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Where are Europe's cheapest cities to visit?

A street painter and cafe visitors at the Dom Square enjoy the warm and sunny day in Riga, Latvia in this June 4, 2003 photo.

GATIS DIEZINS/GATIS DIEZINS/AP

On tour

A new Israeli company is offering tourists a hands-on opportunity to learn about the country's military secrets. Lionops, which specializes in military and extreme tourism, was founded by 26-year-old Eldar Bar-Or. According to the Lionops website, the instructors come from the elite units of the Israeli Defence Forces. Tours range from one to 10 days and include such activities as firing Uzis, jumping from airplanes and embarking on mock spy missions. Participants must be over 21 and in good physical condition. Details: www.lionops.com.

On the ground

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Europe's best travel bargains can be found in its eastern cities, according to the latest City Cost Barometer compiled by the British Post Office. Least expensive in the 19-city survey was Latvia's capital, Riga, where a basket of food, beverage, transit, hotel and sightseeing items totalled about $185.77. The next best cities for bargains were Prague and Budapest. Three-star hotel rooms were cheapest in Riga and Tallinn. The highest overall prices were in Stockholm, where the total was $507.03.

On the seas

Oceania Cruises has been named the world's most innovative cruise line by Virtuoso, a network of travel agencies specializing in the luxury market. Luxury seems to be the operative word: Among the innovations cited were the first Bon Appétit cooking schools at sea, suites furnished by Ralph Lauren Home, a spa by Canyon Ranch and a crystal grand staircase made by Lalique. Oceania's itineraries include stops at 330 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Americas.

Sources: Travel Weekly, British Post Office, Cruise Report

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