Travel News: Scotland’s New Independence Referendum

Our Hearts go out to Stockholm…

Alaska Airlines Announces New Long-Haul Service From Portland And Los Angeles

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America today announces new daily, nonstop service between Portland, Oregon, and New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport beginning Nov. 6; Portland and Detroit beginning Aug. 30; and Los Angeles and Philadelphia beginning Sept. 1. This added service provides flyers greater access to two New York metropolitan area airports – JFK and Newark. JFK is the country’s busiest international gateway, and is a prime jumping off point for customers traveling to Europe and beyond on Alaska Global Partners including British Airways, Icelandair and Condor. Members of the Alaska Mileage Plan can earn and redeem miles when flying on one of Alaska’s global airline partners to over 900 destinations around the globe. With the new service to Detroit, Alaska Airlines will offer the only daily, year-round nonstop service from Portland to the Motor City, home to auto industry giants such as General Motors and Ford Motor Company. The new Los Angeles-Philadelphia flight builds on the 27 new markets the combined airline has added from California, since merging with Virgin America in December. Virgin America previously served this market from April 2012 to October 2014.

Scotland Formally Requests New Independence Referendum

A letter informing Prime Minister Theresa May of the Scottish government’s official request to hold a second independence referendum has been delivered to Downing Street. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signed the Section 30 letter requesting transfer of powers to Holyrood on Friday morning. May’s government has already said it will decline the request, however. “As you are aware, the Scottish Parliament has now determined by a clear majority that there should be an independence referendum,” Sturgeon wrote. “The purpose of such a referendum is to give people in Scotland the choice of following the UK out of the EU and single market on the terms you negotiate, or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and build a genuine partnership of equals with the other nations of the UK. On Tuesday Scottish MSPs voted 69 to 59 in favor of requesting another referendum, which would be held sometime between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Britain Triggers Brexit

Forbes reports on the how in which the EU and the UK must begin the complicated process of untangling from each other’s affairs. With Great Britain triggering Brexit negotiations, the many strands to be unwound from the tightly woven UK-European Union carpet apparently will include Europe’s highly popular low-cost airlines, including Easyjet and Ryanair, as well as traditional carriers as their ability to fly as freely as before could be sharply restricted once the UK is on its own. Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated that she intends a “hard” exit, meaning leaving the single market and moving her country outside the purview of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and therein lies the problem for the aviation industry. The ECJ has ultimate jurisdiction over European aviation law, and the UK would have to agree to the unlikely scenario of submitting to its authority. It’s just one of the literally innumerable economic, financial, business, judicial, social, and cultural sectors, to name a few. in which the EU and the UK must begin the complicated process of untangling from each other’s affairs. European Commission negotiators reportedly have warned British airline officials that post-exit, the U.K. airlines as currently structured would have to curtail various services, including flights between European cities. In that scenario, they would be restricted to flights between British and European cities only. Lead the full article here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidschrieberg1/2017/03/28/airlines-and-their-passengers-expected-to-suffer-serious-disruption-as-britain-triggers-brexit/#7a484fc1b187

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The End Of The line For American Long-Distance Trains?

CNN reports that US passenger rail travel is subsidized by federal funding. The threat of budget cuts has been hanging over less profitable lines for a number of years. Amtrak CEO and President Wick Moorman says that budget cuts could potentially impact 500 communities. These trains connect our major regions, provide vital transportation to residents in rural communities and generate connecting passengers and revenue for our Northeast Corridor and State-Supported services. It is not known yet if the proposed budget will be approved by Congress, or even how those cuts might be implemented. But from the 1950s onwards, many railroads have been driven out of business due to the rise of the motor car and of the airline industry. The long-distance lines might well be running out of track. Amtrak operates 15 long-distance trains across the nation and these routes offer the only Amtrak service in 23 of the 46 states served. In fiscal year 2016, numbers on Amtrak’s 15 long-distance lines were up 3.7% versus the year before, with close to 4.7 million riders. Should cuts to long-distance funding go ahead, the money could be directed instead to the busier Northeast Corridor lines, which served close to 12 million riders in fiscal year 2016.

American Cruise Lines Announces Name for 2018 Coastal Cruise Ship

A new coastal cruise ship coming from American Cruise Lines in 2018 will be named American Constitution, the line announced last Thursday. The name for the 175-passenger ship, which is currently under construction at the company’s shipyard, Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., is inspired by the USS Constitution, the US Navy’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. It will continue the company’s hallmark of having larger-than-average cabins with private balconies, as well as multiple lounges. American Constitution will be a sister ship to American Constellation, which will launch in May 2017. American Constellation is sailing a new itinerary for the company, Grand New England, which visits small Northeast ports such as Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, and Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Itineraries for American Constitution have not been released, but the company said that it’s expanding in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska next year. Full details on the 2018 schedule will be released soon.

U By Uniworld Changes Age Range To 21-45

Uniworld is launching a new brand, U by Uniworld, designed for ages 21-45. The starting price for one week on U By Uniworld is $1,699 per person, based on double occupancy, significantly lower than Uniworld’s all-ages luxury river cruises. Described as “semi-inclusive,” U fares include free Wi-Fi, one shore excursion each day, breakfast and dinner but no lunch. Another difference is that excursions will be active, with some taking place at night. Options include an evening bike ride along the Danube, a “Midnight in Paris” stroll, a canal cruise in Amsterdam, vineyard hikes and a street art walk. Many of the cruises are also timed to coincide with events such as Oktoberfest and the Sziget Festival. Drinks packages will be sold, with pricing yet to be finalized. U By Uniworld cruises will be operated on the renovated 116-passenger ships, River Baroness and River Ambassador. They will also feature onboard activities such as silent discos, yoga, and painting, cooking and mixology classes. The sun deck will receive a new “cafe-bar” venue, as well as an open-air movie screen. Another new feature being planned is a smartboard where passengers can leave messages about meeting up for drinks or going ashore together. The company is also looking at ways to help passengers connect before their cruise, most likely on the website or social media. The last-minute move to slightly older passengers was a response to listening to customers and travel agent partners. U By Uniworld is aimed at “young professionals who have a bit of money, who want to travel, and want to meet and hang out with people like them. U By Uniworld bookings open next week, and sailings will start early 2018 (dates to be confirmed).

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 New World-Class Attraction Coming To Old Port Of Montreal

Starting this June, Montrealers and visitors to the city can soar to a unique vantage point between the city and the river on Montreal’s Observation Wheel. Designed especially for Montreal, this new attraction, already under construction on Île Bonsecours in the Old Port, will generate significant tourism and economic benefits for the metropolitan region. The wheel will be the highest observation wheel in Canada and third highest in the United States and Canada , rising 60 meters above ground, with a view stretching 28 km. It will be in in operation year round, whatever the weather, from 10 am to 11 pm. There will be 42 temperature-controlled gondolas that can seat 8 comfortably, during three revolutions, for a total of 15 minutes. The Old Port is a unique, must-see destination for visitors and with this new observation wheel, created through a major private sector investment on this federal site, the city will once again be at the forefront creating unique activities that complement Montreal’s tourism offers.

Tourisme Montréal’s Passeport MTL Is Now Available

Tourisme Montréal is relaunching Passeport MTL, a single card for discovering Montréal’s top attractions. The card gives users access to 23 attractions and unlimited public transportation using the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) network, which includes the 747 bus that runs between Montréal-Trudeau airport and downtown.

Valid until March 31, 2018, Passeport MTL represents more than $300 in admissions to the 23 attractions: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, McCord Museum, Grévin Montréal Museum, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, are just a few of the attractions. You can get the passport here:

https://antispam.roaringpenguin.com/canit/i.php?z=1&m=3447856d&f=101260913&rlm=nexicom-net

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6 Cool Places in Riga, Latvia

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Heading to the Baltics for a cruise or a drive? Riga’s cosmopolitan cool will excite any traveler. Here’s our quick guide to places to explore in the Latvian capital.

1. Check out the Old Town

Eastern Europe capitals are known for their charming old town centers, and Riga’s is certainly a memorable one. But few cities have the towering, gingerbread-esque buildings that dot the Old Town Square. Spend a picturesque afternoon wandering the alleyways of Old Riga (Vecriga) any day of the year. The architecture is particularly pretty in winter, when Christmas markets and huge evergreens light up the warm Dutch colors and art nouveau rooftops.

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2. Try Balsam

No, it’s not a vinegar! Riga black balsam is an herbal liquor made from vodka. Though somewhat morphing into a drink for the locals, it’s still to be found in many homes as an old-fashioned cocktail or a general remedy for the common cold. Traditional recipes are made of 24 different herbs, berries, roots and oils, and is somewhat bitter to the taste. The golden-brown color can be poured over ice or mixed with juices or spices, served hot or cold. Balsam dates back all the way to the 18th century, a pharmacist concocted the beverage to cure Empress Catherine the Great of Russia of an ailment. In the winter, it’s sometimes mixed with black currant and heated, much like mulled wine. Though the drink is not to everyone’s taste, I say, “when in Rome!”

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3. Freedom Monument

In the middle of Bastion Hill Park towers a huge memorial honoring soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence, 1918-1920. The landmark is an important symbol of freedom and the sovereignty of Latvia. At the top of a white monolith stands a woman, her arms outstretched and holding three stars, that represent the three historic districts of Latvia. Locals call her Milda. Built in 1935, the 138-ft monument was designed by notable sculptor Kārlis Zāle, who won an award for his design “Shine like a star!” Guards regularly patrol the area, with a changing of the guard every hour from 9am to 6pm. Guards are required to be at least 6 feet tall and to stand without moving for half an hour!

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4. Gauja National Park and Gutmanis Cave

Though technically outside of Riga, the achingly beautiful Gauja National Park is reachable by a 1-hour drive. As the oldest and largest such park in Latvia, Gauja makes a refreshing day trip into the countryside. Established in 1973, it’s 90,000 hectares of sandstone cliffs, natural springs and thick foliage. Discover one of the more notable attractions, Gutmanis Cave, an old site of pilgrimage. The sandstone cavern walls are smothered in graffiti that dates all the way back to the 16th century, depicting coats-of-arms and the names of various barons. Legend has it that the waters of the nearby spring will heal any ache, injury or hangover. Once upon a time, the Liv chief Rindaugs buried his unfaithful wife alive on the banks of the Gauja river. The woman cried so hard in her grave, and her tears flowed out of the cave, creating the curative stream that flows there today.

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5. Art Nouveau

Though Art Nouveau peppers the streets of Riga, the best specimens can be found along Elizabetes Street, in the so-called “Quiet Center,” a 10-minute walk from Old Town. Some 800 facades in the area flaunt decorative motifs, floral patterns, peacocks, detailed female figurines and masks. At the turn of the 19th century, architectural themes remodeled from abstract romantic to more figurative and imaginative design characteristic of the Art Nouveau style.

For the true art-inclined, the Museum of Riga Art Nouveau (Alberta ielā 12) is the perfect place to start your tour of the city’s architecture, with its stained glass windows, elegant twisting staircase and sharp corner tower.

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6. Bergs Bazaar

The intimate and arched promenades of the Bergs Bazaar is nothing short of charming. The atmosphere is more garden than mall, and along its 130-year-old cobblestones you’ll find around 140 cafes, restaurants and boutiques. It’s a great place to come in the evenings for a languid stroll, and watch the locals chat and go about their daily business!

Willamette Intl Travel loves to talk Baltic cruises! Heading to this quirky region of Europe? Give us a call! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

 

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Filed under Europe, Art & Architecture, Baltic

Ants and Pagodas: Photos of Myanmar

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Our friends Jacques and Evelyne just returned from an amazing trip to Myanmar. Over the years, we’ve sent a few people and groups to Myanmar and they’ve all had a tremendous time. Jacques has promised us a report in a bit, so the meantime, check out their lovely photos, below with Jacques’ commentary!

Part of nice things to eat in Myanmar: Ants! I tasted theses ants, they are roasted with a few peanuts and hot peppers. I liked it, so I bought a jar of ants and I eat a spoon full or two for proteins! It does not go so well with Champagne.

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They also love to eat some sort of “cockroach” but maybe a bit much for me, I am not in need of so much proteins.

 

The lake water was rather cold at 7 in the morning. It did not stop the women from washing their laundry as well as their hair!

Fishermen on Inle Lake

 

Below: Gas station for scooters and scooter tire repair shop.

Here are two photos of a great-looking young couple in Myanmar. They’ll marry in the fall but they’re doing the wedding photos now just in case the weather is not so good then!

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Inle Lake. Half the lake is covered with floating vegetable gardens tended by gardeners who live in houses on the lake.

This is how close I could get with my zoom and still get a decent photo. Just holding my camera, no tripod.

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The next day the sunset was off to the side of the pagoda as you can see. So it would have to be at least another month before having a chance to catch the sunset at the same place. Not so sure! Anybody good at astronomy to tell me?

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Our hotel was beautiful, the sunset was perfect and it’s a rare site as the earth is never at the right spot for the following shots. I am sitting at the bar waiting for the sunset. Look at the hill on the other side of the large river. Far away!

We went up on this pagoda to watch the sunset and the next morning the sunrise.
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View from near the top of the pagoda. Over three thousand pagodas all around.
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There were some 25 to 30 hot air balloons for the sunrise. Fabulous sight. I did catch the solo balloon at the right time, right place.
The great golden pagoda of Shwedagon.
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Many different tribes were visiting there.
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Young future nuns, we gave them bags of school items. Most of these nuns are orphans. They are always in pink.

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Would you like to visit Myanmar? Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to discuss your trip to this beautiful country. 

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Travel News: Lights Up Down-Under

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Lights Up Down-Under
A round trip flight from New Zealand just for the view the Southern Lights. Otago Museum Director Ian Griffin came up with the idea. An astronomer, Griffin said he was inspired after seeing the Southern Lights while flying as a guest on a NASA observatory plane. A charter plane that left Dunedin, New Zealand, late Thursday flew close to the Antarctic Circle to give the eager passengers an up-close look at the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. He says the 134 seats on the chartered Boeing 767 sold out within five days and one man traveled from Spain for the trip. He says he could have filled the plane several times over, although they were only selling window seats and seats immediately adjacent, leaving the middle of the aircraft empty.“I thought it was absolutely brilliant,” Griffin said. “We were right under it. There were beautiful streamers, auroral streamers. This green-colored stuff that moves quickly, it looks like you’re looking into a green, streaky river.”
 
Viking Cruises Launches New Resident Historian Program
Viking Cruises has announced the roll-out of its new onboard Viking Resident Historian program. Launching on Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky this month, a faculty of historians will provide an enhanced level of enrichment for guests onboard all of Viking’s ocean cruise ships,” said the company, in a statement. According to the cruise line, the Viking Resident Historians will provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their journey, offering a framework for understanding the major chapters in world history. They will also conduct seminar-style roundtables.
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Large Sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Are Now Dead
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders. But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble. Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. The damage to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s largest living structures, is part of a global calamity that has been unfolding intermittently for nearly two decades and seems to be intensifying. The state of coral reefs is a telling sign of the health of the seas. Their distress and death are yet another marker of the ravages of global climate change.Australia relies on the Great Barrier Reef for about 70,000 jobs and billions of dollars annually in tourism revenue, and it is not yet clear how that economy will be affected by the reef’s deterioration. Even in hard-hit areas, large patches of the Great Barrier Reef survived, and guides will most likely take tourists there, avoiding the dead zones.
 
The new Berlin Welcome Card
The card covers admission to 30 attractions across the city as well as public transportation, and is commissionable. Among the highlights is access to selected national museums such as the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum, and private museums such as C/O Berlin, the Jewish Museum, and the DDR Museum. A hop-on, hop-off bus tour and a boat cruise are also included as is admission to Berlin’s TV Tower and Madame Tussaud’s. The city guide that comes with the pass provides insider tips and the city map points the way to all of the participating sites. The Berlin WelcomeCard is all-inclusive and is available for $84 for adults and $52 for children ages 3 to 14 and is available for three durations: 48 hours, 72 hours, and four calendar days. The Berlin WelcomeCard all inclusive includes public transport in the city of Berlin and the surrounding region. It will be sold at Berlin Tourist Information centers, at berlin-welcomecard.com, at turbopass.com, and by travel agents and tour operators. The Berlin WelcomeCard all inclusive is being offered in partnership with Turbopass. 
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New Orleans breaks tourism records
A new study says New Orleans has broken a tourism record set before Hurricane Katrina, with nearly 10.5 million visitors in 2016. The record had stood at 10.1 million since 2004, the year before the hurricane struck. University of New Orleans’ Hospitality Research Center says last year’s visitors spent US $7.41 billion dollars. That’s 51 percent more than the amount spent in 2004, and 5.1 percent above the spending record set in 2015. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says in a news release that he’s looking forward to 2017 being even bigger.
Museum Of Ice Cream Announces Its Opening In Los Angeles
Museum of Ice Cream opens its doors to the West Coast this April claiming sunny Los Angeles as its highly anticipated second location. Stationed in DTLA’s burgeoning art district, Museum of Ice Cream welcomes visitors to enjoy an experiential ice cream journey. Museum of Ice Cream captivated a global audience with its unprecedented 2016 launch in New York City, selling out in five days and attracting a waitlist of over 200,000. The Los Angeles location is four times larger than the New York City incarnation and showcases 10 completely reimagined installations. Interactive highlights include a “banana split” comprised of ten thousand “bananas”, a mint “grow house”, a room dedicated to California, a melted popsicle jungle and more. The iconic swimmable sprinkle pool returns filled with one hundred million sprinkles that were custom designed and produced by Museum of Ice Cream! Museum of Ice Cream is open from April 22 until May 29 from 11 am-10 pm, Wednesday-Monday. Tickets include two curated ice cream tastings and surprise edible treats!
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Off the beaten track in Mexico
Isla Holbox (pronounced “ole-bosh”) has just been added as a “hidden hotspot” among vacation destinations in Mexico. Part of the Yum Balam Natural Reserve, the island offers vacationers a pristine tropical haven away from the hustle and bustle of more well-travelled tourist hotspots.Comprised of sandy-white beaches and home to a diverse and protected ecosystem, Isla Holbox is a popular island destination for bird watchers, snorkelers and beach lovers. Along with a variety of land and water sports excursions available, travellers in the summer months can also opt to join a snorkeling or boat tour to view the annual migration of the whale sharks that takes place close to the island between the months of June and September. There are two quaint hotels on the island to appeal to a range of travelers. At both properties complimentary kayaks and bikes are available to enable independent explorations of the island and windsurfing, kite surfing and fishing are also offered for an additional fee. Villas HM Palapas Del Mar, is a small, oceanfront hotel where guests can watch romantic sunsets from their infinity pool overlooking the beach.Those looking to adopt a slower pace can opt for Villas HM Paraiso Del Mar, with a  large swimming pool surrounded by lush vegetation, buffet meals, and unlimited national drinks and cocktails. Offers include packages where guests can enjoy four nights on the peaceful Isla Holbox, and three nights in Riviera Maya at Reef Coco Beach or the cosmopolitan HM Playa del Carmen resort—both of which are quite close to shopping, nightlife, and the exciting attractions of Playa Del Carmen’s 5th Avenue. Call your travel agent to discuss week-long packages. 

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Aarhus: 2017 European Capital of Culture

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Aarhus is the 2017 European Capital of Culture! Congrats Aarhus!

Why should you visit this “City of Smiles”? Loads of reasons!

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Aarhus tends to get overlooked by its sister city Copenhagen, but for Aarhus this bit of anonymity plays well for its personal style. Unlike many of the gentrified European capitals, Aarhus maintains its distinctive style and Danish flair The town loves its cobbled streets, old architecture, and lively museums.

The town, fairly quiet until recent years, is now abuzz with internationally acclaimed chefs and innovative breweries, and it’s home to three Michelin-star restaurants. Culture afficinados will love the town’s art exhibitions, that spill from captivating museums onto the streets in public installations.

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As the 2017 Capital of Culture, Aarhus is celebrating with year-long events and jubilees around the theme of “Let’s Rethink!” Aarhus was voted #2 as the best destination in Europe by Lonely Planet. The city is a popular port for cruise ships, such as the HAL Rotterdam and Princess’ Regal Princess. (Ask your travel agent for dates and deeds!)

Make Aarhus a stop on your way through Copenhagen and Germany, and we assure you, you won’t regret it.

Cultural Highlights

The Danish Royal Theatre will perform Røde Orm, a Viking saga on the rooftop of Moesgaard Museum, based on a novel by Swedish writer Frans G. Bengtsson. (May 24 to July 1.)

The Garden, an huge, interactive art project stretching more than 4km. It will explore nature’s role in art, intellectual history, and contemporary society. Presented in 3 iterations: The Past (April 8-Sep 10), The Present and The Future (June 3-July 30).

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Hone your cultural taste at ‘Tree of Codes,’ a modern ballet by Olafur Eliasson, or Janne Teller’s ‘Nothing’ at the Danish National Opera. The Jewellery Box houses a unique collection classic Danish jewelry from the 19th century.

Regular events include Aarhus Pride (June 3), the Moesgaard Viking Moot (last weekend of July), and the Aarhus festival (Aug 24-Sept 3). Join the lively 28th Aarhus Traders’ Market at Tangkrogen (May 11-14) or Explore the World festival, a 2-day celebration of tradition and culture (June 2-3).

For more inspiration, check out how to Enjoy a girls’ trip to Aarhus and Explore the city on foot.

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An example of what you might see at a Viking moot

Paphos, Cyprus, also bears the 2017 Capital of Culture alongside Aarhus. But that’s for another time.

Did you know? WIT Agent Nancy can trace her roots all the way back to settlers from Denmark!

Call WIT to discuss your summer vacation in Europe with one our qualified agents today. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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4 Ways to Share your Trip with the Family Back Home

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So you’ve bought your tickets to a fantastic trip but want to keep in touch with the folks back home. It’s nothing short of a crime keeping it all to yourself! Of course you probably have Facebook or Instagram (or at least the kids do!) — but aren’t there better ways to share your experiences with those at home? Check out these ways to keep in touch and bring your family and friends along for the virtual ride.

TripIt

TripIt is a travel-planning app that compiles all your hotel, car rental, flights and restaurant confirmations from your computer or device into one master itinerary. It’s a useful tool to keep your info handy while on the road. Simply forward your confirmation emails to the TripIt address and their algorithm will gather it all in one practical resource. It’s just a short step to share these travel plans with friends and family via email, Facebook or Twitter. 

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TrekEarth

Share your best photos on TrekEarth, a social site dedicated to travel photography. Their mission is to promote “learning more about the world through photography.” Compete with countless other travelers for the snazziest shots and pro angles. Tag your photos and check out lookalikes. You can add notes and anecdotes as captions to each photo, and even tech specs like your camera details. Members are encouraged to leave comments and critiques so you can jump in the discuss or simply relish in your triumphant shot.

TravelPod

TravelPod is a site that hosts free travel blogs. You can blog from anywhere, map your trip and check-in live. Keep detailed stats and upload photos. This site is perfect for longterm trips, keeping your family up to date in real time. You can even print your blog and photos out as a book! Did someone say memento?

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Photo Albums

Speaking of mementos, if you’re not into blogging but love photos, consider turning your trip into a photo album. Once you’ve made it back with photos galore, turn those memories into real-life souvenirs. Take advantage of an album-creating site like Shutterfly, which collects your photos and creates albums for you! Tweak the album’s themes and fonts online, then put your order through and they’ll arrive at your doorstep in a matter of days. These make great keepsakes or Christmas gifts to the family!

In most cases, Willamette Intl Travel presents each booked client with full itinerary of their trip, complete with relevant dates, phone numbers and confirmation numbers. Feel free to share this with family and friends so they can follow the where and the when on your trip. Call us to discuss your next trip: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Travel News: Virgin America to be retired in 2019

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Mount Etna Eruptions

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a travel alert warning travelers that Italy’s Mount Etna has been erupting with increasing frequency. The warning comes after tourists suffered minor injuries at the active volcano in Sicily. A BBC camera crew on the mountain filmed a big explosion which pelted a group with boiling rocks and steam. About eight people were injured and some had to be evacuated by mountain rescue teams after lava flow mixed with steam triggered the blast. According to BBC science reporter Rebecca Morelle, a volcanologist at the scene said it was the most dangerous incident he had seen in his 30-year-career. Travelers are advised to visit the Italian Civil Protection website for more information. 

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Virgin America to be retired in 2019

Alaska Airlines Group has announced that the Virgin America brand will be retired in 2019. “While the Virgin America name is beloved to many,” Alaska VP of Marketing Sangita Woerner said. “We concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name – for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares.” Last December, Alaska Airlines completed the $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America, and Alaska Airlines is now the nation’s fifth largest – behind American, Delta, United, and Southwest. According to Alaska, it plans to overhaul its operation to give passengers a more “Virgin-esque” experience that VA is currently admired for: a new satellite-based wifi system, free inflight movies, redesigned interiors with mood lighting, more stylish crew uniforms, upgraded airport lounges, more premium seating, and more complimentary upgrades.

NCL Raising Cost Of Gratuities

Norwegian Cruise Line is raising gratuities on April 1st from $13.50 per person, per day, to $13.99, on all ships except the Norwegian Sky. Daily gratuities for standard cabins on the Norwegian Sky will increase to $18.99 (an increase over 40%). NCL will increase daily gratuities for suites from $15.50 to $16.99 on all of its ships except for the Sky where it will charge $21.99. 

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Tahiti Embarks on 2020 Plan, New Cruise Terminal

Tahiti Tourism is embarking on an $8 million international cruise terminal project due for completion in 2020. The terminal will be located in the center of Papeete and will accommodate up to three ships simultaneously and 2,000 turnaround passengers. The North Pier will measure 300 meters in length; the South Pier 350 meters.

There are no cabotage rules governing Tahiti so cruise ships can sail a more varied itinerary among Tahiti’s 118 islands. Planned amenities include an aerial walk, luggage room, check-in counters, waiting room, duty free, snack bar/café and reservations facilities. Concurrently, Papeete is planning a $12 million upgrade of its airport which is 3 km from the cruise port. Upon completion of the upgrade the airport will be able to accommodate three departures (up to 950 passengers) at the same time.  

Panama Canal to Introduce New Scheduling System

Ships in the Panama CanalQuintiq said that its software has been selected by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to plan, schedule and optimize all vessels transit operations through the Canal “to reduce costs, improve safety and increase overall efficiency and reliability. This system will help carry that legacy forward, allowing us to tap the potential of technology to provide better solutions for our customers as we increasingly manage more transits and adapt to shifts in global trade.” Quintig is a Dassault Systèmes brand. The Quintiq solution will change how the Panama Canal plans and schedules transit operations. For the first time, the Canal will be able to execute a completely integrated operating plan for all of its critical resources, including tugboats, pilots and line handlers. The new solution will impact shippers looking to transit the waterway by shortening vessel waiting times, increasing the number of potentially available vessel slots each day and improving the overall reliability of the route. Quintiq will be fully integrated into Canal operations over the course of the next two years. 

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World’s First Ship Tunnel To Be Built In Norway

Norway has approved the financing of an ambitious project to build the world’s first full-size tunnel for ships. The tunnel will be 45 meters high, 36 meters wide and 1.7 kilometers long, and be constructed through the Stad peninsula on the west coast of Norway. The tunnel will be designed to accommodate 16,000-tonne cargo and passenger ships with a draft up to 12 meters. The tunnel will provide a safe journey around Stad, laying the foundation for the region’s industrial development and establishment as a world-class tourist destination. The tunnel will allow up to 120 vessels to travel under a mountain rather than navigate the dangerous waters of the Stadhavet Sea, which experiences about 100 storm days annually. At least 33 people have lost their lives in the area since the end of the Second World War, according to reports. The project is expected to take a decade to complete. 

 Canada Looks At Joining US And Britain On Electronics Ban For Flights 

The Globe and Mail reports Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada is evaluating intelligence passed on by the United States to determine if it should require passengers traveling from some Middle East countries to pack all large electronic devices other than mobile cellphones in their checked baggage. US Homeland Secretary John Kelly spoke by telephone Tuesday with Mr. Garneau to explain why the Trump administration has ruled that only cellphones and smartphones will be allowed in the passenger cabin of flights into the United States from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries. Mr. Garneau would not say what type of security threat the Americans are concerned about, but it was reported by The New York Times that intelligence showed Islamic State is developing a bomb hidden in portable electronics. 

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