Category Archives: Travel by Taste

Top Tips on Best Travel Photography

Copy of wittravel blog header (2)

Awesome travel photography doesn’t happen overnight. Even the pros have had to work on improving their composition, equipment, and methods. Here are some of our best tips from decades in the travel business.

Note: I use the word camera here, but you can easily apply these same tips to smartphone cameras.

photographer-407068_640

Engage with your Subjects.

Don’t simply snap an image and walk away. Like you should get to know your destination, get to know the people there. Speak to them, and ask them about their day, their family, what they are doing. If you don’t speak the local language, try hand gestures, nodding, word of greeting, or smile. Open up, and you might find that people open up as well.

Ask people for portrait shots. The worst they can do is say no. Most people will likely smile in agreement. Make sure you thank them, and if you can, show them their own photo. You can even offer to send them a copy if they have email or postal address.

Talking to people even before you bring out your camera can also help you get a sense of place. Say hello to passersby. Ask for directions. Buy souvenirs. Use your interactions as inspiration for the mood and essence you want your photos to convey.

Be your true self, and engage with people authentically. Become part of the story that you tell.

beach-2345846_640

Travel Lightly.

Perhaps a difficult task if you have expensive photography gear, but traveling light is an important tool to learn. Pack only your camera, memory cards, lightweight mini tripod, portable storage unit, flash unit, selection of lenses—all in a supportive camera bag that protects from weather conditions and terrain.

As to whether lenses you take, choose a fast zoom like 18-200mm or 28-300m. If you have space, also grab a portrait prime lens, a wide angle lens and a telephoto.

night-1927265_640

Research your location.

The best travel photography comes in part due to Research. Know your destination, the festivals, the scenic routes and panoramas. Consult your travel agent. Read guidebooks. Read articles online and blog posts from writers you admire. Scan through Instagram.

Know what other photographers have managed to capture in the region, and decide if you want to pursue similar shots or look for unique angles. Make sure you keep track of the light via an app—download The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which tells you what time the sun rises, sets, and the position of the moon to your location. You can also check the tides for access to cool shots and locations during low tides.

photographer-1149214_640

Late to Bed, Early to Rise

I know, you’re on vacation, so you’d rather not wake up early! But some of the most fantastic light for your next iconic shot will be early in the morning. The soft, warm morning light is perfect for images—and plus you can beat the tourist crowds, too. Need that epic shot of the Taj Mahal—wake up before sunrise.

Make sure you’re outside for sunset, too. The golden hour and subsequent blue hour of photography bathe cities and landscapes in magical light. Time to make some forever memories.

Rule of Thirds

Maybe you’ve heard of this one—one of the basic tenants of photography. Understanding the Rule of Thirds will change the way you look through the camera lens. This is about composition. Imagine breaking down the image into thirds horizontally and vertically. Place important parts of the photos into those sections. This means, for example, positioning a person on the left grid line instead of the center. Shift the horizon on the bottom third, rather than straight down the middle. Remind yourself of the Rule of Thirds by switching on your camera’s “grid” feature.

passport-2714675_640

Travel Tripod

Many of the best travel photographers recommend a lightweight tripod fashioned specifically for travel. These will keep your images in a steady position and let you play with all types of tricks: video production, exposure, time-lapse, panorama. Tripods also let you shoot non-optimal subjects, like waterfalls or low-light stars, without that annoying shaking camera.

Did you know that some tour guides offer special photography tours? Our clients have done these special-interest tours in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Norway, Iceland and more! Ask your Willamette Intl Travel agent about more of these incredible, eye-opening photography tours.

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Travel By, Travel by Sport, Travel by Taste

Danube Waltz with Viking Cruises

Copy of wittravel blog header (1)

Budapest – Bratislava – Vienna – Krems – Linz – Passau

This week, WIT Agent Debbie is joining Viking Cruises on an educational cruise onboard the Viking Vilhjalm!

She will fly to Budapest and spend 2 nights at the lovely Corinthia Hotel, before embarking on her ship on the Danube. 

Saturday is her birthday, and she’ll be in Vienna so hoping for some succulent Sachertorte!

Upon disembarking arrival in Passau, she’ll be staying 3 nights in Munich before heading home. A full 12 days of exploring Central Europe! We can’t wait for her pics 😉

Willamette Intl Travel has been on countless cruises and sent countless happy clients on the cruise of their dreams. ASK your WIT agent which cruise might be right for you. Whether you love scientific lectures or prefer to kick-back with a glass of wine, traveling with your spouse, kids or going solo, we guarantee there’s a cruise made just for you. Call 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com

vikinglgo

The Cruise

Highlights

  • Soak up soothing steam at a Budapest thermal bath.
  • Learn to waltz at a Viennese dance school.
  • Savor Austro-Hungarian cuisine in Vienna and Budapest.
  • Admire the Wachau Valley’s beauty from your Viking Longship.
  • Explore lesser-known Central European cities like Bratislava.
  • Witness daily life in an abbey on an exclusive visit to Göttweig. 

The Sail

WED AUG 08, 2018 Embark In Budapest on Viking Vilhjalm

THU AUG 09, 2018 Budapest, Hungary

FRI AUG 10, 2018 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

SAT AUG 11, 2018 Vienna, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Krems, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Durnstein, Austria

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Scenic Cruising: Wachau Valley

SUN AUG 12, 2018 Melk, Austria

MON AUG 13, 2018 Linz, Austria

TUE AUG 14, 2018 Passau, Germany

WED AUG 15, 2018 Disembark In Passau

The Ship

The Viking river boat is named after Vilhjalm Langaspjót, William I Longsword. As the son of Rolf the Ganger, a Viking chief and first Duke of Normandy, William ruled Normandy after his father from 927 to 942.

SHIPS_DeckPlans_2016-Viking-Longships_800x762_20151111_tcm23-30391

Features: 

  • 95 comfortable outside staterooms (25 Standard Staterooms, 22 French Balcony Staterooms, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 7 Veranda Suites, 2 Explorer Suites)
  • All suites feature two full-size rooms with a veranda off the living room & a French balcony in the bedroom
  • Sun Deck with 360-degree views & shaded sitting area; organic herb garden & solar panels; putting green & walking track
  • Aquavit Terrace & Lounge, a revolutionary indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the ship for al fresco dining
  • Viking Lounge & Bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors
  • Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views
  • Library & onboard shop
  • Elevator from Middle to Upper Deck only; no elevator access for categories E & F
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • Laundry service
  • Ecologically friendly hybrid engines producing less vibrations for a smoother ride
  • 40″ flat-screen Sony TV with infotainment system featuring Movies On Demand, plus CNBC, CNN, National Geographic & more
16.07.11_Viking_Lounge_A_020

The Room

French Balcony Stateroom (C, D)

  • Stateroom size: 135 sq ft
  • River-view stateroom with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door to create a French balcony
  • Hotel-style bed 79 in x 63 in (with optional twin-bed configuration); luxury linens & pillows
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • 40″ flat-screen Sony TV with infotainment system featuring Movies On Demand, plus CNBC, CNN, FOX, National Geographic & more
  • 110/220 volt outlets & USB ports
  • Telephone, safe, refrigerator, hair dryer & individual climate control
  • Private bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor & anti-fog mirror
  • Premium Freyja® toiletries; plush robes & slippers available upon request
  • Bottled water replenished daily
  • Stateroom steward & twice-daily housekeeping
  • Space under bed for storing suitcases
  • Roomy wardrobe with wooden hangers
  • View the French Balcony in our 360° Longship Tour

Leave a comment

Filed under Cruises, Europe, Travel by Ship, Travel by Taste, Viking Cruises

7 Awesome Restaurants in Reykjavik

August is peak season in Reykjavik, and a lot of our clients are touching the ground now as we write. It’s no secret, though, that Iceland is expensive—even a light lunch could easily set you back around $20. How to know then, which restaurants are worth your wallet?

Here are 7 Awesome Restaurants in Reykjavik straight from our writer Wailana who lived there for 1 year.

DILL

Reykjavik’s most prestigious restaurant, DILL, embraces the new Nordic as defined by Iceland. Its all about seasonal ingredients straight from the lava soil. Started by chef Gunnar Karl Gislason and sommelier Olafur Orn Olafsson, diners can expect traditional Icelandic fare with a flair. Reindeer with crowberries, Sunchokes served with skyr, baked rutabaga with cheese foam, lumpfish and rye starters. The dinner menu offers a rotating menu of 3, 5 and 7 courses. It’s the only restaurant awarded a Michelin Star in Iceland. Famously it books up well in advance, so be sure to make your reservation at least a month before your trip to Iceland!

Hverfisgötu 12 | +354 552 1522  | www.dillrestaurant.is

GRILLMARKADURINN

The Grill Market is a stylish restaurant tucked away on Lækjargata. Its design is cozy and luxurious, drawing on Icelandic elements of rock and water. The menu is decidedly Icelandic, from smoked Arctic char to grilled puffin with pickled blueberries. If you can’t decide, there’s always the tasting menu to sample a little bit of chef’s choice.

Laekjargata 2A | +354 571-7777 | www.grillmarkadurinn.is

FISKFELAGID

A trip to Reykjavik wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of Iceland’s world-class seafood. Fiskfelagid, a cozy restaurant in the basement of the Zimsen building, serves not only Icelandic seafood but also fish dishes from across the globe. The historic Zimsen building dates back to 1884 and was originally located a couple of streets away before it was moved to its current location underneath a quaint bridge. While the building was undergoing renovation, part of Reykjavik’s old harbor was unearthed and transformed into a work of art within the restaurant grounds by local artist Hjorleifur Stefansson. Patrons can relax in Fiskfelagid’s comfortable booths while snacking on Icelandic salted cod and burnt langoustines or the Malaysian inspired blackened monkfish with lobster spring roll.

 Vesturgata 2a, Grófartorg | +354 552 5300 | www.fiskfelagid.is/en

View this post on Instagram

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is Iceland’s most famous hot dog stand chain, bearing the stamps of approval from many. One of these being the Guardian’s Best Hot Dog Stand in Europe 2006. Icelandic sausages consist of lamb, pork, and beef. However, what sets Icelandic hot dogs apart is the pale yellow condiment under the bed of raw onions – remolaði, a sweet relish mayonnaise. Order “the works” which includes all the condiments: ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onions, raw onions, and of course, remolaði. Best hot dog in Europe, I think not; best hot dog in Iceland? Definitely perhaps 😏 . 🌭 Pylsur Eina Með Öllu (The Works Hot Dog) 450 Krona (£3.22) #meliaeatsiceland

A post shared by “meliaeats” Food | Travel (@meliawandered) on

BAEJARINS BEZTU PYLSUR

It may not be fine dining, but there’s nothing more Icelandic than hot dogs. Their national dogs are prepared with a combination of pork, beef and lamb, and is the staple of every weekend revelry. Since 1937, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur has been served dogs near the harbor, best ordered med ollu, “the works”—ketchup, sweet mustard, remoulade and raw and friend onions.

Tryggvagata 1 | +354 511 1566 |  www.bbp.is

View this post on Instagram

Brunch is always a good idea☕️

A post shared by Telma Lind Sveinsdóttir (@telmasveinsd) on

SNAPS

Popular with the lunch office crowd, Snaps is the place for fresh dishes like mussels, French onion soup, and grilled fish straight from the harbor. Tucked away in the cute neighborhood of Skolavorduholt, this bistro was named Best Restaurant by Reykjavik’s Grapevine magazine for multiple years in a row.

Þórsgata 1 | +354 511 6677 | www.snaps.is

OSTABUDIN

This cute bistro—a delicatessen on the ground floor, restaurant in the basement—is another local favorite. Grab lunch and a hot bowl of fish soup to warm you up. The lunch menu is very reliable, with daily soup, daily fish, or house fishsoup (!) to choose from. Check their facebook page for daily specials. If you drop by for dinner, be sure to try their goose and wild game meatballs for something totally different.

Skólavörðustíg 8 | +354 562 2772 | http://ostabudin.is

NOSTRA

This new restaurant opened up just this year, and it focuses on fine dining with hyperlocal ingredients. Locals rave about the cocktail bar. Set menus, tailored to vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, or meat eaters over several courses. Best yet, the menu changes daily so there’s always a surprise waiting around the corner!

Laugavegur 59 | +354 519 3535 | https://www.nostrarestaurant.is

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Iceland, Travel by Taste

Quick Guide to the Paris Navigo Pass

wittravel blog header

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).

musician-203479_640

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.

louvre-102840_640

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.

croissant-101636_640

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.

paris-1836415_640

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, France, Travel by Taste

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, France, Travel by Taste

A Quick Guide to Culinary Norway in 4 Cities

wittravel blog header

Nordic Food is certainly in the spotlight right now, from Danish Michelin stars to Scandi fusion that mixes with Japanese minimalism. In Reykjavik, diners have to notoriously book months in advance at the popular restaurant Dill. In Copenhagen, chefs are taking the culinary world by storm.

Norway is certainly not going to be left out of the Nordic joy. It’s gone from standard, home-traditional food, to more daring culinary experiences in just the past few years. Here are some of Norway’s awesome foodie capitals to check out!

delicious-1178513_640

Oslo

The foodie trail starts in Oslo, home to three-star Michelin and the whipsmart Maaemo that is more phenomenon than anything. Take advantage of the ocean’s proximity with fresh fish and shellfish. Maaemo has been voted as one of the world’s best places to eat by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Budgets never fear, as there are exceptional joints from the Thai-based Plah, Japanese Alex Sushi, Omakase by Alex Cabiao, Francaphone À l’aise, and the pintxos place TXOTX. Like most Scandinavian cities, the locals love their cafés and food markets, so don’t hesitate to grab teh food trucks and stalls at Mathallen and Vippa.

More tips on the New Nordic from AFAR. 

unusual-moose-burger-1180420_640

Trondheim

Take to Trondheim’s kitchens for hyperlocal menus that are always on the lookout for experimental, yet wholesome ways to celebrate food. You might want to try Credo, To Rom og Kjøkken, Astrum Skybar, 73 Bar og Restaurant, the seafood restaurant Havfruen Sjømatrestaurant, and Fagn. There’s also the creative Røst Teaterbistro, Sellanraa Bok & Bar, that do wonders with local suppliers, fresh, seasonal ingredients harvested from the region’s fjords and Nordic mountains.

norway-772991_640

Stavanger

There’s more to Stavanger than its hikes–the city is home to daring culinary adventurers. Though relatively small, the food scene is as vibrant as any other region in Norway, with a host of food and drink festivals and creative bistros like Skagen, Gaffel and karaffell, Hall Toll, Salza and Spiseriet. If you’re in town this summer, don’t miss Gladmatfestivalen and Stavanger Vinfestival. And if you’re in Norway and not planning a trip to Stavanger–why not!?

norway-1835609_640

Bergen

Top off your culinary enthusiasm in Bergen, nestled between cozy fjords, and islands on the North Sea. Prime location for excellent seafood, and the Fisketorget outdoor fish market is a must. Bergen likes to experiment with its surrounding nature, with Cornelius, where you can observe your fish dish literally being caught in front of you–and at Sky:Skraperen, which perched on Bergen’s highest mountain Ulriken, rewards with a breathtaking view of the fjord below.

norway-483185_640

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Norway, Travel by Taste

Caravan Serai Recipes: Persian Jeweled Rice

Copy of china

It’s the Holidays and We at Willamette Intl Travel are cozying up to the annual Caravan-Serai Recipe Book! Here’s one of our favorites from this year: Persian Jeweled Rice. Click Here for Larger Text!

Caravan-Serai is a Seattle-based tour operator that guides our clients through the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Iran, the Caucasus, and Cuba (ask your agent at WIT for the deets).

1.jpg

2.jpg

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, iran, Travel by Taste