Category Archives: Sweden

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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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Italy, Sweden

Cruising in Stockholm Archipelago

Today WIT Blogger Wailana reports from the archipelago in Stockholm. Thousands of islands cluster off the east coast of Sweden, and no better time to explore them than in summer! Sunshine and a lofty 68 degrees F make for a perfect Wednesday excursion. The m/s Vindhem departs at least biweekly from Gamla Stan, with dinner, live music, and all you can eat shrimp. After a full day of sightseeing, it’s just a short hop on the boat at 7pm.

Check out Wailana’s photos!

Wish you were in Europe this summer or fall? Give out agents a call! 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com. Hope to see you and your family in the great European capitals before long.

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The Next Best Destinations for 2017

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

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Cruise ship in Isafjordur, the West Fjords of Iceland

1. Iceland

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

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Lake Bled in Slovenia

2. Slovenia (& the Balkans)

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

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Białowieża Forest, Poland

3. Australia & New Zealand

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

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River Boat sailing through Chicago, USA

4. River Cruises in North America

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

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Lisbon, Portugal

5. Portugal

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

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Oslo, Norway

6. Scandinavia

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

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Reindeer in Finland

7. Finland & Estonia

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

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Paris, France

8. France

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

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1950s/60s Cars in Cuba

9. Cuba

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

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The Majestic African Elephant

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving! & 6 Surprises in Sweden

Happy Thanksgiving Week to All our Readers!

As a Thanksgiving present, we are happy to share with you our latest Newsletter for Fall 2016! Read it Here as a PDF. Here you’ll find the latest museums in Europe, where to go to see the Northern Lights in N. America, cruises to Tahiti, and client reports to Dubai, Cuba, England, and more! Plus get the scoop on the Kenya 2017 Escorted Tour with WIT Owners Christina and John.

And just a Note: Our office and blog will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 24 & 25.

Today we feature a fun little some’in from the desk of our roaming social media correspondent, Wailana, currently living in Stockholm:  Continue reading

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Travel News: Alaska Airlines’ New Premium Class

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Alaska Airlines’ New Premium Class Section Now Available For Purchase
Upgrades start at $15, starting in January fliers will enjoy a seat with extra legroom and additional perks. The airline will debut its Premium Class section for travel on select routes beginning Jan. 5, 2017, as it continues a significant retrofit of its all-Boeing fleet. You can now purchase seats with up to four more inches of space between rows. In addition to four extra inches of legroom, passengers seated in Premium Class will enjoy early boarding, snacks and complimentary drinks. Alaska Mileage Plan MVP, Gold and Gold 75K members will be eligible for complimentary upgrades into Premium Class at the time of booking, or up to 24 hours in advance of travel, depending on status and the fare purchased. With the addition of Premium Class, Alaska’s most loyal customers who aren’t able to upgrade into First Class will see a significantly increased likelihood of getting a seat with more legroom near the front of the cabin. For more information around upgrades for elites see the Alaska Airlines blog: Treat yourself: Alaska Airlines launches new Premium Class. Initial prices for Premium Class seats range from $15 to $79 in addition to base fares and are based on the length of the flight. Seats in the new section can be purchased at the time of booking through alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile apps, during check-in, and at the airport.

Chinese Visa Scanning on the United App

On October 20 United Airlines introduced new functionality in their mobile app that makes travel to China easier than ever. Customers can use their iPhone, iPad or Android device to scan their Chinese visa to complete check-in through the United app. This new functionality delivers a convenient channel to provide visa information during the 24-hour check-in window prior to departure. 

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Icelandair Adds New US Destinations And Extra Flights

Icelandair is to increase its seat capacity by 11.5% next year as it continues to build up its network linking Europe and North America. The carrier is adding two new destinations in the US next year, Philadelphia and Tampa, which will take its number of North American routes up to 18 flying through its Reykjavik hub. Icelandair will begin flying to Philadelphia on May 30, 2017 and the service will initially run as a summer-only route which will operate until September 20, 2017. If it is successful, the route may eventually become year-round. Tampa will be added as a new destination from September 7, 2017, operating twice per week, and will complement the existing Orlando route, which runs five times per week. Both services will operate year-round from next September when there will be a daily service from Iceland to Florida. The airline also serves 26 destinations in Europe including five UK airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. Sister carrier Air Iceland also flies from Reykjavik to Aberdeen. 

Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival Set For 2017

In 2017 Canada marks its 150th birthday, with holiday-makers invited to join in the countrywide, year-long celebrations. The main focus for national events will be the capital city Ottawa, where 12 epic months of big, bold, immersive and moving experiences will be on offer. The first major ‘National Partner Event’ of the Ottawa 2017 calendar will be a special edition of the annual Winterlude festival, which will wow visitors over three fun-filled weekends, 3 – 20 February. Next years’ will be the 39th edition of Winterlude, when Ottawa will be transformed into an enchanting city of all things snowy and frozen. Organizers are promising a festival that will be bigger and better than ever, with some 600,000 revelers expected to descend on the capital. The bumper sized celebrations will be centered in and around three downtown locations, all of which will be free of charge to the public.

US Preclearance Expanding To Stockholm In 2019

The United States and Sweden signed an agreement on Friday to expand the preclearance to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. There are other airports wishing to join the program from number of countries. The Swedish government said it hopes the increased ease of travel will have positive consequences in making Sweden a more attractive place for international companies to base their headquarters in. The goal of the so-called Preclearance program is to extend security and thwart the arrival of unwelcome visitors before they reach the US but the advantage for all travelers is to clear Customs before getting aboard the plane, and to avoid long lines upon arrival. The airports embarking on the process to join the program include Bogota, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, Kansai, Milan, Reykjavik, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, and Saint Martin. More than 10 million travelers fly to the U.S. from those airports each year. The program already screens about 18 million travelers per year arriving from 15 airports mostly in Canada, the Caribbean and Ireland.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm at Night

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Filed under Alaska, Canada, Icelandair, News, Sweden

Stockholm with Context Travel

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Hej hej! This is WIT Agent Wailana reporting in from Stockholm, Sweden!

Today I learned that Stockholm means “Isle of Logs,” very apropos if you consider how green the city is! I just moved here 3 weeks ago and have been exploring to my heart’s content. It certainly is a change from quiet and sleepy Reykjavik!

Context Travel

So last week, I went on a tour of the Sodermalm Neighborhood with Context Travel. We at Wittravel are longtime fans of Context Travel: small groups, personalized itineraries, expert guides—what’s not to love? Their docents are experts in their field, Ph.D.-level scholars of history, art and archaeology. Context Travel strive for unique approaches to already popular destinations—including Rome, New York and Shanghai—and always seek to offer a diverse selection to fit the traveler. We’ve booked our clients on numerous tours with them and always receive rave reviews. And now I can count myself among them as a firsthand fan!

And guess what—today, July 18, CT officially launch their Stockholm program! So if you’d like a unique perspective on this (or any other) beautiful city, offer, call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 or email us at info@wittravel.com.

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Kiki, my lovely docent

Södermalm Tour

The Södermalm Neighborhood Tour was a 3-hour intensive walk through the historic and modern parts of Södermalm Island in downtown STO. My guide was Kiki, an archaeologist from Uppsala who used to live in Södermalm and enlightened us of the obscure history of this hilly place: working class struggles, artists, witches, writers, a 18th century fad of brick houses, geology, executioners… she also shared personal anecdotes from the time she lived there for a decade during the 1970s, demonstrating how the neighborhood had evolved over the decades and what kind of people and protests flooded the streets over time.

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Slussen area of Södermalm

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Romantic Stockholm? “Back against the wall, and your legs around my waist. I kiss you again…”

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The elegant Katarina Church

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Kiki even brought her little dog Chinghiz Khan who was very well-behaved and added a bit of character to the tour

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The dark side of Stockholm–a lot of women were hanged in this little square as witches

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Some of the oldest houses in Stockholm

 

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Södermalm is full of hills and incredible views

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Filed under Europe, Group Travel, News, Sweden

Rock the Summer Away in Scandinavia

Our top news: WIT Roaming Social Media Correspondent Wailana has arrived in Stockholm! The weather is sunny and warm, with the occasional bout of clouds and light afternoon showers. She will be attending the International Travel Blogger Exchange this week, where she plans to meet several international tour suppliers and even go on a few day trips herself! So stay tuned for those reports and photos.

In Scandinavia this summer and looking for an awesome time? From the green-gold fjords to Norway to the black sand beaches of Iceland, the region truly comes alive with music from May to August.

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Here are the highlights you can still catch:

JULY

Copenhagen, Denmark: Fredagsrock

Every Friday night Tivoli Garden offers free concerts outdoors.

Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen Jazz Festival

Groove to the chill tunes of traditional and experimental jazz, all throughout the city.

AUGUST

Trondheim, Norway: Pstereo

A chill atmosphere with obscure bands, delicious BBQ and picnics abound.

Gävle, Sweden: Getaway Rock

Lovers of heavy metal flock here in droves to taste a variety of metal and headbanging!

Gothenburg, Sweden: Way Out West

An eclectic mix of electronic, rock and hiphop on the west coast of Sweden

Skanderborg, Denmark: Skanderborg Festival

This festival attracts more than 30,000 attendees, and it’s no wonder, as it’s situated in a beautiful forest outside in Jutland.

Copenhagen, Denmark: Strom

Strom, aka “Electricity” buzzes in the city of Copenhagen, enlivening the cinemas, churches and metros stations.

Hammershus: Wonderfestiwall

This creative festival is a cultural event aimed at local youth, and located next to the medical fortress of Hammershus.

Copenhagen, Denmark: Trailerpark

A wild cultural festival organized by artists for artists—so join in for an eclectic array of artists, musicians, designers, directors, and more.

Reykjavik, Iceland: Cultural Night

An annual celebration of concerts and festivities throughout the city. There’s usually an impressive fireworks show out by Old Harbor!

Willamette Intl Travel is happy to arrange your trip to Scandinavia and Europe, to catch the show!  We have the resources and the know-how to plan a perfect and affordable vacation for you and your family. Call us at 503-224-0180. 

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