Category Archives: Brazil

Travel News: The Time is Now to Check Your Passport

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Get your passport now
It’s now the busy season for passports. Take the time, at least 9 weeks before your departure date), to look at your passport and make certain that it is valid for six months past your return flight to the US. The US Passport offices are processing a multitude of renewals the closer we get to Spring and Summer peak travel seasons. 
 
Brazil Introduces e-Visa
The Brazilian Government has announced a new e-Visa for USA citizens for Tourist, Business, Transit and Artistic or Sports Activities travel purposes. The new visa type will be valid for 2 years, multi-entry with a max stay of up to 90 days per year. The new e-Visa is only currently offered to US, Australia, Canadian and Japanese citizens. The e-Visa processing time is excepted to be 7-8 business days. 
 
American Airlines suspends Smart Luggage with Lithium Batteries
In mid-January, American Airlines stopped allowing “Smart Luggage” that includes built in lithium batteries to be placed in the baggage compartment of the plane. But if you can remove the batteries you can put them in your carry-on. If they aren’t removable then either the TSA or AA will allow you to check the bag in the baggage hold where there is not access to the area from inside the plane on most planes today. So, think twice about taking a non-carry-on sized SMART BAG (more than 22 inches). The theory is that any fire that erupts from the battery in the cabin can be put out easily. Remember, if you can remove the lithium batteries from the suitcase you can check the bag and put the batteries in your carry-on.
 
First Exhibition Exploring ‘Golden Age’ Of Ocean Travel To Launch At Victoria & Albert Museum in London
Travelwire reports Ship design, groundbreaking engineering, architecture and lifestyle aboard the great vessels will all be explored in the exhibition which sees the V&A team up with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and Viking Cruises for their first major exhibition of 2018. Ocean Liners: Speed And Style showcases more than 250 objects, including a wooden panel fragment from an overdoor in the Titanic’s first-class lounge. It traces the revolution of sea travel from the mid-19th century with the emergence of the ocean liner. A precious diamond and pearl Cartier tiara rescued from the sinking Lusitania in 1915 is among the more luxurious items. Exclusive Maison Goyard luggage previously belonging to King Edward VIII. who became the Duke of Windsor after abdicating to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, will return to Europe for the first time since they were acquired from the Windsor Estate. The set of luggage was used by the couple as they traveled between their adoptive home in France and the US, with the duke’s personalized with his title and yellow and red stripes. Also included in the collection is a Christian Dior suit worn by German actress Marlene Dietrich as she arrived in New York aboard the Queen Mary in 1950. As the largest machines of their age, ocean liners were powerful symbols of 20th-century modernity and the exhibition will also feature works from Modernist artists, designers and architects including Le Corbusier, Albert Gleizes, Charles Demuth, and Eileen Gray. Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt, said: “This seminal show reveals hidden design stories of some of the world’s most luxurious liners, from the Titanic to the Normandie and QE2. “We have collected ship-related objects and ephemera for well over 100 years, and now have a startlingly brilliant collection of ocean liner material, making us uniquely placed to present this exhibition.” Ocean Liners: Speed And Style will run at the V&A from February 3 until June 17 2018.
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Madrid Prepares for Its Greenest Year Yet
The European city with the most ambitious plans to improve its air quality this year probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind. In fact, it’s Madrid, which is embarking on what, policy-wise, could be its greenest year yet. The country’s capital is actually getting down to business to improve its poor air quality, making the city altogether more healthy and livable. It’s doing so by introducing a host of air-cleaning measures under a 30-point plan entitled Plan A, “because there is no plan B,” Mayor Manuela Carmena says. The first major change actually started last month when Madrid closed its main drag, the broad, often car-filled avenue Gran Vía, to cars at the beginning of December. Cars returned on January 7, but the streets won’t be the same for long. Madrid plans to start doubling the street’s sidewalks, taking space from car lanes to give pedestrians an extra 58,000 square feet of space, plus a segregated bike lane down its busiest stretch. While this will reduce car space on a very busy thoroughfare, Gran Vía will soon be one of the few parts of central Madrid that admits non-local cars at all. In June, Madrid will debut its Zero Emissions Zone, which will only allow local residents, people with limited mobility, or zero-emissions vehicles to drive into most of the old city. 
 
Qantas 787 Dreamliner Makes Long-Haul Flight On Mustard Seed Biofuel
The aviation industry has been experimenting with cleaner-burning fuels to lower the carbon footprint of flights. We’re far from a complete switch to biofuels but work continues to make that a possibility at some point in the future. Case in point: the world’s first biofuel flight from the United States to Australia. A Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner made the long-haul flight from the Los Angeles to Melbourne with 24,000 kilograms of mustard seed based blended fuel. The QF96 flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne used biofuel extracted from the Brassica carinata mustard seed. The extraction process was developed by Agrisoma Bioscienses, an agri-tech company based in Canada. According to reports, the fuel from this mustard seed offers over 80% reduction in carbon emissions compared with conventional jet fuel across its life cycle. That blend that was used in the Dreamliner flight will see a 7% reduction in emissions on the route as 10% of its tank was filled with the biofuel. Qantas is planning on running flights regularly with biofuel by 2020. The company’s historic biofuel-powered flight comes after it was named the least efficient carrier in the region. Qantas was found to be the least efficient by the International Council on Clean Transportation and that it burnt the most carbon of all major airlines that fly across the Pacific.
 
In-Flight Wi-Fi Is About To Get A Lot Faster
Bloomberg reports in-flight Wi-Fi is finally emerging from its role as a punchline as the cost of buying and installing better hardware has fallen far enough that many airlines have begun upgrading to faster speeds, and smaller airlines are adopting Wi-Fi for the first time BUT what you’ll pay for it may be outrageous. Worldwide, 82 airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi, 12 more than last year, with the amenity now common enough that there’s a 43% percent chance your plane will have it, according to an annual airline report from New York-based Routehappy Inc. (And more than 80% in America.) Airbus SE and Boeing Co. also fit most of these newer systems onto new airplanes as part of the final assembly process. In terms of the most Wi-Fi access, Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and Emirates take the top three spots, with Delta and Emirates also among the 13 airlines that offer Wi-Fi on all of their long-haul flights, according to the report released last week. 
 
Holland America Expands Denali Experience
Travelwire reports Holland America Line has announced an expansion of the guest experience on its Alaska Land+Sea Journeys with the addition of new guest accommodations at its Denali operation. The 99-room addition will feature the first-ever junior suites at the resort and is expected to be open for the 2019 summer Alaska cruise season. The 55 new junior suites will showcase balconies, larger living areas and greater amenities for guests. The company said that the new rooms are an extension of its overland Alaska experience to Denali, which includes the McKinley Chalet Resort hotel and Denali Square, a gathering area to relax, shop, dine and for music and entertainment. The addition will be located just west of Denali Square with views of Mt. Healy and Denali National Park. According to a prepared statement, the three-story project will feature junior suites and standard rooms with “rustic-chic” décor. All junior suites have balconies offering views of the surrounding Alaska wilderness. Each floor will have a central, open-air lobby. The third floor has open public deck space with tables and loungers.
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Montreal Adding Capacity for More Demand From Cruise Lines
Montreal inaugurated a new cruise terminal in June, which will be joined by a second operational terminal in 2018, along with the existing alternate terminal located east of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. The trio of berth locations will help the iconic city accommodate extra ships during its peak fall season. The two new berths offer shorepower and a direct connection to black and grey water collection lines. As 2017 ended, the port was expected to report 52 international ship calls, according to a spokesperson, a 20,000 passenger increase year-over-year. 2018 will continue the surge, with 16 more calls on the books and a prediction of 130,000 passengers, up 50,000 year-over-year. New business includes summer cruises from AIDA, and the debut of Windstar Cruises in the Saint Lawrence. The Seabourn Quest is also offering a round-trip Montreal itinerary. More hopes lie in the winter, where the port city is working closely with the Cruise the Saint Lawrence group to develop a winter program to make the river a year-round destination. The port also recently joined the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition as it expects more river traffic and is developing a business plan for river cruising.
Heathrow Enhances Service For Passengers With Disabilities
Heathrow has announced a multi-million-pound package of investments and tools to improve the travel experience of passengers with disabilities and mobility restrictions at the airport. The number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising at approximately 8% annually, with over one million requests in 2017 alone, more than any other European airport. Following a report by the Civil Aviation Authority this year, Heathrow is taking proactive steps to transform its service for these passengers, backed by an investment of £23 million in a revamped, upgraded contract with its special assistance partner, OmniServ. Heathrow announced the introduction of a distinctive lanyard that will allow passengers that need tailored help and support to discreetly identify themselves to Heathrow staff. This lanyard is part of an established service initiated at Gatwick and rolled out in other UK airports, and is supported by leading UK charities including the Alzheimer’s Society, the National Autistic Society and Action on Hearing Loss.  Special assistance staff, security officers and passenger ambassadors at Heathrow have been trained to identify the lanyard so they can provide additional assistance, or allow passengers wearing it more time or space as they travel independently through the airport. 

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Infographic: 6 Destinations to Spot the Southern Cross in 2017

We at Willamette Intl Travel love tried and true destinations like these! Interested in one (or more) of the places below? Give us a ring! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Antarctica, Australia, Brazil, Europe, Hawaii, New Zealand, South Africa, South Africa

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rio de Janeiro

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With the Summer Olympics coming on, Rio de Janeiro is more popular than ever. With beautiful beaches and a vivacious flavor, it’s no wonder why this amazing city attracts millions of visitors each year. Rio is a fantastic destination and a favorite port-of-call of many a cruise ship—but do you know everything there is to know about the Cidade Maravilhosa? Here are 10 things we’re sure you didn’t know:

1. The River of January. Rio de Janeiro translates to “River of January” in Portuguese, the month that it was discovered by Portugal. That said, locals are called Cariocas, a word that derives from kara’i oka (in the indigenous Tupi tongue, “white man’s house”). 

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2. There are more than 30 miles of beaches in Rio. Rio’s beaches are world-renowned for their clean and soft sand, and so conveniently accessible from most hotels and hostels. Along the beach you’ll also find a plethora of rental tents and chairs, wet trails, free showers, bars and cafes. Soak in the sun at Copacabana and Ipanema, the more popular of the beaches. You can practice your surfing skills or down a sanduíche natural, a cold sandwich with vegetables and mayo. Prefer to avoid the crowd? Opt for Leblon, the quieter sister beach but equally as beautiful.

3. The city is divided into three zones. The Zona Norte, the older Centro and the beach-lined Zona Sul. n the North, you’ll find a few monuments of note, like the Zoo, National Museum and the Observatory. In the Center, you’ll find the historic churches, monuments and squares at the city’s old waterfront. The South is where you’ll find the bulk of its famous beaches: Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon.

4. The city’s drink of choice is the Cafezinho. The cafezinho is a popular welcome drink in Brazil, and are often imbibed at work, in the home, and sophisticated boutiques. The minute you walk into any door, don’t be surprised if someone asks you “você quer um cafezinho?” (Do you want a cafezinho?) When in Rome! Do as the Brazilians do and pair a cafezinho (little espresso) with a pão de queijo (cheese bread). There’s an excellent café in Leblon called Cafeína to do just that.

O Rio de Janeiro continua lindo

5. The Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, was created in 1918 as a cure for the Spanish flu. Cachaça, hard liquor distilled from sugarcane, is blended with sugar and lime to create the masterful and succulent Caipirinha. The name originates from the word caipira, or “hillbilly.”

6. It took 9 years to complete Christ the Redeemer. Finished in 1931 on Mt. Corcovado’s peak, it’s become the cultural icon for both Rio and Brazil. Pre-10AM is the best time to check out the statue—best to avoid the queues and crowds—so hop in a taxi your first morning in Rio. It has been dubbed one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

7. “The Girl from Ipanema” was inspired from an actual girl. Songwriters Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes teamed up to write the lyrics to the song when they were struck by the beauty of a seventeen-year-old girl named Heloísa.

Interested in Brazil and Beyond? Call us up for a chat about South American Travel! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Photos courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Nicholas Bittencourt, Christian Haugen, Diego f. Garcia and Deni Williams. 

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Tours: Special Events

Yesterday the United States was glued to their screens as the XLVII Super Bowl raged on! Did your team win? Did you know that many tour operators can arrange custom packages for you during major events? From the Super Bowl to the World Cup, there is a variety of special sport events, festivals, and races around which we can design your travel! Our travel partners can arrange exclusive travel experiences during these major events, so you’re right in the action!

And remember: if you aren’t attending the event, best to stay away from the destination during this time as there are sure to be enthusiastic crowds!

MASTERS IN AUGUSTA

Join the pros at the Augusta Golf Tournament, held in April at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Founded by Bobby Jones in 1933, it’s a dream for every avid golfer everywhere, and rival only to the Old Course at St. Andrews. Watch the greatest golfers in the world as they plan on the emerald green. Combine the event with a few relaxing days at the nearby Ritz-Carlton Lodge, with its gorgeous lake villas or Mediterranean style lodge villas around the stunning Lake Oconee. Put the ball on the famous Great Waters Course, a 7,073 yard, par-72 layout course that hosted the 41st PGA Professional National Championship in 2008.

Dates: April 11-14, 2013

THE KENTUCKY DERBY

Kensington Tours hosts guests during the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. Take your reserved seat in the most famous horse race in the United States, and root for your winning stallion amid the mighty roar of the crowd. Tours are tiered based on seats at Churchill Downs—from Clubhouse Seating, Grandstands, Grandstands Orange to the luxurious VIP Suites. Arrangements are full customizable, and can include transfers, shuttles, accommodation, upgraded tickets, bourbon distillery tours and horse farm tours.

Dates: May 4, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE BALLOON FIESTA

New Mexico hosts one of the world’s most photographed events in October. Join Collette or Globus on a tour of sound and color. Enjoy the incredible mass ascension and race as the colorful balloons take off. At night, the balloons burn fires during the Balloon Glow and follow up with a fireworks show. Go on a balloon ride yourself on the Sandia Peak Tram, the world’s longest aerial tramway. In addition to the main event, your hosts will take you through the unique markets and streets of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Visit the International Balloon Museum, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the beautiful Turquoise Trail.

Dates: October 5-13, 2013

TOURNAMENT OF ROSES

Pasadena holds their famous Tournament of Roses annually in winter. Be up-close and personal in the parade on a reserved seat and get a sneek-peek of final touches on the gargantuan floats. Celebrate the season with New Year’s Eve Gala dinner dance with live entertainment and champagne. Afterwards, enjoy a farewell dinner on board the RMS Queen Mary, or take a guided tour through the Getty Museum or the Ronald Regan Presidential Library.

Dates: December, 2013

BRAZIL WORLD CUP

The 20th FIFA World Cup will be a soccer (for our international readers, football) tournament hosted in Brazil in 2014. As the first World Cup held in South America since Argentina’s in 1978, the continent is understandably excited and already making plans. Kensington Tours have created an exclusive collection of customizable Brazil tours around your soccer experience that are based out of Rio de Janeiro. Transport yourself to the heart of history on Brazilian soil. Pair with a destination expert. Explore natural beaches, rainforest safaris and cultural highlights. Be part of football history. You can even follow your team around the country as they race to the championship.

Dates: June 13-20, 2014; June 20-27, 2014; June 27-July 5, July 7-14.

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Top Experiences in: Brazil

Explore the Capital. Rio de Janeiro is famous for Ipanema beach, the Christ the Redeemer statue, samba and caipirinha cocktails. Wander old cobblestone streets and enjoy the gorgeous, sophisticated atmosphere. Attend a colorful samba show, take a cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain, and tour to the churches, squares, palaces and monasteries that define Brazilian heritage.

photo by Leandro Ciuffo

Attend Carnaval in Rio. The wildest festival in the world is held forty-six days before Easter. Join the throngs of dancers and performers, enjoy the parades of costumed delights, and attend the fairy-tale Copacabana Palace Ball.

Watch a Soccer Game at Maracanã Stadium. With the 2014 World Cup arriving in Rio, now’s the perfect time to get into the sport all Brazilians love with a passion! Catch a game at the biggest stadium in the world, and feel the game spirit in 78,000 of your neighbors.

photo by photos Gov/Ba

Wander Around Pelourinho. The charming, historic center of Salvador is home to delicately-crafted baroque churches and colonial architecture. Reflect on the solemn history of the city center, once the central plaza where African slaves once received punishment and discipline. Now you can walk around the district and enjoy fantastic cafes, live music, restaurants, gift shops and nightlife.

Kayak the Amazon. Join the thousands of naturalists and enthusiasts who have journeyed into the depths of the world’s largest rainforest. Speak with a knowledgeable guide, travel at your leisure, and prepare local meals of delicious freshwater fish. Rest away the hours of midday heat in a hammock, meet native tribes, and spy the forest’s wildlife treasures—monkeys, pigs, birds, macaws, and thousands more.

photo by Danielle Pereira

Admire the Sunset over the Lençóis Marahenses. The beauty of snow-white dunes interlaced with turquoise lagoons is incomparable. Travel to this national park of roughly 1500 square kilometers and marvel at the area’s natural, stark loveliness.

Salvador Bahia: The “Capital of Happiness,” Salvador is a popular carnival and party destination. Famed for easygoing inhabitants, vibrant music scene and colorful streets, it’s a fun and terrific stop on any tourist’s itinerary.

Spot Incredible Birds in the Pantanal. The Pantanal tropical wetland is famous for its avian diversity. The area sprawls over somewhere between a massive 54,000 and 75,000 square miles. Wander through the marshes on horseback and spot macaws, toucans, caimans, river otters, marsh deer, tapirs, red-footed tortoises, solitary eagles and capybaras. If you’re lucky, you may even spy the elusive jaguar and giant anteater.

photo by ana_ge

Trek around the Iguaçu Falls. We mentioned the Falls in a previous post, but it definitely deserves multiple mentions. One of the world’s natural wonders, the waterfalls at Iguaçuspan three countries and consists of 275 cascades. Enjoy a number of activities such as helicopter flights, river-rafting, rappelling, or forest hikes.

Our agents have traveled to Brazil and arranged tours and flights for clients for years. Enjoy the country before the crowds of FIFA and the Olympics swarm to Rio! Call us at 800.821.0401 or email info@wittravel.com for more information.

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Argentina/Brazil Feature: Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls (a.k.a. Iguassu or Iguaçu) is a remarkable and natural collection of waterfalls located on the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Spanning over 2.7 kilometers of 275 cascading falls and with an average flow of 1.750 m3/s, the falls are an extraordinary add-on to any Latin American itinerary. To view the falls in their complete glory, they must be seen from both Brazil and Argentina. The Brazilian side offers a sweeping, grandiose panorama while the Argentine side offers a closer, more in-depth look.

photo by Phil Whitehouse

Tours. Trips to the waterfalls utilize trails and catwalks. You can also book a boat tour or a trip to the bird sanctuary. There are also options for helicopter flights, river-rafting, rappelling, visits to the hydroelectric Itaipu Dam, or hikes through the subtropical forest to the base of Salto Floriano. You can also take a cruise into the heart of the falls.

Entry and Transport. Journeys by land can be difficult, so it’s recommend to fly in from Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires to one of the towns on either side. Transport to and from the falls is by frequent bus or rental car. On the Argentine side, car is generally recommended because it allows for flexibility in traveling from your hotel to town, and farther to Brazil.

Where to Stay?Guests can either opt for the large Brazilian town of Foz do Iguacu or the small Argentine town of Puerto Iguazu. Within the park itself, there are only two properties: The Sheraton and the Hotel Das Cataratas.

The Sheraton: If there is one item you should splurge on in your Iguazu itinerary, it’s the Sheraton on the Argentina side. Guests can book rooms and suites with jungle and falls views over a private balcony. The new spa features a sauna, steam room, whirlpool, and an adjoining gym. Situated just 10 km from Puerto Iguazu airport and 20 km from Puerto Iguazu town, this hotel is a recommended option with unforgettable morning views of the falls.

Hotel Das Cataratas: A traditional luxury hotel with gourmet dining and an outdoor swimming pool. Perched on top of the falls on the Brazilian side, this is a gorgeous location, with an observation deck on the roof. They also offer excursions and activities bookable through the hotel.

Visas. Be advised that visas are required for US passport holders to visit Brazil—not available at the border, these must be arranged beforehand. EU passport holders typically do not need a visa.

Willamette Intl Travel offers customizable itineraries to Iguazu, and surrounding sites such as the Pantanal National Park, Buenos Aires, or Rio de Janeiro. We can arrange guided tours, cars, or hotels at your convenience. Phone us up or email us and we can discuss what itinerary works for you.

photo by Phil Whitehouse

Interested in visiting the majestic Iguazu Falls? Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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