Category Archives: France

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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Travel News! The Planetarium Aboard the Viking Ship

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Big Sur Road Is Coming Back

LA Times reports Big Sur road coming back: Highway 1, closed for a year and a half because of massive slide, to reopen by July 20 (that’s today!). Travelers soon will be able to do something they haven’t in a year and a half: drive the 650-plus miles of California’s Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Caltrans announced Tuesday that full access to the blocked area south of Gorda would reopen by 11 a.m. July 20. The new stretch of road could open to traffic a few days sooner, depending on when work is completed, according to Caltrans.

The Mud Creek Slide, which rained debris in one of the state’s largest landslides, destroyed a quarter-mile section of roadway on May 20, 2017. The road will be open to traffic in both directions, meaning there’s still time to take an uninterrupted summer road trip along the Big Sur coast. Last year, heavy rains led to slides and debris flow that wiped out a bridge and closed several points on Highway 1, including Paul’s Slide, roughly at Post Mile 21. The road is now open with a single lane and a traffic signal to direct drivers, which may cause some slowing. Construction crews worked round the clock seven days a week to complete the $54-million emergency repairs. They built new roadway across the slide, fortifying with embankments and other support features such as berms, rocks, netting and other materials.

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Courtesy of Silversea

Luxury Line Silversea To Cruise The Northeast Passage 

Silver Explorer will become the most luxurious cruise ship to sail the Northeast Passage through the Arctic when it sets sail from Nome, Alaska, to Tromso, Norway, on August 10, 2019. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Silversea’s expedition arm, the line is offering a rare cruise ship itinerary to the far northern reaches of the globe. The 25-night cruise will take in destinations in Alaska, Russia and Norway, including Wrangel Island, a UNESCO site where polar bears and walruses live; the otherworldly Champ Island with its mysterious stone spheres; Murmansk, a Russian city that dates to the early 20th century; and coastal villages like Chukotka’s Uelen, where passengers can interact with and learn about the native Chukchi and Yupik people who live there. A highlight will be the day Silver Explorer spends sailing as far north as it can toward the edge of the polar ice cap. The expedition team will be in search of seals, walruses and polar bears hanging out on the ice floes. Its onboard expedition leaders will offer lectures and workshops, and lead Zodiac trips and other shore excursions to educate passengers on the itinerary’s remote destinations. The ship carries a mere 144 passengers, and pampers them, even in rugged climates, with suite accommodations, butler service and all-inclusive fares that cover all drinks, gratuities and unlimited Wi-Fi. Fares for this sailing start at $37,260 per person, based on double occupancy. Note that all suite categories but the lowest three are currently showing waitlist status.

EU Gets Tough With AirBnB On Pricing and Policy

the European Commission and EU consumer authorities are calling on Airbnb to be more transparent with its pricing. They say Airbnb’s current pricing and some of its terms do not comply with EU rules and it has given the homeshare giant until the end of August to fall into line. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner. Airbnb has been told to show all fees and charges from the initial search or, where that’s not possible, clearly inform customers that additional fees might apply. It must also clearly identify if the accommodation offer is made by a private host or a professional, as consumer protection rules differ.

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American Airlines To Eliminate Plastic Straws From Cabins, Lounges

Reuters reports American Airlines on Tuesday said it plans to no longer offer plastic straws and stir sticks in its lounges and onboard its flights, amid a broader global push to abandon one-time use plastics. Starting this month, American said drinks in its airport lounges will no longer come with plastic utensils and will instead feature biodegradable straws and wooden stir sticks. The phase-out onboard its planes will begin in November, with plastic straws and stirrers to be replaced by environmentally friendly bamboo. The carrier will also transition to “eco-friendly” flatware in its lounges. American said that the move will eliminate more than 71,000 pounds (32,200 kg) of plastic each year. On Monday, Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffee chain, said it would no longer offer plastic straws at its 28,000 locations by 2020.

Disneyland Just Experienced The Hottest Day Ever At A Disney Park 

Travel + Leisure reports Disneyland just had its hottest day ever. While southern California experienced a heat wave temperatures in Anaheim (home of Disneyland) soared to 113°F on July 6. It is not only the hottest temperature on record since the park opened in 1955, it is the hottest temperature recorded at any of the Disney parks around the world (including Orlando, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong), according to Theme Park Insider. Because of the oppressive heat, park officials closed all outdoor rides, including Big Thunder and Mountain Railroad – several food vendors also shut down because of the heat. Those who went to the park on that day said that lines for rides were short, as the park was practically empty. Disney first aid staff were on call to help guests experiencing dehydration. “There was one medic run right after the other,” one park cast member said. Wait times for many popular attractions dropped to the point where it was basically possible to walk right on.

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This High-Tech Planetarium Is On A New VIKING Cruise Ship

The Explorers’ Dome is located on the second level of the Viking Orion’s Explorers’ Lounge. The newest Viking Ocean Cruise ship, made its debut in Italy on June 14, revealing a unique high-tech feature: a planetarium at sea. The ship is named after the constellation Orion (the hunter) and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the first crewed capsule designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. The ship’s name also honors retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher, who is the “godmother” of Viking Orion and worked on the Orion spacecraft before retiring in May 2017.

The planetarium, called the Explorers’ Dome, features shows about space and exploration, including two 3D films: “Journey to Space” and “Under the Arctic Sky.” “The Explorers’ Dome onboard Viking Orion is currently the highest-definition 7K planetarium in the world,” Ralph de Klijn, Viking’s executive director of ocean operations, told Space.com. “The Explorers’ Dome is a versatile space that can operate as a high-tech planetarium, as well as show films and other programming in 2D or 3D.” Viking Orion is only the second cruise ship in the world to have a planetarium; the other is the Queen Mary 2.

Although Viking Orion is not the first cruise ship to offer a planetarium, the company says this one is the most advanced, with:

– Digistar 6 display system, five projectors and studio speakers.

– Viking resident astronomer. Howard Parkin, a Royal Astronomical Society fellow and founding member of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society

– lectures on the wonders of the cosmos

– offer guided tours of the night sky during stargazing sessions using Viking’s portable telescope.

While other Viking ships have resident historians, Orion is the only one with a resident astronomer and historian. Parkin will continue to offer lectures through the ship’s 2018 maiden season, de Klijn said.

Read more on Space.com: https://www.space.com/41145-space-cruise-vacation-viking-orion-reflections.html

Club Med Cancún Yucatán Introduces Expanded Family Area 

Club Med Cancún Yucatán has doubled the size of its Aguamarina family area, adding 60 rooms and a new pool. The Aguamarina family area now offers an additional 30 Club Rooms and 30 Deluxe Rooms. Both of the two-bedroom accommodation options provide oceanfront views. This expansion doubles the Aguamarina area’s capacity to 120 families. Club Med Cancún Yucatán also introduced a new Aguamarina reception area and concierge service. The resort also added a new family pool, offering water games, lounge areas and outdoor activities. After a long day in the water, guests can dine at the pool area’s new family bar La Marina. Here kids can visit the restaurant’s kids’ corner and the whole family can order special treats that change from day to day. Guests of the Aguamarina area receive all the benefits featured in a stay at Club Med Cancún Yucatán. This includes dining at the resort’s three restaurants, water and land sports such as snorkeling and flying trapeze, kids’ and teens’ clubs and nightly entertainment. The additions to the Aguamarina area follow a full renovation the resort completed at the end of 2017. The work included improvements to all the resort’s rooms, its meetings and events spaces and the 5-Trident Jade area. The property also introduced new wellness opportunities as well as new and improved dining options.

More glimpses of the family area here: https://www.clubmed.us/r/Cancun-Yucatan/y

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Paris Métro Ditches Paper Tickets, Moves to London-Like System 

Cntraveler reports Paris’s more-than-a-century-old, white paper Métro tickets are on their way out. Starting in 2019, entry to Paris’s efficient public transport system, including buses and express RER trains, will be done through contactless Navigo cards. The city’s transport agency, Ile-de-France Mobilités, announced Wednesday that it would be rolling out two different travel cards, in addition to the unlimited Navigo card for residents already available, over the next year for all sorts of travelers and commuters. If you’re visiting the city for a short time, you’ll need the Navigo Easy pass, available starting in April 2019. Almost identical to London’s Oyster card, the Easy pass costs €2 ($2.34) to buy. Then, you’ll load up the card with T+ rides, what the paper tickets represent now, which will cost the same in 2019 as they do today: €1.90 ($2.22) per ride or €14.90 ($17.39) for a pack of 10 rides. That’s a more than 20% discount, and will cover one-way Métro rides, RER trains in Zone 1 (central Paris), and bus trips. Much like the Oyster card in London, you can top the card up as needed at all transit stations so be sure not to throw yours away. There will be no time limit on them and the card is not nominative, meaning it can be given to a friend. You can also load Orlybus (to Paris Orly Airport) or Roissybus (to Charles de Gaulle Airport) tickets on the Easy pass as well.

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Filed under California, Club Med, Disneyland, Europe, France, News, USA, Viking Cruises

6 Mouthwatering Vegan Restaurants in Paris

We know that you all visit Paris for the food (Well, we do anyway…), but for those of us who are vegan, eating out can be a bit of challenge when you’re traveling.

Leaders in gastronomic innovation, Parisians have even mastered the art of plant-based vegan recipes. Check out these cafés putting an unapologetic spin on the traditional brasserie-fare.

Le Potager du Marais

Craving traditional French? You don’t have to go without – this amazing restaurant revives classic French onion soup, crème brûlée, Bourguignon—all in vegan guiltless delight! Go for the spinach-walnut lasagna with melted vegan cheese.

24 rue Rambuteau

Le Potager de Charlotte

Le Potager de Charlotte promises seasonal menus with wild global flavors. Start off with roasted carrot with mustard, cumin and paprika. Spring for the rice and chickpea pancake topped with roasted squash seed, or go eastern with soba noodles and roasted shallots. Another vegan pancake is crowned with mouthwatering cashew cream. Each dish is an obvious labor of love that will tantalize the tongue.

12 Rue de la Tour d’Auvergne

Hank Pizza

Hank—an acronym of Have a Nice Karma—is a widely popular vegan pizza and burger joint dedicated to its positive ecological values. Here you’ll find simple and flavorful patties topped with fresh veggies and vegan bread. It’s a well-known staple of Le Marais that never disappoints.

18 Rue des Gravilliers

Cloud Cakes

This luscious café is piled high with cupcakes, croissants, carrot cakes and lattes—of course everything is 100% vegan! Lovers of the sweet should go for the cloud breakfast, which including a croissant, drinks and a basket of bread served with chocolate spread. There are also avocado toast and buddha bowls for those craving something a bit more healthy.

6 rue Mandar.

VG Patisserie

Since we’re in Paris, we can’t go without mentioning a vegan patisserie. VG bakes everything fresh to whet your appetite, from pain au chocolate, éclairs, and whipped-good croissants. You can even order a light yoghurt with granola, fruit salads and your birthday cake!

123 boulevard Voltaire.

Gentle Gourmet

Imagine vegan lies in the sheets with haute cuisine—this is Gentle Gourmet. Perfect for a special occasion, romantic dinner, or just in the neighborhood on a European tour, GG promises seasonal, local, mostly organic, made in-house, succulent Vegan fare. Tomato carpaccio with saffron oil and pesto sauce. Gazpacho served with black bread toast and tofu cream cheese. Tempeh tartar with cocktail sauce and vegetable tagliatelles. Eggplant teriyoki, homemade seitan with seaweed, portobello mushroom burger with red onion fondue. Is your mouth watering yet?

24 Boulevard de la Bastille

Need more recommendations or a whole trip planned? Ask your WIT travel agent

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8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

We have a bunch of New UNESCO Heritage Sites on the list, to add to our ever-growing bucket list!

All of these cultural and natural landmarks are recognized for their outstanding value to humanity. Discover which wonders made the list this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a handful of our favorites. Learn more about other sites on the UNESCO official webpage

What are some of YOUR favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Let us know in the comments!

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1. Naumburg Cathedral, Germany

Built in the 11th century, this gorgeous cathedral is remarkable from a distance for its stain glass windows and soaring Gothic arches. Its real claim to fame, however, is the medieval art inside—including 12 life-sized statues of the cathedral’s founders. The Naumburg Masters was a workshop of sculptors and stonemasons in the 13th century who dedicated their work of realistic sculptures to the cathedral and all over France, Middle Rhine area and boundaries of the German Empire. This is a destination for history buffs — the cathedral and the region around it has a high density of authentic monuments and structures dating back to the High Middle Ages.

2. Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia

Ever-surprising Colombia takes next place with this national park, sometimes called the Maloca (“Amazonian long house”) of the Jaguar. As Colombia’s largest protected site, it protects 10,810 square miles and over 3,000 species of animals and plants. High on the sandstone plateaux, over 75,000 rock paintings have been found. Nature lovers will surely love this one.

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3. Ivrea, Italy

This small Piedmont town near Turin is famous for its 20th century industrial boom in typewriters and computers. Stunning Ivrea is also a remarkably beautiful village, resting on the Dora Baltea river, and, at the time of writing, still off the usual tourists’ map.

4. Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain

The Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus is highlighted all across southern Spain, especially Alhambra. Added to the list of must-sees this year is the Medina Azahara. These ruins, 1.5 hours from Seville, were built between 940 and 975 c.e. and once held the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

5. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains are so ancient, with volcanic and sedimentary rocks dating back over 3 billion years. More adventurous travelers will have quite the holiday hiking and biking around the town of Barberton and the nature reserve.

6. The Border of Hedeby and the Danevirke, Germany

Once a Viking trading post, this cultural landscape now consists of the ruins of a 33-km-long fortification–the Danevirke–as well as the archaeological site of the trading town Hedeby. Hedeby rose in power on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia, as well as between the Baltic and North Seas.

7. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey

This mysterious archaeological site in southeastern Turkey is the oldest known example of hunter-gatherer settlers in the world. It houses the world’s oldest known megaliths, with around 200 pillars in about 20 circles, and may have the world’s oldest temple as well. Göbekli Tepe dates back to around 9600 and 8200 b.c.e., and is a fascinating glimpse into ancient Mesopotamian culture.

8. Hidden Christian Sites, Japan

Kyushu Island keeps many historical secrets, but its historic Christian community that draws the eye of UNESCO—with 10 villages, Hara castle and cathedral that were built between 16th-19th centuries, despite a ban of all outsiders during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Along with these Christian remnants, visitors can explore active volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and marvelous waterfalls.

What UNESCO World Heritage Sites are you looking forward to seeing in 2018?

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France’s Elephant Sanctuary and the World’s First Airport ER

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Europe’s First-Ever Elephant Sanctuary To Open In France
World Animal Protection has teamed with Elephant Haven to help fund Europe’s very first elephant sanctuary in France for former circus elephants. The collaboration between the two charities came after successful lobbying by World Animal Protection to the Danish Parliament, which recently announced its commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. The charity mobilized more than 50,000 Danish supporters calling for the government to take action to end the cruelty inflicted on elephants used for entertainment in circuses. The tide is now turning as 14 other European countries have recently implemented similar bans, many of which come into force this year. Until now, there has been no safe place where they can retire. More than 100 elephants are still forced to entertain in circuses across Europe. The sanctuary will be a retirement home for elephants that suffered at circuses, and its first barn will be completed by the end of summer. World Animal Protection is urging any elephant owners to release traumatized animals as soon as the sanctuary is able to welcome them. Elephant Haven has plans to expand further and build another barn to house five more elephants by 2020. The safety of elephants is paramount, and cameras will be placed inside and outside the barn with permanent security on site. Once the elephants are safely housed, a platform will also be built for visitors to safely watch elephants roaming freely and behaving as they would in the wild.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Just Opened The World’s First Airport ER

CNTraveler reports medical care is about a minute from the terminals. Last Friday, the Texas airport opened what is the world’s first free-standing emergency room on an airport’s grounds, serving passengers, crew members, airport staff, as well as the general public near the airport’s south entrance. With 24/7/365 service, the 8,160-square-foot facility operated by Code 3 Emergency Partners occupies 1.5 of DFW’s staggering 17,207 acres. It’s fully equipped with a CT scanner, ultrasound machine, X-ray machine, lab, and a pharmacy. All physicians are also board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, which means they have extensive training in both disaster management and emergency medical systems. The facility also employs physicians trained in travel medicine, who have experience in infectious disease and travel-related illnesses.
Gatwick Celebrates Historic Anniversary
Gatwick has celebrated its historic 60 year anniversary since it was officially opened in its current form. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II on June 9th, 1958, Gatwick Airport became the first airport in the world to combine air, road and train travel in one close-knit single unit. The £7.8 million construction project in 1958 transformed Gatwick into a global travel hub. Taking over two-and-a-half years to complete and marking a new beginning for air travel in the UK, it became the first airport in the world to have a direct railway link, allowing passengers to enjoy a seamless journey from the moment their travels started. Increased passenger demand and the modern age of air travel, with the introduction of aircraft like the Jumbo Boeing 747-400, required three runway extensions in 1964, 1970 and 1973 – the latter enabled non-stop flights from the US West Coast to begin. With an ever-increasing number of passenger planes arriving daily, Gatwick opened its new control tower in 1984, which at the time of completion was the tallest in the UK. In the same year the Gatwick Express was launched, further cementing Gatwick’s position as an accessible and leading destination for global travel. 
 
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Cage Diving To See Sharks
Cage Diving has seen a boom in recent decades and is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. The chance to go diving and safely see some of the world’s most spectacular and bloodthirsty predators up close in their own environment is regarded as the opportunity of a lifetime for many tourists. Great white sharks are altering their behavior, diverting them from hunting, and making them needlessly waste energy, all because of the interaction with tourists. Australia, South Africa, the US, Mexico and New Zealand are all offering cage diving. A study published in the journal Conservation Physiology reveals that great white shark (also known as white sharks) activity increases dramatically during cage diving sessions, compared to when tour operators are absent, raising questions about the behavioral changes this form of tourism may be causing in some species. The researchers tracked ten white sharks at South Australia’s Neptune Islands with devices for nine days. They found the increased movement when sharks are interacting with cage divers results in overall dynamic body acceleration 61% higher than at times when sharks are present in the area but cage divers are not. The sharks’ interactions with the cage divers are likely to cost them a lot more energy than standard white shark behaviors. The mere presence of the cage diving operators in the general vicinity of the sharks was not sufficient to elicit such behavioral changes. These only occurred when white sharks were close to the cage diving vessels. The research notes that licensed commercial white shark cage diving operators use approved and regulated attractants to entice sharks within close proximity of the cages and provide good viewing opportunities for divers. However, operators are not allowed to feed white sharks. The interaction with cage diving tourists is, therefore, not rewarded by more food. Great white sharks are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as a vulnerable species. They are protected by governments in the US, New Zealand and Australia.
 
Cruise Lines Announce Efforts to Eliminate Plastic Waste
Two major cruise companies are stepping up efforts to eliminate a modern-day scourge of the oceans: plastic. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that its fleet will eliminate plastic straws as of 2019. That applies to all 50 ships under the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises, and Pullmantur Cruceros brands. A “straws upon request” policy has already been in place across the RCL fleet. Beginning in 2019, guests requesting a straw will receive a paper straw rather than plastic. Additionally, the ships will incorporate Forrest Stewardship Council-certified wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks. All are part of RCL’s plastic reduction strategy. “Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company,” said Richard Fain, RCL chairman and CEO. “For over 25 years, our Save the Waves program has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that program.” The company is doing a full plastics audit, with an overall plan set for completion by 2020. Implemented in 1992, RCL’s Save the Waves program has focused on sustainability practices. Those practices include state-of-the-art recycling centers on board ships. Equipped with shredders, balers, compactors, and crushers, their goal is “zero landfill.” Additionally, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has joined Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance. The announcement comes in celebration of World Oceans Day. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. Founded in 2012, the Trash Free Seas Alliance is a collaboration between leaders of industry, academia and the conservation world. Their focus is on the measurable reduction of ocean trash. ” Nothing connects people to the ocean more than time spent on the water, and with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings offering that experience to more than 2.5 million guests each year, we believe this is a tremendous opportunity to foster greater stewardship of our oceans,” said Janis Searles Jones, chief executive officer at Ocean Conservancy.
State Dept. Updates Nicaragua Travel Advisory,
Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability. On April 23, 2018, the U.S. government ordered the departure of U.S. government family members and authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. government personnel. Rallies and demonstrations are widespread and occur daily with little notice. In many instances the government responds using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, leading to significant numbers of deaths and injuries. Looting, vandalism, and acts of arson often occur during unrest, including in tourist areas. The perpetrators are often government-controlled thugs in civilian clothing, sometimes using vehicles without license plates. Government authorities detain protesters, and some people have disappeared. Human rights groups have documented credible claims of torture of detainees. 

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Our Man in Paris

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Snapshots from the City of Love… courtesy of Our Man in Paris, Jacques, a longtime friend of the Coopers. Nothing like Paris in the sunshine! Captions provided by Jacques. 

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Yesterday I walked around Paris and took a few photos, lovely sunny day, not cold. This building dates to the XIV century = 1300+ A.D. Holding well and is still inhabited.

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On the bridge over the Seine, between the Ile De La Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis, a very good pianist was playing classical music. Behind him is the main Paris city hall and Saint-Jacques tower.

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Notre-Dame Cathedral, surprisingly only a few tourists waiting to go up to the top.

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7 Facts about the Eiffel Tower We Betcha Didn’t Know

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And now for our favorite segment: Did you know?

Did You Know: The Eiffel Tower

It’s everybody’s favorite landmark – come to Paris, see the Eiffel Tower! Around 6 million people visit the tower each year. Despite its status as a world-famous icon, however, there’s a lot that’s not widely known about the Tower’s history.

Here are 5 Facts of the Iron Lady we betcha didn’t know:

1. Construction took only 2 years.

It took 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to build, with construction starting 1887.

2. Bienvenue British Royalty and Buffalo Bill!

The very first people to visit the Eiffel Tower were the British royal family and the famous American showman ‘Buffalo Bill’.

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3. It’s not going to turn green anytime soon.

Yes, the Statue of Liberty is green and in all likelihood the Eiffel Tower would be as well–if not for the regular recoating of paint. The Tower is repainted every seven years with around 66 tons of paint! Throughout the years, it’s been red-brown, yellow-ochre, chestnut brown… thankfully, all natural colors.

4. Parisians hated it – at first.

Well, many Parisians hated it. Around 300 locals signed a petition, calling the Tower “useless and monstrous,” a “stupefying folly,” an “odious column of bolted metal.” We’re sure glad they didn’t get their way!

5. Eiffel built a secret apartment for himself.

Yes, it’s on the third level of the tower, a whopping 1,000 feet up. He used to host people like Thomas Edison and show off his grand piano. Nowadays you can still take a tour of it – considering you’re not put-off by the life-size mannequins of Eiffel and his guests.

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6. It was “sold”–twice.

In the 1920s, legendary con artist Victor Lustig convinced two separate investors to buy the Eiffel Tower from him. He garnered no less than $70,000 from one of these schemes!

7. It was married.

Erika LaBrie is an American woman who married the Eiffel Tower in a much-publicized ceremony in 2007, and changed her name is Erika Eiffel. Feeling an emotional connection to an inanimate object–why not–it’s the City of Love, after all! Apparently, she also had a longterm relationship with the Berlin Wall, although it’s unknown if these two romances conflicted.

To check out the Eiffel Tower for yourself — who knows, you might fall in love yourself! — call Willamette Intl Travel. We organize unforgettable and delightful trips all over the world. 

 

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