London Walking Tours with Context Travel

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Context Travel – Private Guides and (Very) Small Group Tours for the Intellectually Curious Traveler

The Royal Wedding is over but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy London in all its glory.

One of our favorite walking tour experts, Context Travel, offers several awesome historical and foodie tours around the British capital.

One of the key reasons we enjoy Context Travel is that their tours are all led by qualified docents, Ph.D.-level scholars of history, art and archaeology. Forget the boring introductions–discover in-depth perspectives that go beyond the guidebook. 

Here are just some of the tours to check out this summer:

London Walking Tours with Context Travel

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1. Royal Life

The world’s attention descended upon London this past weekend as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot. It was a wedding that defied many royal traditions, from Markle’s country of origin, to its location at Windsor Castle, to the dearth of fruitcake at the reception (Gasp!). 

How did these rules become so codified, and what is the significance of their recent breaking? Get an “intellectually curious” take on royal tradition—be it marriage on Context Travel’s Westminster Abbey Tour, murder on their Tower of London Tour, or a full overview on their Full Day Royal Tour (8 hours of monarchy glory). 

2. Tate Britain

Though often overlooked by visitors, some have argued that Britain’s heart and soul resides in the stately Tate Britain Museum. Dive right in with Context Travel’s art historian and explore J.M.W. Turner’s sublime seascapes and Francis Bacon’s contortions.

Read: Why a visit to this cultural treasure is a must for any visitor. 

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3. The King’s Sport

This July, London welcomes the return of Wimbledon, but year-round there’s another royally curious sport upstream the River Thames. The week following the tournament, the Real Tennis Champions Trophy returns to Hampton Court Palace, in which world-famous players descend to play an ancient game of, shall we say, “real tennis.” Real tennis, is not your grandma’s racket sport. “Real tennis,” enjoyed by the likes of Charles II, William III, and even Prince Albert, differs significantly from its modern counterpart, and can only be played on one of 50 courts remaining in the world.

4. Shakespeare in London

What better place to celebrate the Bard than the city where his plays excelled? Behind the modern sprawl of London lies the secret history of the theatre. During this London Theater Tour,you’ll reconstruct London’s historic stages, and come to understand the social and artistic forces that were born here and that still underpin entertainment in the western world. You’ll explore in-depth the influence of one William Shakespeare, whose works, staged in London, continue to resonate throughout the world today.

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5. Pubs, Pubs and More Pubs

Pubs and beer are symbols of the best of Britain, where you can gorge yoruself on fish, chips, and brews. This 3-hour London Beer and Brewery Tour is all about ample tastings at various pubs and breweries located in the South Bank London area. Led by a trained food anthropologist specializing in beer and brewing, you’ll focus on the history of brewing in London, highlighting beer’s evolution from a dietary staple, to the almost lost tradition of cask ales, to today’s renaissance of craft beer and brewing.

For more awesome London tours or an awesome travel agent to book your trip to Britain this year, give us a call at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. Cheers!

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Lindblad Expeditions to Alaska

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This Week, WIT Agent Gavi is joining a Lindblad Expeditions Cruise to Alaska. It’s a 5-night cruise to discover the unique terrain, oceanography and biology of our northernmost state. As with all Lindblad Expeditions, the cruise will be joined by seasoned and enthusiastic naturalists who will add a real experiential flair to the journey. Their 62-guest ships offer a perfect base for exploration into narrow channels and secluded coves.

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More Sailings with Lindblad

15-Day British/Irish Cruise with Lindblad Expeditions

Island Series: Svalbard

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Itinerary

Recommended to fly to Sitka a day early, so you can hike the Totem Trail or Raptor Rehabilitation Center. The cruise embarks from Sitka and maneuvers around the mirror-calm bays of Baranof or Chicagof Islands. Next, explore the Icy Strait and the Inian Islands, famous for their abundance of Steller sea lions and quiet kayaking options. Day 4 is a stop in Haines, the adventure capital of Alaska, with ample hikes, cycling, flightseeing excursions or rafting routes. Your penultimate day is spent in the beautiful Tracy Arm, where you can admire the glaciers from the boat or on land. Finally, disembark in downtown Juneau for a restful day before your flight home.

More about Lindblad’s Ships bound for Alaska.

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Travel News: The World’s Longest Sea Bridge

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Airlines Must Continue To Accept Service Animals

Reuters reports the US Department of Transportation told airlines on Tuesday that they must continue to allow the transport of the most common service animals, but said it was asking for public comment about amending its existing regulations. The department said in a statement that it “wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also helping to ensure that the fraudulent use of other animals not qualified as service animals is deterred.”

Yokohama On Track To Open Two New Cruise Terminals In 2019

Yokohama, Japan, is gearing up for increased calls and accommodating bigger cruise ships with two new cruise terminals due to be fully operational in 2019. Last year the Japanese port, 20 minutes away from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, welcomed 178 cruise calls and a similar number is expected this year. Five years ago in 2013, there were some 152 calls and 120 calls ten years ago. Princess vessels have been a regular highlight of the Yokohama skyline since they first began calling with Dawn Princess in 2009, Sun Princess in 2010 and Diamond Princess in 2013. Last year Diamond Princess alone made 21 calls and Majestic Princess made a maiden call. In 2019, Princess returns for a sixth season with round-trips from Yokohama.
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China Unveils World’s Longest Sea-Crossing Bridge

China’s new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, spanning 34 miles (55 kilometers), is the longest sea-crossing bridge ever built. Guo Xinglin, assistant director and senior engineer at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority, said the tough conditions his construction crew experienced, as they perched on precarious platforms, working miles from land and high over the water, are evident. Due to open to the public this summer, this long snake of bitumen will connect a relatively small city on the Chinese mainland with the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Since the bridge was first suggested in 2003, it has stirred controversy. This massive span of concrete and steel is not just proof of China’s ability to build record-setting megastructures, it’s also a potent symbol of the country’s growing geopolitical ambitions.

Hawaii Tourism Gives Perspective On Volcano Situation

The Hawaiian Tourism Authority says that “there is absolutely no reason at this time for travelers to change or alter their leisure or business plans.” Here are some facts to back up the claim: All of the Hawaiian Islands are unaffected by Kīlauea volcano except a remote area on the island of Hawai’i’s east side. Out of the island’s 4,028 square miles, only less than a 10-square-mile area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions in Puna is affected. All flights into Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole, KOA (west) and Hilo International Airport, ITO (east) are operating normally. All accommodations, activities and attractions on the island are also operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the lava activity. Air quality on the island of Hawai’i remains largely unchanged with this situation. However, air quality near where the lava is flowing can be hazardous (SO2-sulfur dioxide), and officials are continuing to monitor air quality. 
A Few Other Facts to Note About Kilauea: 
  • Big Island is 4000 sq. miles.  The volcano action is in one very small corner
  • Tradewinds blow from NE to SW and the volcano is in the SE of the island. Fumes and VOG would have to move SE to NW (reverse of the trade wind pattern) to impact Hilo, Kona, Kohala coast, etc.
  • There is another volcano, Mauna Loa, between Kilauea and most of the rest of the island.  Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on earth. Lava can’t flow uphill –
  • Yes, it is tragic for the people that have lost their homes, but it is a still a very small area that is being impacted.

Orlando First US Destination To Top 70 Million Annual Visitors

Open Jaw reports Orlando has become the first US destination to surpass 70 million visitors in one year. In 2017, 72 million visitors traveled to Orlando, an increase of more than 5% over the prior year, once again making it America’s most-visited destination. Visit Orlando, the region’s official destination tourism and marketing organization, shared the number at a gathering of more than 1,000 tourism and community leaders. “Our record-breaking year was achieved despite international headwinds and the statewide effects of Hurricane Irma,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. “In 2017, our destination launched new consumer experiences on a significant scale and our marketing efforts leveraged increasing consumer confidence in the United States. We also continued our focus on communicating the unique emotional connection visitors have with Orlando.” 

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Sail Away in Stockholm

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Today WIT social media guru Wailana, based in Stockholm, embarked on a reconstructed historical ship. The ship, a 14th-century German cog, was newly smelling of fresh tar and gleamed in the sunlight.

The gigantic ship, thought to be the notorious pirate ship “Red Devil,” sailed from Stockholm’s dry dock, onto the open freshwaters of Lake Mälaren, to its home just outside of Västerås.

Stockholm is a treasure-trove of elegant ships and waterway courses. For more maritime adventures, check out:

Vasa Ship Museum, housing the recovered shipwreck of an actual Swedish warship. A magnificent beauty to behold, everything from the hull to the masts, are amazingly preserved.

Kayaking or canoeing is a popular pastime come summer and visitors can jump right in Stockholm center or test their rowing prowess out in the Stockholm Archipelago.

Boat tours are one of the most common and popular introductions to the “Venice of the North.” Ask your travel agent to arrange a guided boat tour of downtown, or a ferry to Drottningholm, the king’s summer home, to the Viking open-air museum in Birka, or the cute island town of Vaxholm.

Skip the boat but want the tour? Try a Context Tour of Södermalm

For more trips to Sweden or Scandinavia, ask our travel agents: 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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Our Man in Paris

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Snapshots from the City of Love… courtesy of Our Man in Paris, Jacques, a longtime friend of the Coopers. Nothing like Paris in the sunshine! Captions provided by Jacques. 

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Yesterday I walked around Paris and took a few photos, lovely sunny day, not cold. This building dates to the XIV century = 1300+ A.D. Holding well and is still inhabited.

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On the bridge over the Seine, between the Ile De La Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis, a very good pianist was playing classical music. Behind him is the main Paris city hall and Saint-Jacques tower.

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Notre-Dame Cathedral, surprisingly only a few tourists waiting to go up to the top.

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Travel News: Airport Beehives, N. Korea’s Clocks & the Royal Wedding

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First Batch Of Honey Harvested From Dublin Airport Beehives

The honey, branded Nect-Air, has been put on the menu in the airport’s executive lounges. Four hives housing up to a quarter of a million Irish dark native honey bees are located beside the airport campus. They were installed with the help and advice of the Fingal North Dublin Beekeepers’ Association and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The hives are tended to by aircraft engineer Colm Fogarty who has 15 years’ experience in beekeeping. “Honey bees are one of the most important species within our eco-system, they are crucial for the survival of most of our animal and plant population,” Mr Fogarty said. “They are the hardest working insects pollinating hundreds of thousands of flowers and they are incredibly industrious making honey. Nect-Air is result of 250,000 Irish dark native honey bees living and working in the airport apiary feeding on nearby wild plants such as clover, blackberry, bramble and hawthorn,” he added. This particular blend of flora gives Nect-Air its pleasantly mild, gently sweet flavour, along with its rich texture, warming amber hue, delicate aroma and slightly nutty undertone,” according to Mr Fogarty. Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison said the bees are thriving in excellent environmental conditions on the airport’s land. Following the successful trial, which produced the first crop of Nect-Air, Dublin Airport now plans to install additional bee hives at other locations on campus and increase honey production.

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Airbus And Boeing Set To Lose Billions Over Ditching Of Iran Deal

Airbus and Boeing could be about to lose $39 billion in aircraft sales after President Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement and threatened to reimpose economic sanctions. The sanctions, which were removed in 2015 when the nuclear agreement was signed, cover aircraft exports as well as other industries. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed licenses to build aircraft for Iranian airlines will be revoked, although this is not likely to happen immediately. Sanctions will be subject to 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods, said the Treasury. Iranian airlines had ordered about 200 new jets from Boeing, Airbus and ATR. Even though Airbus is a non-US company, the new sanctions would affect its contracts as some of its parts are made in the US. Airbus is currently mulling the potential impact. “We’re carefully analyzing the announcement and will be evaluating next steps consistent with our internal policies and in full compliance with sanctions and export control regulations,” said head of communications Rainer Ohler. Boeing, which could lose $20 billion in sales, said it ‘will consult with the US government on next steps’. It has agreements to produce about 80 planes for Iranian airlines. Sanctions against Iran could include certain exemptions or waivers. 

JetBlue A320 Redesign Promises to Bring Wider Seats, More Legroom, and ‘Humanity’ to Air Travel Fortune

JetBlue Airlines is launching a new cabin design for its A320 aircraft this week that it hopes will “bring humanity back to air travel.” The first complete restyling of the interior of an A320 since the JetBlue launched in 2000, the airline describes the plan as “bringing a living-room-comfort to the sky.” JetBlue says a new seat design will offer passengers the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline. The new seat will have a width of 18 inches-the widest available for the A320-as well as improved cushioning, adjustable headrests, and a contoured setback design. Seats will also have two power connections and new stowage options to accommodate travelers’ personal items. On the seats’ backside, passengers will be treated to a 10.1-inch 1080p entertainment screen with more than 100 live television channels, along with an expanded collection of on-demand entertainment. NFC pairing will let smartphones to be used as a remote for the display, or as a controller for on-screen games. The first redesigned plane in JetBlue fleet flew its inaugural flight Wednesday between Boston and Bermuda. The airline plans to retrofit all of the A320 planes in its fleet within the next 3 years.

North Korea Realigns Clocks With Seoul

North Korea has adjusted its time zone to match Seoul, in a move that Pyongyang’s official news agency calls an early step towards “becoming one” with the South. The Saturday change saw North Korea set its clocks 30 minutes ahead, doing away with “Pyongyang Time,” which was created in 2015. The move was fulfilled through a decree of the country’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. The North’s official KCNA agency called the move the “first practical step” to “speed up the process for the North and the South to become one and turn their different and separated things into the same and single ones.” KCNA previously reported that Kim wanted to change Pyongyang’s time zone to match Seoul because it was “a painful wrench to see two clocks indicating Pyongyang and Seoul times hanging on a wall of the summit venue,” referring to the historic April 27 meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. At the time of its creation, the North said that Pyongyang Time was aimed at pushing back against Japanese colonial rule, which took place from 1910 to 1945 and saw the clocks in Korea changed to match Tokyo time. The gesture comes after Kim and Moon held a historic meeting, making progress towards achieving peace on the peninsula. The North Korean leader now awaits a meeting with US President Donald Trump, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

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Ritz-Carlton DC Offers $1 Million ‘Royal Wedding’

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., has joined the growing list of hotels hosting royal wedding watching party for the May 19 nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But if just watching isn’t enough for some future brides, the hotel is also offering its own fit-for-a-princess wedding experiences, including the Crown Jewel Royal Wedding Experience, which starts at a cool $1 million. The package includes a consultation and comprehensive wedding plan designed by Amal Zaari, who will work to replicate all the details of the royal wedding. Among other things, it includes a flight to New York on a private jet for a custom-made bridal gown by celebrity designer Romona Keveza; wedding dress fittings with bridal expert Carine Krawiec, owner of the exclusive Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Washington, D.C; personal consultation with Edge Floral Event Designers, who will transform The Ritz-Carlton’s Grand Ballroom into a Windsor Castle-style setting; custom wedding rings; food and drinks; two nights in The Ritz-Carlton Suite; and a two-week Mediterranean honeymoon on one of the upcoming Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ships. Reception entertainment will be provided by Elan Artists, who will cover songs by British artists, including Ed Sheeran and Elton John. 

Travelers Paid Airlines A Record $4.6 Billion Last Year To Check Their Luggage

Travelers paid US commercial carriers a record $4.57 billion last year in checked bag fees, according to a US Department of Transportation report released Monday. It’s a large figure, but the pace of growth from 2016 to 2017, 6%, is less than half of that from 2015 to 2016. While some passengers may have decided to wear a dress or shirt more than once on a vacation to avoid packing too much, or are using some co-branded credit cards to get a free checked bag, travelers may still find on some trips they’ll have to pay up to check their suitcases. Airlines are changing their long-standing policies on free checked bags on international routes. This year, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are starting to charge for a checked bag on flights to Europe for passengers traveling in basic economy, generally the cheapest fares on board that come with few frills, like complimentary seat selection. Unlike domestic basic economy tickets, American Airlines said it will allow basic economy passengers traveling to Europe to use overhead bins on board. Delta and American will each charge $60 for the first checked bag and $100 for the second on trans-Atlantic routes. Passengers may instead opt to buy the more expensive economy-class ticket that comes with a free checked bag, which is what airlines want travelers to do anyway.

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Kilauea’s Eruption: Wednesday Updates

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Planning a trip to the Big Island?

We’re sure that many of our clients are staying abreast with news of Kilauea Volcano.

The main impact for tourists to the Big Island will be access to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the east side past Hilo.

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Headed to the Windward Side?

Here are some more stories on the lava flows to stay in the know:

Conde Nast: Kilauea: What travelers should know

Earth Sky: Satellite Images

Independent: Wednesday’s Latest Updates

The Atlantic: A Look Back at Kilauea’s Spectacular 1969-74 Eruption

The Guardian: Eruption in Pictures

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