlondon.com. . . . Birmingham hosts the largest German Christmas market outside Deutschland. The Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair opens Thursday and runs through Dec. 23. More than 2 million folks peruse 180-plus stalls stocked with marionettes, Nativity scenes, wooden toys, etc., and gobble up such German staples as sausage and beer. Info: http://www.visitbirmingham.com/christmas/christmas_events.

-- On Dec. 13, the Thalys high-speed train will make it quicker to travel from Brussels and Paris to Amsterdam or Cologne, Germany. Time saved: one hour. Info: 800-622-8600, http://www.raileurope.com or http://www.thalys.com.

-- The Munich airport, a major gateway to Italy and Eastern Europe, recently reissued its Stopover Guide, which provides ideas on how to fill your time during lengthy layovers (plus coupons!). One idea: Catch some winks at the new Napcabs, mini-rooms with a bed and TV that rent by the hour ($15 night rate; $22 day). Info: http://www.munich-airport.de/EN/index.html. . . . The German city is throwing a big bash for the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. Info: http://www.muenchen.de.

Reporting: Andrea Sachs. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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