Category Archives: Where in the World is the WIT Client?

Where in the World is the WIT Client? Portugal!

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We recently booked a fabulous trip to Portugal for our lovely clients the Kurdocks. Check out their feedback below!

For a portion of the trip, they met up with Anselmo, our wonderful go-to guide for the region. Anselmo has been leading private tours for guests for 15 years–read more about his tours on our previous blog post here.

We just wanted to thank you for planning a terrific trip for us.  Everything went smoothly and we appreciated the thoughtfulness and detail that went into the planning.  We loved Portugal and are glad we took your advice and spent more time exploring it rather than trying to see some of Spain in the same number of days. Our mid September travel dates blessed us with near perfect weather with blue skies and comfortable temperatures. The trip was a nice balance of artistic and cultural sites, scenery, and relaxation. Not having to drive or navigate allowed us the luxury of taking everything in as we drove around.

Anselmo Goncalves was a wonderful guide.  He is easy to be with, has an encyclopedic memory, and answered our endless questions with infinite patience.  We learned by the end of our first day in Lisbon with him how enriched our trip would be under his guidance.  We saw so much more in one day than we ever could on our own and understood the context of what we saw at a deeper level. He knew what to have us explore at greater depth and what to just check out briefly. He knew which back alleys to scoot down to avoid traffic and where he could get us “seniors” on shorter ticket lines.  Most importantly, he gave us access to a side of Portugal we would have missed either traveling on our own or with a tour group.  We ate where he takes his family at the seaside and were the only non-Portuguese at the restaurant.  We had the leisure to take in small towns and sit with him and have a coffee in the town plaza. After a few days with him, he was comfortable enough to make suggestions as to how we might appropriate our time as he got to know what interested us the most.  Always the well mannered professional, we give Anselmo two thumbs up.

The hotel accommodations you arranged were all excellent.  I have comments about two of them.  As Janelas Verdes was the first hotel we stayed in in Lisbon.  The room and service were fine, but we found the location a bit remote from the sights of Lisbon. Other than the adjacent Museum of Antiquities, most sights required a cab. The Quinta de Casaldronho Wine Hotel near Lamego was an amazing venue.  We arrived at dusk after a very long day on the road and left by 9:00 the next morning.  Sunset and sunrise were amazing with our view of the Douro Valley.  We had Anselmo with us, so a stay of more than one night would not have been practical, but if you have some future client who wants to spend a day off the road, this place would be ideal.  With private balconies and an infinity pool with a drop dead view of the valley, it would be a nice stop to relax for a day. Alas, the mattresses at this hotel were wanting.  We tossed and turned and then overheard a group of people with the same complaint at breakfast the next morning. You can’t have everything, I guess. Staying at Hotel Infante de Sagres in Porto was a treat. The over-the-top decor was fun.  Our top floor room had amazing views of Porto and the service was impeccable.

Our agents at Wittravel love to arrange fantastic trips for clients all over Europe and the world. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to find out more. 

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Jim in London and Paris

Our agents recently organized a great trip for our client Jim D to London and Paris. Read on for his hilarious inside look into what these iconic cities have to offer. 

Did you know we post client feedback on our Testimonials page? Click here to read more excellent comments!

I am happy to say that my trip went quite well, thanks in great part to the subtle details which had already been taken care of by your agency. The flight that started things off (my first!) was very pleasant, and less grueling than I had expected; hats off to Delta Airlines for the great service. It may have helped that the flight was only about half full, so everyone had plenty of elbow room, and the amenity-to-passenger ratio was in our favor.

I loved the Radisson Blu Vanderbilt Hotel, not only for the cordial service (and special free breakfast!) but also for the great location. After checking in I immediately trotted off to the Natural History Museum, followed by The Victoria Albert and the Science Museum (Must… Stay… Awake…). I found a good chip shop in the neighborhood and then went off in search of Harrod’s department store, which I had heard was a near-mythological monument to commerce. I wasn’t disappointed. Every room was like a different land! Food, Perfume, Clothes, and a toy department (LAND!) where I would like to live, please. I think the stuffed toy giraffe they had cost as much as a real giraffe. While exploring Harrod’s I came across my favorite amusement ride in London, The Egyptian Escalator.

The following day I rode the London Eye, spending the extra money on a fast-track ticket, saving me at least an hour of line-standing; totally worth it. The Tate Modern and the Winston Churchill War Room Museum were also on the docket, with lots of walking- Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral- followed by an excellent take-away cheeseburger in the hotel room, a change of clothes, and the discovery that 6pm on a Friday night is kind of a busy time to take the Tube to the West End. Into the breach, indeed. “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown”, at the Playhouse Theatre on Northumberland Ave. in the West End, was excellent and I recommend it. A solid and entertaining production in a space that seats less than 800. Theatre heaven.

Saturday’s first mission was to go to the sandwich shop featured in the BBC America TV show “Sherlock” (On North Gower St. in Camden, posing as Baker St.), but it turned out they were shooting the show on that day so I was out of luck. Next I walked to The British Museum, where I spent the afternoon gaping at their astonishing collection of artifacts, in a building I would have loved even if it was empty. By this time I was having so much fun just walking and people watching that I walked all the way back to the hotel, through Piccadilly Square and past Harrods, where of course I had to go in and ride the Egyptian Escalator a few more times. London struck me as a thriving, bustling, culturally bountiful city, and I enjoyed it very much. The next morning I checked out of The Radisson Blu Vanderbilt and got myself over to St. Pancras Station, and onto The Chunnel, which was as comfortable and modern as I had hoped.

My biggest misstep happened upon my arrival in Paris. A cabdriver (who intercepted me- and spoke excellent English- before I even got to wherever the line of cabs outside actually was) convinced me that a cab ride to my hotel was going to cost a small fortune, that it was a long way, and that the rate was set, that any other cab would cost the same amount. If I were to do it again I would say “thanks anyway” and try a few more cabdrivers, and also look into the Metro situation. But I took the ride, and, to his credit, he did point out all of the important landmarks to me on the way to the hotel. And, this gave me my first chance to use the emergency-sentence-finisher I had prepared for just such an occasion: “Well, that didn’t go very well, but it’s okay, because I’M IN PARIS!”

After checking in at the hotel (The Aramis Saint Germain- cozy, well appointed, pleasant and helpful staff), I set out to walk down to the river, taking care to remember what my good friend John Smith had passed on to me from a Frenchman he had met: Parisians think that Americans smile too much, and they find it annoying. So I was trying my best to appear sullen and world-weary, but that didn’t last very long. Everything in Paris was so beautiful, and so French, that I kept laughing. I mean, somebody actually rode by on a bicycle with baguettes in the front basket. Come on!

Down by the Seine, I visited the Musee d’Orsay, yet another museum housed in an extraordinary  building. The view from the roof of the museum gave me good ideas about where to go next, and it wasn’t until I was on the right bank, and crossing back over again, that I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. I had been so preoccupied in the preceding hours that I had kind of forgotten to look for it, so it caught me by surprise and I may have actually yelled “Eiffel Tower!” out loud.

Monday was reserved for said Eiffel Tower (which closed for undisclosed security reasons right before I got to the front of the line), and also for a lovely walk along the river to Notre Dame Cathedral. Then I wandered across the bridge to explore a cluster of buildings and discovered that it was the Louvre, and that it was open on Mondays (closed on Tuesday). I went in to say hi to the Mona Lisa, and then down below ground to see the old Roman ramparts; beautiful and fascinating.

Tuesday morning I overslept due to new-smartphone-related complications, but eventually got myself all the way out to The Palace of Versailles, which I wanted to see with my own eyes just to get a sense of the kind of gross imbalance of wealth distribution that would cause an entire country to revolt. As I roamed around the palace (Hall Of Mirrors!) and its expansive grounds, I thought, “Yeah, this would do it”.

Then back to Notre Dame to go up in the towers this time, where the gargoyles were a highlight of the trip. Tuesday night I was able to convince personnel at three different stages of access to the Eiffel Tower that they needed to let me in with the previous day’s pass because I had been shut out the day before. I’m glad I went back- nighttime was better, I think.

Wednesday was mostly for Montmartre neighborhood, which I enjoyed very much. I took a bus out there but walked back to maximize my Parisian experience before an early bedtime and an ungodly early wake-up.

The transfer to the airport went smoothly. The flight to Amsterdam was a little bit late so things were a bit harried on arrival but they held up the flight to Portland for us and all was well once on board. I returned to Portland with 3 stamps (!) in my passport and a desire to get out and get some more stamps as soon as possible. Thank you for everything. I would love to be kept informed of the various tours the agency conducts, and I will be in touch when I figure out where I should go next.

~~~ JIM D.

Willamette Intl Travel works one on one with clients, delivering personalized and memorable travel experiences. Book your summer and fall trip to Europe today! Contact us to discuss the best options that fit you and your family’s travel style. Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com

Recently returned from a trip planned by the Wittravel team? Tell us all about it! We love to hear your comments, and maybe it will even end up on our testimonials page!

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Filed under England, Europe, France, UK, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

Reading List: Germany

Thinking of a Christmas Trip to Germany? Call Willamette Intl Travel to discuss your options for an independent trip, escorted tour, or river cruise through Germany to check out their lovely Christmas markets.

And Plus! Read before you go!

GERMAN READING LIST

Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880). A literary classic with witty observations about Germany 111during the 1880s. Probably most famous for its postscript “The Awful German Language.”

Christopher Isherwood, Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Books that chronicle the Weimar years (1919-1933), and whose stories inspired the movie Cabaret.

Michael Gorra, The Bells in their Silence: Travels Through Germany (2004). A modern travelogue by an American literature professor who traveled around Germany during the 1990s.

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Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts (1977). Beautifully composed, a fascinating account of the author’s journey on foot from Holland to Turkey in the years before WWII.

113Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front (1929). A harsh novel about the extreme conditions of World War I.

Bernhard Schlink. The Reader (1997). The story of a young man, the woman he thinks he knows, and their separate love and secrets in postwar Germany.

 

 

Our agents have traveled throughout Germany for years and would love to share our knowledge and expertise with you! Give us a call at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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All Aboard the Chunnel!

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

On May 6, 1994, Eurostar’s channel tunnel, or “Chunnel” as it is colloquially known, officially opened from England to France. It is a modern marvel of engineering—it took eleven drilling machines and 13,000 people six years and 4.65 GBP billion to install it. At 31.34 miles long, it is the second longest undersea tunnel in the world. Its lowest depth is 250 feet underwater!

Since it’s opening in 1994, millions of people have enjoyed the convenience and comfort of this fast zip from London to Paris. If it’s not on your travel bucket list, it should be!

Tickets for the Chunnel are released about 6 months prior to travel date, and it can start as low as $65 if you grab yours early! They also have senior fares available. A regular one-way ticket may cost around $120-180. There are 3 classes on board: standard, comfort and business. Standard class is family-friendly, with access to a buffet car with snacks. Or if you’re traveling in comfort class, your journey will include a light snack and first class seats. Want to travel in style? Business class comes with a 3-course meal and your choice of fine spirit on board, plus access to the exclusive Eurostar lounges at St. Pancras or Gare du Nord stations.

Did You Know?

–         A contest was held to determine where to place the Chunnel.

–         Both the British and French started digging from each side at the same time, but they didn’t quite meet in the middle—the English side tunneled the greater distance.

–         French engineer Albert Mathieu was the first engineer to propose the tunnel in the 19th century, and his plans included an artificial island half-way across for changing horses.

–         Much of the chalk marl bored on the English side was deposited at Lower Shakespeare Cliff in Kent, now home to the Samphire Hoe Country Park.

–         One of the eleven boring machines remains buried under the Channel. Another was sold on eBay for £39,999 in 2004.

–         Up to 400 trains pass through the tunnel each day, carrying an average of 50,000 passengers, 6,000 cars, 180 coaches and 54,000 tonnes of freight.

–         The lining of the tunnel is designed to last for 120 years.

–         Shuttle trains are 775 metres long – the same as eight football pitches.

–         The Queen and President Mitterrand were the honored guests on the inaugural ride. The royal party travelled from Waterloo to Calais at a sedate 80mph. The presidential party sped to the coast from Paris at 186mph.

 

Willamette Intl Travel designs and books train itineraries all over the world. Our rail expects can explain the nuances of train travel and book Eurail tickets, rail passes and city passes. In a hurry? We can issue your tickets in-house with just a day’s notice! Make an appointment today, call 503-224-0180.

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Un-Cruise Adventures

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Been around the globesphere and looking for a unique way to see the world? How about trying Un-Cruise Adventures?

A partner of Willamette Intl Travel and based in Seattle, Un-cruise specializes in destination-centric and activity-focused itineraries.

Some of their exciting journeys include: Alaska, coastal Was      hington, British Columbia, Hawaiian Islands, Columbia & Snake Rivers, and Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, the latter which are year-round to enjoy the best of Baja and whale-watching.

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Un-cruise has been featured in the February issue of Conde Nast, who took us firsthand on the “S.S. Legacy, the newest ship to sail that same spectacularly scenic route” as Lewis and Clark. They combine exceptional quality of service with a fresh a sense of adventure. Travel solo, with a companion, with your family or with a group! Their small vessels allow you to experience wilderness and off-the-beaten waterways from an intimate perspective. The crew on board is staffed with knowledgeable experts and trained guides with decades of experience.

On the lookout for that unique itinerary in Alaska? Un-cruise includes “not in the guidebook” places in Alaska. Their Northern Passages and Glacier Bay cruise stops at locations like South Marble Island, Chichagof Island, and the Icy and Peril Straits—with three full days in Glacier Bay!

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Sail with Un-cruise on:

  • A history-themed program down the Northwest rivers aboard an 88-passenger ship refurbished in the style of a fin-de-siècle coastal steamboat. Sailing on the Columbia and through Walla Walla wine country, all the while entertained by reenactments and shoreside tours.
  • A journey into the remote wilderness of Alaska, including Glacier Bay National Park, the White Pass and Yukon Railway. Uncover local Tlingit culture and the historical ports of Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Haines and Wrangell.

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  • A cruise to the Hawaiian Islands, where you can kayak in the Pacific Ocean and snorkel among coral gardens and manta rays. Delve into the heart of nature at the Humpback National Marine Sanctuary. Discover the rich history of Hawaii at Lana’i and an evening pa’ina (feast).
  • An island-hopping adventure through the Sea of Cortes, discovering a world of magnificent sealife—turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks and more! Kayak in sapphire blue coves and enjoy a desert burro ride ashore.

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 Willamette Intl Travel agents have sent several clients on successful vacations with the Un-Cruise. See some of their breathtaking photos in our gallery: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/gallery/1223-2/

Call us to learn more or to book your Un-Cruise today! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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All of the photos on this post were sent over by the Dents, long-term clients who recently returned from an Un-Cruise sail in Baja. Thank you!

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Filed under Central America, Cruises, Guest Writers, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

Art in London: The Great Museums and Collections

May 17-23, 2014

Join Portland-based art historian Amy Osaki on her new art tour to London. Begin with the history and architecture of London reveling in the monuments that are a feast for the eyes—the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Delve into the extraordinary richness of London’s museums including the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, the Royal Academy of the Arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern. Refuel at small private collections including Sir John Soane’s Museum and the Courtauld Gallery. Experience the joy of art in situ at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the church at St Martins in the Fields. Free evenings invite you to add your own theater experiences or concerts.

Sign up now to reserve a spot on this extraordinary journey! This trip is a guaranteed departure. When you join Amy Boyce Osaki on one of her art-focused trips you walk softly into the world of art, history and architecture. Immerse yourself in a rich diversity of museums, and explore art “in situ” for a deeper insight into its role within a living culture. These carefully crafted “art feasts” occur only once or twice a year.

Amy Boyce Osaki studied art at the Louvre Museum in Paris, holds a master’s degree from Winterthur Museum, and worked as a museum professional for over a decade including six years at the Portland Art Museum. She has led art trips to Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Barcelona, Budapest, Krakow, Florence, Peru, Japan, China and Russia for the past sixteen years. Many of the trips were offered for graduate credit from Portland State University. As a travel professional, Amy has led at least seventy-eight trips to seventeen countries on four continents. She is fluent in French and speaks Spanish, as well. Her photographs have been exhibited in juried exhibitions, group exhibitions, and can also be found in private collections. Amy is a Certified Travel Counselor, a level of professional certification that is the travel industry’s highest.

Trip Price: $4295 per person, based on double occupancy
Single room: $1090 supplement

Contact your Willamette agent and reserve a spot on the London Art Tour with your $400 per person deposit today! 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com. Ask us for pre and post tour travel suggestions and arrangements.

Want a preview of London before your trip? Check out the National Theatre Live program, which broadcasts productions at the World Trade Center in Portland each month. Portland’s own theatre company Third Rail is hosting NT Live’s “live-captured” performances shortly after the original performances. This spring season you can see “The Habit of Art,” “Hamlet,” “Coriolanus,” “War Horse,” and “King Lear” with world-class London actors right in downtown Portland! Buy tickets here: http://www.thirdrailrep.org/ntlive.php

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Filed under Art & Architecture, Europe, Features, Top Experiences In..., UK, Vendors, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

123 Go! Discount with Celebrity Cruises is Back!

Yes! Back again by popular demand, Celebrity Cruises is excited to feature its 123Go! sale–and better than ever!

Book ONE of 450 cruises sailing from February 2014 to March 2015, and choose from three options:

  1. Free Classic Beverage Packages: Pair your meals with the perfect beverage by choosing the Beverage Package Offer–a value of $88* per day, gratuities covered. Receive Classic Beverage Packages for two, including water, soda, coffee, wine, and spirits.
  2. Free Gratuities: Relax knowing your tips are covered when you choose the Free Gratuities Offer–a value of up to $30* per day. Receive pre-paid gratuities for two.
  3. Onboard Credit Offer: Receive up to $300* to spend almost any way you like—specialty dining reservations, spa treatments, shore excursions, etc. The choice is yours! Receive $100 for 3- to 5-night sailings, $200 for 6- to 9-night sailings, and $300 for 10-night or more sailings.

Have you sailed with Celebrity before? No matter which offer you choose, Captain’s Club members enjoy 50% reduced deposits* AND 25 bonus Club Points if booked by Dec 31, 2013. *Prices are per person, cruise only, for stateroom category 08 and based on double occupancy. Special limits do apply.

Traveling with your kids in one cabin? The third and fourth guest in your stateroom gets two additional benefits:

– Free Beverage Package: receive a classic non-alcoholic beverage package, valued at $16.10 per day per person, beverage gratuities included. A 12-night sailing has a total value of more than $193 per person. This package is upgradeable to include spirits & wine for a fee.

– Free Internet Package: receive a 38-minute internet package for each additional guest in your stateroom, a value of $24.95 per person

PLUS when you book a 2014 Europe sailing, you can choose TWO of these three offers for an even more amazing vacation value.

Available for a limited time only: book by February 28, 2014! Call Willamette Intl Travel to book your cruise 1-800-821-0401 or to inquire. Several of our agents have sailed with Celebrity and are happy to share their insider tips!

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Want to check out the cruise line? For some interactive videos on Celebrity Cruises, check out our Celebrity webpage.

Willamette Intl Travel can also handle your airfare, transfers, pre- and post-cruise hotels/travel, and shore excursions!

Sailed with Celebrity Cruises before? Captain’s Club members earn an additional $500 onboard credit when booking a suite on any sailing departing June-September 2013.

courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

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