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The Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift, connects the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in central Scotland. Visitors can take a round-trip boat ride, ascending and descending through the wheel, in an hour.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 520th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine. I have a couple of things to tell you about this month.

On April 2, an American tourist and her guide were kidnapped and held for ransom in Uganda. They had been on a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park when they were ambushed by gunmen. The kidnappers demanded $500,000 to release the woman. In a negotiation with Ugandan officials, $30,000...

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Handmade lace in Belgium can be pricey, but it’s a characteristic, packable souvenir. Photos by Rick Steves

Shopping in Europe can be fun, but don’t let it overwhelm your trip. I’ve seen half the members of a guided tour of the British Houses of Parliament skip out on the tour to survey an enticing array of plastic “bobby” hats, Big Ben briefs and Union Jack panties instead. Focus on local experiences, and don’t let your trip become a glorified shopping spree.

As a fanatic about packing light, I used to wait until the end of my trip to shop, then go hog...

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The Great Bath as seen from the upper terrace, lined with statues of Roman emperors and governors. Photos by Julie Skurdenis

The Romans knew a good thing when they saw it. In this case, the good thing was the hot springs in what is now the city of Bath in southwestern England.

In the decades after the conquest of England in AD 43, following several invasions by Julius Caesar in the preceding century, the Romans turned a tribal sanctuary centered on hot springs into a thriving center that they called Aquae Sulis.

Before the Romans

Long before the arrival of the Romans, local Celtic...

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Collioure’s sand-and-pebble beach ends at the Notre-Dame des Anges church, a view that has inspired many modern artists.

Along the western Mediterranean coast, two easygoing -- and easy-to-enjoy -- beach towns stand like sister cities on each side of the border between France and Spain. Both Collioure, in France, and Cadaques, in Spain, are off the grid when it comes to glitzy resorts. And each has a delightful ambience, with welcoming beaches, quaint back streets, and scenery that inspired many notable 20th-century artists.

On the French side, Collioure is where I like to unwind and...

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The Bavarian town of Fussen has a rich history and evocative corners beyond its cobbled core.

Like so many travelers, my images of Germany -- cute villages, dirndls and lederhosen, and fairy-tale castles -- are from Bavaria, in the foothills of the Alps. You could easily spend a week here, soaking up culture as you bike along fragrant fields and tour the sights.

My favorite home bases for exploring the Bavarian Alps are Fussen and Reutte (just over the border in Austria). They put you an easy drive from the region's most popular sights: the wood...

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Belgians are happy to educate you on the numerous varieties of beer made in this small country.

Whenever I think of Belgium, I recall digging into a dish of mussels while seated on a sunny square in Brussels, in the shadow of a lacy medieval spire. My waiter bragged, "In Belgium, we eat as hearty as the Germans and as fine as the French."

Wedged between Germany, France and the Netherlands, Belgium often gets lost in the mix. But this overlooked country rewards with some of Europe's finest cuisine,...

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Made of pink marble and decorated with Gothic spires, Milan’s cathedral is one of the largest in Europe.

While many tourists come to Italy only for the past, those who make time for Milan find that this powerful, no-nonsense city is a delightful mix of yesterday and today. Anchored by its historic cathedral, Milan is a modern, time-is-money metropolis of refined tastes. The window displays on its shopping streets are gorgeous, the well-dressed Milanesi are ultra-chic, and even the cheese comes gift-wrapped.

But beyond the bling, Milan has historic...

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Completed in 1874, this neoGothic church was declared the Cathedral of Saint Florin in 1997 — Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 519th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine.

Last month, I described how, unlike members of the general public, ITN subscribers have special benefits on our website.

For one thing, if you’re a subscriber, you can have full and unlimited access to all posted articles, letters and news items from the magazine — great when planning a trip and looking for recommendations of...

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