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People talk about springtime in Paris as if it's the only place in the world where flowers bloom. Well, move over Frenchie, Deutschland is filled with festivals, outdoor events, beautiful countryside, busy cities and an impeccable train system that's rarely a minute late. German efficiency helps make your travel experience less stressful and easier to plan. And yes, they have pretty flowers there too -- plus gardens full of beer.

Start your trip to Germany at the country's official travel and tourism site, www.germany-tourism.de. It could be hands down the easiest to use and most informative country travel site online. It seriously lists just about anything you might want to know to plan your trip: scenic driving routes; local and national events with detailed information on where to buy tickets; vacation recommendations for the outdoor activist, history buff, package tour travelers, to name a few; cultural history and country facts pertaining to the different regions inside the country. For example, of the recommended scenic routes offered, you can choose from an Alpine route that rotates from mountain roads to country highways and focuses on estates and castles or you can choose an architectural tour of celebrating German industry called the "Route of Industrial Heritage" that winds its way along the cities of the Northern Rhine towards Westphalia and the Ruhr stopping at points highlighting the modern and older factory system.

The site is an excellent source for city touring as well providing detailed information on Germany's big cities such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt, but also focusing on the country's beautiful smaller cities like the Northern fishing town of Rostock, which contains the oldest University in Northern Europe founded in 1419. Northern German cities are great religious centers with huge monasteries and abbeys inside the urban centers and just outside in the forests and hills that surround the area. A listing of all major and minor sites with telephone information is available on the website, as well.

Once you've read through your many options, be sure to click the flag representing your country from the site's mainpage. This will take you to any number of separate views that will then link off to deals departing from wherever you live. For example, clicking the US flag takes you to www.cometogermany.com, and from there simply click "Hot Deals" to see stand up deals like a six-day/four night air and hotel package to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt or Munich starting from just $444 from Nordique Tours (www.nordiquetours.com).

If you don't want to plan your trip by yourself and want the luxury of a planned trip with a knowledgeable guide, Globus Journeys (tel. 866/755-8581; www.globusjourneys.com) has a 12-day air and land inclusive trip of Germany that focuses on the major cities and countryside in between. Stopping in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Nuremberg and Freiburg with scenic attention being paid to the Black Forest and Lake Constance in the southern section of the country, this trip puts travelers in a luxury motor coach and puts them up at first-class large city hotels. Highlights include visits to majestic castles, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and many churches. Plenty of time for your own sightseeing and exploring the local flavor in each of the cities visited. Meals include ten breakfast buffets and 8 dinners featuring local cuisine. The cost of this trip scheduled to leave four times per month in the calendar year 2005 ranges between $2,157 for the air/land package and $1,429 for the land-only tour.

To book your own flight to Germany, Lufthansa (tel. 800/645-3880; www.lufthansa.com) just announced some special spring fares. If you purchase your fare before March 22, 2005 and travel between April 1 and 30, 2005, you can get round-trip fares to Munich from Dallas for $549, from New York to Frankfurt for $372, from Boston to Frankfurt for $445. The special sale also offers fares to other European destinations such as Paris, Vienna, Brussels and Madrid. Check out http://cms.lufthansa.com/fly/us/en/0,,0-0-1371758,00.html for details. Air taxes and security fees are not included in the price of the above fares.

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