Category Archives: Europe

Hotel Profile: Citadines Ramblas Barcelona

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One of our favorite and most requested hotels in Barcelona is the Citadines Ramblas.

Awarded Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2016 and 2017, this apartment hotel is a fantastic option for families or couples looking to save a bit on dining out.

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The hotel offers studios for 2 people and 1-bedroom apartments for up to 4 people, and includes kitchens, dining areas, and satellite TV. Some even come with a balcony over the Las Ramblas district of Barcelona. Did we mention the rooftop terrace?

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Citadines Ramblas is wonderfully located just 5 minutes from Plaça Catalunya metro station and 15 minutes from the Picasso Museum, and just next to Las Ramblas boulevard lined with boutiques and tapas bars.

The interior design of the hotel is modern, stylish, with bright, minimal colors and clean lines. You’ll truly feel immersed in the heart of the city.

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The hotel also offers complimentary WiFi—because let’s be real – in this day and age, you can’t live without WiFi!

Love to know more? WIT Agent Nancy stayed in this wonderful hotel and could share her impressions: 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com.

Looking for a fun, unique activity in Barcelona? Context Travel offers awesome guides on the history and culinary traditions of Catalonia, led by professors and scholars. Or escape out of town for the day with a train ride to charming Girona or the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat.

In Barcelona for a few days? Why not enjoy a tour of La Rioja wine region or a private kayaking trip along the Costa Brava with Spanish Trails.

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Happy Chinese New Year from Willamette Intl Travel!

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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.

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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

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Travel News: Record Snowfall Closed the Eiffel Tower

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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.

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Colombia with Alexander + Roberts

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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

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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

Includes: 

+ 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

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Summer Frontiers in the Czech Republic

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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

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Travel News: US Passport Fees To Increase In April

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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.

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February Reads for a Cozy Valentine’s

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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:

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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!

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