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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Travel News: Sustainability: The Hot Topic in Tourism

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Welcome to the weekly installment of Travel News, where we look back at this week’s articles and essays and what’s going on in the world of trips and tours.

The travel industry is prepping for the holiday season, as we all are. This means food, decorations, and dreaming about travel in the new year.

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Cruise ships are hopping on the bandwagon of data gathering to speed up wait times and lines. Princess Cruises is using its Ocean Medallion technology to design future ships for optimal movement flow: monitoring passenger movements onboard, identifying pinch points, and bottle necks. 

’Tis the season for Christmas escapes!

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Less than an hour from London, elegant and cozy Coworth Park curates England’s Most Magical Christmas Escape. 

To no one’s surprise, Windsor Castle’s Christmas decorations puts everyone else’s to shame — and you can even visit them!

Bits & Bobs

A local’s guide to Cork, Ireland. 

Is this Japan’s most perfect ramen?

In Lake Titicaca, a traveler’s favorite in Peru, villagers want to draw tourists on their own terms.

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The Black Forest boasts Germany’s largest theme park and indoor water world: Rulantica. 

Check out Disney’s New Star Wars Ride. 

11 Over-the-top Kid-friendly Hotel Rooms Your Little Ones Will Never Forget.  

Best Places to Travel in 2020

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Architectural Digest released its Top 20 Places to Travel in 2020 this week.

And Forbes debuted its 5 Hottest Places to Travel in 2020.

Beat Overtourism by traveling to Eastern Europe in 2020.

Sustainable Travel

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A hot topic more than ever, sustainable travel is making waves across the travel industry, from carbon neutral airports, to fuel-efficient planes, responsible tour operators and even tips, tricks and packing lists for travelers seeking to stay sustainable when traveling. 

CNN: How to travel without destroying the planet

Atlantic: A Future without long-haul vacations

Curiosity: How to Be a Better, More Sustainable, Traveler This Earth Day 

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Air New Zealand is testing edible coffee cups to combat waste. These leak-proof cups are made from vanilla-flavored biscotti. Yum, and yes!

Europe’s Sleeper Trains Are Making Comeback In A Big Way. Thanks to cutbacks and setbacks, sleepers all but lost their allure in Europe in the 20th century. Now, with environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s “flight shaming” making people more aware of their carbon footprint, the night-train industry is seeing a renaissance. It’s luring a new class of traveler: ordinary business people and tourists with a climate conscience on Sleeper Trains. 

Australia’s First Underwater Hotel Rooms have Opened On the Great Barrier Reef. And don’t worry: the hotel replanted 4,000 pieces of coral, taken from old moorings, onto the existing reef walls. Queensland’s tourism industry development minister, Kate Jones, reaffirmed that their team had ensured the reef was protected.

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WIT Agent in Switzerland: Jungfraujoch & First Mountain

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We return once more to Switzerland, where WIT Agent Lindsay is exploring the magical, snowy peaks of Jungfraujoch this week with Switzerland Tourism and Rail Europe.

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Day 3: Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch is a huge alpine saddle in the Bernese Alps that connect Jungfrau and Mönch mountains. It’s also the heart of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dubbed the “Top of Europe,” Jungfraujoch boasts an Ice Palace with ice sculptures, snow plateau promenades, and the Sphinx Observatory (one of the highest viewing platforms and astronomical observatories in the world). This year, the Jungfrau Railway is celebrating 100 years as Europe’s highest track!

Lindsay will also get a chance to stop by the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven, chocolate exhibits at 11,332 ft (3,454 m) above sea level.

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Day 4: First Mountain & Bucherer Store

First Mountain is a world-renowned destination for thrill-seekers. Hikers start here to trek up to Lake Bachalp and Faulhorn, and check out the spectacular suspended walkway known as The Cliff Walk. First Mountain is also home to First Flyer or First Glider, two adventures that let you soar like an eagle above alpine meadows.

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First Flyer / Glider, courtesy of Jungfrau.ch

First Flyer straps passengers in a secure stable harness, then whiz along a 800-meter-long steel cable from First to Schreckfeld at up to 52 mi/hr (84 km/hour) and 164 ft (50 meters) up!

First Glider introduces passengers to panoramic views at high speeds. The First Glider is pulled back from Schreckfeld to First at 72 km per hour. On the return, it glides along the 800-meter-long route at up to 83 km per hour!

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Note! Because these adventures are highly dependent on weather conditions, they have varying open hours. Most days they open at 10 or 11, and close by 3 or 5. The First Flyer is free during the winter season if you have a valid Jungfrau or Grindelwald-Wengen Sportpass.

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Dreaming of Switzerland? Call our agents to arrange your perfect holiday today. Call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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WIT Agent in Switzerland: St. Gallen – Appenzeller Cheese Dairy – Grindelwald

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WIT Agent Lindsay has embarked on a FAM trip to Switzerland, to discover the world of skis and chalets!

For 6 days, she’ll be journeying on 1st class trains on some of the finest train routes in all of Europe.

Hosted by Swiss Tourism Board, Swiss Travel System and Rail Europe, the trip will take her to St. Gallen – Luzern – Grindelwald and Jungfrau – Basel.

Day 1: Appenzeller Cheese Dairy & St. Gallen

First stop after arrival in Zurich is St. Gallen, to check in at the Hotel Säntispark, an upscale business hotel with three restaurants.

She’ll hop on a bus to the Appenzeller cheese dairy, where Ralph Boese explains the process behind the strong Appenzeller cheese. At the farm, you can shop, have a tasting with aperitifs, and even make your own cheese in copper vats over a wood fire. The Mutschli matures in the cellar over eight weeks and will be sent to you afterwards.  The cheese is made in a 400-year-old Alpine hut of the Appenzeller folklore museum.

Then it’s back to St. Gallen for cocktail making at Einstein Hotel and dinner at Restaurant Schlössli. 

Day 2: St. Gallen & Rail Journey & Grindelwald

The morning begins with a guided city tour of St. Gallen, where the Abbey District is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After a quick lunch, iti’s time to hop on a train to Luzern on the Voralpen-Express, marked with rolling hills, cute villages and lovely orchards. The train climbs the 00-meter-high Sitter viaduct and the landscapes of Toggenburg.

Then it’s a switch to the Luzern-Interlaken Express with its world-famous route and glimpse of the Jungfrau region. This 2-hour ride takes travelers to the heart of Switzerland, past crystal-clear lakes, romantic waterfalls and iconic Brünig mountain pass.

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Photo Courtesy of Zentralbahn.ch

The day wraps up with the arrival at Grindelwald (no relation to Harry Potter!), the vibrant Eiger alpine village. Grindelwald lies in the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland, a world-class winter destination dominated by towering mountains. This evening, Lindsay will check in, unwind and dinner at the Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof. 

Thinking about Switzerland this winter? Sign up your family for a ski holiday in 2020! Call us at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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On the Ground Report: Flooding in Venice

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By Wailana Kalama, WIT Correspondent

Venice has been in the news all the last two weeks, and some of you may be wondering: 

What’s it like in Venice right now?

I was just there last week and here to give my on-the-ground report!

Every winter, Venice floods. All of Venice can handle 1 meter. From 1.10, flooding starts somewhere. I won’t waste time recapping what’s been on the news, but instead give you a sense of what it was like day to day. 

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Wednesday, November 13 – Breaking News

It was two days before we were to fly out to Venice when I saw the headlines: major flooding. Destruction of sites. Highest water levels since the 1960s. I sent the news on to my brother, whom I was supposed to meet in Venice, and he replied: So what do we do? Do we cancel? I told him let’s wait and see. He’d have to cancel the hotel, train tickets, everything, and reroute his family of four to another city. It was a lot of trouble. (And for travel insurance companies, likely an Act of God.) 

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Thursday, November 14 – Should We Cancel?

“Cancel? Why would we cancel?” My partner asked me the night before we were due to fly out to Venice. I had just read that the Mayor of Venice declared a state of emergency. The news had a map with a scarlet red circle encapsulating Venice. His comments were echoed in a recent article I read about how for the tourists, “Venice’s Flooding Has Become Another Tourist Attraction”

“Tourists are enjoying the high tide, and the floods, very much. It’s picturesque. You have a very old city flooded with water. Visually, it’s beautiful. For tourists, it’s another attraction.”

Friday, November 15 – Arrival in Venice

Half a day later, we were on the train, rolling across the bridge from the mainland. It was raining heavily that day. The waters had risen up so much it looks like we were entering some sort of Waterworld, and it felt almost as if “this train exists out of time,” as my partner said. Fortunately, we had brought tall rain boots and an umbrella. By the time we had checked in at our hotel, the rain had stopped. 

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Saturday, November 16 – The Sun Returns!

An amazing day. Sunlight, warm, no rain or flooding. Some pools of water here and there. We walked around in rain boots just in case. 

Sunday, November 17 – The Flooding Returns!

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On this day, the flooding returned. This was the worst day while I was there. We were staying in Dorsoduro, one of the lower neighborhoods. Across the Grand Canal is San Marco. St. Mark’s Square is apparently the lowest part of Venice, and thus all the dramatic photos of the square flooded. 

Our hotel keeper had warned us to head North in the morning. By 10am, water levels were shin-high. Shops were mostly closed except for the odd sandwich shop and bar. Most had installed wooden barriers on their doors to keep the water out. Some even had electric pumps pumping out the water. 

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We walked to Cannaregio, the north part of Venice. It was a slow process. I could wade in the water as long as I did it slowly, in long strides. Trying to go fast would just result in splashing an annoyed neighbor. 

A lot of people were walking around with hip-high galoshes. A few tourists, bootless, stayed on the bridges in their sneakers and looked out nervously at the water. In smaller alleyways, the smell was one of sewage. 

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Monday, November 18 – Back to Normal Water Levels

The water receded back to normal levels, and there was even some sunlight on this day. Shops were reopening and everyone was talking about the flood. I asked a few shopkeepers in San Marco about the damage they had suffered. They had lost a few things, but most people had spent the better part of the day before the flooding packing the shelves. One printmaker said she had been cleaning the shop for hours, and would probably be cleaning into the next day. 

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Verdict – Status Quo

As of the time I’m writing this, water levels have gone back to normal. Shops are open and business in Venice is as usual. If you’re interested, you can keep in touch with the Tidecast for Venice, available here (in Italian). 

Our travel agents keep up to date with the travel trends and news to better serve your travel experience. Call us now for a consultation or to book your next trip: 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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Travel News: How to Deal with Record Thanksgiving Traffic

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Welcome to the weekly installment of Travel News, where we look back at this week’s articles and essays and what’s going on in the world of trips and tours.

How To’s

The week before Thanksgiving, as tradition dictates, is full of travel tips and survival How-tos. And good thinking, as it will be reportedly the busiest Thanksgiving season on record! This time we have a guide on How to deal with record Thanksgiving Traffic + Places in the US where Stormy Weather could disrupt your holiday travel. 

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From Huffpost, find out some tricks on how to travel with friends on different budgets–because we’ve all been there.

Did you know that Southwest has a generous policy offering an available second seat to passengers too large to sit comfortably in one?

Wondering why you’re always sick once home from a trip? Forbes says it might be take some better wellness habits.

A new app Timeshifter claims to help you to survive jet lag using NASA-backed science. Targeted at people flying across three or more time ones, it gives recommendations on how to moderate your light, sleep, and caffeine to adjust quickly to your new time zone. It even calculates your melatonin intake, should you opt for it.

Whet your Appetite in France

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We have a couple of cool culinary stories from France. First off, Lyon’s new gastronomy centre puts the world on a plate — then we turn to the small town of Valence where 3-time Michelin star chef Anne-Sophie Pic rules the culinary scene.

Solo Travel on the Rise

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For solo adventurers, travel is an open book. From the Tokyo bar for solo drinkers only to Solo cruising in Antarctica–learn why solo travel opens the world up in unexpected ways. Groups and cruises discounted and designed especially for solo adventurers is something we as travel agents are seeing more and more.

In the Portland PDX area? Call us for ways to make your solo adventure shine: 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

Bite-Sized Travel Inspiration for Thanksgiving

We predicted it–with Lonely Planet releasing their best of 2020 list, other leading travel pubs would follow. Here are NatGeo’s 25 travel destinations you need to visit in 2020 and Insider’s 15 of the most underrated travel destinations of the year so far.

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Next week there won’t be a travel news, as it’s Thanksgiving and we’ll all be recovering from turkey! To tide you over, here are some of our favorite stories for some juicy travel inspiration.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Travel News: Is Hawaii the #1 Best Glamping Destination?

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Welcome to the weekly installment of Travel News, where we look back at this week’s articles and essays and what’s going on in the world of trips and tours.

‘Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is fast approaching—how will YOU survive the holidays? Here are 8 Things to do NOW to make your Thanksgiving flights go more smoothly. 

Heading to London this Christmas? Here are the best ways to celebrate the holiday season in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.

Train lovers will likely find some joy in the gorgeous and diverse photos of train travel on CNN Travel.

Contrary to what most might think, camping is not just a summer activity — Hawaii has just been named the #1 best glamping (luxury camping) destination in the US this winter. Glamping is a growing trend and headed by 60% millennials or younger. 

Time to pack up your Glamp Tent! and head to one of the Top 10 Destinations for Glamping in 2020:

  1. The Big Island, Hawaii,
  2. Austin, TX,
  3. The Oregon Coast, OR,
  4. Albuquerque, NM,
  5. Green Mountains, VT,
  6. White Mountain National Forest, NH,
  7. Yosemite, California,
  8. Denver, Colorado,
  9. San Diego, California,
  10. Albany, NY. 

Flights & Flying

Travel + Leisure came out with a report cautioning the use of water on airplanes. According to one study, some airlines are riskier than others in terms of contamination–so bad that you may not even want to wash your hands in it! The safest water was found on Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines.

People who are nervous of flying may have a new ally on their hands. ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a tingling sensation in the scalp and may ease your flight anxiety. The rise of ASMR audio recordings designed to soothe listeners means that the practice has almost become mainstream – characterized by low frequency sounds, hypnotic sensations, calming voices, and white noise – and now it might just soothe your travel anxiety.

Environmental News

In environmental news, the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ship made its sustainable debut. Of course, heralded by none other than one of our most popular vendors, Norwegian-owned Hurtigruten. 

Read about Hurtigruten in Antarctica. 

In the same vein, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators in the Arctic has announced a self-imposed ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil on their expedition voyages! Fantastic. “By formalizing this ban, the expedition cruise industry is sending a message to decision-makers that it is time to act to protect the Arctic from the risk of HFO pollution,” said Executive Director Frigg Jørgensen. Members of AAECO include Hurtigruten, Adventure Canada, G Adventures, Quark, Silversea, Seabourn and many others.

Speaking of exceptional cruises, Tauck has unveiled its newest riverboat, the , set to launch on Portugal’s Douro River in March 2020. With only 84 guests, it’s quite the exclusive cruise. 

Call us for more details on Tauck river cruises: 503-224-0180

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Finally, we all love animals, but wildlife travel has always been a tricky issue. You need to make sure you book with a tour operator who can make sure the animals you see are treated with respect. Destinations known for their wildlife tourism like Costa Rica and Australia are urging visitors to stay mindful of the animals and their environment. Visitors to Maria Island, off of Tasmania in Australia, are asked to sign pledges promising that they will not “chase you with my selfie stick, or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you, or try and pick you up. I will make sure I don’t leave rubbish or food from my morning tea.”

For more travel news, subscribe to our blog! Or book your travel arrangements with one of our agents: inquiry@wittravel.net. 

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