Category Archives: Europe

Travel News: More Lindblad Small-Ship Expeditions coming your way

Tourism Giant Thomas Cook Stops Selling Tickets To SeaWorld

Travelwirenews reports Animal advocates are celebrating another big win for captive whales and dolphins with an announcement from tourism company Thomas Cook that it will no longer be selling tickets to any attractions that keep Orcas in captivity. Last year the company announced a new animal welfare policy and began auditing 49 of the facilities it sells tickets to in an effort to see if they met the standards set by the Association of British Travel Agents. In all 29 of them failed, and the company stopped selling tickets to them. Now, the company is amending that policy over concerns about welfare and changes in what people consider acceptable and has officially announced it will no longer be selling tickets to facilities that keep Orcas in captivity as of next summer, which includes SeaWorld in the U.S. and Loro Parque in Spain.

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New Tourism Taxes Have Made Holidays To Barbados More Expensive

Travelwirenews reports Holidays to the Barbados has gotten more expensive with new tourism taxes. As of July 1, tourists were hit with a new hotel tax, equal to US$2.50 to US$10 per night, depending on the class of accommodation. This new tax comes on top of an “airline travel and tourism development fee” of US$70 that will be applied to passengers flying to destinations outside the Caribbean as of October 1, and a 2.5% levy applied to “direct tourism services” like car rental services. The additional taxes are meant to help offset the island’s government debts. For the average family staying an average of 12 nights, the additional tax could add US$240 to their hotel bill. The additional room levy will be collected at the resort and hotels until 2020, when the VAT doubles to 15%.

Lindblad Positive On Expanding Expedition Demand

National Geographic Explorer reports Lindblad Expeditions reported positive second quarter earnings on Thursday morning, with Sven-Olof Lindblad, president and CEO, continuing to paint a picture of a strong demand environment for expedition travel. “I know new entrants and new ships are (coming) at an unprecedented level,” Lindblad said, noting the capacity increase in the expedition market in the next two years was still less than the introduction of one mass market ship. While some of those new ships will replace older inventory, Lindblad said the additional capacity will drive marketing and interest across the sector. For 2019 Lindblad said he was expecting a stronger South Pacific season as the company was able to rebalance capacity to maximize revenue opportunities. Across the globe, the company is also eyeing building up deployment in Egypt, citing strong demand. “Creating new geographic opportunities is a key ingredient to sustain growth,” Lindblad said, speaking on the company’s second quarter earnings call. A July deal to build a second blue-water expedition ship was based on increasing demand for high-quality expedition travel, Lindblad explained, as the company will get new 126-passenger polar-class ships in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The company has an option on a third vessel as well. “We have done diligent research,” he said, referring to the 126-guest ship size. “Once you cross over into larger numbers the opportunities (to land guests) diminish dramatically.”

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Hot Weather In Europe Causes Low Water, Prompts River Cruise Itinerary Changes

Cruise Critic UK reports unusually hot weather in Europe is affecting river cruises, causing lines to swap ships between different port cities, change itineraries and use buses to take passengers to various sites. The issues are primarily on Germany’s Elbe River, which historically has had low water issues, and parts of the Danube River north of Passau. The Rhine River is also low, with daily fluctuating levels. River cruise lines handle low water levels in a number of ways, doing their best to keep as close to the itinerary as possible. Ports often close with little advance notice, with the local officials making the determination, leading to last-minute decisions by the line. It’s also hard to predict which season water issues will arise, as it’s entirely dependent on the weather. Sometimes high water strikes in the spring, when snow melts in the Alps, but that’s not always a given (and it wasn’t this year). Low water is generally more common in the fall, but a hot summer can cause issues earlier. Conversely, a particularly stormy summer can cause flooding. The most common, and least disruptive, practice for cruise lines is to keep identical ships as floating hotels in various ports. That way, when passengers swap ships, they have the same cabin category and amenities.

Florida Suffers Worst Red Tide In Over A Decade

Travelmole reports holidaymakers in Florida are being warned to take care as the worst outbreak of red tide in over a decade is affecting its beaches. Officials fear the toxic algae bloom, which is affecting at least 120 miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, could last until 2019. It has already killed thousands of fish, hundreds of sea turtles, and also pelicans and manatees. It poses health risks to beachgoers, particularly those with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma. The algae can cause rashes and eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and allergy-like symptoms in humans, while drinking water with the toxins can cause long-term liver disease. Last month, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for seven counties after the algae blooms tainted the water in the wake of discharges from Lake Okeechobee. This gave state environmental and tourism agencies more resources to respond to problems caused by the algae. The red tide, which usually goes away in the spring, has persisted for nine months. According to US reports, the worst bloom in 2006 lasted 17 months.

The UK Has Updated Its Travel Advice For Portugal

The UK Foreign Office has updated its advice for Portugal following three days of forest fires in the Algarve. Portuguese authorities are evacuating affected areas in and round the town of Monchique. “If you are in this area, follow the instructions of the Portuguese police and Civil Protection authorities,” the FCO told British visitors. “For your own safety, travel to the Monchique area is not advised under any circumstances until cleared by the Portuguese authorities.” Flames have already consumed more than 1,000 hectares of forest despite efforts by more than 800 firefighters. Wildfires in Portugal killed more than a hundred people last year. This year authorities were quick to act with evacuations.

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Croatia Is Latest EU Country To Increase Tourist Tax

Travelwirenews reports Croatia is the latest destination to announce an increase in its tourist tax, in an effort to mitigate the impact of its growing holiday industry. The country will raise its visitor levy from 8 kuna (€1.08) per night to 10 kuna (€1.35) from next year. The new rate will apply to all accommodation during peak season, with the exception of campsites. Gari Cappelli, the country’s tourism minister and president of the Croatian tourist board, said money raised would be distributed to the Red Cross, the tourist board and destinations within the country. While the new levy will add just £3.23 per person onto the cost of a fortnight’s holiday, or approximately €18.90 for the two weeks, it’s part of a wider move by holiday destinations to raise tourist taxes. This year, the Balearic Islands of Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera doubled their daily tax on tourists in peak season to up to €4 per night. Earlier this summer Barbados announced that it was increasing its visitor levy, which could see families pay €224 extra for a fortnight’s stay. While many destinations impose such taxes to support sustainable tourism, Barbados is doing so to raise money to reduce its overwhelming deficit. Edinburgh is looking to become the first UK destination to introduce a tourist tax. The council claims it would use the money to improve the city’s infrastructure, which is struggling to cope with a surge in visitors.

National Geographic Partners with Ponant to Develop Global Expedition Cruising

Cruise Critic reports National Geographic Expeditions and Ponant have announced a new range of co-branded, luxury expedition cruises on small ships with a common vision for responsible travel and unique experiences. The 130 itineraries, to be offered over the next four years, cover all seven continents. Core destinations are the Arctic and Antarctic, complemented by a range of expeditions in northern Australia, the South Pacific, Alaska, the Seychelles and the Caribbean. Unusual options to some of the world’s most remote locations include Antarctica to Africa (Ushuaia to Cape Town) and Fiji to Guam via Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. A 10-night ‘Top End’ cruise sails from Darwin to Cairns stopping at several Aboriginal communities. The new strategic partnership specifically targets travellers in Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific and does not impact National Geographic’s partnership with Lindblad Expeditions in the Americas. Expeditions will be conducted on Ponant’s ‘clean ships’, which are designed to respect the environment and marine life, with capacity for 180 to 240 passengers as well as National Geographic photographers and other relevant experts onboard. Ponant is committed to recycling and reuse programs, reduced exhaust emissions and sustainable purchasing practices. Some of the latest ships will also have the line’s new multi-sensory underwater lounge. Available to book now, the new cruises are priced from AU$4,730 per person. A portion of all proceeds is returned to the non-profit National Geographic Society.

American Song, New Orleans’ First Modern Riverboat, Is Nearly Complete

Cruise Industry News reports American Song is nearly finished with construction and will arrive in New Orleans in October 2018. The vessel is one of two modern riverboats American Cruise Lines will debut in New Orleans over the next year. The 190-passenger riverboat, owned by American Cruise Lines, has sailed from its outfitting basin at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland to the yard’s outfitting bulkhead, where it will receive final touches, according to a news release. It will sail its inaugural Mississippi River cruise from New Orleans in October. American Song has a range of modern features including a rotating, retractable gangway that extends from the bow, which is designed to open for boarding and disembarking. It is one of two new, top-of-the-line riverboats being built by American Cruise Lines, both of which will launch in New Orleans. American Harmony, its sister ship, is currently under construction and will go into service on the Mississippi River in 2019. American Song will sail from New Orleans through the end of this year before it relocates to the Pacific Northwest in 2019. American Song and American Harmony have a new design that eliminates the paddlewheel and adds luxury features, including new grand suites with 900 square feet of private space, large windows and a wraparound balcony. Of the boat’s 102 staterooms, the grand suite is the most expensive, running more than $9,000 for a seven-night cruise from Memphis to New Orleans. The company also plans to have two paddlewheel boats operating from New Orleans by October, America, a 185-passenger boat, and Queen of the Mississippi, a 150-passenger boat. American Song’s inaugural cruise departs New Orleans on Oct. 6.

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Lindblad Expeditions, portugal

Top Tips on Best Travel Photography

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Awesome travel photography doesn’t happen overnight. Even the pros have had to work on improving their composition, equipment, and methods. Here are some of our best tips from decades in the travel business.

Note: I use the word camera here, but you can easily apply these same tips to smartphone cameras.

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Engage with your Subjects.

Don’t simply snap an image and walk away. Like you should get to know your destination, get to know the people there. Speak to them, and ask them about their day, their family, what they are doing. If you don’t speak the local language, try hand gestures, nodding, word of greeting, or smile. Open up, and you might find that people open up as well.

Ask people for portrait shots. The worst they can do is say no. Most people will likely smile in agreement. Make sure you thank them, and if you can, show them their own photo. You can even offer to send them a copy if they have email or postal address.

Talking to people even before you bring out your camera can also help you get a sense of place. Say hello to passersby. Ask for directions. Buy souvenirs. Use your interactions as inspiration for the mood and essence you want your photos to convey.

Be your true self, and engage with people authentically. Become part of the story that you tell.

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Travel Lightly.

Perhaps a difficult task if you have expensive photography gear, but traveling light is an important tool to learn. Pack only your camera, memory cards, lightweight mini tripod, portable storage unit, flash unit, selection of lenses—all in a supportive camera bag that protects from weather conditions and terrain.

As to whether lenses you take, choose a fast zoom like 18-200mm or 28-300m. If you have space, also grab a portrait prime lens, a wide angle lens and a telephoto.

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Research your location.

The best travel photography comes in part due to Research. Know your destination, the festivals, the scenic routes and panoramas. Consult your travel agent. Read guidebooks. Read articles online and blog posts from writers you admire. Scan through Instagram.

Know what other photographers have managed to capture in the region, and decide if you want to pursue similar shots or look for unique angles. Make sure you keep track of the light via an app—download The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which tells you what time the sun rises, sets, and the position of the moon to your location. You can also check the tides for access to cool shots and locations during low tides.

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Late to Bed, Early to Rise

I know, you’re on vacation, so you’d rather not wake up early! But some of the most fantastic light for your next iconic shot will be early in the morning. The soft, warm morning light is perfect for images—and plus you can beat the tourist crowds, too. Need that epic shot of the Taj Mahal—wake up before sunrise.

Make sure you’re outside for sunset, too. The golden hour and subsequent blue hour of photography bathe cities and landscapes in magical light. Time to make some forever memories.

Rule of Thirds

Maybe you’ve heard of this one—one of the basic tenants of photography. Understanding the Rule of Thirds will change the way you look through the camera lens. This is about composition. Imagine breaking down the image into thirds horizontally and vertically. Place important parts of the photos into those sections. This means, for example, positioning a person on the left grid line instead of the center. Shift the horizon on the bottom third, rather than straight down the middle. Remind yourself of the Rule of Thirds by switching on your camera’s “grid” feature.

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Travel Tripod

Many of the best travel photographers recommend a lightweight tripod fashioned specifically for travel. These will keep your images in a steady position and let you play with all types of tricks: video production, exposure, time-lapse, panorama. Tripods also let you shoot non-optimal subjects, like waterfalls or low-light stars, without that annoying shaking camera.

Did you know that some tour guides offer special photography tours? Our clients have done these special-interest tours in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Norway, Iceland and more! Ask your Willamette Intl Travel agent about more of these incredible, eye-opening photography tours.

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Filed under Europe, Travel By, Travel by Sport, Travel by Taste

Danube Waltz with Viking Cruises

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Budapest – Bratislava – Vienna – Krems – Linz – Passau

This week, WIT Agent Debbie is joining Viking Cruises on an educational cruise onboard the Viking Vilhjalm!

She will fly to Budapest and spend 2 nights at the lovely Corinthia Hotel, before embarking on her ship on the Danube. 

Saturday is her birthday, and she’ll be in Vienna so hoping for some succulent Sachertorte!

Upon disembarking arrival in Passau, she’ll be staying 3 nights in Munich before heading home. A full 12 days of exploring Central Europe! We can’t wait for her pics 😉

Willamette Intl Travel has been on countless cruises and sent countless happy clients on the cruise of their dreams. ASK your WIT agent which cruise might be right for you. Whether you love scientific lectures or prefer to kick-back with a glass of wine, traveling with your spouse, kids or going solo, we guarantee there’s a cruise made just for you. Call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com

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The Cruise

Highlights

  • Soak up soothing steam at a Budapest thermal bath.
  • Learn to waltz at a Viennese dance school.
  • Savor Austro-Hungarian cuisine in Vienna and Budapest.
  • Admire the Wachau Valley’s beauty from your Viking Longship.
  • Explore lesser-known Central European cities like Bratislava.
  • Witness daily life in an abbey on an exclusive visit to Göttweig. 

The Sail

WED AUG 08, 2018 Embark In Budapest on Viking Vilhjalm

THU AUG 09, 2018 Budapest, Hungary

FRI AUG 10, 2018 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

SAT AUG 11, 2018 Vienna, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Krems, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Durnstein, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Scenic Cruising: Wachau Valley

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Melk, Austria

MON AUG 13, 2018 Linz, Austria

TUE AUG 14, 2018 Passau, Germany

WED AUG 15, 2018 Disembark In Passau

The Ship

The Viking river boat is named after Vilhjalm Langaspjót, William I Longsword. As the son of Rolf the Ganger, a Viking chief and first Duke of Normandy, William ruled Normandy after his father from 927 to 942.

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Features: 

  • 95 comfortable outside staterooms (25 Standard Staterooms, 22 French Balcony Staterooms, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 7 Veranda Suites, 2 Explorer Suites)
  • All suites feature two full-size rooms with a veranda off the living room & a French balcony in the bedroom
  • Sun Deck with 360-degree views & shaded sitting area; organic herb garden & solar panels; putting green & walking track
  • Aquavit Terrace & Lounge, a revolutionary indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the ship for al fresco dining
  • Viking Lounge & Bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors
  • Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views
  • Library & onboard shop
  • Elevator from Middle to Upper Deck only; no elevator access for categories E & F
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • Laundry service
  • Ecologically friendly hybrid engines producing less vibrations for a smoother ride
  • 40″ flat-screen Sony TV with infotainment system featuring Movies On Demand, plus CNBC, CNN, National Geographic & more
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The Room

French Balcony Stateroom (C, D)

  • Stateroom size: 135 sq ft
  • River-view stateroom with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door to create a French balcony
  • Hotel-style bed 79 in x 63 in (with optional twin-bed configuration); luxury linens & pillows
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • 40″ flat-screen Sony TV with infotainment system featuring Movies On Demand, plus CNBC, CNN, FOX, National Geographic & more
  • 110/220 volt outlets & USB ports
  • Telephone, safe, refrigerator, hair dryer & individual climate control
  • Private bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor & anti-fog mirror
  • Premium Freyja® toiletries; plush robes & slippers available upon request
  • Bottled water replenished daily
  • Stateroom steward & twice-daily housekeeping
  • Space under bed for storing suitcases
  • Roomy wardrobe with wooden hangers
  • View the French Balcony in our 360° Longship Tour

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Travel by Ship, Travel by Taste, Viking Cruises

Travel News: Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 

 
Hapag-Lloyd Releases Statement Following Polar Bear Incident
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises released a statement on Sunday morning following a weekend incident that left a polar bear dead in Spitsbergen. ” This Saturday on a trip ashore in Spitsbergen during a BREMEN cruise an accident occurred: a polar bear guard, an expert employed by the cruise line, was attacked on land by a polar bear. The guard suffered head injuries, however, he was responsive after the attack and was airlifted. He is out of danger, with no threat to life. In an act of self-defence, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead. We very much regret this incident. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife. To prepare for a shore leave, the polar bear guards go ashore in advance after sighting the landing site as a group and without passengers. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight. As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately. The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave. One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person. The injured person was immediately provided with medical care and flown to a hospital with a rescue helicopter. We are in personal, direct contact with him. His condition is stable and he remains responsive. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has worked comprehensively and co-operatively with the Norwegian authorities to reconstruct and clarify the incident on the ground and will continue to do so.
Southwest Airlines Promises They Still Won’t Charge for Bags 
Condé Nast Traveler reports at least one airline has some good news about fees you don’t have to worry about. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in an earnings call on Thursday that the airline will continue with its policies of free checked bags, no change fees, and open seating for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that they’re potentially leaving billions of dollars on the table by doing so. I don’t think we need to change the essence of what Southwest Airlines is to still find opportunities to drive revenues,” Kelly said. While he said the company was exploring new ways to make money, he didn’t divulge details, only adding that they were “very handsome opportunities.” No need to sweat the small stuff: customers won’t see the changes for awhile, not in 2018, and perhaps not even in 2019, Kelly said. Southwest is largely fee-free, but it doesn’t assign seats; instead, passengers can shell out $15 for EarlyBird Check-In to improve their place in the boarding line so they can nab that precious window seat. They also can pay around $50 for each leg of their trip to board with the first group of passengers. The airline’s hands-off, free-bags-and-change-fees approach hits a note with travelers. The Dallas-based airline routinely bests JetBlue, Delta, United, and American when it comes to value for the money, credit card perks, and, uh, flight attendant friendliness. The airline even announced yesterday that despite rising fuel costs, its ticket prices were falling. 

Arizona Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 
Travelwirenews reports a Arizona startup plans to send tourists to the edge of space using high-altitude helium balloons, but tickets will definitely cost at least $75,000 each. World View Enterprises has plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. The firm will use high-altitude balloons for a ride proponents say will undoubtedly be a lot more peaceful than rocket-based systems. World View currently launches missions primarily for the government, with roughly 50 within the last year. For passenger flights, World View is rolling out a capsule dubbed Voyager, which includes windows on all sides. While it will not reach official boundary of space, passengers should be able to see Earth fall away beneath them. In just a couple of years, wealthy tourists could see themselves going for a relaxing visit to the edge of space, towed by way of a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon. World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system during the last couple of years before plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. World View has conducted over 50 flights within the last year. In 2015, a then-Google exec completed a record-breaking free fall from about 136,000 feet, counting on a suit and balloon developed by World View over the course of three years. At present the firm primarily conducts missions for the government, including a recently available effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico.
 
 
Inca Rail Upgrades Trains To Machu Picchu 
Travel Market Reports that Inca Rail in Peru was acquired by the Carlyle Groupsome two years ago and has now rebranded as Machu Picchu Trains by Inca Rail and significantly upgraded its product offering. With a $10 million investment from Carlyle, the company has refurbished its cars, enhanced the onboard experience, ratcheted up the amenities, added a 360-degree panoramic-view observation deck with an outdoor terrace, and offers a private charter service. The company expanded its first-class offering from 30 seats to 60 seats, adding a second 30-seat car, and adding an observatory lounge car between the two cars. The 360-degree observatory lounge is unique in the market, “not only because we have more panoramic windows, but it is the only train with an open terrace. It’s wonderful because since we want to deliver as full an experience as possible, this is the way the customer can experience the journey with the five senses, to see, to smell, to hear and to feel more of the journey. There are no windows so you can take pictures.” Inca Rail also upgraded the technology on the train to accommodate the needs of today’s wired travelers. “It’s also the first train that offers state-of-the-art technology, with a USB port for ISP to charge phones and iPads if you want to take pictures and don’t have batteries. It’s also the only train that has an entertainment system that lets passengers follow the trip with their phones. They can see where the train is going. There are many things to see along the way. They can hear the narration in different languages and find out what is outside, the Incan ruins or the Urubamba River. There is also music and video from the Andes. So, it’s a unique train. The company now offers four classes of service: private, first class, 360 Degree and the standard Voyager service. “For the top luxury class, we offer a private service on a chartered basis, it’s unique in market. You can charter the whole car and it’s at your disposal. You travel with a chef, staff and butler service. It includes upscale dining with a five-course meal, whisky, live music, a lounge and a bar. It’s for one to 10 people. It could be couples, families or friends. You charter the service and it’s completely private, the only private charter in the market.” Passengers can catch the train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo. From Cuzco, the train leaves from Poroy Station, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Cuzco. The trip to Machu Picchu is about three hours. From Ollantaytambo, passengers catch the train near the site itself and the trip takes about an hour and a half. The train drops passengers off at the Machu Pichu Pueblo Hotel, formerly known as Aguas Caliente, at the foot of the final climb to the Citadel. The final leg of the trip is taken by bus. With its new, upgraded service, Inca Rail is including a private bus for the final climb. The Peruvian government implemented some restrictions, last July. There are two shifts for visitation: in the morning between 6 a.m. and noon, or from noon to 5:30 p.m. In addition, the authorities mandated that visitors have to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide so they know where to walk without damaging the site.


 
Virgin Galactic Completes Rocket Powered Test Flight
CNN reports the race to put tourists into space seems to be a glacially slow one most of the time, and then it suddenly takes a supersonic leap forward. That is what happened with Richard Branson’s long-delayed Virgin Galactic project, which last Thursday completed a rocket-powered test flight at 2.47 times the speed of sound. Carried up to an altitude of 46,500 feet over the Mojave Desert in California, Virgin’s VSS Unity was released from its mother ship before blasting into the stratosphere. With rockets blazing for 42 seconds, it then entered a near-vertical climb to 170,800 feet, approximately halfway to the edge of space. The ship then glided back down to Earth, making a successful landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The third rocket-powered outing in less than four months was hailed as the most successful yet for the project, which eventually aims to carry passengers and commercial payloads into space. It was the first to reach the mesosphere, which Virgin Galactic describes as an “under-studied atmospheric layer” because it’s beyond the range of balloon flight. “This was a new altitude record for both of us in the cockpit, not to mention our mannequin in the back, and the views of Earth from the black sky were magnificent,” Mackay added. Branson predicted it would be up and running by December in an interview released on the eve of the latest test. If Virgin Galactic gets up and running, passengers paying north of $250,000 will experience a two-and-a-half-hour flight to the edge of space. The flight will culminate with several minutes of weightlessness during which they’ll be able to float from their seats.
 
 
 
Hawaii’s Honolulu Airport Will Run On Thousands Of Solar Panels
Hawaii is doing the most when it comes to environmental conservation. The state officially banned all chemical sunscreens, which contain coral-bleaching ingredients, in early July. A number of hotels across the islands have gotten rid of plastic straws and single-use plastics (read our full list of companies that are saying no to single-use plastics). And the state has pushed to use exclusively clean energy by 2045. Hawaii’s Department of Transportation took another step, announcing that Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will be outfitted with 4,260 solar panels by the end of November, with the aim to cut the airport’s electricity bill in half. Thousands of solar panels will cover the roof of Terminal 1’s parking garage to help capture the rays of Honolulu’s 270 days of sun a year. There also are plans to add more to Terminal 2’s parking garage in the coming years (and, ultimately, a whopping 21,000 across all of Hawaii’s airports). More than 98,000 light fixtures at Honolulu’s airport will be replaced with LEDs as well, the state’s DOT reports. Honolulu is far from the only airport trying to decrease its carbon footprint. George Airport (2,000 solar panels), between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and Cochin International Airport (46,000 panels) in India’s southwestern Kerala region are both run completely by solar energy. The South African airport hopes to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the Indian airport,-which serves nearly eight million passengers annually-hopes to reduce its carbon emissions by 330,000 tons over the next 25 years. Gatwick Airport in London is officially carbon neutral as of last summer, using 100 percent renewable energy, emphasizing electric car rentals, and building the world’s first airport waste management plant to turn cabin waste into energy on-site.
 
 
New TSA Scanners Could Allow Travelers to Keep Their Liquids and Laptops 
Open Jaw reports the TSA plans to have up to 40 units in place at 15 US airports by the end of this year, with plans for another 100 or so more by the end of the government’s fiscal year 2019. The Transportation Security Administration announced plans to expand testing of a new carry-on bag screening technology that it says could detect the kinds of materials that caused it to issue a ban on liquids and powders. The new checkpoint technology is expected to result in fewer bag checks. In the future, the agency said, “passengers may also be able to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.” The computed tomography scanners (CT) utilize 3-D technology similar to the kind doctors use to view and rotate images of the human body. “TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience. Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By leveraging strong partnerships with industry, we are able to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.” CT technology testing started in 2017 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport, with John F. Kennedy International Airport receiving the third such machine. Abroad, London’s Heathrow International Airport is among several international airports testing the 3D technology.

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Filed under Africa, Central America, Europe, News, North America, South America

7 Awesome Restaurants in Reykjavik

August is peak season in Reykjavik, and a lot of our clients are touching the ground now as we write. It’s no secret, though, that Iceland is expensive—even a light lunch could easily set you back around $20. How to know then, which restaurants are worth your wallet?

Here are 7 Awesome Restaurants in Reykjavik straight from our writer Wailana who lived there for 1 year.

DILL

Reykjavik’s most prestigious restaurant, DILL, embraces the new Nordic as defined by Iceland. Its all about seasonal ingredients straight from the lava soil. Started by chef Gunnar Karl Gislason and sommelier Olafur Orn Olafsson, diners can expect traditional Icelandic fare with a flair. Reindeer with crowberries, Sunchokes served with skyr, baked rutabaga with cheese foam, lumpfish and rye starters. The dinner menu offers a rotating menu of 3, 5 and 7 courses. It’s the only restaurant awarded a Michelin Star in Iceland. Famously it books up well in advance, so be sure to make your reservation at least a month before your trip to Iceland!

Hverfisgötu 12 | +354 552 1522  | www.dillrestaurant.is

GRILLMARKADURINN

The Grill Market is a stylish restaurant tucked away on Lækjargata. Its design is cozy and luxurious, drawing on Icelandic elements of rock and water. The menu is decidedly Icelandic, from smoked Arctic char to grilled puffin with pickled blueberries. If you can’t decide, there’s always the tasting menu to sample a little bit of chef’s choice.

Laekjargata 2A | +354 571-7777 | www.grillmarkadurinn.is

FISKFELAGID

A trip to Reykjavik wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of Iceland’s world-class seafood. Fiskfelagid, a cozy restaurant in the basement of the Zimsen building, serves not only Icelandic seafood but also fish dishes from across the globe. The historic Zimsen building dates back to 1884 and was originally located a couple of streets away before it was moved to its current location underneath a quaint bridge. While the building was undergoing renovation, part of Reykjavik’s old harbor was unearthed and transformed into a work of art within the restaurant grounds by local artist Hjorleifur Stefansson. Patrons can relax in Fiskfelagid’s comfortable booths while snacking on Icelandic salted cod and burnt langoustines or the Malaysian inspired blackened monkfish with lobster spring roll.

 Vesturgata 2a, Grófartorg | +354 552 5300 | www.fiskfelagid.is/en

BAEJARINS BEZTU PYLSUR

It may not be fine dining, but there’s nothing more Icelandic than hot dogs. Their national dogs are prepared with a combination of pork, beef and lamb, and is the staple of every weekend revelry. Since 1937, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur has been served dogs near the harbor, best ordered med ollu, “the works”—ketchup, sweet mustard, remoulade and raw and friend onions.

Tryggvagata 1 | +354 511 1566 |  www.bbp.is

Brunch is always a good idea☕️

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SNAPS

Popular with the lunch office crowd, Snaps is the place for fresh dishes like mussels, French onion soup, and grilled fish straight from the harbor. Tucked away in the cute neighborhood of Skolavorduholt, this bistro was named Best Restaurant by Reykjavik’s Grapevine magazine for multiple years in a row.

Þórsgata 1 | +354 511 6677 | www.snaps.is

OSTABUDIN

This cute bistro—a delicatessen on the ground floor, restaurant in the basement—is another local favorite. Grab lunch and a hot bowl of fish soup to warm you up. The lunch menu is very reliable, with daily soup, daily fish, or house fishsoup (!) to choose from. Check their facebook page for daily specials. If you drop by for dinner, be sure to try their goose and wild game meatballs for something totally different.

Skólavörðustíg 8 | +354 562 2772 | http://ostabudin.is

NOSTRA

This new restaurant opened up just this year, and it focuses on fine dining with hyperlocal ingredients. Locals rave about the cocktail bar. Set menus, tailored to vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, or meat eaters over several courses. Best yet, the menu changes daily so there’s always a surprise waiting around the corner!

Laugavegur 59 | +354 519 3535 | https://www.nostrarestaurant.is

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Travel News: 10 Best Museums Across The UK As Voted For By Tourists

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10 Best Museums Across The UK As Voted For By Tourists

Travelnewswire reports the UK is home to a whole host of brilliant museums from historic buildings to galleries with impressive art collections, but there are an elite few that never fail to dazzle visitors. Now, the UK’s top 10 best museums have been revealed by tourists themselves, in this year’s TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards. 1. Victoria & Albert Museum, London; 2. National Gallery, London; 3. British Museum, London; 4. Natural History Museum, London; 5. Roman Baths, Bath; 6. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; 7. Churchill War Rooms London; 8. National Railway Museum, York; 9. Titanic Belfast: 10. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

 

Riu Palace Reopens In Punta Cana

Open Jaw reports that Riu Palace Punta Cana has reopened following an extensive renovation that introduced a host of new amenities along with new décor. The all-inclusive resort now features a new interior design in the common areas and all of its 676 rooms have been updated to feature larger bathrooms with walk-in showers. Around the resort, the property now features four new pools, including one next to the new RiuLand Kids Club with water slides. Other new additions include a brand-new spa and gym. The hotel also now offers five bars, including a cocktail lounge, lobby bar, 24-hours sports bar, poolside bar with a swim-up bar and a new café and pastry shop. There is also a new Spanish restaurant, in addition to the five other dining venues that were all updated during the renovation.

 

Hundreds To Clear Plastic Waste Off Dominican Republic Coast

Travelmole reports the Dominican Republic has drafted in 500 workers, including the military and local authority teams, to clean up tons of plastic waste being washed up on its beaches. Residents and conservationists have also joined in the clean-up and an estimated 54 tons of plastic has been cleared over the past few days. Conservationists have warned the waste is threatening the Dominican Republic’s reputation as a natural paradise and is harming wildlife. A video has been released by conservation group, Parley, entitled State of Emergency: Santo Domingo, showing the waste being carried by the waves around Montesinos Beach in the city. At certain points, the Caribbean Sea is not visible because there is so much plastic. Parley said: “With wave after wave of plastic waster ashore in the Dominican Republic, Parley teams are on the ground dealing with the world’s largest garbage emergency. Unless urgent action is taken, scenes like this will become more common.” Parley plans to recycle the plastic and is working with local leaders to help prevent future rubbish build ups.

 

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Raises Ticket Prices

Effective July 23, 2018, general admission tickets for KSC Visitor Complex will increase from $50 to $57. It’s the first hike in ticket prices since 2012. It will cost more to see the retired space shuttle Atlantis, a Saturn V moon rocket or IMAX movies at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The standard admission price is going up $7, to $57 for adults (age 12 and over) and $47 for children ages 3 to 11, increases of 14% and 18% respectively. A smaller $4 bump will be implemented for senior citizens and military service members, who will now pay $50, up 9%. There’s no change for student field trips or to a $10 parking fee. 

  

TSA And American Airlines To Launch 3D Scanning Technology For Carry-On Bags

Forbes reports new imaging technology is coming to the American Airlines security checkpoint in New York’s JFK airport that may help speed the screening process. According to a joint release between the airline and the Transportation Security Administration, American is trialing a new type of 3D X-ray scanner that will give screening staff better and more comprehensive images of carry-on bags. The resulting images should better-help screeners identify materials and cut down on flagged bags that require a manual search. The new technology, which is provided by analogic, uses Computed Tomography, or CT to produce 3D images of each scanned bag. That technology, which has been employed by the healthcare industry for years, has already been deployed to scan checked bags in most airports, but due to size constraints, has so far not been widely integrated at passenger screening checkpoints. 

 

 

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Quick Guide to the Paris Navigo Pass

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Last week, we announced the upcoming release of the Navigo Easy Pass, due out April 2019. This is an electronic (that means totally paperless!) system of navigating Paris’ maze of public transport networks.

This means: unlimited travel in selected zones and unlimited validity. Oh la la!

Conde Nast reports that the Navigo Easy Pass will be identical to London’s Oyster or Stockholm’s Access cards. It will charge a flat 2 euros then you can load it up with tickets. They’ll be unlimited – that means you can go virtually anywhere, without that pesky Monday business (read below for that fiasco).

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The only catch is you’ll have to wait at least until next April to enjoy all its benefits.

But there DOES currently exist a Navigo Pass, aka the Navigo Découverte that’s open to tourists RIGHT NOW and may be a good bet for travelers staying in Paris more than a week. So what’s all that about and is it worth it? Read on to find out more.

Where is the Navigo Découverte valid?

You can use it on the metro, RER, bus, tramway and train — but NOT  Orlyval, SNCF train lines with reserved seating, and the Optile special fare lines.

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Wait – isn’t there already the Paris Visite Pass?

The Paris Visite is specially designed for tourists and offers discounts on museums and tours. It’s more expensive, but better in a lot of ways. If you’re into sightseeing and wandering around all corners of Paris, the Visite is your best bet. The Visite is also valid from any day of the week (the Navigo is only valid from Mondays), and it’s available in 1-, 2-, 3-, and 5-day versions. BUT if you’re a total veteran of Paris and choose to go barebones aka the Navigo, it’ll only set you back a little bit.

Monday what now?

The Navigo pass starts on Monday morning with the first cars, and ends on Sunday. This may impact you, a traveling tourist, especially if you’re not arriving in Paris on Monday.

Navigo Liberté or Navigo Découverte?

We’ll make this easy. The Navigo Liberté is reserved for locals. Navigo Découverte is open to anyone. In this article, we always refer to the Découverte, naturally.

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So how much?

The card itself is €5 for one week, and you add on the duration you want:

  • €21.25 for Paris for the week starting Monday
  • €70 for the month (for those staying longer than a week)

How do I get one?

You can buy a Navigo pass at almost any transport ticket window in Paris.

You can also go to the website Navigo.fr to complete all of the application procedures online.

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But I’ll also need…

You will need a picture of yourself for the pass, 3cm high by 2.5cm wide, which is smaller than passport sized. You can purchase them in photo kiosks near the ticket windows that sell passes on the Metro, RER and Ile-de-France trains.

Learn more

There is an excellent page explaining how a foreigner purchased a Navigo pass here.

BOOKED A TRIP TO FRANCE WITH WITTRAVEL? ASK YOUR WITTRAVEL AGENT FOR MORE DETAILS ON HOW TO NAVIGATE THE PARIS METRO. IS THE PARIS VISITE OR NAVIGO DECOUVERTE RIGHT FOR YOU? CALL US AT 503-224-0180 OR EMAIL INQUIRY@WITTRAVEL.COM.

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