WIT Agent Abroad: Nancy in China with Alexander & Roberts (with insider tips!)

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Today WIT Agent Nancy is heading out to China with Alexander & Roberts! We’re excited to see what she’ll uncover.

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What is Alexander & Roberts?

A&R organizes small-group tours with no more than 16 guests for those who want to explore at their own pace with a bit of company. These are culturally rich itineraries led by local, certified guides, exploring the heart of a country at a steady, comfortable pace.

Many of our agents have traveled with A&R in different locales and would love to discuss options with you. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

For an itinerary in Japan with Alexander & Roberts, click here

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Highlights of the Middle Kingdom

Nancy’s upcoming 10-day itinerary combines land + river – covering Beijing, exploring the Wu Gorge and Three Gorges Dam aboard the Yangtze Explorer, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Among the highlights along the way:

  • Experience life as a city resident as you browse in a market for produce to bring to your hosts, a local Beijing family who will offer real personal insight into this rapidly evolving city.
  • Learn Tai Chi with a master as you join him for a private class at the Temple of Heaven.
  • A Xian resident shares his lifetime of experience as you explore with him through a city market filled with exotic fare.
  • + Sit down in one of Shanghai’s newly popular wine lounges and learn about China’s emerging taste for fine vintages… Enjoy a congenial luncheon and a glass of the house favorite.
  • + Includes 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Itinerary

BEIJING

With your expert guide, venture out into the mountains outside Juyong Pass to walk atop the breathtaking Great Wall. In Beijing, tour the grand palaces and pavilions of the Forbidden City.

You’ll start the day with a private Tai Chi lesson and learn about daily life in old China, then fly from Beijing to Yichang to board the Yangzi Explorer for a night in a balcony stateroom.

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YANGTZE EXPLORER

The leisurely cruise charts an upstream course along the Yangtze. Visit the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower dam. The ship journeys up Shennong Stream, where you might catch glimpses of sampan boats poled by Tujia boatmen and the elusive Golden Hair Monkey.

Explore Fengdu ‘s New City and take part in lectures and hands-on workshops in Chinese calligraphy, traditional brush painting, Mahjong and the art of dumpling making.

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XI’AN

Fly from Chongqing to Xi’an to admire China’s ancient capital for 13 centuries, its bustling Muslim market, and the world-famous terracotta army.

SHANGHAI

Lastly, fly to Shanghai for a tour of the lovely Yu Yuan Garden and a world-famous Shanghai acrobat show.

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HONG KONG EXTENSION – 4-Day POST TOUR

Experience facets of Hong Kong which few visitors ever glimpse. We include your flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, 3 nights at the 5-star Kowloon Shangri-La, daily breakfast, lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and our exclusive Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day tour.

Insider Tips on Travel to China

PLUS: Nancy’s got the scoop on insider tips from A&R! Some tips for traveling with A&R in China:

  • Joining in with tai chi? Pack some looser, clothes, perhaps layers. Barefoot is acceptable.
  • There is no tailor onboard the Explorer ship, so ask your tour escort early in Beijing in case you need some clothes repair.
  • Doing some independent wandering during free time from your hotel? Always get the hotel’s business card, written in Chinese, to show a taxi driver when you need to find your way back.
  • If you take USD cash to exchange, bring nothing bigger than $50 bills and in pristine condition. Best to bring mostly smaller bills.  Keep exchange receipts and don’t over-exchange so that you return home with local currency.
  • Silk scarves are very popular. You will be asked if you want “real” or “almost real”. If you don’t ask or are not asked, you will be directed to the least expensive ones, which are the fakes. Best deals for real silk scarves and also wool shawls is in Beijing. Ask your tour escort where to find the best!
  • A&R selects hotels partially for those that have money exchange ability. Some hotels don’t even charge A+R passengers to exchange money. 
  • Always ask the escort for their opinion on how much local currency you may need/want over the next few days.
  • Have a shopping list and ask your first guide for the best places to obtain the items during your itinerary. Follow his recommendations. They are spot on.

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Filed under Alexander + Roberts, Asia, China

3 Ghoulish Alternatives to Halloween around the World

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Happy Halloween! So how do other cultures celebrate this time of year? Here are five of our favorite devilish celebrations come November: 

La Diabalada, Peru. Early November. 

In the week leading up to November 5, the village of Puno in Peru celebrates La Diablada, a devilish sort of festival where men dress up as demons and hit the streets in a horned parade. Some say that it was to herald the departure of the conquistadors in the late 19th century—others claim that it’s a much older tradition, a way to pay home to ancient spirits of Lake Titicaca that gradually took on the trappings of Christianity. Set against the backdrop of the Cordillera Real mountains, there’s hardly a more dramatic setting. Before the night is over, don’t forget to try a glass of La Diablada Pisco (Peruvian brandy).

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Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Mexico. Nov 1-2. 

Nobody does death quite like Mexico, who adopts a kind of upbeat discussion of mortality and immortality. Mexicans believe that the dead wait in Mictlan, a spiritual limbo, and can return to their homes just once a year, the Day of the Dead. Families erect an altar piled high with flowers, candles, ribbons, a bowl of water, and bread, and the house is strewn about with candy skulls, papier-mâché skeletons, banners of colored paper, and miniature coffins. Festivities include cooking, singing, dancing, culminating in a family visit to the cemetery.

Festa del Cornuto (Festival of the Horned One), Italy. Mid-November. 

With famed Mediterranean lust comes also its fair share of broken hearts. The Festival of the Horned One is a tribute to anyone who’s been made a cuckold in love. The small village of Rocca Canterano throws a party each November to remember those unlucky ones spurned by their partners. Actors dress up and recite their misfortunes on the streets, bearing helmets with horns, some adopting a more commercial devil’s garb.

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Travel News: Plan-A-Cruise Month!

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Celebrate Cruise Month with deals to tempt you up the gangway for a fabulous holiday at sea

Plan-A-Cruise Month is the bigger and better successor to National Cruise Week!! SALES from dozens of cruise lines have STARTED and ends Tuesday October 31. Dreaming of a cruise to Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asia? Call Willamette Intl Travel for huge savings and perks on your next Cruise! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Starting October 26, 2017, NEW TSA rules are in effect

Some travelers INBOUND to USA may be selected for an interview at check-in counters and airport gates by TSA staff. This is aimed at tightening security at airports and for airlines and its passengers. Both American and global airlines must comply, affecting all of the 2,100 flights from around the world that enter the U.S. on any given day. This will lengthen the amount of recommended time passengers need to check in before their flights. Usually Willamette Intl Travel recommends 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international, but you may want to add 1 hour extra to ensure that you meet your flight.

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Viking Cruises Named ‘Best River Cruise Line’

Currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, Viking Cruises has been voted the Best River Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler in the publication’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards. The line has scored in the top o the list every year since the river cruise category was introduced. Also, after only two years of ocean cruises, Viking was again named one of the Best Ocean Cruise Lines. Over 300,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and more than 100,000 comments as part of the 30th annual readers’ choice survey. Acclaimed for their innovation, modern Scandinavian design, inclusive value, and destination-focused offerings, for the past 20 years Viking has amassed awards from industry experts and the travel trade.

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Airlines Bring Out the Bubbly And Ice Cream In Coach

Major US airlines are beefing up their menus in an attempt to stand out against a growing sea of low-cost carriers that advertise fares less than $100 for a flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Delta Air Lines announced earlier this month that it is serving free Prosecco on international flights in all cabins, just a few weeks after it unveiled new transatlantic routes for next year that include non-stops from Los Angeles to Paris and Amsterdam, New York to Lagos, and Atlanta to Lisbon. Delta was careful with its wording as a traveler sued a Canadian airline for advertising Champagne after he received sparkling wine. By the end of next year, Delta’s first, business and premium-economy passengers will be able to preselect their meals before boarding.

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Emirates Airlines Hires Boredom Specialist To Keep Kids Entertained

Emirates has hired a psychologist and boredom specialist to keep kids entertained on their aircrafts. Young flyers will take just 49 minutes and 47 seconds to ask the dreaded, ”are we nearly there yet?” so with parents battling the boredom threshold, Emirates has teamed up with Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist and boredom specialist at the University of Central Lancashire to find a solution. Dr Mann has worked with the airline to create the Child Boredom Quotient (CBQ), helping parents identify the exact moment their kids will get bored so they can enjoy stress-free travel.

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First Airport Terminal Gym In Europe Opens At Estonia’s Tallinn Airport

Leading fitness club operator, MyFitness, has this month opened Europe’s very first gym situated within an airport terminal. The gym is located at Gate 6 in the Departures area of Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport with views on to the runway. The gym is fully equipped with state of the art modern equipment with internet connection, as well specialist training machines and a stretching area. The gym is equipped with a treadmill, elliptical trainer, rowing machine, exercise bicycle and a staircase trainer, all equipped with a screen and connected to the Internet. There four specialist training machines for feet, shoulders, chest and back exercises, plus a stretch area. Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is known to be one of the most unique airports in the world in other areas too.

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Cunard To Offer Short Alaska Season In 2019

In 2019, Cunard Line will sail in Alaska, offering a handful of departures in May and June aboard the Queen Elizabeth from Vancouver. The ship will then transport passengers down the West Coast of the United States, through the Panama Canal to New York, on to Iceland and the British Isles, the company said. Cunard will offer four 10-night round-trip Vancouver sailings with more time in port and opportunities to visit the natural wonders of Tracy Arm Fjord and Hubbard Glacier.” Departures from Vancouver will be departing May 21, 31, June 10 and 20, 2019. Itineraries feature scenic cruising through the Inside Passage as well as full days in several of the region’s ports, including Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. The itinerary also includes the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier and Victoria.

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NEW Spring 2018: Legoland Castle Hotel

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Opening in Spring 2018, lookout for the upcoming Legoland Castle Hotel in San Diego!

Some of you may have booked a vacation to the Legoland Hotel California in San Diego,  right at the entrance to Legoland California. This fun themed hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, nightly children’s entertainment and in-room treasure hunt full of fun surprises for the kiddo. Legoland California was listed on TripAdvisor’s list of Best Family Hotels in the USA, and we completely agree!

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But NOW, we’re happy to announce that there’s a new guest in town: Legoland Castle Hotel is coming Spring 2018! It’s right next to Legoland California, Legoland Water Park, and Sea Life Aquarium. This new hotel offers family adventure fit a king, with exclusive Lego characters and interactive treats. Here the theme is kingdoms, full of knights, wizards, princesses and villainous dragons.

Choose from THREE themes: 

  • Knights & Dragons – deluxe (5 ppl), balcony (5), or suite (7)
  • Magic Wizard – deluxe (5), suite (7), or deluxe accessible with roll-in shower (5)
  • Royal Princess – deluxe (5), balcony (5), or suite accessible with roll-in shower (7)

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All rooms include: 

  • FREE breakfast
  • Exclusive early Park access
  • King size bed
  • Kids’ own sleeping area with entertainment center, bunk bed and pull out trundle
  • LEGO bricks to build with in your room
  • In-room treasure hunt with LEGO surprises

Packages include Legoland/Sealife Hopper Tickets (Kids enter FREE)

Legoland Castle Hotel is available for stays beginning May 11, 2018. 

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California is a perfect kids’ vacay spot, with Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and San Diego Zoo all within driving distance of each other. Fly from Portland into Orange County Airport for a few days in LAX before driving southward, or fly in straight from Portland to San Diego International Airport to be close to the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld and Legoland California.

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Book your California Vacation for next May 2018 with your Willamette Intl Travel travel agent. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to plan your San Diego vacation. 

 

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Field Guide to Iceland’s Mystical Beings — Elves & Trolls – oh my!

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Iceland is beautiful even in winter, with plenty of fun winter activities and the breathtaking Northern Lights to look forward to! Ask us about hotel packages and fantastic airfare to and from the Land of Ice and Fire. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Halloween is just around the corner! Let’s take a moment to look at Iceland’s traditional take on ghouls and ghosts. 

Iceland’s belief in elves is well-documented among travelers and news sites. The Atlantic, BBC, and the Guardian all published stories on Iceland’s unique band of elves in the last couple years. But the magical beings in Iceland don’t stop there. There’s a whole host of supernatural creatures in Icelandic mythic repertoire. The cold winters and black nights were perfect breeding grounds for all sorts of fantastical fables. Some scholars believe they began as warnings or scary stories for children…

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Huldufólk

Huldufólk or “Hidden People” are humanoid beings who live in large boulders. Some Icelanders agree that they are synonymous with elves; others, a completely different species. Certain magical areas, called Álagablettur, are said to be enchanted dwelling places for the Huldufólk. They are invisible and rarely show themselves to humans; when they do appear, they have brown hair, nondescript green clothes, and are about the same size as humans. Apparently they are adverse to Christian symbols and electricity. They’ve been known to halt construction projects in protest.
TrollsLegends of trolls, gigantic monsters of nature, are plentiful in Iceland. Trolls represent nature at its most powerful and raw; they are huge, like mountains themselves, with fierce faces. They are greedy, terrifying, if a bit unintelligent. They are creatures of darkness, and a touch of sunlight will transform them into stone instantly. Sea stacks off of Iceland’s coast are often linked to the bodies of trolls, caught in sunlight adn frozen in time. The Vik basalt rock formations are such frozen trolls. Another legend surrounds Dimmuborgir, the lava field with towers of black lava near Lake Myvatn. Local legends speak of a major troll revelry, and the trolls partied so much they fell into a drunken stupor and were caught with the sun came out.

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Gryla and Gróf

Some trolls are so famous they are named. Gróf is a friendly female troll (or ogress), who once befriended a young girl Siggi. Many Icelandic children are told tales of Grýla in childhood. Grýla, a fearsome and ancient ogress, has hooves for feet and thirteen tails. She gave birth to the thirteen Yule Lads who cause mischief around Christmastime every year. She has married three times, dispatching of two of her husbands because they bored her. She has an insatiable hunger for naughty children.

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Water-Dwellers

Several cryptids haunt the waters around Iceland. The Lagarfljót monster lives in the lake Lagarfljót beside the town of Egilsstaðir. In the West Fjords, an evil troll lives on the banks of a small lake. The tale goes that the troll appears as a white horse; but if you dare to ride the horse, you’ll be stuck to it and dragged underneath to a watery grave. The only way to tell it apart from a real horse is by its hooves, which are backwards. There have been claims of sea monsters all around Iceland: the Shore Lad, Sea Man, Shell Monster. The Lyngbakur is a whale giant that devours fishermen. There’s even a museum in the West Fjords, the Skrímslasetrið, that delves into the cultural history and eyewitness accounts of Iceland’s sea monsters.  GhostsLocal folklore is packed with tales of ghosts, undead beings that haunt stables, rivers, houses, graveyards, hillsides–basically anywhere. They appear widespread in sagas (notably Glámr in Gretti’s Saga), as well as modern lore. Ghost tales are stories of unrequited love affairs, children who died too young, heroes cloven in two. Ghosts of drowned men wear damp seawear, young boys wear scarlet-red sweaters. Toddlers who were left out to die appear crying, singing to their alive mothers, wrapped in swaddled blankets. Stop by the Ghost Center, a museum in Stokkseyri devoted to hauntings all over the island, to learn more.

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Sæmundr fróði

There are many renowned warlocks in Icelandic folklore, but none so famous as Sæmundur Sigfússon fróði. “Saemund the Learned” was a semi-legendary scholar, who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries. He studied the Dark Arts, and spent his days tricking the Devil. One story relates how, when he graduated from the Black School, Saemund sewed a leg of lamb into his cloak. As he was about to leave, the Devil reached to grab him but snatched the leg instead. Saemund slipped away to safety.

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Tilberi or Snakkur

Tilberi, or Snakkur as they are also known, are worm-like creatures, born of witchcraft in order to steal milk. The recipe to creature a Tilberi is complex and precise: a wtch must steal a rib from a recently buried body early on Whitsunday. Pluck gray wool from the shoulders of a widow’s sheep, and then twist the gray wool around the bone. For the next three Sundays, the witch will spit sanctified wine on the bundle during communion. After each spit, the tilberi will shudder, until at last springing into life at the end of the third Sunday. The tilberi then is sent to suck milk from cows and ewes in secret. The tilberi jumps on the udder and once full with milk, will cry out “Full belly, Mommy” or “Churn lid off, Mommy.” The witch will then collect the Tilberi and it will vomit the milk into her butter churn. The only way to kill a tilberi is to send it to the mountain to collect lambs’ droppings in three pastures. The tilberi will die because evil creatures cannot tolerate the number three (naturally).

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Yule Lads & Yule Cat

The Yule Lads are thirteen mischievous trolls who cause trouble around Christmas. We’ve covered them extensively in a previous post, which you can read here. The Yule Cat is a humongous cat that lurks around the countryside wth the Yule Lads. It will devour anyone who hasn’t received any new clothes of Cristmas eve. Popularized by the poet Johannes ur Kotlum in his poem Jolaktturrinn.

Have you heard more about spooky tales and mystic beings from folklore around the world? Share with us in the comments!

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Travel News: Oregon and Washington delay their REAL ID program by one year

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Oregon and Washington delay their REAL ID program by one year

For Portland:  You’ll be able to use your current driver’s license to get through airport security awhile longer. That’s because the federal government has granted Oregon, Washington, and 15 other states extensions to comply with the Real ID program. This is a law passed after 9/11 that requires people to have real IDs to board airplanes or enter government buildings. Having one is proof of U.S. citizenship.
Oregon and Washington both recently agreed to cooperate with the program.
They now have until next October to phase it in.
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Dublin’s Statues Will Now Call Your Cell Phone

Ten of Dublin’s most famous landmarks have been given the gift of speech, thanks to Fáilte Ireland’s new tourism initiative titled “Dublin’s Talking Statues.” The project allows tourists to answer calls on their smartphones from Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and more, Lonely Planet reports. How does this work exactly? New plaques have been placed at the statues with QR codes. Passers-by simply scan the code with their phone, which will immediately ring. Each call features a famous Irish actor reciting a monologue written by a current Irish author, given from the point of view of the statue in question. The goal is to persuade the public to look at these landmarks with new eyes, almost viewing them as animate characters with feelings and backstories instead of just objects to walk past.

DFW Airport Has New Automated Security Lanes

Last Thursday, passengers got a glimpse of a more efficient and hopefully speedier future with the unveiling of automated screening lanes at DFW Airport’s Terminal D. The two Terminal D lanes join two other automated lanes that opened recently in Terminal A. For now, their presence is limited to just two checkpoints out of dozens at the airport’s five terminals. DFW plans to add six more lanes in the coming months at a total cost of $5.7 million, paid for out of the airport’s budget. “We’re looking for opportunities to create different, new and more positive experiences for the traveling public,” said Ken Buchanan, DFW Airport’s executive vice president of revenue management. DFW Airport is one of ten airports using the new technology. The screening enhances security while decreasing wait times.
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Royal Caribbean Sets Return To St. Thomas

Royal Caribbean International has set the date for its much-awaited return to St. Thomas since the Caribbean destination was impacted by the hurricanes last month. On Nov. 10, the cruise line will make its way to St. Thomas for the first time since early September with Adventure of the Seas. With power and water to the island fully restored and most downtown shops, restaurants and bars and tour operators fully operational, guests will be able to experience a diverse and extensive array of dining, shopping and activities. Guests can enjoy boat and catamaran excursions to explore the turquoise blue waters and abundant sea life of the Caribbean and soak in the sun at some of the region’s best beach destinations: Secret Sands Beach, Secret Harbor Beach Club, Lindquist Beach, Abi Beach and Honeymoon Beach on Water Island.

Disney World Hotels Are Allowing Dogs For The First Time

Walt Disney World will allow hotel guests to bring dogs to four of its on-property resort hotels. Starting yesterday, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney Port Orleans Resort, Riverside, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort cabins will welcome four-pawed guests. As part of the new dog-friendly test program, Disney is ensuring all schnauzers, great danes, poodles, and very good dogs travel as comfortably as their owners with an amenity kit given upon check-in filled with puppy pads, dog walking maps, disposable bags, a pet ID tag, a mat and bowls for food and water. Guests will also be given a hotel room door tag to indicate that an animal is inside. The Fido-friendly program will cost $75 per night at Disney’s Yacht Club and $50 per night at Disney’s other three participating resorts, with a limit of two dogs per room.

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Bali’s Volcano Activity Reaches A New High

Earthquake activity from Bali’s Mount Agung volcano has reached its highest level since the volcano came back to life in August. The Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) has the volcano at its highest alert level short of an eruption. Over the weekend there was an earthquake that measured at 4.6 on the Richter scale while there are almost 1000 smaller tremors a day being recorded. There are increases in shallow and deep tremors indicating magma is moving upwards. All airlines are monitoring the situation closely and travelers have been urged to make sure their contact details are up to date. Various governments have warned that travel to Bali could be severely affected by an eruption and Bali’s international airport has set up an emergency operations center.

Viking Orders Six New Longships

Neptun Werft has already delivered 51 vessels for Viking River Cruises and have confirmed another order for six vessels for Viking River Cruises. They are due for delivery in 2019. These additional Viking Longships will stretch 135 metres, are 11.45 metres at the beam and have a draft of 1.6 metres. Each can accommodate 190 passengers in 95 outside cabins; additionally, 31 cabins are available for the crew. Equipped with diesel-electric propulsion, the vessels are tailored for operation on numerous European rivers including the Rhine, Main and Danube as well as Dutch inland waters.

Bergen Caps Daily Cruise Visitors To 9,000

Cruise Industry News reports Bergen, Norway’s busiest cruise port, has informed cruise lines it is limiting the number of cruise calls per day to four ships and/or 9,000 passengers. The cap will come into effect immediately for new bookings, whilst honoring existing bookings, says Sandra Diana Bratland, the new cruise development manager at Port of Bergen. ‘Tourism is both important and welcome in Bergen, but on a few days every summer the city and its attractions can be crowded. The city’s popularity, its attractive location and steady growth of visitors has in recent years led to discussions as to how many visitors the city can comfortably accommodate per day,’ noted Bratland. The municipality, in collaboration with Port of Bergen and Visit Bergen, decided to limit the number of passengers per day, ‘to maintain Bergen as a sustainable and popular city to live in, to visit and to do business in,’ remarked Bratland. 490,546 cruise passengers visited Bergen in 2016.

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5 Wine Routes of South Africa

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Read more about South Africa in our previous posts. 

Come for South Africa for the safari? Conclude your trip with a languid drive around the Cape’s most famous vines.

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Wine Country

Drive out just half an hour from Cape Town and you’ve entered wine country—the Cape vineyards, a rich tapestry of grape rows upon rows. Wine is big business here—grapes have been cultivated for around 400 years, and huge estates are often garnished with comfy inns, fine dining and elaborate tastings. South Africa boasts 18 wine routes and 2 brandy routes, 99% of which lie on the Western Cape.

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It was Jan van Riebeeck, first governor of the Cape, who started it all with a vineyard planted in 1655, and when the first wine was squeezed out of the robust grapes in 1659, he wrote in his diary: “God be praised!”

There are five principle demarcations of Cape wine—Coastal, Breede River Valley, Olifants River, Little Karoo and Boberg, and each has its own unique soil. Which means there’s ample opportunity to swoon over a glass of shiraz or Chenin blanc. The wine routes are many, but three seem to be known by all: Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl—with two others that are splashing onto the scene, Robertson and Durbanville.

And best yet? It won’t break the bank! The South African Rand is fairly low against the US dollar right now, and a bottle of good red might set you back only 70-100 ZAR (US $5-7).

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Stellenbosch

The region is home to 200+ wine and grape producers, making it one of the biggest tourist draws in the Western Cape. This world-renowned route is famed for its Cape Dutch architecture, vibrant homegrown atmosphere, and grapes that have won more wine awards than any other region in South Africa.

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Franschhoek

The Franschhoek Wine Valley is cradled in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve—its hospitality with the backdrop of towering mountains, cultivated gardens and slopes of wildflowers. Look for the Franschhoek Wine Tram, a hop-on, hop-off open-air tour that takes you from each tasting and cellar tour to the next.

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Paarl

Founded in 1687, the historical town of Paarl is the third oldest European settlement in the country. Look out for the Afrikaans Language Monument on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, and Drakenstein Prison, where Mandela completed his “long walk to freedom.” Paarl is rich in hiking trails, spectacular scenery, and a potpourri of Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Cape Dutch buildings. Hot summers and cold winters temper the grapes into full-bodied reds and crisp whites for which the region is renowned.

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Robertson

Emerging favorite Robertson Wine Valley is home to ideal climatic and rich soil, just 2 hours from Cape Town and cradled between the iconic Langeberg and Riviersonderend mountain ranges.

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Durbanville

The Durbanville Wine Valley, just 20 minutes from Cape Town, consists of 12 wineries that take full advantage of the fertile soil that comes with its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Look out for the region’s fine Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Shiraz.

When to Visit

Vineyards are usually most scenic in summer and fall, but come by in the winter to avoid the crowds. Harvesting occurs around January to March.

Ask your WIT Travel Agent about setting up a road trip through South Africa’s wine country. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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