Happy Chinese New Year from Willamette Intl Travel!

happy chinese new year.png

新年快乐  |   Xīnnián kuàilè!

February 16 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, so welcome to the Year of the Dog! Lunar New Year Celebrations occur all over China and geographic neighbors, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia!

Welcome to the Year of the Dog! Anyone born in this year is said to be independent, sincere, communicative, serious and responsible.


Where are YOU planning to travel to in 2018? Let us know in the comments!

Planning a trip to China? Our agents have traveled extensively via land and river through China: Yangtze, Suzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an and the Great Wall. We can recommend options for independent travel, or discuss the best guides for an escorted tour! Call 503-224-0180 today to speak with more of our specialists or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

Check out more of our posts on China:

Nancy with Alexander & Roberts in China

Barb’s Adventures in China

Barb’s Photos

Pam’s Cruise on the Yangtze River with Viking Cruises

The Silk Road, Art Tours with Amy Osaki

Celebrating Chinese New Year around the World


Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Travel News: Record Snowfall Closed the Eiffel Tower

festivals around the world.png
Record Snowfall Closed the Eiffel Tower
Cntraveler reports tourists hoping to go up the Eiffel Tower to catch stunning views of Paris or dine at the 58 Tour Eiffel or Jules Verne restaurants were in for a huge disappointment this past weekend: The landmark was closed to visitors all day Friday and Saturday. The usually mild City of Lights, along with many other parts of France, had experienced unprecedented snowfall and freezing rain last week, leading French authorities to shut down its most visited landmark and suggest that Parisians stay home from work on Friday to avoid the “dangerous conditions,” On Friday, one unfortunate group of workers had to use hand shovels to slowly but surely remove piled-up snow and slush from the 19th-century tower’s ironwork and de-ice the stairs and platforms. The company that manages the Eiffel Tower said the work had to be done this way, as if it were still 1889, since salt could corrode the century-old metal and damage the elevators. The monument reopened briefly on Thursday after being shut down on Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday.
World’s First 24-Hour In-Room Hotel Assistant Debuts 
Travel Weekly reports on Angie. Have you ever stayed in a hotel and found yourself not knowing how to flush the toilet? I always had the problem of how to set the shower. Well, fret no more, Angie is here to save the day. The world’s first 24-hour interactive guest room assistant purpose-built for the hotel environment is coming to Sydney. Angie Hospitality, the creator of Angie, a voice-activated device developed with hotel guests and staff in mind, will be appearing at the NoVacancy Accommodation Business Expo in July, bringing its extensive and innovative services to the Australian market. Providing 24-hour services to hotel guests and staff, the interactive device is able to respond to requests directly via simple voice commands or through its high-resolution interactive touchscreen. The purpose-built device was specifically designed to solve multiple challenges that the hotel industry faces, offering proprietors a wealth of operational proficiencies, and providing customers with a radical solution to in-room services. Angie offers a multitude of services to guests, including ordering room service, making reservations, room control, and connecting to personal, secure and customization of Wi-Fi. Through the use of integrated Bluetooth speakers, Angie can also connect to multiple guest devices to play music or serve as a speakerphone.
Bermuda Gets A Backlash Over Repeal Of Same-Sex Marriage Law
Bermuda’s decision to repeal its same-sex marriage law has led to a backlash on social media with calls to boycott the destination. Bermuda Tourism has promised to share the negative comments with the government, but urged tourists not to stop visiting. “We are collecting your sentiments and sharing them with the Government of Bermuda,” it said in a post on its Facebook page. “All of us at Bermuda Tourism, our industry partners, and many members of the community are committed to inclusiveness and will continue to treat all visitors to Bermuda with respect.” The comments were made in response to a post by Bermuda Tourism on its website and social media outlets, in which it explained the new Domestic Partnership Act 2017 and asked for people to give their responses.
Eurostar’s High-Speed Train from London to Amsterdam Will Launch in April
Travelers will be able to reach the Netherlands in less than four hours. Starting April 4, you can get to the Netherlands from London’s St Pancras station for as low as $43. That means, as with most trains, you’ll have to book your one-way ticket way in advance for the lowest prices. The first round of cheap tickets go on sale February 20 and is priced competitively with the cheapest flights, but with a lot more leg room and baggage space, and a lot less hidden fees and carbon emissions (about 80%) than you’ll find at 30,000 feet. Unfortunately you won’t be able to book the high-speed train straight back to London. While the Netherlands and UK work out an agreement on passport control, passengers will have to connect back through Brussels for security screenings until 2019, when the governments have agreed to provide Eurostar with a solution. That second leg, from Brussels-London, is speedy though, with Eurostar cutting the time down to one hour and 48 minutes, a new record for the railway service.

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Colombia with Alexander + Roberts


Introducing Colombia with Alexander + Roberts…

Once a month from April, Alexander + Roberts leads an intimate group of no more than 16 guests through Colombia. Discover this enchanting and friendly nation and it sheds its past. (SOLO Adventurers get an awesome deal!!)

7 Days: Cartagena – Medellin – Bogotá

+ Discover Cartagena’s astounding wealth of Colonial-era fortifications, churches and other architectural landmarks from its days as one of the most important ports in the West Indies.
+ Get to know the many faces of Medellin, from the traditions that endure in countryside villages outside of town and its turbulent days in the 1980’s to its emergence as a city filled with art and a lively spirit.
+ Experience Colombia’s captivating spirit as we take you inside the cultural, food and arts scenes of Cartagena, Medellin and Bogotá.
+ On a high-mountain plateau, Bogotá sits amidst towering Andean peaks: Discover the capital’s fine Colonial-era landmarks and tour the amazing Gold Museum.
+ Get to know the works of Fernando Botero, one of Colombia’s most revered artists.
+ With 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site


Former WIT Agent Linda joined Alexander + Roberts in Colombia for an unforgettable trip through coffee plantations and Spanish heritage architecture. Read more about her trip here


+ No Solo Supplement on all departures
+ Comprehensive sightseeing with never more than 16 guests including all entry fees
+ 8 Meals: 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner
+ 6 nights in our luxury hotels in the heart of these historic and vibrant cities
+ All on-tour transportation including airport transfers
+ Both internal flights
+ Luggage handling
+ All hotel taxes and service charges

Eager to learn if Alexander + Roberts is right for you? Pick up the phone and give us a call at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Photos Courtesy of Alexander + Roberts

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Summer Frontiers in the Czech Republic

summer frontiers in teh czech

Had enough of the snow and rain and looking forward to a summer escape?

Why not try the Czech Republic for a change?

The Czech Republic is known for its Gothic and Baroque castles and cathedrals, hearty brewing traditions, glassmakers, and fantastical legends that are more ghoul than Faerie.

The stunning old squares and architecture of Prague, in particular, have enchanted many a visitor with its attractive, winding streets, unique puppet shops and cafés of the “hole-in-the-wall” genre.

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 6.07.28 PM

Follow Kafka’s footsteps in the Old Town or go spelunking in Cesky Krumlov’s centuries-old silver mine.

It’s incredibly easy to get around Czech Republic, just hop on a train or rent a car. The public transport system in Czech—actually, nearly everything—is more affordable than most Western European countries.

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 6.06.42 PM

Light Adventure Tours in Czech

Following the Travel Trend of Adventure Tourism, Czech is one of the best spots for spring and summer outdoor adventures!

  • Hit the countryside and you can also enjoy cycling, walking trails, hiking, and rivers for all types of boating.
  • Climb out to the Adršpach-Teplice Rock Formations for some awe-striking panoramas.
  • Take an easy afternoon with wine and cycling through Moravian villages.
  • Cycle Trails through Bohemian and Moravian hills, forests, rivers, abandoned train tracks.
  • Camp in the national parks, rent a Czech cottage known as chalupy and chatky (kids welcome!)
  • Boating around the country’s rivers, for a one-day or multi-day excursion on kayaks, rowboats and rafts.
  • Boat trip along the Dyje River, to admire the remarkable castle ruins of Januv hrad, Lednice Chateau and the Minaret.

Ready to learn more about your options in the Czech Republic? Give one of our agents a call at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Information and Photos Courtesy of Czech Tourism, http://www.czechtourism.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Czech, Europe

Travel News: US Passport Fees To Increase In April

festivals around the world

US Passport Fees To Increase In April

Travel Pulse reports Passports updated after April 2 will be subject to a heftier “execution fee” of $35. US travelers who will need a new passport in 2018 can potentially save themselves a few dollars if they avoid waiting until the last minute to apply. According to the US Department of State, passport “execution fees” will increase from $25 to $35 starting April 2, 2018. The fee change will bump the total cost of a US passport to $145 for adults and $115 for children 16 and younger. The execution fee, however, is only charged to people who apply in person at an official passport agency, such as the US post office or other consular offices. The $10 fee increase will not apply to individuals who renew their passports by mail. According to the Department of State, passport execution fees are set at a rate that will allow for the “recovery of the costs to the US government of providing the consular service.” But two recent studies, one conducted by the Department of State and another by the US Postal Service, determined that actual processing costs are now higher than the $25 fee, prompting the increase. The passport execution fee change, which was first published in the Federal Registry in 2016, was submitted to Congress for approval. The new rule will go into effect April 2, 2018. 

Ritz-Carlton To Develop Hotel On St Kitts

St Kitts Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism have announced a Ritz-Carlton Resort will open on the island in 2021. The proposed 125-room Ritz-Carlton Resort will be located on the beach facing the Caribbean Sea in the picturesque southeast peninsula of the island and will also include 25 Ritz-Carlton branded villas and residences. Among the hotel’s amenities will be a spa, several swimming pools set within the lush tropical landscape and indoor and outdoor dining facilities and meeting spaces. The resort is part of a larger development project led by The Liamuiga Corporation.

MH370 Conspiracy Theory Involves Seabed Constructor And Chest From Shipwreck

Travelwire reports tracking marks of the Seabed Constructor show ship has circled and stopped a number of times. Wild conspiracy theories about Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 have now spread to the search ship tasked with finding it. Ocean Infinity signed a deal with the Malaysian Government to search 25,000 square kilometers over 90 days. Seabed Constructor went dark on tracking websites and some suggest search ship retrieved a chest from the sea floor. For nearly a week some aviation buffs and MH370 followers have been debating online whether the missing plane has in fact been secretly found and, if not, why was the ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) abruptly turned off for several days, preventing online observers from tracking its movements. The ship, Seabed Constructor, suddenly went “dark” on tracking websites not long after it had completed a curious circle, several kilometers wide, prompting many on Twitter to question what was inside the circle on the sea floor. The ship then headed south-west in a straight line, and a few kilometers later turned its AIS off. Seabed Constructor has spent two weeks scouring the ocean floor in the southern Indian Ocean for the fuselage or debris from MH370. Its operator Ocean Infinity, a Texas-based company, has signed a deal with the Malaysian Government to search a 25,000-square-kilometer area over 90 days, and will receive payment of between $US20 million and $US70 million only if it finds the missing plane. The decision to switch off the AIS prompted some to speculate that the ship had made a secret detour to a nearby shipwreck to retrieve a chest known to be on the sea floor. The shipwreck was discovered in 2015 during the previous Australian-led search for MH370, in waters south-west of the current search zone. “The whole ship has deteriorated. But there’s a big chest in about 4,000 meters of water.” The ship’s identity has not been confirmed, so it is impossible to know what, if anything, is in the chest. But the anchor had “ceased manufacture” about 1820, meaning the vessel could be almost 200 years old. Others have speculated that it could be a Peruvian-built transport ship, the S.V. Inca, which disappeared on its way to Australia in 1911.

Delta Alters Boarding Process To ‘Honor’ Active Duty Military

Delta announced Friday that the company is “enhancing its boarding process to honor all uniformed and non-uniformed active military personnel” by inviting them to board early. Delta said it received positive feedback from employees and customers after testing the concept for more than 20 days. Delta said in a news release that the idea that sparked this change came from an active military member who sent a note to Delta CEO Ed Bastian asking if the airline would consider recognizing those individuals traveling on orders. “The Armed Forces community is a remarkably important part of what we do at Delta,” said Jim Graham, Delta’s Vice President of Flight Operations and a U.S. Navy veteran, in the release. “This is one more way Delta can show gratitude to those who sacrifice so much for us.” Early boarding for military members is done on multiple other airlines, including the world’s largest carrier American, which along with United Airlines also provides military in uniform free access to the airline’s VIP lounges. Delta said the change comes as the airline continues to invest in tools and technology, such as its Nomad devices, to improve the customer experience and bring more organization to the boarding process.

TSA Pre Expands To Include Air France, Brussels Airlines and KLM

TSA’s Pre expedited screening program expanded on Thursday to include four new international airlines of Air France, Brussels Airlines, and KLM.  TSA Pre® is an expedited screening program that enables low-risk travelers to enjoy a smart and efficient screening experience at more than 200 U.S. airports. For TSA Pre® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets. TSA Pre® is available when departing from a U.S. airport to a foreign country, and for domestic, connecting flights after returning to the U.S. Travelers who are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. can apply for TSA Pre® for a cost of $85 for five years, or $17 per year through the TSA Pre® application program. Once approved, travelers will receive a “Known Traveler Number” to input when making an airline reservation and will have the opportunity to utilize TSA Pre® lanes at select security checkpoints when traveling on any of the 47 participating airlines.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean, Europe

February Reads for a Cozy Valentine’s


Let’s play a game. It’s called, “Being You, Right Now.” Perhaps you’re reading this on your way to work, defending your corner of the train with a well-placed elbow. Or are you at home? If so, please put the kettle on.

So begins Traveler-and-Sketchbook-Artist Candace Rose Rardon’s illustrated essay on love, travel, and tea, “Home is a Cup of Tea.” Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, so we’ve chosen a few awesome reads from around the web that you can enjoy this holiday:

cena San Valentino

Home is a Cup of Tea

United’s Elite Traveler: Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Romance Around the World

Afar’s Coolest Travel Jobs: Magician

New Yorker’s Hottest New Novels to Buy at the Airport (word of caution: this is a parody! 🙂 )

EDIT 8 February: New Releases & Upcoming

Legit: Good Airport Reads

Daniel Stone, The Food Explorer. Botanist David Fairchild’s exploits led to the widespread love of kale from Croatia, mangoes from India and avocados from Chile.

Laurie Gwen Shapiro, The Stowaway. An adventurous teenager’s journey from 1920s New York’s Lower East Side to Antarctica. 

Educated: A Memoir, Tara Westover. A young woman leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge.

Where are you gallivanting to this Valentine’s? We’d love to hear your travel plans in the comments!

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Travel News: The Time is Now to Check Your Passport

festivals around the world (2)
Get your passport now
It’s now the busy season for passports. Take the time, at least 9 weeks before your departure date), to look at your passport and make certain that it is valid for six months past your return flight to the US. The US Passport offices are processing a multitude of renewals the closer we get to Spring and Summer peak travel seasons. 
Brazil Introduces e-Visa
The Brazilian Government has announced a new e-Visa for USA citizens for Tourist, Business, Transit and Artistic or Sports Activities travel purposes. The new visa type will be valid for 2 years, multi-entry with a max stay of up to 90 days per year. The new e-Visa is only currently offered to US, Australia, Canadian and Japanese citizens. The e-Visa processing time is excepted to be 7-8 business days. 
American Airlines suspends Smart Luggage with Lithium Batteries
In mid-January, American Airlines stopped allowing “Smart Luggage” that includes built in lithium batteries to be placed in the baggage compartment of the plane. But if you can remove the batteries you can put them in your carry-on. If they aren’t removable then either the TSA or AA will allow you to check the bag in the baggage hold where there is not access to the area from inside the plane on most planes today. So, think twice about taking a non-carry-on sized SMART BAG (more than 22 inches). The theory is that any fire that erupts from the battery in the cabin can be put out easily. Remember, if you can remove the lithium batteries from the suitcase you can check the bag and put the batteries in your carry-on.
First Exhibition Exploring ‘Golden Age’ Of Ocean Travel To Launch At Victoria & Albert Museum in London
Travelwire reports Ship design, groundbreaking engineering, architecture and lifestyle aboard the great vessels will all be explored in the exhibition which sees the V&A team up with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and Viking Cruises for their first major exhibition of 2018. Ocean Liners: Speed And Style showcases more than 250 objects, including a wooden panel fragment from an overdoor in the Titanic’s first-class lounge. It traces the revolution of sea travel from the mid-19th century with the emergence of the ocean liner. A precious diamond and pearl Cartier tiara rescued from the sinking Lusitania in 1915 is among the more luxurious items. Exclusive Maison Goyard luggage previously belonging to King Edward VIII. who became the Duke of Windsor after abdicating to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, will return to Europe for the first time since they were acquired from the Windsor Estate. The set of luggage was used by the couple as they traveled between their adoptive home in France and the US, with the duke’s personalized with his title and yellow and red stripes. Also included in the collection is a Christian Dior suit worn by German actress Marlene Dietrich as she arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary in 1950. As the largest machines of their age, ocean liners were powerful symbols of 20th-century modernity and the exhibition will also feature works from Modernist artists, designers and architects including Le Corbusier, Albert Gleizes, Charles Demuth, and Eileen Gray. Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, said: “This seminal show reveals hidden design stories of some of the world’s most luxurious liners, from the Titanic to the Normandie and QE2. “We have collected ship-related objects and ephemera for well over 100 years, and now have a startlingly brilliant collection of ocean liner material, making us uniquely placed to present this exhibition.” Ocean Liners: Speed And Style will run at the V&A from February 3 until June 17 2018.
Madrid Prepares for Its Greenest Year Yet
The European city with the most ambitious plans to improve its air quality this year probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind. In fact, it’s Madrid, which is embarking on what, policy-wise, could be its greenest year yet. The country’s capital is actually getting down to business to improve its poor air quality, making the city altogether more healthy and livable. It’s doing so by introducing a host of air-cleaning measures under a 30-point plan entitled Plan A, “because there is no plan B,” Mayor Manuela Carmena says. The first major change actually started last month when Madrid closed its main drag, the broad, often car-filled avenue Gran Vía, to cars at the beginning of December. Cars returned on January 7, but the streets won’t be the same for long. Madrid plans to start doubling the street’s sidewalks, taking space from car lanes to give pedestrians an extra 58,000 square feet of space, plus a segregated bike lane down its busiest stretch. While this will reduce car space on a very busy thoroughfare, Gran Vía will soon be one of the few parts of central Madrid that admits non-local cars at all. In June, Madrid will debut its Zero Emissions Zone, which will only allow local residents, people with limited mobility, or zero-emissions vehicles to drive into most of the old city. 
Qantas 787 Dreamliner Makes Long-Haul Flight On Mustard Seed Biofuel
The aviation industry has been experimenting with cleaner-burning fuels to lower the carbon footprint of flights. We’re far from a complete switch to biofuels but work continues to make that a possibility at some point in the future. Case in point: the world’s first biofuel flight from the United States to Australia. A Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner made the long-haul flight from the Los Angeles to Melbourne with 24,000 kilograms of mustard seed based blended fuel. The QF96 flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne used biofuel extracted from the Brassica carinata mustard seed. The extraction process was developed by Agrisoma Bioscienses, an agri-tech company based in Canada. According to reports, the fuel from this mustard seed offers over 80% reduction in carbon emissions compared with conventional jet fuel across its life cycle. That blend that was used in the Dreamliner flight will see a 7% reduction in emissions on the route as 10% of its tank was filled with the biofuel. Qantas is planning on running flights regularly with biofuel by 2020. The company’s historic biofuel-powered flight comes after it was named the least efficient carrier in the region. Qantas was found to be the least efficient by the International Council on Clean Transportation and that it burnt the most carbon of all major airlines that fly across the Pacific.
In-Flight Wi-Fi Is About To Get A Lot Faster
Bloomberg reports in-flight Wi-Fi is finally emerging from its role as a punchline as the cost of buying and installing better hardware has fallen far enough that many airlines have begun upgrading to faster speeds, and smaller airlines are adopting Wi-Fi for the first time BUT what you’ll pay for it may be outrageous. Worldwide, 82 airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi, 12 more than last year, with the amenity now common enough that there’s a 43% percent chance your plane will have it, according to an annual airline report from New York-based Routehappy Inc. (And more than 80% in America.) Airbus SE and Boeing Co. also fit most of these newer systems onto new airplanes as part of the final assembly process. In terms of the most Wi-Fi access, Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and Emirates take the top three spots, with Delta and Emirates also among the 13 airlines that offer Wi-Fi on all of their long-haul flights, according to the report released last week. 
Holland America Expands Denali Experience
Travelwire reports Holland America Line has announced an expansion of the guest experience on its Alaska Land+Sea Journeys with the addition of new guest accommodations at its Denali operation. The 99-room addition will feature the first-ever junior suites at the resort and is expected to be open for the 2019 summer Alaska cruise season. The 55 new junior suites will showcase balconies, larger living areas and greater amenities for guests. The company said that the new rooms are an extension of its overland Alaska experience to Denali, which includes the McKinley Chalet Resort hotel and Denali Square, a gathering area to relax, shop, dine and for music and entertainment. The addition will be located just west of Denali Square with views of Mt. Healy and Denali National Park. According to a prepared statement, the three-story project will feature junior suites and standard rooms with “rustic-chic” décor. All junior suites have balconies offering views of the surrounding Alaska wilderness. Each floor will have a central, open-air lobby. The third floor has open public deck space with tables and loungers.
Montreal Adding Capacity for More Demand From Cruise Lines
Montreal inaugurated a new cruise terminal in June, which will be joined by a second operational terminal in 2018, along with the existing alternate terminal located east of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. The trio of berth locations will help the iconic city accommodate extra ships during its peak fall season. The two new berths offer shorepower and a direct connection to black and grey water collection lines. As 2017 ended, the port was expected to report 52 international ship calls, according to a spokesperson, a 20,000 passenger increase year-over-year. 2018 will continue the surge, with 16 more calls on the books and a prediction of 130,000 passengers, up 50,000 year-over-year. New business includes summer cruises from AIDA, and the debut of Windstar Cruises in the Saint Lawrence. The Seabourn Quest is also offering a round-trip Montreal itinerary. More hopes lie in the winter, where the port city is working closely with the Cruise the Saint Lawrence group to develop a winter program to make the river a year-round destination. The port also recently joined the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition as it expects more river traffic and is developing a business plan for river cruising.
Heathrow Enhances Service For Passengers With Disabilities
Heathrow has announced a multi-million-pound package of investments and tools to improve the travel experience of passengers with disabilities and mobility restrictions at the airport. The number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising at approximately 8% annually, with over one million requests in 2017 alone, more than any other European airport. Following a report by the Civil Aviation Authority this year, Heathrow is taking proactive steps to transform its service for these passengers, backed by an investment of £23 million in a revamped, upgraded contract with its special assistance partner, OmniServ. Heathrow announced the introduction of a distinctive lanyard that will allow passengers that need tailored help and support to discreetly identify themselves to Heathrow staff. This lanyard is part of an established service initiated at Gatwick and rolled out in other UK airports, and is supported by leading UK charities including the Alzheimer’s Society, the National Autistic Society and Action on Hearing Loss.  Special assistance staff, security officers and passenger ambassadors at Heathrow have been trained to identify the lanyard so they can provide additional assistance, or allow passengers wearing it more time or space as they travel independently through the airport. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Brazil, Canada, Europe