Category Archives: Caribbean

Travel News: State Dept says Renew your US Passport Now

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State Dept. Says Renew Your Expiring US Passport Now!

In general, for regular applications, the State Department lists the turnaround time as 6-8 weeks (although wait times usually end up shorter than that), and by paying an extra fee you can have that cut down to 2-3 weeks. In urgent circumstances, travelers can get a same-day passport renewal at a local passport office, if they can prove they are traveling sooner than the normal wait time. While the State Department promises to do a better job of staying on top of the flood of applications than they did ten years ago, if your expiration date ends in a seven, better to get on it early–specially because applications tend to spike in spring and summer as people gear up for vacation. And remember, some countries require you to have six months of validity left to enter, not something you want to find out the hard way. On average, the State Department processes around 13 million passport applications a year–last year, it saw 16.8 applications-so while 20.5 million is out of the norm, the State Department has seemingly learned to expect major increases of this magnitude every ten years when that initial flood of passports is up for renewal.

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Goway lays out Peru’s new rules for visiting Machu Picchu

New admission rules for Machu Picchu, which (as of now) go into effect January 2018. Ticket sales will be divided into a morning ticket 8am to 12pm and an afternoon ticket 12pm to 5:30pm. Change in cost for a ticket has not been announced. Travelers can buy both to spend a full day at the site. “Initially this change was to begin mid-2017, but after consultations with tour operators locally and internationally the date has been unofficially moved to Jan 2018,” says Goway. The number of visitors has grown annually, from low hundred thousands in 1980s to a peak of 1.4 million tourists in 2014. The ticket changes are an attempt to ease the stress on the fragile ruins, and keep it in good shape and accessibility for future travelers.  

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Holland America Adds Cuba Calls

Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard the Veendam, according to a statement from the company. The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba, the company said. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports, as well as a combination of Caribbean ports, including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos, as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

 

 

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Filed under Cuba, Europe, Goway, holland america, News, Peru

4 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines (you wouldn’t expect!)

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Today is the International Day of Families! The theme of this year? Education and Well-being. In celebration of the day, we’re taking look at a couple cruise lines that, at first glance, you wouldn’t think are family-friendly—but actually are.

A good kids’ program can transform a “week stuck with Mom & Dad” into an awesome summer break! Why not make it fun for everyone?

Of course, number one on the list is naturally Disney. But Disney’s ships were kind of made for kids—what about those cruise lines that cater mostly to adults, AND have a fantastic kids’ program on top of it? You might be surprised at the results. Here are our Top 5 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines that you wouldn’t expect!

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Uniworld

Uniworld was named #1 River Cruise Line for Families by Travel + Leisure readers four years in a row! This is thanks to their Uniworld Generations Family Cruise program, where kids cruise for half-price! For every accompanying adult, a child between 4 and 18, qualifies for 50% savings. Set your kids on a firsthand experiential course into history, culture and geography. In 2017 they offer nine itineraries in Europe: Danube, Rhine, Paris, Normandy, German Christmas markets, Italy and more! Includes onshore excursions for curious minds and kid-friendly menus.

Crystal Cruises

Kids transform into world explorers aboard Crystal Cruises. On select itineraries, they even sail Free! Junior Cruisers can enjoy scavenger hunts, cookie decorating, team games, karaoke, and video games. What’s cool about these Kids Sail Free Voyages, they also come with added perks for the parents, including 2-for-1 cruise-only fares, complimentary select alcohols, complimentary gratuities, complimentary computer and fitness programs and a free evening of specialty dining.

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Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises offers a really cool youth program, each uniquely designed by age group: toddlers, kids, teens and young adults. Science, arts and crafts, air hockey–whatever your kid’s into lately, it seems like they’ve got it in stock. And the fun isn’t even confined to the ship. For example, on an Alaska cruise excursion, preteens can sign up for the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program and learn all about Alaska’s animals and rugged terrain.

Royal Caribbean

RC does it in style, with rock-climbing walls, zippiness, ice rinks and bumper cars! The DreamWorks experience is a unique Royal Caribbean option where you can meet, dine and go on a scavenger hunt with your favorite characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.  

And as always, ask your WIT travel agent for details on which itineraries are best for your family, and how can you get that sweet cruise deal you’ve been looking for! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

THIS WEEK: We welcome back Nancy, WIT Agent Extraordinaire, who was recently in Europe on a Barcelona-Windstar Cruise-Amalfi Coast Extravaganza! We look forward to her feedback and photos soon! ALSO: WIT Agent Rachael is in Puerto Vallarta this week! What great photos those will be. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Caribbean, Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruises, Europe, Princess Cruises, UniWorld, Windstar Cruises

The Next Best Destinations for 2017

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Happy New Year, dear Readers! We’ve made past the end of 2016, hopefully with some fun and meaningful travel memories racked up. But what does 2017 have in store for the traveler? Here are our Top Destinations in 2017:

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Cruise ship in Isafjordur, the West Fjords of Iceland

1. Iceland

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Iceland has once again made the list. In the past 10 years, Iceland’s popularity as a travel destination soared to immense heights, capping 1 billion travelers to this dynamic Atlantean rock in the summer of 2016 alone. Most travelers have visited the gorgeous Golden Circle and the Glacier Lagoon, maybe even ridden an Icelandic horse or spied the Northern Lights–but what’s next for Iceland in 2017? Traveling a bit more off-the-beaten path, to Lake Myvatn area, to the West Fjords and the Westman Isles. We’ll have to see what this magical Viking isle has in store for us!

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Lake Bled in Slovenia

2. Slovenia (& the Balkans)

If you haven’t discovered this off-the-beaten-path trek in Europe, what are you waiting for? Slovenia is the oft-cited “playground of Europe,” with a range of activities to attract the thrill-seeker. Spelunking, hang-gliding, jet-skiing are just some of the more popular pursuits. Plus there are few city centers as pristine as Ljubljana’s. A great way to see the Balkan countries is to rent a car and spend a few weeks traveling around war-wounded Sarajevo, culturally bobbing Belgrade, and Croatia’s exquisite Dalmatian coast.

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Białowieża Forest, Poland

3. Australia & New Zealand

Australia & New Zealand have always been a popular destination for families, couples and backpackers alike. Sydney boasted the “best fireworks in the world” at the Opera this New Year’s Eve. Tazmania might just be the next prime hiking destination, with multi-day excursions and luxury ecolodges. And NZ has an array of fun food-themed fetes to enjoy, kicking off with Auckland Seafood Festival in January and then Marlborough Wine & Food Festival come February. Though the Northern Lights have attracted some fair attention these past few years, the Southern Hemisphere has it’s own bragging right: the unparalleled Southern Cross!

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River Boat sailing through Chicago, USA

4. River Cruises in North America

Domestic travel usually has to offer something unique to attract travelers, and we believe river cruises are that unique option. There seems to be no end to high quality river and lake cruises: the Great Lakes, roundtrip Nashville on the Mississippi River, Montreal and the eastern seaboard, and the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Themes range from southern style comfort on the Mississippi to the pioneer history of the Oregon Trail. River cruises are small-scale, comfortable, unhurried cruises in American history that often sail year-round–without the spectacle afforded on ocean cruises. Plus one major advantage over Europe or South America: shorter flights to get there (if any)!

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Lisbon, Portugal

5. Portugal

Warm beach weather, delicious cuisine, and a charming ambiance makes Portugal a global destination. Lisbon has all the Old World beauty of a European small town, and the coastline draws its fair share of beachgoers and world-class surfers. In terms of food and wine, Portugal will certainly peak your interest, and the easygoing temperance of the locals will make you feel at home in no time.

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Oslo, Norway

6. Scandinavia

Though oft-cited as the most expensive destination in Europe, Scandinavia remains one of the best “bang-for-your-buck” destinations in the world. Thanks to recent trends following the Northern Lights and Iceland’s natural attractions, the region is receiving all the attention it deserves. World-class restaurants, leisurely cafes, and interactive museums still place it at the top of the list (and the map!). Not to mention how easy and accessible most travelers find Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Reykjavik–most of the population are friendly, curious, polite and speak English.

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Reindeer in Finland

7. Finland & Estonia

Finland celebrates 100 years of independence from Russia in 2017, and a spirit of unity will be rampant in every town and city. Wander 39 national parks or visit the laid-back seaside capital, view the Northern Lights or take a dip in the local sauna. Helsinki has the familiarity and design-conscious layout of a Scandinavian town, with a cultural flair that’s uniquely Finnish. Estonia is also growing on the tourist horizon–Tallinn as a leading city of technology and entrepreneurship. Its heritage is part Baltic, with smatterings of Soviet Union and Finnish influence. A popular way to visit is via a cruise to the Baltic region–many of our clients have come back from a cruise excursion with tales of Tallinn’s enchanting city center.

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Paris, France

8. France

Throughout the centuries, France has never lost its charms. Even through recent security issues have scared off some travelers, the Loire chateaux, Bordeaux wines and sun-baked sands of the Riviera are still there and thriving. After a shaky 2016, France is bouncing back in a big way, and tourist bookings have increased exponentially for 2017. Tourists seem to have their eyes on provincial towns and the hidden secrets of the countryside. Is this the time to finally check out the Champagne region, or go wine-tasting in the Dordogne Valley?

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1950s/60s Cars in Cuba

9. Cuba

With relaxing entry regulations, Cuba has received quite the attention these past two years. The response from group travelers and cruise ship passengers has been wildly enthusiastic. Over 2 million travelers visited the island in the first half of 2016, compared to just 63,000 in 2010. But that may all change soon–some travel industry experts fear that the Trump administration will restrict travel there in the future. So now might be your only chance in a while to travel to the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

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The Majestic African Elephant

10. Africa Destinations: Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa.

Africa remains an ever-popular destination, with senior couples and large families booking safari trips in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. These regions are still within reasonable budget to catch a glimpse of wildebeest, lions, antelopes. South Africa is world-famous for their natural diversity and local cuisine, catering to all flavors and styles. Immerse yourself on a game drive in Kruger National Park, or indulge in wine-tasting in Boberg or the Breede River Valley. We’re proud also to include Namibia on our list. As some of our readers know, WIT Owners Christina and John guided a merry band through the red sands of Namibia. The landscape is like no other, with miles upon miles of arid desert, dotted with unique wildlife and local tribes who paint themselves with ochre. We expect to see a rise in interest for Namibia in 2017, and now you can receive firsthand travelers’ experience at our office in Portland.

Do you have a favorite travel memory or photo from 2016? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments!

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Filed under Africa, Baltic, Croatia, Cruises, Cuba, Estonia, Europe, Finland, Iceland, Kenya, Namibia, North America, Norway, Poland, portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, tanzania, USA

8 Highlights of Puerto Rico

Heading down to Puerto Rico for a Caribbean cruise? Why not spend a few days soaking in the sights and the sun on one of USA’s tropical treasures?

Explore the Colorful Streets of Old San Juan

Nothing beats a peaceful morning walk around Old San Juan! The old city covers just seven square blocks, every inch of which is decorated in 400 colorful Spanish colonial buildings. Stop first at the Visitor’s Center to pick up a map, then hit the blue cobblestones. History is alive and all over San Juan. A few hours’ walk will introduce you to El Morro Fort, Bacardi Rum Factory, San Juan Gate, and the Cathedral where Ponce de Leon is interred. On weekends, stroll through the outdoor crafts market.

Breakfast at Caficultura

Don’t forget to grab a tasty breakfast at Caficultura. This fun, casual diner is a great spot to pick up coffee and brunch: veggie scramble, crepes with goat cheese, coconut French toast with pineapple marmalade—not to mention the banana rum pancakes!

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Ice Cream at Senor Paleta

Don’t miss Señor Paleta, a famous popsicle joint in the old town of San Juan. The shop is so popular there are daily lines around the block! And its no wonder, with flavors like housemade pistachio, strawberry mojito, strawberry cheesecake, and peanut butter dipped in chocolate.

Dive in the Bioluminescent Bay

Take a trip out to Bio Bay for one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons on Earth. Bio Bay, situated off the east coast of Puerto Rico, is home to millions of bioluminescent organisms that emit bluish light when agitated. Kayak your way through mangrove channels to the glowing waters. The lights are particularly illuminating at night against the black Caribbean sea.

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Hike El Yunque Rainforest

The tropical rainforest of El Yunque is a haven for hikers and nature lovers, with several hiking trails to choose from. Hike past mountain waterfalls, catch sight of the coqui frog, and check out Taíno petroglyphs.

Try Local Fare at the Luquillo kiosks

Driving east from El Yunque back to San Juan, you’ll chance upon the Luquillo, home to 60+ different roadside diners. These ramshackle buildings are a great way to try authentic favorites like fried bacalaitos and empanadillas—or try Puerto Rico’s version of  Caribbean fusion, Peruvian, Mexican, or even Thai.

Short Flight to Culebra Island

Commune with nature out on Culbera Island, seventeen miles east of the mainland. The enchanting isle attracts fans of wildlife and beaches. Hikers, scuba divers, nature photographers all flock here for a glimpse of rare reef fish, local birds, and turtles. So bring your camera and don’t miss the sights!

Dinner at El Pescador

Located in Fajardo on the mainland, El Pescador consistently receives rave reviews. Laid-back and family-owned, with fresh seafood caught that day, it’s not hard to see why people keep coming back. Try the mofongo, fried green plantains, or the white pineapple sangrias. Come hungry—all dishes have enormous portions—and come early—it’s crazy popular year-round!

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Filed under Caribbean, News, North America

The Corn Islands: Calm & Car-free

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Isolated and unspoiled, the Corn Islands are Nicaragua’s “little travel secret.” This duo of idyllic islets are just 43 miles off the coast of the mainland, and refreshingly free of hawkers, souvenir shops and all motorized vehicles. With their crystalline coves, mangrove forests, underwater caves and horseshoe bays, it’s no wonder they attract a fair share of sunbathers and adventurers “in-the-know.”

Once a pirate refuge, the islands are now a local hideaway with an irrepressible insular charm. Life is peaceful and slow, especially as there are no roads or cars whatsoever. Big Corn (a.k.a. Great Corn) is a laid-back, jungle-laden island. Hike up Mt. Pleasant Tower for a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea. Hang out with the chill Creole community in their colorful wooden houses and shops. Little Corn is popular with divers, surfers and intrepid wanna-be explorers. Here you’ll find bungalows and beachfront huts, and the quirky Bottle House, a building constructed entirely of bottles.

Don’t Miss: Listen up divers and snorkelers! The Corns have a lot of bragging points, from stunning reefs, a 400-year-old Spanish Galleon wreck, and and impressive coral formation at Blowing Rock about 100 feet underwater.

Where to Stay: On Little Corn Island, you can’t go wrong with Yemaya Hotel Island Hideaway & Spa. A five-star romantic retreat with 16 eco-luxury cabanas that rest overlooking the stunning Caribbean waters. Bars and restaurants are just a 10-minute boat ride away. For stays on Big Corn Island, look no further than Hotel Arenas Beach, a luxurious and diverse collection of suites and bungalows.

Getting There: One hour flight from Managua to Big Corn Island. From there, you can hop on the local panga (ferry) to Little Corn Island.

Avanti Destinations offers excellent guides and accommodation in the Corn Islands. Their 3-night package includes roundtrip air from Managua, ferry transfers, and hotel with daily breakfast.

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Quote Time! One of our clients recently came back from a wonderful getaway on the Corn Islands, and had this to give as feedback:

Our hotel was the best on the island (Hotel Arenas Beach). Really good beach and the rooms were ok—by Nica standards, they were great (an A+ in bathrooms). The food was very tasty. The hotel has a beach tender who we called One Speed and really took care of the beach, kept it garbage free and combed. BTW all of the beaches in Nica are open to the public, no exceptions.

The little town was ok. Taxis were 15 Cords (Nicaragua cordobas) per person during the day or 30 cents & 20 cords per person at night—anywhere on the island. There were 2 restaurants on the island not associated with hotels that were good and we ate at them. The weather was kind of crappy at the beginning, so we stayed on the Big Corn not wanting a rough crossing to Little Corn. By the time the weather cleared… we were on island time!

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Filed under Caribbean, Central America, Nicaragua

Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2016

2015 has been a great year for travel! Our clients have embarked on amazing trips to the Loire Valley, Dolomites, Kyoto, Istanbul, Cook Islands, Maldives—the list goes on and on and on! We’ve seen tried-and-true destinations enjoy resurgent popularity (á la Costa Rica), and watched as trends for up-and-coming destinations come up on the rise.

To commemorate the New Year, we’ve come up with a list of new must-see countries to look out for in 2016. These are the places still bursting with new life, under the popular tourist radar and waiting to be discovered. With so many rising stars, we were hard-pressed to include only 10!

Wittravel’s Top 10 Destinations for 2016:

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10. Panama

Panama has blossomed as a destination that appeals both to chill and to thrill. Flights from the US have decreased significantly in the past few years, giving rise to Panama as a cheap alternative to Caribbean travel. However, the turquoise country does more than pull its fair share of weight—with coffee farms, colorful local markets, cloud forests and resplendent waters. Snorkel the rainbow reefs of Bocas del Toro, cruise through the famed canal, or sip a cocktail in the historic district of Casco Viejo. Learn about rum distillation, orange grove trade, and distinct Panamanian Folklore. Meet the indigenous Emberá while traveling upriver on a dugout canoe. Whether you’re looking for luxury or adventure, Panama is a tropical nirvana.

One of our clients recently stayed at the Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge, a stunning abode reminiscent of Polynesian water bungalows. Call us for discounted rates. 

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9. Poland

Poland is fast becoming a major hub for culture, cuisine and fashion in Central Europe. In the past decade, Wroclaw in particular has enjoyed a cultural makeover, and is now popping with art galleries, beer gardens, restored bell towers and the beautiful and iconic Old Town Hall. The city has been elected 2016’s European Capital of Culture, a continent-wide event that promotes festivals, concerts and conferences in select cities. Other remarkable attractions of Poland include the historic and picturesque Old Town of Kraków, the 141,885-hectare Białowieża Forest, home to elk, wolves, lynx and 900 bison and the the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a deep labyrinth of salt tunnels distributed over 300km.

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8. Croatia

In recent seasons, Croatia has been exploding on the map as travelers seek out a new, special European experience. The Dalmatian coastline is famous for its pink sunsets, glittering Adriatic sea and breathtaking landscapes. The cities are a cultural delight, strewn about with medieval streets, blending Mediterranean and Slavic influences for a flavor all its own. “Those who seek paradise on Earth must come to Dubrovnik,” wrote George Bernard Shaw.

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7. Norway Coastline & Spitsbergen

Discover your inner adventurer by embarking on a coastline cruise off of Norway and Spitsbergen. Boats will take you from charming Bergen, through stunning fjord lands and up to the icescapes of North Cape. Enjoy Norway’s frosty beaches, kayak through picturesque inlets and spot rare seabirds and walruses. High in the north, experience a dogsled in the warm company of the indigenous Sami people. Some boats even continue up to the Svalbard archipelago and Spitsbergen island for a glimpse of polar bears and reindeer.

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6. Iran

Iran is a beautiful, diverse country with a history and culture that dates back thousands of years. The national is home to a whopping 19 UNESCO-registered sites! So it’s wonderful to hear about the ease of diplomatic relations between Iran and the rest of the world. Our certified friends over at Caravan-Serai offer a fascinating  tour into the heart of Iran. Join an expert guide and delve into ancient Persian history at the fabled cities of Shiraz and Esfahan. See classic poetry spring to life in the halls of exquisite mosques and madrassas. Departures run Feb 29, May 15, Sep 23, Oct 23—call Wittravel for full details.

Click here to read our client’s trip report of Iran: http://wittravel.com/reports/Iran_April08.pdf

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5. Burma

Since 2011 due to government reforms, Burma is now enjoying a resurgence in tourism. Since the country was isolated and closed to many outsiders for decades, the area is unspoiled by tourists: pristine countryside, true sense of locals and lifestyles. The best way to go is with a small group, led be an expert in history or archaeology. Burma’s rich heritage of architecture, lacquer, music dance and textiles. You’ll visit Bura’s cities, sail the Irrawaddy River, visit Inle Lake and the Plain of Pagodas. Attend a cooking lesson or enjoy a traditional puppet performance, or take a hot air balloon ride over the plains

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4. Hokkaido

Hokkaido is Japan’s most northern and most remote island. With its heavy snowfall and wild mountains, the nature is relatively unspoiled and isolated from the rest of Japan. This is a destination for outdoorsy types—skiers, snowboarders, cyclists, hikers—so grab your boots and skis and hit the road! Nature rules here: top jaunts include Daisetsuzan National Park, Shiretoko Peninsula, volcano-laden Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Kushiro wetland (home to thousands of Japanese cranes), and the countless hot springs all over. Our one recommendation—call us up soon, because the best time to go is early in the year. The Sapporo Snow Festival, a world-famous event, is held from February 5 to 11, 2016. Millions of visitors attend the festival to marvel at the gigantic and spectacular ice sculptures. Later around mid-April and early May are also a great time to go, as the cherry blossoms burst in all their exquisite, delicate beauty. We recommend Alexander & Roberts as a great guide into the Land of the Rising Sun.

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3. Estonia & Latvia

Estonia is a quirky country—a unique blend of Eastern European and Nordic influences. Just a ferry hop away from Helsinki, the land is rich in summer isles, diverse national parks, and quiet lakes. The charming capital of Tallinn keeps its heritage alive with Renaissance towers, cobblestoned streets and a Gothic Town Hall. Directly south lies Latvia, known for its wooden architecture, old-growth forests and pristine beaches. The capital of Riga is still bursting with life from its 2014 reign as the European Capital of Culture—with plentiful art festivals, operas, and exhibitions still in motion.

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2. Malta

Malta is a small archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, a spot that has led to multiple waves of cultural influence over the centuries. Sicilian, Arab and Italian heritage blends deliciously in the local cuisine and tongue. It has been the base for Romans, Normans, Moors, Spanish, the list goes on. Maltese is technically an Arabic dialect bombarded with Italian, Sicilian and English words. With prehistoric temples, coastline watchtowers and hilltop towns, the atmosphere feels distinctly out of time. There’s also loads of fun activities to be had here—snorkeling, hiking, cycling, yachting, to name a few.

We’re excited to announce that our very own WIT Agent Pam will be going to Malta in March 2016. So stay tuned for her tales and photos of the quirky islands come Spring! In anticipation of her trip, we’ll also be posting a few Malta-related posts on this blog in the coming weeks.

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1. Cuba

Cuba is our Top 1 Choice, especially for Americans. Cuba is ripe with cultural riches–smooth music, luscious beaches, and a vibrant love of life! As legislation prohibiting travel relaxes, the land of antique cars and melodious tunes is more popular than ever. Our agents get calls almost daily, and we’re seeing tours already selling out for 2016! Unlike many travel professionals, who are just beginning to tap into this lovely island, we have been sending our clients there for years. Cycle around the plantations, explore the sultry streets of Havana, or embark on a slow, multi-day cruise that takes you into the heart of the Cuban culture.

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Filed under Asia, Caribbean, Europe, News, Panama, South America

11 Fun Facts about Cuba

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Many of our clients inquire about Cuba — a fascinating country that is quickly becoming a top destination for US travelers. Our agents at Willamette Intl Travel have sent clients to the island for years and would love to share our expertise with you. Give us a call or email us for more info: 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com.

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Did You Know… ?

  1. Cuba’s unofficial nickname is “El Cocodrilo” or “El Caimá,” meaning crocodile and alligator respectively. These names are in reference to the shape the island resembles from an aerial perspective.
  2. Cuba was once inhabited by the Taíno, Guanajatabey and Ciboney populations, who lived as farmers, fishers and hunter-gatherers. Within 40 years after the arrival of Columbus, most of the locals had died of diseases like smallpox and measles.
  3. Columbus dubbed the island Isla Juana after Price Juan of Asturia but this never quite caught on. The name Cuba comes from the indigenous Taíno language, and can be translated as “fertile land” or “great place.”
  4. Cuba was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Columbus in 1492 until the Spanish-American War of 1898. After the war, the country was under US jurisdiction until 1902, when Cuba declared formal independence.
  5. In 1848 the U.S. offered Spain $100 million dollars for Cuba, but this offer was rejected.
  6. Cuba also has a French heritage. The slave uprising of 1791 in Haiti caused more than 300,000 French settlers to flee the island and many arrived on Cuba.
  7. The most popular sport in Cuba is baseball, followed closely by boxing. One of the most popular games is dominoes.
  8. In 2000, Fidel Castro erected a statue of John Lennon in a Havana park in remembrance of a revolutionary hero.
  9. Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate, one of the highest in the world.
  10. Government vehicles are legally obligated to pick up hitchhikers if they have space.
  11. Christmas was not an official holiday in Cuba until 1997, when the government adopted the holiday as preparation for the Pope’s visit the following year.

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Related Posts: 

Reading List: Cuba

Circumnavigate Cuba in 2016

Cuba in 2016!

The Quick Low-Down on Cuba

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Filed under Caribbean, Cuba, Travel by Ship