8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

We have a bunch of New UNESCO Heritage Sites on the list, to add to our ever-growing bucket list!

All of these cultural and natural landmarks are recognized for their outstanding value to humanity. Discover which wonders made the list this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a handful of our favorites. Learn more about other sites on the UNESCO official webpage

What are some of YOUR favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Let us know in the comments!

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1. Naumburg Cathedral, Germany

Built in the 11th century, this gorgeous cathedral is remarkable from a distance for its stain glass windows and soaring Gothic arches. Its real claim to fame, however, is the medieval art inside—including 12 life-sized statues of the cathedral’s founders. The Naumburg Masters was a workshop of sculptors and stonemasons in the 13th century who dedicated their work of realistic sculptures to the cathedral and all over France, Middle Rhine area and boundaries of the German Empire. This is a destination for history buffs — the cathedral and the region around it has a high density of authentic monuments and structures dating back to the High Middle Ages.

2. Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia

Ever-surprising Colombia takes next place with this national park, sometimes called the Maloca (“Amazonian long house”) of the Jaguar. As Colombia’s largest protected site, it protects 10,810 square miles and over 3,000 species of animals and plants. High on the sandstone plateaux, over 75,000 rock paintings have been found. Nature lovers will surely love this one.

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3. Ivrea, Italy

This small Piedmont town near Turin is famous for its 20th century industrial boom in typewriters and computers. Stunning Ivrea is also a remarkably beautiful village, resting on the Dora Baltea river, and, at the time of writing, still off the usual tourists’ map.

4. Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain

The Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus is highlighted all across southern Spain, especially Alhambra. Added to the list of must-sees this year is the Medina Azahara. These ruins, 1.5 hours from Seville, were built between 940 and 975 c.e. and once held the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

5. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains are so ancient, with volcanic and sedimentary rocks dating back over 3 billion years. More adventurous travelers will have quite the holiday hiking and biking around the town of Barberton and the nature reserve.

6. The Border of Hedeby and the Danevirke, Germany

Once a Viking trading post, this cultural landscape now consists of the ruins of a 33-km-long fortification–the Danevirke–as well as the archaeological site of the trading town Hedeby. Hedeby rose in power on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia, as well as between the Baltic and North Seas.

7. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey

This mysterious archaeological site in southeastern Turkey is the oldest known example of hunter-gatherer settlers in the world. It houses the world’s oldest known megaliths, with around 200 pillars in about 20 circles, and may have the world’s oldest temple as well. Göbekli Tepe dates back to around 9600 and 8200 b.c.e., and is a fascinating glimpse into ancient Mesopotamian culture.

8. Hidden Christian Sites, Japan

Kyushu Island keeps many historical secrets, but its historic Christian community that draws the eye of UNESCO—with 10 villages, Hara castle and cathedral that were built between 16th-19th centuries, despite a ban of all outsiders during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Along with these Christian remnants, visitors can explore active volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and marvelous waterfalls.

What UNESCO World Heritage Sites are you looking forward to seeing in 2018?

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Filed under Asia, Colombia, Europe, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Turkey

Travel News: Snakes on a Plane?

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TSA Finds Python Hidden In Hard Drive

ABC News reports airport security agents stopped a woman from boarding a plane with a python wrapped in a nylon stocking concealed in a computer hard drive Sunday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said its agents stopped a real-life version of “Snakes on a Plane” from happening after an agent noticed the ball python. “A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories!” the TSA continued. “While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight,” the TSA added. “Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking.”

If You Owe The IRS It Could Cost You Your Passport

EtN reports if you have a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS can certify that debt to the State Department for action, and that department generally will not issue a US passport to a potential traveler after receiving certification from the IRS. This is all in plain print at the IRS website: “Upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny your passport application and/or may revoke your current passport. If your passport application is denied or your passport revoked, and you are overseas, the State Department may issue you a limited validity passport good only for direct return to the United States. Seriously delinquent tax debt is an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a Notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or seriously delinquent tax debt is limited to liabilities incurred under Title 26 of the United States Code and does not include debts collected by the IRS such as the FBAR Penalty and Child Support.

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Anguilla Retains Best Caribbean Island Ranking

Travel + Leisure reports the Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is pleased to announce that for an unprecedented second year in a row, Anguilla has been ranked #1 island in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, honoring the top travel destinations and companies around the globe as rated by its readers. Frangipani Beach Resort has been ranked #1 in the Top 25 Caribbean Resort Hotels category and #3 in the Top Hotels Overall category. The Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Anguilla has been ranked #12 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category; Zemi Beach House was ranked #15; and Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort was ranked #18 in the Top Caribbean Resort Hotels category. The World’s Best Awards appear in the August 2018 issue of Travel + Leisure, on sale July 27, and online: travelandleisure.com/worlds-best.

Singapore Airlines To Launch Non-Stop Flights From LAX To Singapore

By Christmastime, Singapore Airlines will be flying ten times a week between LAX and Singapore. If you don’t mind sitting on a plane for 17 and a half hours, getting from the West Coast to Singapore will be a whole lot easier and faster, thanks to the elimination of a layover in Seoul. Starting November 2, Singapore Airlines will bring back its nonstop route from Los Angeles International to Singapore Changi. The airline will will fly the route three times a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) until November 9; service will go daily after that. From December 7, three more flights a week will be added for ten total non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Singapore per week. The fall kickoff date is notable for many reasons: It’s two weeks after Singapore restarts its longest-flight-in-the-world Newark-Singapore route (clocking in at nearly 19 hours), and just a week after Star Alliance member United ends its LAX-Singapore route. 
 

Airlines Load Factor Hits All-Time High

Forbes reports that if you think that airline flights are much more crowded than they used to be, you’re not wrong. The passenger load factor of commercial airlines has risen significantly over the past decade. In 2005, airlines had an average load factor of 75.2%, so on average, just three out of every four seats were sold. The recession of 2007-2010 stopped load factor growth. But by 2018, the average airline load factor hit 81.7% worldwide. In the US load factor has increased on domestic flights from 67.88% in 2002 to 86.08% in 2018, while the number of domestic flights has stayed almost constant, from 8,085,083 in 2002 to 8,176,610 in 2017. The US airline industry has clearly gotten better in filling seats as revenue passenger miles rose from 471,652,206 in 2002 to 684,221,393 in 2017. The days of having a whole row to stretch out in coach, or even an empty middle seat separating you from your neighbor, increasingly seem like a distant memory. The airlines are busy shrinking seats and cramming in additional rows into smaller, more fuel-efficient jets.

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Amtrak Service Declines As It Becomes An Airline On Rails

Travellers United reports Amtrak service is becoming more airline-like with a former airline executive in charge, former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. His Amtrak service changes bring the railroad closer to service practices in the airline industry. Some of the changes: – Hot dining car meals prepared on-board, included in the fare for first-class sleeping car passengers, are being replaced with cold pre-prepared meals served in-room on the Chicago-New York and Chicago-Washington routes starting June 1.

– Amtrak no longer offers discounts to veterans, students and AAA members, and the minimum age of eligibility for the senior discount (which is now 10% rather than 15% was raised to 65 from 62.

– The railroad’s cancellation policy is now more airline-like. There is now a 25% penalty for most reservations canceled more than 24 hours after booking, even if the value is credited to the passenger as an eVoucher (redeemable for future ticket purchases) rather than as a cash refund. Luckily, Amtrak still does not charge change fees.

– First Class amenities like a lounge car for sleeping car passengers have been removed from several routes, and two routes have lost Business Class seating.

– A number of stations have lost their Amtrak Customer Service Representative(s), employees who do everything from selling tickets to handling baggage and assisting passengers with special needs.

– Amtrak has stopped operating charter and special trains in partnership with rail museums and preservation nonprofits, tour groups, sports teams and others, jettisoning a source of revenue and public goodwill in the name of operational convenience.

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Ethiopia Launches New E-Visa Services

Ethiopia, a treasure trove of history and culture, has become easier to get to with an all in one new e-visa service launched by the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines. The new service brings the travelers closer to authentic travel experiences and enables them to travel to Ethiopia. All the visitors have to do is process their visa online on a single webpage where they apply, pay and secure their entry visa online. Give it a try and you will get authorized via email to secure your passport stamped with visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Call Willamette Intl Travel to discuss a unique holiday in Ethiopia – you’ll be sure to love this beautiful country and the warm-hearted hospitality of its people.  

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Filed under Africa, Europe, News, Travel by Rail, USA

A Quick Guide to Culinary Norway in 4 Cities

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Nordic Food is certainly in the spotlight right now, from Danish Michelin stars to Scandi fusion that mixes with Japanese minimalism. In Reykjavik, diners have to notoriously book months in advance at the popular restaurant Dill. In Copenhagen, chefs are taking the culinary world by storm.

Norway is certainly not going to be left out of the Nordic joy. It’s gone from standard, home-traditional food, to more daring culinary experiences in just the past few years. Here are some of Norway’s awesome foodie capitals to check out!

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Oslo

The foodie trail starts in Oslo, home to three-star Michelin and the whipsmart Maaemo that is more phenomenon than anything. Take advantage of the ocean’s proximity with fresh fish and shellfish. Maaemo has been voted as one of the world’s best places to eat by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Budgets never fear, as there are exceptional joints from the Thai-based Plah, Japanese Alex Sushi, Omakase by Alex Cabiao, Francaphone À l’aise, and the pintxos place TXOTX. Like most Scandinavian cities, the locals love their cafés and food markets, so don’t hesitate to grab teh food trucks and stalls at Mathallen and Vippa.

More tips on the New Nordic from AFAR. 

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Trondheim

Take to Trondheim’s kitchens for hyperlocal menus that are always on the lookout for experimental, yet wholesome ways to celebrate food. You might want to try Credo, To Rom og Kjøkken, Astrum Skybar, 73 Bar og Restaurant, the seafood restaurant Havfruen Sjømatrestaurant, and Fagn. There’s also the creative Røst Teaterbistro, Sellanraa Bok & Bar, that do wonders with local suppliers, fresh, seasonal ingredients harvested from the region’s fjords and Nordic mountains.

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Stavanger

There’s more to Stavanger than its hikes–the city is home to daring culinary adventurers. Though relatively small, the food scene is as vibrant as any other region in Norway, with a host of food and drink festivals and creative bistros like Skagen, Gaffel and karaffell, Hall Toll, Salza and Spiseriet. If you’re in town this summer, don’t miss Gladmatfestivalen and Stavanger Vinfestival. And if you’re in Norway and not planning a trip to Stavanger–why not!?

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Bergen

Top off your culinary enthusiasm in Bergen, nestled between cozy fjords, and islands on the North Sea. Prime location for excellent seafood, and the Fisketorget outdoor fish market is a must. Bergen likes to experiment with its surrounding nature, with Cornelius, where you can observe your fish dish literally being caught in front of you–and at Sky:Skraperen, which perched on Bergen’s highest mountain Ulriken, rewards with a breathtaking view of the fjord below.

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Travel News: Longest Lunar Eclipse this July

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The Longest Lunar Eclipse of the Century Is Happening in July 

Afar.com reports if you’re based in North America, you’ll have to travel to see the blood moon on July 27. A total lunar eclipse is happening on the night of July 27, and it will last 1 hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest lunar eclipse to take place this century. But if you want to see it in person, you’ll have to leave North America, since no part of the eclipse will be visible in the United States, Canada, or Mexico (unless you’re watching a livestream). A total lunar eclipse occurs when a full moon enters the Earth’s shadow. While some of the sun’s light can still reach the moon even when the Earth is directly between the two, our planet’s atmosphere filters out the blue light making the moon take on a deep red or rusty brown color, which is why a total lunar eclipse is also known as a “blood moon.” Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can be observed safely with the naked eye. According to NASA the entire eclipse will be visible from most parts of Africa and the entire Middle East will also have great views, if the weather is clear. But that’s not all. India, Pakistan, western China, and most central Asian countries reaching up to parts of southern Russia will also be able to see the eclipse in its entirety. Everyone in Europe, western Africa, and most of South America will be able to see the lunar eclipse after sunset on July 27. If you’re in Asia or Australia, you’ll get a glimpse of the blood moon just before sunrise on July 28.

Federal Aviation Administration Says Shrinking Airline Seats Are Not Its Problem 

The FAA has stated that squeezing bottoms into shrinking airline seats is not its problem. The FAA did so despite a demand for federal regulation of seat size, a lawsuit brought by the consumer group Flyers Rights, and a judge’s order that the agency reconsider its position. Reconsider, the FAA did, concluding that there is “no evidence that a typical passenger, even a larger one, will take more than a couple of seconds to get out of his or her seat” in the case of an emergency. Seat width on many major airlines has shrunk from about 18.5 inches to 17 inches. Seat pitch, the distance between your seat and the one directly in front of you, has decreased from an average of 35 inches to 31 inches, and on some airlines it has been reduced to 28 inches. While seats have grown smaller, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report a growing size in American passengers. The average weight of a man is 192 lb (89 kg), a woman 165 lb (75 kg). Men pack a 101cm waistline. Women tickle the tape around the waist at 96cm. 

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Passing through DUBAI Airport? DXB is Getting The World’s Largest Vertical Farm

Business Insider that there are plans for a 130,000-square-foot vertical farm in Dubai. Vertical farms grow crops indoors and year-round without natural sunlight or soil. The facility will be the largest of its kind, and will produce 6,000 pounds of crops daily. The greens and herbs will be used for in-flight meals at Dubai International Airport, the world’s largest by international passenger traffic. When passengers board their flights at Dubai International Airport, most are served in-flight meals that include salads or greens atop sandwiches. These crops usually come from traditional, outdoor farms in the United Arab Emirates. By 2020, flights taking off from the airport will serve greens and herbs grown from a more high-tech source. The 130,000-square-foot indoor farm will produce up to 6,000 pounds of greens and herbs every day. Unlike traditional outdoor farms, Crop One grows crops year-round under LEDs (which mimic natural sunlight) located inside climate-controlled rooms, which are each set to optimal temperature and oxygen levels depending on the crop. Instead of soil, greens sprout in nutrient-rich water beds on trays stacked from the floor to the ceiling. Sensors in the trays track how the plants are doing in real time. The two companies will start construction in November 2018, and start delivering crops to Emirates Flight Catering’s customers, including 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges, in December 2019. Crop One currently operates a vertical farm in Millis, Massachusetts, and delivers to Boston metro area grocery stores under the Fresh Box Farms brand name. The new farm in Dubai will surpass the size of the current world’s largest vertical farm, which is operated by AeroFarms. The facility grows greens inside a 69,000-square-foot warehouse in Newark, New Jersey. AeroFarms and other big indoor farming companies mostly sell their products to supermarkets, but Crop One believes greater opportunity may lie within airline partnerships.

Click Here for WIT Agent Pam’s feedback on her trip to DUBAI

Air New Zealand Allowed To Recycle Untouched Snacks And Beverages 

Airlineratings report a project that allows Air New Zealand to re-use untouched snacks and beverages from international flights has prevented more than 132 tonnes of “waste” being sent to landfill in the first nine months. Air New Zealand received permission form New Zealand authorities in August, 2017, to distribute 40 inflight products from international aircraft landing in Auckland to future flights. The unused products were previously sent to landfill because of New Zealand’s tough biosecurity controls and were burnt or buried. The airline said the figure so far, equivalent to the weight of three of its Airbus A320 aircraft, meant it was confident the program would meet its planned target of saving about 150 tonnes from landfill annually. It said tracking to date showed more than nine million individual items had been recovered for reuse or recycling rather than going to landfill. Items that had each seen more than one million recovered included plastic cups, sugar sticks, one paper cups and paper cup lids. Air New Zealand has a number of initiatives to reduce waste, with a program in place to tackle organic waste from office spaces, repurpose office materials and lounge furniture, and blankets. It also last year began plugging in its jets to gates to provide them with power rather than use on-board auxiliary power units, small jet engines in the tail of the aircraft. It estimates that using electricity from the gate will save about 4500 tonnes annually in carbon emissions. 

US airlines and China: tension over how websites refer to Taiwan

China has rejected U.S. requests for talks over how American airlines and their websites refer to Chinese-claimed Taiwan, according to sources, including a U.S. official. China has demanded that foreign firms, and airlines in particular, begin referring to Taiwan as Chinese territory on their websites, along with Hong Kong and Macau. Numerous non-U.S. carriers, such as Air Canada, Lufthansa and British Airways have already made changes to their websites, according to Reuters. But several U.S. companies, including Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, were among carriers that sought extensions to a May 25 deadline to make the changes. The final deadline is July 25. In late May, the U.S. State Department presented China’s Foreign Ministry with a diplomatic note requesting consultations on the matter, but the ministry has since refused it. 

 

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A new airline enters the market very soon

From Conde Nast Traveler: The International Airline Group (IAG) already has a ton of airlines-British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus- but they just announced a “new” budget airline in Europe, one that will start flying on July 17. Level already exists as a relatively new long-haul carrier flying between the U.S. and Barcelona. In this new version, those cheap long-haul flights-from Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco to Barcelona, and then more recently from New York City to Paris and Madrid-will still stand. But those flights (about $350 round-trip, even from the West Coast) look expensive in the face of $30 one-way flights between London and Vienna, which launch on July 17, along with cheap flights between Vienna and Mallorca. The company will expand quickly in August, launching routes from Vienna to Barcelona, Madrid, Florence, Paris, Dubrovnik, and a number of other Italian and Spanish cities, The Independent reports.

Cross the Atlantic with Bob Mackie designs on the Queen Mary 2

Cunard has partnered with Julien’s Auctions to offer guests an exclusive opportunity to sail with legendary fashion icon Bob Mackie and enjoy a special exhibition preview of “Property from the Collection of Bob Mackie,” which includes some of the designer’s most famous pieces. The Transatlantic Crossing sets sail out of Southampton, England on August 19, 2018 (M831B), ahead of the auction which will take place on November 17, 2018 in Los Angeles and online at juliensauctions.com. Renowned fashion and costume designer Bob Mackie is best known for his creations for Cher, Carol Burnett, Diana Ross, and Raquel Welch. From his unforgettable award-winning wardrobe as the costume designer for the first Carol Burnett Show to his longtime collaboration with Cher and her dazzling, boundary-pushing wardrobe on her TV show, concert tours and public appearances, the nine-time Emmy® award winning designer, three-time Academy Award® nominee and Television Academy Hall of Fame inductee has spent a distinguished career designing for women who dare to be noticed. His achievements have been honored with numerous awards and accolades and he continues his work by designing for the upcoming The Cher Show, set to open on Broadway in fall 2018.

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Fly, Sail & Save with Star clippers

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The Cruise 1,400 price comes to just 200 per day per person! 

Sail back in time with an old-fashioned tall ship and discover sailing the high seas like a sailor from a bygone era.

This is the cruise for you if: You’re looking for a new way to travel. You’re looking for new experiences. Small ports, the journey is as awesome as the destination.

Call Willamette Intl Travel to talk more about unusual, sustainable cruise lines – 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

For WIT Agent Nancy’s firsthand account of sailing with Star Clippers, click here.

More about Star Clippers: Adriatic Cruises, Family Trips, Sail the Caribbean. 

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7 Nights | Northern Phuket | Nov 2018 & Apr 2019

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7 Nights | Southern Phuket | Nov 2018 & Apr 2019

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7 Nights | Singapore, Malaysia & Thailand | Nov 2018 & March 2019

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7 Nights | Thailand, Malaysia & Singapore | March 2018 & April 2019

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Barb on Viking Cruises

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WIT Agent Barb joined a Viking Cruise in Lyon and Provence in May. Here’s her report on the lovely visit. For more insider details and help planning a one-of-a-kind holiday in Europe, give us a call at 503-224-0180 or inquiry@wittravel.com. 

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The Viking ship was docked in a central part of Lyon, walking distance to old town Lyon, and a long (probably 5K) walk to the confluences of the Rhone and Saône Rivers. The ship stays in Lyon for 2 days. Viking offers an “active” walking tour of old town Lyon for an additional cost. We had some great experiences on this excursion – we were taken to a small silk shop where a young guy and his father still make silk using old-fashioned looms – they consider these looms the precursor to computers because they use punch cards to make the pattern. Hanging on the walls of this shop were some pictures that looked like black and white drawings but were actually silk designs.  We also got to ride the funicular to the top of the hill above Lyon, the views were amazing, on our walk down the hill we saw an old amphitheater still used for presentations and productions.

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We also took an optional tour to Château de Fléchères, an older mansion that is being restored by two people who purchased it over 20 years ago, it’s quite interesting, they have removed some of the wood paneling and found frescoes behind the wall paneling!

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Viking also offers an optional trip to Pérouges, a medieval walled town perched on top of a hill not too far from Lyon, with cobblestone streets and beautiful old stone houses, where people of the area still live today. Here we were given a taste of the local food – galettes de Pérouges, sugar coated goodie on a thin pizza like crust.

On Tuesday afternoon we finally set sail!

Next stop is Vienne – originally settled by the Romans – again there is a choice between leisurely or active walking tour. In the afternoon, we experienced our first set of locks on the Rhone river!

During our stop in Tournon we were taken on a steam train ride of the Doux Valley.  That evening we stopped in Viviers and had an evening walking tour of the town, it was dark and the town had many small lights, it was one of the more unique experiences we had, to top it off our guide lived in Viviers so she gave us many insights.   

Friday, we arrived in the walled town of Avignon –there is so much history here, our tour included a stop at the “Pont d’ Avignon”; many of us learned the children’s song in French class!  Viking’s optional excursion to Pont du Gard Aqueduct is very interesting, a huge structure built over 2,000 years ago without mortar, and still standing!

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Our last stop was in Arles, where Spain’s influence is still visible as this town still has bull fights, we also saw the famous yellow café where Van Gogh spent time.

Click Here for More of Barb’s Photos of France.

Overall, we quite enjoyed our trip, Viking’s Long Ships are very comfortable, meals were good, staff is good, cabins are well set up with lots of storage. There was a good combination active time and time to relax. We had very good weather which made the trip even more enjoyable. We were able to enjoy breakfast and lunch on the Aquavit Terrace, Vikings outdoor dining area.

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After our Viking cruise we made a short stop in Berlin, we found this to be a very interesting city, highlights were the historical walking tour which included a stop at Check Point Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Hitler’s bunker, Museum Island, Berlin Television Tower, Jewish War memorial and The Wall Museum which gives you a feeling of what it was like in Berlin before the wall came down. The Welcome Berlin card was included when we purchased our ticket on the airbus to town, it came in quite handy, giving us discounts at some of the museums we visited.

Click Here for More of Barb’s Photos of Berlin.

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Travel News: Massive Cruise Industry Growth

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TSA tightens rule about powders taken on planes

Under the new policy effective June 30, travelers carrying more powder than 12 ounces (about what would fit into a soda or beer can) will undergo additional screening. Cosmetics, ground coffee, spices, sugar and flour are among substances cited. Fliers will be asked to remove the packages from carry-ons, much like we currently have to do with liquids. Along with cracking down domestically, the TSA is asking foreign airports with non-stop U.S. flights to implement similar security measures beginning June 30. The move is in response to an attempted plot to blow up a passenger plane in Australia last July, said a TSA official, though powders have long been a concern as a way to smuggle improvised explosives, fentanyl, and pepper spray.

  • Powder or powder-like substances in total with a volume of more than 350 ml for carrying in hand luggage are no longer permitted
  • Substances below 350 ml may also be prohibited if the substance is not undoubtedly classified as safe
  • Recommendation:   All clients traveling to the USA (even Americans) should either refrain completely from taking powders or powder-like substances or stow them in checked baggage

Massive cruise industry growth

Between now and 2027, the global cruise industry will add at least 104 new cruise ships, as a record number of orders propels capacity growth globally. According to 2018-2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, the industry is targeting 40 million passengers and net earnings in the $9 billion range by 2027. This year, the industry is expected to carry around 27 million passengers, up from just under 17 million 2008.

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European Lines focusing on the USA

50 years after modern cruising’s foundation, European lines are coming back to America. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Ponant. Hurtigruten. All these lines are hoping to expand their modest base of business in the U.S. and Canada by bulking up their sales and marketing efforts in the North American market. Typical is the Norwegian company Hurtigruten, a brand that was active in North America for a number of years under the name Norwegian Coastal Voyages. Well known at home in Europe, Hurtigruten remains obscure to Americans who might be familiar with names such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess. Against behemoth ships from those brands, Hurtigruten sails the 317-passenger Fram and the 970-passenger Midnatsol, pitching them from a marketing and reservations office in Seattle with only 50 people, even following a recent expansion. Another name from Europe with new ships and a need to fill them is Ponant. Founded in 1988 by a French ship captain, it operates expedition ships with a luxury component, such as the 180-passenger Le Laperouse, the first of six ships in its class, which launches this month with a cruise in Iceland. “What I have said about this brand is that from an American perspective, it is the best-kept secret in America, and that is about to change in a big way,” said Edie Rodriguez, Ponant’s Americas brand chairman and corporate special adviser.

Lifeguard Drone soon to be in use near Cancun

The Seadust Cancun Family Resort has become the first property in the Cancun area to announce the addition of a lifeguard drone to ensure the safety of guests staying at the property. The drone will lend aid to lifeguards already working the resort’s beaches, by supporting safety equipment and providing emergency floatation devices. The NORAS Performance-designed U SAFE drone is a lightweight float that is remote controlled and can easily maneuver through the water to bring aid to struggling swimmers. It has a top speed of around 18 miles per hour. The drone is expected to arrive at the resort in August and can be controlled from three miles away, making it ideal for deployment from the shoreline. Once the new U SAFE drone arrives at Seadust, human lifeguards will begin training in how to utilize and optimize the technology in the field.

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E-visa now possible in advance for Egypt travel

Egypt has launched a new website for e-visa applications for residents of 46 countries, which it claims will speed up the arrivals process. A single entry tourist visa from visit2egypt.gov.eg costs $26 and a multiple entry visa costs $60. Payment must be made by credit or debit card. The electronic visas are valid for a maximum of three months. The e-visa is an alternative to the visa-on-arrival system, which means passengers have to visit a kiosk at the airport, where they pay $25 to get their passport stamped before proceeding to immigration. Travelers are advised to make an e-visa application at least seven days before departure. Entry requirements on arrival include a passport valid for at least eight months, a printout of the e-visa and a travel itinerary, including accommodation details.

Domestic low-cost carriers expanding to international

From Insider Travel Report: Used to be low-cost airlines in the U.S. were strictly domestic affairs, offering low fares and more point to point service between U.S. cities. But these days it’s an entirely new low-cost fare market and these carriers are pushing the boundaries of their flight schedules well beyond our shores. JetBlue has become a new power in the Caribbean and Mexico, as has Southwest Airlines. Alaska Airlines features more Mexico service and even Spirit Airlines has gotten into the act, expanding its international service options earlier this month. Now JetBlue, the first airline to operate commercial service between the U.S. and Cuba in more than five decades, says it’s expanding again and diversifying its flying schedule in Havana with new service from Boston and more flights from Fort Lauderdale. New England and South Florida nonstop service, combined with JetBlue’s existing nonstop service from New York and Orlando. Meanwhile, on the same day JetBlue announced more service to Havana, Spirit Airlines said it will continue its international expansion, but this time from Houston. Beginning Sept. 6th, Spirit will start service from Houston’s IAH to San Salvador, El Salvador with year-round service running three times weekly to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (SAL). The next day, on Sept. 7, Spirit will begin nonstop flights between Houston and Guatemala City, Guatemala with year-round service eventually running four times weekly to La Aurora International Airport (GUA). The new routes will complement Spirit’s existing international service between Houston and Cancun and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, as well as San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The announcement comes just a couple of weeks after Spirit announced it was launching nearly a dozen routes from Orlando to Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Seaweed invasion in parts of the Caribbean and Mexico currently

Massive rafts of Sargassum-a brown seaweed that lives in the open ocean-first washed up on beaches across the Caribbean in 2011, trapping sea turtles and filling the air with the stench of rotting eggs. Now it’s back and the Caribbean is bracing for what could be the mother of all seaweed invasions, with satellite observations warning of record-setting Sargassum blooms and seaweed already swamping beaches. The seaweed covers the beaches in huge, stinking blankets that sometimes measure up to ten feet in depth. The Barbados government declared a national emergency on 7 June. There’s another huge mass impacting Puerto Rico and Dominica, and appearing on the Riviera Maya. The seaweed is deadly to marine life such as sea turtles and dolphins – and to tourism, including risks to human health. While the hydrogen sulphide gas released when the seaweed decays occurs naturally in the human body, it is dangerous in large amounts, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even asthma. It can also cause “rapid and extensive damage to concrete and metals,” writes the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Caribbean is struggling to cope as yearly bouts of Sargassum become “the new normal,” noting that the blooms visible in satellite imagery dwarf those of previous years. 

NASA Space Center Houston now a Certified Autism Center

Space Center Houston is now a Certified Autism Center, the first space center in the world so certified. The designation, given by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), is awarded to organizations who have completed a professional training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs. The certification process involves rigorous training for staff, inspections and improvements that enable Space Center Houston to better welcome and accommodate guests with autism spectrum disorder and other sensory and cognitive challenges. Earning the Certified Autism Center designation also includes a commitment to maintain that training and provide the best guest experience possible.

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Belize looks to be the next Caribbean luxury destination

Belize’s 450 atolls off the country’s coast form the archipelago providing a paradise setting similar to those found in the South Pacific. And while Belize is not devoid of luxury hotels – such as the Coppola family’s private island retreat, Turtle Inn – it’s about to welcome quite a few more, as hoteliers eye the untapped and pristine landscape for upcoming high-end properties as the country becomes one of the fastest growing tourist areas in the region. Natural wonders, including the second largest barrier reef in the world and the Great Blue Hole, a giant submarine sinkhole off the coast, makes it an unrivaled destination for recreational scuba divers and snorkelers. Regarding accommodations, the Curio Collection by Hilton just opened the Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club. On Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, the boutique hotel features 205 cottage and villa-style rooms nestled amongst groves of coconut palms across a 60-acre waterfront site. Dream Hotel Group will open Unscripted Belize later this year, the first of the company’s two Belize openings, with 24 beachfront cabanas steps of the Caribbean Sea. The boutique property will feature an open-air concept that also features an outdoor restaurant and a bar area, along with an expansive pool, plus two private boats for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Cancun is still #1 summer destination, according to ARC

Despite security concerns, Cancun maintained its position as the number one summer hot spot for US travelers, according to Airlines Reporting Corp. Tracking the number of tickets purchased to the top ten most booked destinations, Cancun came in first, as it did in 2017. Other destinations on the domestic list: Orlando, New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, Seattle, Boston, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco. 

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