Category Archives: Europe

Travel News: Walt Disney World To Build Star Wars Hotel

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Walt Disney World To Build Star Wars Hotel

Walt Disney World used this weekend’s Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim to announce it will build a Star Wars-themed hotel. The hotel will be built at Walt Disney World in Orlando and has been described as ‘the most experiential’ luxury resort ever attempted by the company. Each guest will have their own unique experiences following their own individual storyline throughout their stay while dressed up in realistic Star Wars attire. In the rooms ‘every single window has a view into space’. There is no confirmed date yet on an expected opening. Meanwhile Disney said the upcoming Star Wars themed lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will be named ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’.

New Destination For River Cruises Near Amsterdam

The development of two berths to handle river cruise vessels up to 135 meters has begun at Huizen, an old fishing village in the North Holland province of the Netherlands not far from Amsterdam. The berths are expected to be ready early next year. According to Amsterdam Cruise Port’s latest newsletter, the municipality of Huizen aims to become an additional destination for the many river cruises in the region. Huizen offers a charming old port area and can serve as a gateway for tours to Utrecht and other destinations. Funfact: Utrecht is a “friendship” city with Portland, on its way to becoming a sister city.

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Sandals Temporarily Closing Antigua Resort

Sandals Resorts International is temporarily closing Sandals Grande Antigua for important maintenance projects. The work, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 20, is anticipated to take five months, however, Sandals is in the process of completing a full and detailed assessment and say the timing may actually be shorter. This is the first time Sandals Grande Antigua, the only Sandals property in this destination, has closed since opening in 1992. 

Inbound International Airlines now requiring 3-hour check-in

More and more flights booked with international airlines that are flying into the USA are now requiring a 3-hour check-in. Keep this in mind the next time you’re flying back home!

Congress Set To Finally Push Back Against Shrinking Airline Seats 

Yahoo reports cabin seats have been shrinking over the past few decades. Since the 1970s, the average economy seat pitch, the distance between the seats, has shrunk from 35 inches to 31 inches, further pressurizing cabins and passengers’ tempers. This has allowed airlines to squeeze more seats in, or to make more room for larger seats they can sell at a premium. Today, travelers need to purchase premium economy seats for the same amount of legroom they used to get with the old economy. In May American Airlines said it would be shaving two inches of legroom in economy class, going from 31 to 29. Public blowback led the airline to partially reverse its decision and only cut one inch from most rows. But passengers’ knees, legs, and elbows are on track to get a reprieve thanks to the dogged efforts of one member of Congress, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). Cohen is finally looking at a win in his third year waging war against shrinking seats, having steered a version of his Safe Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act into the FAA reauthorization bill as an amendment, after failing numerous times.

22 Cruise Ships Earned Perfect 100 Health Scores So Far In 2017

Twice a year, each cruise ship that sails to or from a US cruise port goes through a surprise public health inspection. This inspection is done by the VSP (Vessel Sanitation Program at the Centers for Disease Control) to determine how well the ships are operating and to the check the sanitation standards on board. For a full list, click here: http://cruisefever.net/22-cruise-ships-earned-perfect-100-health-scores-far-2017/

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Tourism In Antarctica Funds Scientific Expeditions

tourism-review.com reports there are two things that are increasing in the Antarctic Peninsula: temperature and tourism. An unprecedented temperature of 17.5°C was recorded by the World Meteorological Organization at Base Esperanza, in Argentina in March 2015. As of July 2017, there are 63 vessels registered in the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, including Hurtigruten, Holland America Line, Seabourn, Silversea and Celebrity Cruises. They brought a total of 38,500 visitors on tourist expeditions to the white continent in the 2015-2016 season, an increase of almost 10,000 compared to the last decade. The scheme of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators has agreed to require best practices to minimize the impact on the environment. The registered routes of the Association are limited to no more than 500 passengers on the ships, with only 100 of them on land at a specific time. And before approaching the Antarctic Peninsula, ships must comply with rigorous decontamination processes. At Palmer Station, a research base in the United States, is located the southernmost souvenir shop in the world, with t-shirts, sweatshirts and decals for sale. Clearly, it was put there for the arrival of tourists. Hundreds of thousands of coat-clad tourists will come to visit penguins on the ice in the 2017-2018 season, profits from responsibly managed tourism in Antarctica will help fund scientific expeditions to the continent.

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Video: River Cruises in North America

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Thinking about a River Cruise? You don’t have to travel all the way to Europe or Asia to enjoy one! Several cruise lines offer amazing river cruises, right here in North America. 

The two major regions within North America for river cruises are the Mississippi River, and the Columbia & Snake Rivers in Oregon and Washington.

In the heartland of America, passengers can sail up north to St. Paul Minnesota, and south to New Orleans. Itineraries vary wildly, from the Civil War and Dixieland jazz history. Itineraries along the Columbia and Snake rivers travel from Portland, and ventures deep into the high, arid valleys along the border of Oregon and Washington.

More on River Cruises from Wittravel

Un-Cruise Adventures

Conscientious Traveler: Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad’s 11-Day Expedition in Cuba

River Cruises in Myanmar

Uniworld: A River Cruise for Families

Cruise Oregon Rivers with UnCruise

4 Family-Friendly Cruise Lines you wouldn’t expect

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Travel News: Turtles on the Tarmac delay flights

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Turtles On Tarmac Delay Flights At JFK

Flights were briefly held up at New York’s JFK Airport at the weekend due to a walkabout by dozens of turtles. About 40 diamondback terrapins escaped their habitat at nearby Jamaica Bay and crawled onto the tarmac. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokeswoman Cheryl Albiez said: “There were planes briefly stuck in queue. It is turtle season here, but it was a little unusual to get the turtles at this time.” Jamaica Bay is a wildlife refuge and has a large turtle population. It is not the first time the airport’s wildlife experts have been called into action to clear the airport. NBC News reports nearly 500 turtles were captured last year after venturing too close to the airport. The turtles’ annual migration takes place from June to mid-July.

Circular Runway Plan Poses Questions

A BBC video is taking YouTube by storm, chronicling one man’s vision of circular runways that could revolutionize the way the world travels. Researcher Henk Hesselink is working with Netherlands Aerospace Centre to test the idea but questions remain about the idea. Hesselink told the BBC: “My big idea is a circular runway. Aircraft can take off and land at points on the circle to make certain that they have no crosswind. He was inspired by watching scary crosswind landings on YouTube. His team is using simulators to test the concept, one that could allow up to three aircraft to take off and land simultaneously on a 3.5-kilometre runway. The runway’s sides would be banked, like those of an automobile racetrack. “Upon landing, because of the centrifugal force an airplane would automatically go slower and go towards the center of the runway,” Hesselink says. “Passengers will not feel like they’re on a roller coaster. They will [only] use part of the circle,” as well as avoiding tricky landings.” “Because we now have the possibility to fly in from any direction, towards any direction we can make the decision where to fly and where to avoid flying. Hesselink says one of the advantages of his idea is that it would do away with the need to take off and land into potentially dangerous crosswinds. Since his idea means the airport proper would be in a shallow bowl bounded by one runway knowing the effect of winds on arriving and departing aircraft is critical. None of this is to say there might not be circular runways in your future, just that there’s a lot of research yet to be done. The European Commission has funded some testing already. But apart from military trials in the mid-1960s, a commercial circular runway has never been constructed. Read the full article and view the video here

Dubai Introduce New Facial Recognition Technology

BIOMETRICS and a new generation of smart immigration gates are to be introduced at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 to help streamline check-in and immigration procedures. UAE authorities announced the projects after a review aimed at getting travelers flowing more smoothly through airport checkpoints. The review involved a collaboration between Emirates Airline, Dubai Customs, Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), Dubai Police and Dubai Airports. The new technology is expected to be in place within 12 to 18 months and will include facial recognition integrated with the UAE wallet, an app that allows passengers to scan their smartphone rather than a passport. Travelers will be able to register and store their biometric data through multiple means including by taking a selfie on their mobile phones, as well as using biometric registration kiosks placed at check-in areas and Emirates lounges. They then utilize this biometric data to ease their journey through immigration at T3 Departures, and later, other touch-points throughout DXB airport, including automated access to Emirates’ first and business class lounges. The new smart immigration gates, to be installed at T3 Departures and which will supplement existing e-gates, will offer an automated border control system using biometrics. The system will allow travelers to forgo the additional step of getting their passports and boarding passes manually checked by a security officer before they go through immigration.

Norwegian Cruise Line Sends Second Ship to Cuba

Norwegian Cruise Line will deploy a second ship, Norwegian Sun, to the region. The vessel will also serve as the line’s second alcohol-inclusive ship. Following a 2.5-week dry dock that will include a revamp of all cabins and the addition of popular venues, Norwegian Sun will begin sailing from Port Canaveral beginning April 2018 and offering four-day itineraries to Havana and Key West (beginning May 2018), as well as three-day voyages to the Bahamas. The ship will also include soda, juice and alcohol in its fares, a concept introduced on Norwegian Sky in 2015. Norwegian Sky homeports in Miami and is the only Norwegian vessel to visit Cuba and provide a beverage-inclusive experience. Following Norwegian Sun’s fall/winter season in South America and a drydock enhancement, the ship will spend summer 2018 sailing from Port Canaveral. Norwegian Sun will depart for Cuba and Key West each Monday on four-day sailings that feature an overnight in Havana. The three-day cruises to the Bahamas, departing Fridays, will visit Nassau and the recently enhanced Great Stirrup Cay. A 2.5-week drydock in Victoria, BC, will add features under the company’s ‘Norwegian Edge’ revitalization program. After the work, Norwegian Sun will re-enter service April 19 with a 17-day repositioning cruise from Seattle via the Panama Canal to the East Coast.

Tokyo To Turn Cruise Ships Into Hotels For 2020 Summer Olympics

Japan authorities reported on their plans to use their cruise ships as hotels during the much-awaited 2020 Summer Olympics. According to Japan News, the Japanese government is currently progressing in their goal to make cruise ships function as hotels. This innovation is planned for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. As of now, Japanese laws do not allow cruise ships to moor for more than 15 days. The only exception was the Queen Elizabeth 2 liner, which could accommodate more than 1,500 people. It stayed for 65 days during the Exotic Showcase in Yokohama in 1989. Several issues are connected to Japan’s new project. With ship crews becoming hotel staff, they would instantly fall outside the maritime legislation. Moreover, Japanese laws do not regulate ships’ meals. A special license under the Customs Law would be necessary to obtain for this. Japan News stated that in 2016, 24 million visitors arrived in Japan. This amount filled 80% of hotels in Tokyo. 40 million people are expected in the country in 2020, when the Olympics take place. This is why “floating hotels” could give the industry a big hand. The Port of Tokyo can accommodate up to 1,000 people, while Yokohama’s port can accommodate twice as much. The Port of Kawasaki and Kisarazu Port could also be used if they meet certain requirements.

Hotel cruise ships are not an uncommon sight. Vancouver used them for this purpose during the 2010 Winter Olympics and all the Olympics since until last year’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

EU Court Says Airlines Must Not Charge Cancellation Fees 

The European Court of Justice has said that airlines cannot levy additional charges if a consumer cancels a flight. German judges asked the court to rule on Air Berlin’s refund policy and disclosure of additional taxes. Airlines were ordered last Thursday by Europe’s top court to increase the transparency of their airfares by individually disclosing taxes, airport fees and other charges levied to consumers. The European Court of Justice (EJC) also ruled that carriers can no longer levy extra charges against customers who either miss or cancel their flights. The ruling means airlines can no longer hide those additional charges in the airfare or cancellation fees. 

Lot Polish Airlines To Begin Year Round Service Between Budapest and Both New York and Chicago

In May 2018, Lot Polish Airlines will begin year-round service between Budapest and both New York and Chicago, This will be the first direct flights between the US and Hungary since Malev Hungarian Airlines ceased operations in 2012. Traffic between Budapest and the US has been on the rise for the past few years, according to Lot “More than 165,000 passengers travel between Budapest and New York and Chicago every year,” They change mainly in Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and London, which makes their journey considerably longer. The Budapest flights constitute Lot’s first base of operations outside Poland, according to Budapest Airport CEO. The carrier aims to consolidate in Central and Eastern Europe, including its investment in Estonian carrier Nordica, which was announced last year. Lot will move one of its Dreamliners to Budapest for the US service. It will fly to New York four times per week, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, and to Chicago on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

More Ships To Visit Port Of Montreal

A new terminal will be completely finished by the fall foliage season for the Port of Montreal, and 2018 bookings are moving ahead of 2017. There will be more ships arriving earlier in the season and AIDA will be doing three turnarounds. There is renewed interest in cruising the Great Lakes and Montreal could become a turnaround port with small ships for both the Saint Lawrence and Great Lakes and growing interest in cruising the St. Lawrence. Montreal’s new terminal will operate alongside a second berth option that was originally temporary but is now sticking around. The secondary option includes a large tent positioned before a bridge that can accommodate ships with a larger air draft.

Alaska Volcano Eruption Triggers Red Aviation Alert

A volcano on Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain that has erupted frequently in the past eight months has sent up another ash cloud, leading an agency to issue a warning to aviation. The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the Bogoslof Volcano erupted at 10:15 a.m. Saturday Alaska time, creating an ash cloud that rose to 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) above sea level. The agency issued a red, or warning, alert to aviation because of the ash cloud. Bogoslof has erupted periodically since mid-December.

Concordia Ship Recycling Project Completed

The dismantling and recycling of the Concordia cruise ship, conducted under latest European environmental and safety regulations, has been completed in Genoa by San Giorgio del Porto, in partnership with Saipem. Fewer than three years have passed since the arrival of the Concordia wreck to Genoa, on July 27, 2014. Described by Genova Industrie Navali, a holding group comprising T. Mariotti and San Giorgio del Porto shipyards, as ‘one of the most important green ship recycling projects ever carried out in Europe’, the process engaged more than 350 workers and took approximately 1 million hours of work. Some 78 companies (98% of them Italian) were involved. Approximately 90% of the materials were recycled, equal to more than 53,000 tons, and required almost 4,000 trips to recycling facilities in Italy.

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Portland’s Bastille Day Celebrations

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Bienvenue! This Saturday, July 15, is the largest Bastille Day celebration on the West Coast!

If you’re in Portland or the area, be sure to drop by Jamison Square in the Pearl, from noon to 6pm.

Activities and Festivities include the annual Waiters Race, French-themed foods and cocktails, cafe music and jazz, pétanque, fencing, and a chance to win 2 round-trip tickets to Europe! Experience joie de vivre in your very backyard!

11th Annual Waiter’s Race

The popular race starts at 2pm; arrive early to cheer them on. Waiters must circle Jamison Square three times, balancing glasses of water on a tray — it’s harder than it looks! They must get the best time with the fewest spills! Winners will be awarded $2000 in prizes! Interested waiters can sign up online to register.

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L’Avenue de la Cuisine

Local restaurants will roll out their Francophone menus; sample fresh confectionaries and baked delights from St Honore Bakery, C’est Si Bon Crêperie, and Ruby Jewel Ice Cream. There will also be beer, wine, champagne and specialty cocktails available by the glass.

Musique à la France

The main stage will erupt into French-themed music all day, from the accordionist Jet Black Pearl,  French cafe music of the Zephyr trio, the jazz guitar stylings of the Djangophiles, the Mudtown Stompers, and Falcon, a lively father-daughter accordion-fiddle duo.

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Also to “Découvrir”:

Children’s activities, coloring playtime, arts and crafts, a Bastille-inspired costume contest, and a very special performance of puppet theatre from the Northwest Children’s Theatre. The adventurous can watch or play pétanque with the Lake Oswego Pétanque Club, or marvel at fencing demonstrations from the Northwest Fencing Center. The Alliance Française will also be there of course, hosting a huge French book sale.

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Win a Trip to Europe!

Be sure to stop by the tent of the French-American Chamber of Commerce for regional activities and raffle tickets for a chance to win two round-trip tickets to Europe on Delta Air Lines!

How to Get There: Jamison Square is located at 810 NW 11th Avenue at NW Johnson in the Pearl. Jamison Square is accessible by the Portland Streetcar A Loop and NS Lines, with stops at NW Johnson and NW 10th/NW 11th.

Willamette Intl Travel regularly books clients on unforgettable, incredible trips through Paris, France and Europe. 

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Happy World Chocolate Day!

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Friday 7 July is World Chocolate Day!

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Originally from Mesoamerica, the cacao bean has been a favorite culinary passion for thousands of years. People’s intimate relationship with chocolate is thought to date back all the way three or four millennia, when ancient pre-Columbian cultures like the Olmec were drinking fermented beverages made from the cacao bean.

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The world chocolate comes from the Aztec “xocoatl,” and the scientific name for the tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”

Why July 7? Friday marks 467 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe.

After all, who doesn’t love another excuse to sip down hot chocolate, or bite into a Belgian truffle?

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Celebrate the sweet day of chocolate by:

  • booking a honeymoon vacation to the Mexican coast to see the land that inspired a worldwide culinary passion
  • asking our travel agents about deals for families on Big Island to visit the candy factory and sample macadamia nut chocolates
  • attending a chocolate-making class in Brussels, Belgium in a fine chocolaterie
  • tasting Mexican cocoa in its mouthwatering perfection at Oaxaca, home to small cacao farms
  • booking a train trip in our office on Switzerland’s chocolate train to discover legendary Swiss chocolate in the medieval town of Gruyères
  • book a chocolate workshop in lovely Paris with our friends Chocolatine (their name is oh so apropos)
  • visiting Turin, home to legendary cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) and the annual CioccolaTò festival, with chocolate factory and treasure hunt

See more destinations for chocolate lovers here

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Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate

(from Olivia’s Cuisine)

  • 2 (3.5oz) bars good quality bittersweet chocolate (Lindt or authentic Mexican chocolate)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp chili powder (optional)
  • ½ Tbsp light brown sugar (optional)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Whipped cream to serve

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Instructions

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the chocolate with the water and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Once everything is melted, add the milk, heavy cream, chili powder and sugar, and the nutmeg. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let it cook until it thickens a little (about 5 minutes). If you think it’s too thick or sweet for you, add an extra cup of milk to thin it out.
  4. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

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The Best of Vilnius, Lithuania

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The Best of Vilnius

Vilnius’ Old Town is smaller than its Baltic cousins’, but no less exquisite. Even Napoleon, who marched through town, wrote to his wife that “Vilnius is a very beautiful city.”

Whereas Riga attracts with its grand Hanseatic city halls and Tallinn with its pointed cylindric towers, Vilnius is a more subdued beauty. It takes time to get to know its corners and explore its coquettish cafes and budding whiskey bars.

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Best Viewpoint: Hill of Crosses

The hill of the three crosses is said to date back to the 17th-century, when monks paid tribute to seven fellow monks martyred there back in the 14th century. The current monument was erected in 1989, and is simple, with clean lines and ungilded silhouettes.

Best Climb: Gediminas’ Tower

Once an old castle keep, the Vilnius Castle Complex, on the bank of the Neris River, has all but disappeared except for a few remains and tower known as Gediminas Tower. Now a symbol of Vilnius, the tower now holds a small museum within and the tricolor flag of Lithuania without. You can climb the dirt path or take the funicular railway up to the summit. Though the museum inside is rather curious, it’s the view of Vilnius below from the ramparts that really make it shine.

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Best Architectural Marvel: Gate of Dawn

The Gate of Dawn is a city gate that marks the border of Vilnius’ old town. Built in the early 16th century as part of the defenses, it’s the only one of nine city gates that still stands. Within the gate is a Chapel containing a painting of veneration, the Madonna of Mercy. These days, it’s a beloved remnant of Lithuanian culture and identity.

Best Artsy Neighborhood: Užupis

The Republic of Užupis is the local Bohemian and artistic area. Self-proclaimed its own country, Užupis has its own anthem, constitution, and local guardian in the form of a bronze angel. As one of the city’s oldest areas, it’s been the center for its artistic, punk, and creative communities for more than two decades.

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Best Traditional Restaurant: Senoji Trobelė

Though somewhat of a tourist attraction, Senoji Trobelė remains an indelible emblem of Lithuanian cuisine. With local classics such as cepelinai (potato-meat dumplings) and chilled beet soup, it’s a fantastic way to sample staples in a rustic old world setting.

Best Liquor: Three Nines

“Trejos devynerios,” or “three nines” is so-called because it’s made from 27 different flavors: 26 herbs and the hornbeam kegs used to store it. Traditionally distilled during the Holy Eve of Saint John (Midsummer), it’s an old-time remedy for colds, sore joints and wounds.

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Best Non-Alcoholic Drink: Gira

Fermentation fanatics will be thrilled to be introduced to gira, a fermented drink made from rye bread or a host of other malts, fruits and blossoms. Gira tastes somewhat between bread and beer, and traditionally served in a ceramic jug.

Thinking about a trip or cruise to the Baltics? Call our agents at Willamette Intl Travel for a chat: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Travel News: Italian Airport Waives Max Limit of Liquids in Favor of: Pesto?

Happy Independence Day Weekend All! We hope you have a fantastic holiday. Our office will be open Monday 3 July 8:30am to 5pm, closed Tuesday 4 July.

 

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Italian Airport Waives Maximum Limit Of Liquids In Favor Of Pesto

Because, perché no? The BBC reports: “In an era of high-security air travel, many a passenger has fallen foul of the rules banning liquids on planes. But now an Italian airport has decided to waive the 3.4-oz maximum limit, as long as the liquid is pesto. More than 500 jars have made it through since Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo airport launched the ‘Il pesto è buono’ (Pesto is good) scheme on 1 June. The cost? A donation to Flying Angels, which flies sick children abroad for treatment. Pesto, a popular pasta sauce made with basil, cheese, and pine nuts, is a local specialty in Genoa. The airport said the brainwave arose after staff were faced with ‘hundreds of jars that were seized in airport security checks’. Tourists with pesto jars of up to [1.1 pounds] can ask for a special sticker in exchange for a [55 cent] charity donation, although the airport says many are donating more. The pesto is then scanned in a special x-ray machine before proceeding onto the plane as hand luggage.” 

SIDEBAR: Recipe for Pesto

Want to recreate delicious pesto from your trip to Italy? No problem!

All you need are: 2 cups fresh basil leaves 2 cloves garlic 1/4 cup pine nuts 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup freshly pecorino cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine basil, garlic and pine nuts until chopped. Then add the oil until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Spread on pasta, toast (with avocado), homemade pizza—the possibilities are endless!

Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson To Head Amtrak

Amtrak said Monday it has named Anderson as the nationwide rail network’s next president and CEO. Anderson, former chief executive officer of both Delta and Northwest Airlines, will begin his role on July 12. Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, on more than 21,300 miles of routes. During fiscal year 2016 (Octoer 2015-September 2016), Amtrak had approximately 31.3 million customers.

BA Facing Backlash After Forcing Families To Pay £20 Fee To Sit Together

Furious travellers complain they are being split up from loved ones on flights. The only way to ensure a seat with your family is to pay a minimum £7 reservation fee on a short-haul flight. Even BA’s executive club members awarded ‘companion vouchers’ to go on a romantic break or honeymoon with their partner are being separated on flights. The worst affected are passengers who have bought the cheapest deals. Seats by the emergency exit cost £50 to reserve, while executive club members are charged £24 per seat on longer flights. The policy was introduced in 2009. Paid-for reservations were said to be based on requests from customers, but many are now complaining about the policy on social media, as the airline also faces a backlash for scrapping free sandwiches on short-haul flights and for its plans to reduce leg room on some flights. BA says its computer system then randomly allocates seats for those who do not pay extra. It says this program aims to sit family and friends on the same booking together. But those who have bought basic fares, where they are only allowed cabin luggage, are given the lowest priority. Critics say BA is becoming similar to budget airlines under its Spanish boss Alex Cruz, previously CEO for a low-cost carrier. It is now ranked below Aeroflot.

Qantas Sorted Through 60,000 Suggestions To Name Its New Fleet Of B787-9s

The Australian carrier sorted through 60,000 suggestions to name its new fleet of B787-9s. A small, amiable marsupial known as a Quokka, the natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef and iconic folk song Waltzing Matilda have won out against the salty, yeast-based breakfast spread Vegemite as names for Qantas’s new fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Also adorning the new aircraft, due to start arriving from October, will be Aboriginal terms Boomerang, Uluru and Dreamtime. The eight names chosen after a public competition also include Great Southern Land, both a song and an alternative name for Australia, and Skippy, which is most commonly associated in Australia with the 1960s TV series about a bush kangaroo. 45,000 votes were cast in selecting the names of the aircraft that will fly nonstop from Perth to London and Melbourne to Los Angeles. “We think the eight names are a reflection of the places and things that make Australians feel proud.

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Ritz-Carlton To Launch A New Luxury Cruise Line

The company sees a three-ship fleet of ultra-high-end 298-passenger ships, with 149 all-suite, balcony cabins, that will play in the same international waters as the luxe lines Regent, Seabourn, and Silversea. Announced yesterday, the company’s cruise venture, with bookings opening in February for voyages in 2019, makes it the first top-tier hotelier to enter into the cruising waters in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and New England. Among the unique offerings the new cruise line will offer is a greater percentage of large-scale suites than the competition, including duplexes; the highest crew-to-guest ratio in luxury cruising; and a platform that gives guests direct access to the water. The debut yacht, the next two follow in early 2021 and early 2022, will have three swimming pools and three whirlpools; a Ritz-branded spa; a restaurant from the chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Wolfsburg, Germany’s Ritz-Carlton, plus four additional dining venues, and a panoramic lounge and wine bar.

Scandinavian Airlines Testing Electronic Chips For Biometric Boarding Passes

Rickard Gustafson, CEO at Scandinavian Airlines, revealed that one member of staff has a chip implanted in an employee’s hand to test biometric boarding pass ideas. as part of SAS Lab, an innovation center that aims to come up with ways of disrupting the air travel industry in the next three to five years. Swedish commuters can use a hand implant chip instead of train tickets. You can board or access the lounge by simply reaching out your hand. “I don’t think that a lot of customers will let us implement a chip in their hands, but we’re playing around with technology. And out of that, there will come one or two good ideas that then could be commercially viable.” In addition to the chip, SAS is experimenting with other new technology, such as Bluetooth bags tags. “When you check in on our app, the tag is populated with information,” says Gustafson. “There’s kind of a liquid screen on a bag tag. It’s reusable, so when you check-in, you already have populated your tags. When you get through the airport, you go to the self-service bag drop, you scan it and you put it on the belt. Then when you go back home again and you check in on the app, you have an automatically repopulated bag tag, and you’re all set to go. Sweden seems to be at the forefront of biometric chip technology. Swedish train company SJ recently announced it was offering passengers the option of using a biometric chip instead of a paper ticket. The tiny chip has the same technology as Oyster cards and contactless bank cards, NFC (Near Field Communication), to enable conductors to scan passengers’ hands. The scheme is only applicable to those who already have the biometric implant. SJ is not offering to chip people. Around 2,000 Swedes have had the surgical implant to date, most of them employed in the tech industry.

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