Hike New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk

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If you’re looking for a new adventure this year, look no further than New Zealand.
The gorgeous South Island just opened its newest hiking trail, the Paparoa Track. 

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The Trail through Paparoa National Park

55 Kilometers of gorgeous mountain scenery runs from Blackball on the east side of the Paparoa Range to Punakaiki on the west side.
It all culminates to a memorial site where 29 miners lost their lives in the 2020 Pike River Mine Disaster.
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Designed for both hikers and mountain bikers, the trail is marked and easy to follow. The road winds through ancient forests, limestone karst, past rivers and lakes, deep gorgeous and towering alpine peaks.
Explore on your own or go with a guide.
Hiking: 3 Days one-way Intermediate
Mountain Biking: 2 days one-way Advanced

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Read more adventures in New Zealand:

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Wildlife & Plants to Spot on the Way

Paparoa is a haven for ancient plants and animals. Mountain neinei or dragon leaf trees grow up to 13 meters tall. Look out for the alpine tussock, and thick nikau palms.

It’s a bird watcher’s paradise. The kereru or New Zealand pigeon with its iridescent green + purple feathers. The ruru or morepork owl with its haunting call. Keep your ear out for the calls of the kiwi at night. Listen for the distinct calls of tui and bellbirds. The region is also home to the endangered kea, mountain parrot.

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How to get there

The most spectacular route to the West Coast is via the South Alps from Christchurch to Greymouth. You can drive or catch the daily 5-hour TranzAlpine railway.

Download the Brochures

Paparoa Track brochure (PDF, 4,546K) (opens in new window) – with a map and profile.

Paparoa Track walking guide (PDF, 3,087K) (opens in new window) – with a map of section closed until 1 March 2020. Get a full hiking guide of each section of the trail. 

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Uniworld’s 100th Anniversary Celebration Event SALE

Uniworld River Cruises is part of The Travel Corporation, which is why they’re celebrating a special 100th Anniversary!

This means a fabulous 30% discount on select 2020 voyages!!

Join a Uniworld cruise in celebration on any of these amazing departures in 2020 –>

30% OFF: 

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Enchanting Danube, 8 days to Budapest to Passau

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Rhine, Moselle & Blissful Baden-Baden, 12 Days from Baden-Baden to Frankfurt

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Gems of Northern Italy, 10 days from Milan to Venice

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Alluring Amsterdam & Vienna, 15 Days from Vienna to Amsterdam

And many more up to 30% off!

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Call Willamette Intl Travel to find out if a Uniworld Cruise is right for you. 

503-224-0180 | inquiry@wittravel.com

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Why Uniworld?

Uniworld was named #1 River Cruise Line for Families by Travel + Leisure readers for several years in a row!

Respondents noted Uniworld’s “beautiful, one of a kind ships,” “excellent food,” and “impeccable service” (it claims the highest staff-to-guest ratio in its class). One reader simply commented, “Uniworld sets the standard.”

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Uniworld offers cruises around the world, on the Danube, Ganges, Mekong, Nile, Yantze and many more!

Their one-of-a-kind ship collection is famous for their excellent food, impeccable service, fantastic family cruises, and experiential lectures into history, culture and geography.

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Travel News: Eurail Pass adds Latvia & Estonia

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Rush My Passport. There is a new passport courier service that may serve you time when ordering your passport. RushMyPassport can expedite the delivery of your passport from 1-18 days for a fee. It’s even authorized by the US Customs and Border Protection. Got a trip departure and just noticed your passport is due to expire? Learn more at Rush My Passport.

Gatwick Airport in UK is installing permanent facial-recognition for all passengers in addition to passport checks. The tech is supposed to lead to easier traveling, less stress, and faster boarding, and due to roll out in 2022.

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Photo by Simon Clayton on Pexels.com

In Sustainable News, Norwegian becomes the first major cruise line to eliminate plastic bottles!

American Airlines has become the first airline to introduce the Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode technology in its airport lounges, namely its Admirals Club lounges at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The tech translates 29 languages, including Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Amsterdam is now on the growing list of cities increasing their city taxes. From Jan 1, Amsterdam now asks for an additional 3 euros per person per night, on top fo the current 7% tourist tax.

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Photo by Aleksejs Bergmanis on Pexels.com

The Eurail Pass has added even more countries! As of Jan 2, 2020, the ongoing list of countries now includes Estonia and Latvia. There’s never been a better time to explore Riga and Tallinn! You can also save up on 50% on international ferries such as between Riga and Stockholm, or Tallinn and Helsinki. No seat reservations required! WIT Agents issue various Eurail Passes for your trip to Europe. Ask your agent the details. 

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WIT Agent in Japan: Katrina Visits Tokyo

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We hope you’ve been having a wonderful holiday season, what ever you may celebrate! As the New Year dawns, today, we’re taking a quick peek into Japan. WIT Travel Agent Katrina recently flew to Tokyo to experience it firsthand. Read on to learn about this fascinating and innovative city: 

Have You Met Tokyo?

On the 20th floor of my an American chain hotel I witnessed Tokyo overtake Mt. Fuji. By day, the mountain and I made intimate eye contact across the vast ocean made of buildings. The waves of the rooftops flowed between the mountain and me.

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Then, as the sun sets, the city seems to expand, and Mt Fuji shrinks away as if bidding goodnight. Leaving me with the gift of seeing Tokyo’s true form in the depth of darkness. An aura of light pollution wraps the city like skin, displaying the contours of her body. Tokyo is alive.

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Her work ethic is world renowned. The Japanese are known for their diligence in working until the job is done. Regardless of sleep or health, they show their commitment by logging hours.

There’s even a term, karoshi, translated literally as “death from overwork.” They sleep where and when they can; on park benches, on trains, even on display furniture in shopping malls. Innovation is her brain, and innovation never sleeps.

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Her heartbeat is created by the steady and reliable stops of the metro. Her inhabitants pump through train doors steadily. Even with a population of 14 million Tokyo is one of the safest places to travel. Public transportation is immaculately clean and timely. Children are free to go amongst their days unattended without fear of kidnapping or violence because the crowds around them will always keep an eye out.

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People are the blood of Tokyo. The streets and subway lines mimic veins and arteries. Together they keep the city alive. Their kindness heals, their discipline perseveres, and their history regulates their spirit. Anytime day or night, you’ll see crowds mimicking the coordination of cells. They move together and through each other completing their duties and daily tasks. Unaware of their contributions of a seemingly shared consciousness.

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Her breath is the incense sending messages to the Gods. Thousands of shrines and temples decorate the boomings metropolis. Some will demand your attention, while others blend into the surroundings whispering to you as you pass. Learning the differences between them helped me understand the contrast in their voices.

Shinto Temples

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Shintoism claims the shrines. A signature construction of two beams laying across two columns alert you to its presence. Shinto is the primitive polytheistic belief of worshiping Nature. Open landscapes unspoiled by buildings and sidewalks is your sanctuary. No ceilings to block your prayers from the Gods. No scripture to follow, just a pure bond between yourself and the environment around you.

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Buddhist temples provide a quiet space to clear your mind. Inside, you can feel the energy wrap around you, filling you with peace. Buddha is often attributed to being the sole God in Buddhism, but in truth, he is an inspiration of how anyone can achieve Nirvana. In fact, the word “Buddha” actually means “enlightened.”

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The spaces between the shrines and temples life goes on in its typical fast paced fashion. You can see it inside the neighborhoods. There’s a delicate balance between steadfast innovation of the future, and preservation of the past. Like limbs of her body, each has a function, unique by itself but vital for the survival as a whole.

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Alleyways lined with small buildings full of tiny rooms which were once used, then discarded, during WWII are now the location for freelance Bartenders. Each space has a capacity to fit 10-15 people. An intimate gathering to enjoy the bartender’s signature drinks. Turning a once sorrow filled area into unique thriving maze for nightlife escape.

A million miles a minute

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Takeshita-dori in Harajuku is where the cool kids hang out. (Until it becomes “too popular” which makes it uncool and they find somewhere else to hang). It’s littered shops selling inventive sugary treats, clothing stores, and animal cafes.

Shinjuku has the world’s busiest railway stations, transporting over two million people per day. Its surrounded by skyscrapers with windows that double as digital displays. High end fashion with eye catching architecture, red light districts, and rooftop bars. Even the neighborhoods have neighborhoods.

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Tokyo opens your eyes to what’s possible. She makes you laugh and fills you with joy. She will run you ragged but delight you with grace. You can feel her strength and wonder at her magnificents. She will change your ill formed beliefs of what’s possible, morphing your doubt into inspiration.

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She’ll throw you into her chaos, make you second guess your abilities. But she’ll also take you by the hand and guide you, opening your eyes to knowledge and encouraging your curiosity. She lives and breathes, gracefully balancing chaos, order, and beauty. She’s a force to be reckoned with. Have you met her?

Ready to explore Tokyo? Book an appointment with one of our travel agents today, call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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Hike the Camino de Santiago with The Wayfarers

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Always dreamed of walking the Camino de Santiago but never had the time or resources?

Not even sure where to begin to hike the world’s most famous pilgrimage route?

Never fear! Introducing two departures – one in Spring, one in Fall 2020.

Welcome to The Wayfarers

The Wayfarers is an exceptional company for walking vacations. They combine active holidays with a thoughtful mix of ancient sights and towns. Follow your expert guide on an adventure that packs weeks of wandering on your own in a single bite-sized, week-long trip.

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Follow ancient roads marked by graceful scallop shells – the symbol of St. James – through medieval villages, chapels, sanctuaries, sweeping valleys and soaring cathedrals

Highlights of a Week on the Road

  • Begin in Burgos, the burial place of El Cid
  • Visit the Cruz de Hierro towering above thousands of pilgrims’ stones
  • Discover the unspoiled village of O’Cebreiro with its oval stone huts
  • Rejoice in Santiago’s Praza do Obradoiro.

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A Wayfarer Experience

The Wayfarers stay in historic palacios, manor houses and pilgrims’ pousada (“pilgrim pensions”). In Santiago itself, reward yourselves to a night in the oldest hotel (and one of the most luxurious) in the world! The Parador de Santiago was originally a Royal Hospital and dates back to 1499. 

The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back to the beginning of the 9th century, with the discovery of the tomb of St. James in the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostella has become a pilgrimage site across the entire European continent.

Just the Facts, Sir

7 nights from $4,495 per person

Double occupancy

Departures in 2020: May 2-9, Oct 10-17

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What’s Included

  • Full-time services of two staff – a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
  • A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
  • Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
  • Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
  • Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
  • All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
  • Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
  • First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
  • All meals – with choices – (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
  • Wine with dinner
  • On-trail snacks and refreshments
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants

Call to discuss adventure holidays and walking trips with our travel consultants. Call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

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Travel News: Disney World’s Epcot gets an Update

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We’re back with more exciting travel industry news, and the latest travel articles to get you inspired. 

Some Destinations and Airlines are looking to make major developments in 2020: 

Puerto Rico is going all out with a new high-tech entertainment district, El Distrito. Just two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, the District will be a major milestone in recovering tourism for the destination. Plans include five acres of tech-savvy entertainment spot, urban zip line, LED screens, theater complex, and a performance venue for concerts and corporate events. Set to launch in early 2020 in San Juan. 

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KLM is continuing the green mission and using processed cooking oil as sustainable aviation fuel. The renewable fuel, provided by Neste, will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%. 

The Mexico City government has launched an English-language tourism website to promote and provide information for foreigners. 

Disney World’s Epcot is going to make major renovations come 2020! New themes will include Ratatouille, Guardians of the Galaxy, Moana, and Mary Poppins. The Epcot VP even went so far as to say it “will be the largest transformation of any Disney park, ever.”

Uniworld is coming to the Peruvian Amazon, debuting two itineraries (11- & 15-day) in September 2020. 

the 16-suite Aria Amazon is an eco-friendly ship with floor-to-ceiling windows,  giving guests the ultimate panoramic views of the rainforest at every corner. On all sailings, guests will be joined by native born-and-raised naturalist guides who will assist in getting up close to native wildlife and meeting village locals. 

The Strike in France – Reports “On the Ground”

The strikes in France have continued to put the whole country transport turmoil. But what is it like, on the ground? We asked some of our friends in France their thoughts:

Dominique & Jim, who operate the countryside hotel La Bastide d’Eygalières in Southeast France, drove from Provence to Paris a few days ago. Trains were few and they couldn’t book one, so they were forced to take the car. Fortunately, there was no traffic on the road, and it was an easy commute.

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Christina and John’s friend Jacques V. visited the rail station in Cannes:

“Today I went to the train station, only one old man working on the floor and not very cooperative, just grouchy! They print out once or twice a day the schedule on a bulletin board and it’s not very dependable either. 

As for the bus Nice to Cannes, same problem, if the unions decide on a strike, they will do so just like sheep!

Right now the next big strike will be on Tuesday 17 December and they are calling for a general strike all over France unless they call it off which is doubtful. For other strikes, no one knows and usually they have to give a minimum of 48 hours warning.

If you wish to rent a car, no idea how many rental cars will be available either in Nice or Cannes.”

Get Inspired with Weekend Reads

Read up on the Best things to do on water in Egypt. 

Learn why the zero-waste movement is no new trend in Pakistan.

Have you ever wondered how horses travel in the air? Now you don’t have to.

Dream a little Dream: 10 Great Winter Rail Journeys in Europe. 

Great places to kick up your heels after you’ve kicked off your ski boots.

Here’s CNBC’s list on where/when to travel in 2020!

Where Should You Travel Based On Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type?

Escape the Winter Blues in Themed Igloos near the Beach.

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WIT Agent in Switzerland: Basel

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WIT Agent Lindsay rounds up her trip to Switzerland with Raileurope in Basel. Here are some of the highlights for her time in this beautiful city!

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Welcome to Basel

Located on the border of France and Germany, Basel is Switzerland’s 3rd most populous city. Its famed for its own world-renowned museums, included the first publication art collection in Europe, Kunstmuseum (1661).

The Kunstmuseum houses works from the Renaissance all the way to 21st-century Modernism, with major pieces by Cranach the Elder, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso and Cézanne.

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Vintage Tram

Trams are an indelible part of Basel life and history. In the city center, you can hop onboard a vintage tram for an aperitif for a little window into the past. Get a glimpse of what it was like to travel around Basel 100 years ago!

Neue Alte Markthalle

A main attraction in Basel, the Market Hall was build in 1929 and now houses food stalls and Sunday market. 

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Chocolate Workshop

Delve into the world of Swiss chocolate, including a walking tour of Basel’s most irresistible confectionaries, a chocolate factory, and a connoisseur tasting session. Visitors are invited to dream up, pour and refine their own chocolate creativity.

Christmas Market Basel

‘Tis the season! Basel’s charming Christmas market is in the center of festive Old Town, where over 180 artisans offer up goods and treats in rustic wooden chalets. Nibble on waffles, Basel Läckerli (gingerbread), Swiss raclettes, and grilled sausages, plus washing it all down with classic glühwein. 

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Exhibition Tower

The Exhibition Tower soars up 105 meters over Basel, one of the highest buildings in town. For a stylish night out, head to the top floor’s bar BarRouge

Hotels – Swissotel Le Plaza & Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois

She’s staying at two hotels — the first is Swissotel Le Plaza, one of the largest hotels in the city, within easy walking to the Musical Theatre. The 4-star hotel boasts 238 spacious rooms and suites, with gym and spa facilities. The hotel even provides a complimentary BaselCard, for free use of the public transport during your stay. 

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Photo Courtesy of Swissotel

The second is Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois, dubbed Gault & Millau Hotel of the Year 2020. Les Trois Rois is one of the oldest city hotels in Europe, with an old world charm and luxury 5-star service in the historic city center overlooking the Rhine.

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Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois

Dreaming about a trip to Europe? Call our experienced travel agents at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com to make your dreams come true. 

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