International Women’s Day

It’s that time of year again– International Women’s Day!

International Women_s Day

Observations across the globe

Italy: Women in Italy enjoy free entry to all museums and cultural sites today.

India: Today in New Delhi, activists held a march for the One Billion Rising campaign, advocating against the culture of violence against women.

China: In China, women are entitled to a half-day off on IWD, and recently, commercial centers have turned it into shopping day, an indicator of women’s economic power.

Australia: 1,000 childcare workers orchestrated a strike to protest pay inequality and lack of funding for early education.

Lebanon: Women’s rights activists plan to march from Beirut’s Sassine Square to Kaskas Garden this Saturday to protest lack of political representation.

More Reading: 

Voices of Spanish Women, silenced by Franco, are being heard once more

How to win a feminist battle – six activists share their secrets

This Google Doodle Celebrates 13 Inspirational Women for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day Campaign

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2018: Year of the Brown Earth Dog

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Considering a trip to Asia in 2018?

South East Asian travel is predicted to boom in 2017, with ample opportunities to explore Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma at your leisure. Looking for a culinary tour along the Mekong? Or a family trip to the temples of Angkor Wat? Why not let us plan your ideal vacation to South East Asia in 2018?

2018 is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Lunar Calendar Zodiac. Though the Year of the Dog comes around every 12 years, the Year of the Brown Earth Dog comes around every 60 years. According to Chinese philosophy, those born under this sign are romantic, loving, and loyal. They have excellent manners, work very hard, appreciate luxury and easily keep friends. Brown Earth Dogs tend to show great determination and attain the highest level of achievement. 

But you don’t have to be born in the Year of the Dog to enjoy the Lunar New Year in South East Asia! One of our trusted tour guides in SE Asia, VExplore Tours, holds a special scheduled New Year Tour each February. This tour can be a private one for two people or include a small group of like-minded travelers.

Vexplore Tours promises enthusiastic professionals, personalized services, authentic experiences and hand-selected accommodations that will make any trip to SE Asia meaningful and memorable.

Call your travel agent at Willamette Intl Travel. We assist with flights, accommodations, tour operators and unique travel guides with Vexplore Tours and others. Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Check out Vietnam’s Lunar Festival (called Tet) this year:

Read More on SE Asia: 

Vietnam: A Photographer’s Paradise

The Rice Terraces of Sapa, Vietnam

“The Quiet American” and Other Classics of Southeast Asia

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Travel News: TSA ramping up for Spring Break

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TSA getting ready for Spring Break Travelers

The Transportation Security Administration is gearing up for the Spring Break travel period, which usually begins around the end of February and continues into April. According to a release, the TSA expects to screen about 62 million travelers at airports across the country in March alone, and it expects to hit a ten-year high traffic volume. “As we approach the Spring Break travel period, security remains our top priority, and we are taking every measure, both seen and unseen, to protect the millions of air travelers,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia. The agency is also collaborating with vendors, airlines and airports to open automated screening lanes in the coming months. Such lanes are designed to improve the screening process by automating many of the functions and allowing passengers to move more quickly through a security checkpoint. Automated screening lanes are currently available at Newark Liberty International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International.

Record Number of Cruise Ships On Order 

When 2017 opened, there were a record 73 cruise ships on order, and now, according to the 2017-2018 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, that number has surged to 82 with recent orders from Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and a small unnamed luxury brand. The orderbook now totals at least 82 ships, not including a number of known options, meaning the cruise industry is looking a decade of solid growth even as older, smaller vessels are retired. The orderbook is well up from another previous record of 70 ships on order, set in 2016, which eclipsed the year 2000, which saw some 67 ships on order early in the year, according to data from Cruise Industry News. While ship volume is a record, the average size of ships is staying put at approximately 3,000 passengers, offset by smaller luxury and expedition ships. The average tonnage of ships on order is approximately 117,256. 

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One For The Record Book: Holland America Line’s Eurodam’s 11th Perfect USPH Score

Kudos to Holland America Line’s Eurodam as it earned its 11th consecutive 100 score on a routine US Public Health inspection, a run that’s unprecedented both for the company and the cruise industry. The inspection was held Jan. 14 during a turnaround at Port Everglades at the start of a seven-day Caribbean cruise. This follows on the heels of sister ship Koningsdam achieving a perfect score on its first USPH inspection in December. In 2016 five additional HAL ships aced USPH: Eurodam, Maasdam, Veendam, Noordam and Westerdam. The year before 10 perfect scores were received by seven HAL ships: Eurodam, Noordam, Veendam, Zuiderdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Ryndam and Statendam.

British Airways strike for 7 days

Unite, the trade union of British Airways’s cabin crew, has announced another strike for seven consecutive days from March 3. The mixed fleet crew, who make up around 15 percent of the total BA cabin staff, have been in a long-running dispute over pay and Unite said that the solid results announced earlier on Friday by BA’s owner IAG meant they could meet the union’s demands. If you’re booked on British Airways, please check their website for updates before your flight. 

American Airlines boards passengers based on ticket cost

American has announced an update to its boarding process that will take the new fare into account. The company says that starting March 1, boarding groups will no longer be called by their current name. Instead, travelers will now board as part of a group ranging from Group 1 to Group 9. The changes may spark some confusion amongst travelers, who are used to the airline only using four groups to designate main boarding lanes. Now, however, groups 1-4 designate priority boarding lanes, while groups 5-9 represent main boarding lanes. Basic Economy travelers will be the last to board. Other airlines are likely to follow if this boarding method proves effective. Read more here: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/american-airlines-announces-new-boarding-process-022717.html

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Jimmy Fallon Loves Travel Agents

What better spokesman could there be for the new Jimmy Fallon ride at Universal Orlando than Jimmy Fallon himself? Jimmy turned up in person at a reception for members of the travel press to showcase the new ride and Universal Orlando Resort’s new water theme park, Volcano Bay, coming in April and May, respectively. And there was even a nod to travel agents. “Of course I use a travel agent. Travel agents get you the best rooms and the best rates,” Jimmy said when asked by TMR. “I was friends with a travel agent growing up in Saugerties, NY; I’ve used a travel agent my whole life. I don’t even know how to book my own trip.”

Egypt’s Visa Fee To More Than Double

Egypt is increasing fees for entry visas from $25 to $60 for incoming tourists starting 1 March. The foreign ministry informed airport security officials about the fee increase earlier this week. Egypt last raised the fee for its visa in April 2014, when it was increased from $15 to $25. Several tour operators have said that the decision would cause problems for tourists who booked trips based on the old rate. Some in the tourism sector say the decision should have been announced several months beforehand, expressing fears that the move might affect the country’s efforts to revive tourism, a pillar of the economy and a key source of foreign currency. 

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Pisa Is Adding A Ferris Wheel To Attract Tourists

Pisa, Italy, known for its leaning tower, is adding a Ferris wheel to attract tourists. Andrea Ferrante, Pisa’s culture commissioner, announced details about the wheel on state television, the Associated Press reported. The wheel will be more than 165-feet tall. (The tower is about 183-feet tall.) Italia Nostra, an organization dedicated to preserving Italy’s history, has come out against the ride, saying it will “clash” with Pisa’s Medieval architecture, AP reported. Controversial or not, the attraction is set to rise in a parking lot this summer to test if tourists like it. In addition to getting a bird’s eye view of the leaning tower, riders will also be able to see the Mediterranean. Pisa is on Italy’s western coast, about an hour’s drive from Florence. Ferris wheels have become popular as tourist attractions in several cities around the world. The London Eye may be the most well-known.

Elvis still a star

Nearly four decades after Elvis sang his last tune, his legacy got a US $45 million boost with the Thursday opening of a major new attraction at his Graceland estate – an entertainment complex that Priscilla Presley says gives “the full gamut” of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. About 200 people streamed into “Elvis Presley’s Memphis” after the late singer’s wife cut a ribbon and allowed fans to see the complex for the first time. Resembling an outdoor mall, the 200,000-square-foot campus sits across the street from Graceland, Presley’s longtime home-turned-museum. The complex features a comprehensive Presley exhibit with clothing he wore on stage and guitars he played, a showcase of the cars he owned and used, a soundstage, a theatre, two restaurants and retail stores.

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All Aboard: Japan with Princess Cruises!

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Princess Cruises is offering a special sale on Japan cruises in 2018!

Step into the Land of the Rising Sun with adventures in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Okinawa and more iconic destinations.

Princess Cruises is the #1 North American Cruise Line in Japan. Travel around Japan with Princess and immerse yourself in the history, culture, and cuisine. Cruise from Tokyo, Kobe, or Otaru on a discovery of Japan’s most iconic destinations.

Call us for details on:

– early booking discounts

– 2-for-1 deposits!

– savings of up to $200 per person for Princess Cruises Captain’s Circle Members

– special group discounts

Itineraries available from Tokyo or Kobe, from 4 days to 17

Sailing Dates from April to December 2018

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Explore all 1,860 miles of this beautiful and historical archipelago. Learn all about the arts of paper-making and calligraphy. From the Akita Samurai District to a traditional Ryukyu village to inspiring mountains of the Shakotan Peninsula—you’ll be astonished at all the cultural and geographical vistas that Japan has to offer.

Princess Cruises to Japan always offer chances for:

– Exclusive fresh sushi, noodles, fine Japanese sake.

– Western/Asian entertainment

– Shore excursions at every port

– multi-night land cruisetours

Pre-/post-cruise nights in Osaka, Tokyo or even in Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong

Read more: Top FAQs about travel in Japan

Contact us for more details: 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com. 

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Mardi Gras in Portland!

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Welcome to… Mardi Gras in Portland

So the Oscars have wrapped up and tomorrow is Mardi Gras, that’s right—Fat Tuesday! The other day of the year when Portlanders love to get their costume on! Even in the Pacific Northwest, we know how to rock the Shroves and the King Cakes. Here are 3 ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in Portland this year: 

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Mardi Gras Parade

Join the throngs of resellers at the Mardi Gras Parade on Mississippi Avenue! Including the Northside Skull and Bone Gang, the 2017 King and Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball, and not one, not two, but THREE marching bands. The parade continues merrily on its way until it reaches the pinnacle afterparty at Ecliptic Brewing. Family friendly and costumes encouraged, Beads and mini-umbrella throws on the house. The parade starts at 7pm. (Or come early 6pm to check out the Costume Content for kids at Luke’s Frame Shop.)

Deets: Route: 9 blocks on Mississippi Avenue – Starting at Victoria Bar, heading south to end at Ecliptic Brewing, 825 North Cook; portlandmardigras.com

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Clinton Street Theatre

Head over to the Clinton for two Mardi Gras-themed short films (it’s a thing? It’s a thing!)—only $5 a ticket! Legendary documentarist Les Blank’s Dry Wood (1973, Zydecos and more in the Louisiana Delta) and his equally festive Always for Pleasure (1978, musical events in New Orleans). Gumbo, Cornbread and King Cake available for purchase.

Deets: 7pm, 2522 SE Clinton St.; https://www.facebook.com/events/372031623156263/

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Tapalaya

Everyone’s favorite NE Cajun Creole small plate restaurant (what a zesty mouthful that is!) promises a lively two-day event (Mon/Tue) with all-day beads, king cake, and live music from 6 to 9. A ticket of $35 will get you dinner, beer and gratuity. Stuff your faces with so-called Phorritos (served Mondays) and crawfish étouffée nachos (whatever that is, it sounds delicious!). Extra points if you dress in ze MG colors: purple, green and gold.

Deets: 28 N.E. 28th Ave.; 503-232-6652; https://www.facebook.com/Tapalaya/

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Travel News of the Week: The Brussels Card

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Brussels Card Includes A Public Transport Option

Brussels Card, the all-in-one Brussels museum pass, is now on offer again with a formula including a public transports option. On top of granting free access to 39 museums, giving discounts upon showing the card in 30 shops, attractions and guided tours, holders of this card may make unlimited use buses, trams and tubes of the STIB network, including to and from the airport. And there’s an extra bonus: you save the € 5 issuing a MOBIB card (the usual necessary support for 24, 48 or 72 hours tickets) usually costs. It’s easier and better value!

Emirates to launch enhanced Onboard Lounge as part of cabin upgrades

DUBAI — Emirates is off to a busy start in 2017, having just announced the launch of new cabin products and enhancements for both its A380 and Boeing 777 fleet. According to the airline, which was named Skytrax’s World’s Best Airline in 2016, the multi-million-dollar cabin interiors upgrade program includes an enhanced Onboard Lounge for First and Business Class passengers on its flagship Airbus A380 aircraft.

“Since we first launched the product in 2008, our A380 Onboard Lounge has gone through small but successive enhancements in line with customer feedback to increase the amount of space for our customers to interact in the lounge. In our latest revamp, we have taken inspiration from private yacht cabins, and amongst other thoughtful touches, we have increased the seating space, and also made it more intimate and conducive for our passengers to socialize or enjoy our lounge service,” said Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline. Features include a new seating arrangement along the windows on both sides of the bar, with each seating area equipped with a table and window view. Overall, the lounge can comfortably accommodate up to 26 passengers at a time, including eight seated. 

Orlando International Airport Approves Bags Inc. Pilot Program

Orlando International Airport plans to use its remote sorting facility to alleviate the volume of bags screened inside the main terminal. The facility currently handles luggage for Walt Disney World guests. Leaders at Orlando International Airport on Wednesday approved a one-year contract with Bags Inc. to offer remote airline check-in services. The pilot project, which could start as soon as next month, would help alleviate congestion within the airport’s baggage system, said Phil Brown, the airport’s executive director. The service would provide passengers with boarding passes and luggage check-in services on the first two levels of the airport’s A and B parking garages, he said. None of the baggage would be processed at the terminal’s main baggage handling system, which currently handles luggage for 42 million annual passengers at a facility originally built for 24 million. On the busiest day, the main terminal system handles about 60,000 pieces of luggage. That system has been upgraded over the years, but the demand on the system is still too much. Bags collected at those checkpoints would be transferred to a remote sorting facility for processing and screening if they’re dropped off at least 90 minutes before a flight’s departure time. 

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Buenos Aires Launches Free Gastronomic Tours For Visitors

The city of Buenos Aires is enjoying a special year with its designation as Ibero-American Capital of Gastronomic Culture. Tourists will now be able to join free tours alongside locals and get an insider’s view of the city’s restaurants and eateries, including perennial favorites and hot new discoveries. The tours will take place on the third Saturday of each month at 5 pm, each one focusing on a particular neighborhood and theme, and accompanied by a different specialist. March’s edition will be guided by the prestigious bartender Federico Cuco, a Buenos Aires celebrity and icon for the city’s trendy young inhabitants. Throughout the year tourists will be taken everywhere from traditional Spanish style taverns, Italian stone oven pizzerias, Argentine asado houses (the national style of cooking meat over red hot coal) and much, much more…all with an emphasis on understanding the history, evolution and preparation of each cuisine.

Dinosaurs Are Coming To Stone Mountain Park

After a 65 to 230 million year hiatus, Stone Mountain Park, Georgia’s most visited attraction, announced plans to debut its latest addition, Dinosaur Explore, set to open March 30 and run throughout the 2017 season. Dinosaur Explore will feature 20 dinosaurs representing 14 species, T. rex meet and greets, baby dinosaur interactions and a dino dig play area. In addition, there will be an all-new indoor experience: Dinotorium. Inside the Dinotorium, guests can interact with dino rangers, learn about different dinosaur habitats, visit the Dino Nursery, feed baby dinosaurs and play games. Kids are invited to join in the learning fun by becoming junior dino rangers. The prehistoric creature collection will be located behind the Dinotorium on wooded trails where families will discover giant dinosaurs that move and roar just like their ancient ancestors.

When Are You Due Flight Compensation?

If you have a ticket for flights only within Europe,  or with any EU-based airline such as Ryanair or British Airways, you can claim compensation for delays of three hours or more under EU law. Your right to compensation will be calculated based on the length of time your flight is delayed, and the distance you were due to travel. For delays of three hours or more on short-haul flights, you would be owed €250 (£211), and on long-haul flights you would be owed €400 (£337). For delays of four hours or more you can get up to €600 (£506). If you are delayed for two hours you won’t get compensation but you have a right to free food and drink, phones calls and accommodation if you are delayed overnight. Airlines are not legally obliged to compensate customers for delays or cancellations in instances where the flight was cancelled due to reasons beyond the airlines control, such as a volcanic eruption, a strike or extreme weather.  This is only applicable within Europe. It does not apply to flights originating in the USA—only for internal European flights on a separate ticket to a Transatlantic ticket.

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On the Wright Trail

Wisconsin is celebrating the 150th birthday of native son Frank Lloyd Wright with events and a new 200-mile trail directing visitors to nine of the sites, homes and buildings he designed. Wright, considered America’s best-known architect, was born June 8, 1867 in Richland Center. The self-guided trail was announced last year. Highway signs, with a graphic design and typography inspired by Wright’s spare, geometric esthetics and style, were unveiled in December. The signs, 115 in all, are located in nine counties along various roads as well as on some Madison city streets. Events scheduled for this year to mark his birthday include an exhibit called “Buildings for the Prairie” at the Milwaukee Art Museum, July 28-Oct. 15, featuring his early portfolio designs as well as furniture, stained glass and textiles.

Oceania Cruises Adds 6 More Cuba Itineraries For 2017

The luxury cruise line has revealed a series of new departures for Fall 2017. Oceania Marina, which kicks off its first Cuba cruise from Miami on March 7, will sail six additional itineraries from Miami in November and December. The cruises will range from six to 13 nights and include the line’s first calls to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba; all Oceania Cuba cruises will call at Havana.

Cuba To Get First Five Star Hotel

Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group plans to transform the historic Manzana de Gómez building into an ultra-modern, 246-room hotel. The building is a 19th-century, former European-style shopping arcade. Called the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, rooms and suites, including a 1,600-square-foot Presidential Suite,will feature high ceilings, a contemporary palette of whites and grays (with pops of vibrant color befitting a Caribbean hotel), and French windows. The Gran Hotel Manzana will be a clear departure from other upscale properties in the country. The hotel could open as early as this spring. Additional features include the rooftop swimming pool, Resense spa, and complimentary in-room internet. “Its location within a famous historic building,” Kempinski CEO Markus Semer said in a statement, makes it “the most exclusive hotel project in Old Havana.”

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Join the Whales with UnCruise Adventures!

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Join Bruce & Mary Lou Mate Aboard The Safari Endeavour with Un-Cruise Adventures!

Departure: February 24, 2018 > Just 9 more cabins available on this sailing!

Where: Baja California

Willamette Intl Travel is holding 25 cabins, but we’ve already booked 15 on this 2018 sailing to Baja California! This means there are just 9 more left! 

  • 4 commander cabins

  • 4 captain cabins

  • 1 admiral cabin

After March 24, we will have to give our unsold cabins back to Un-Cruise. So don’t wait! Secure your cabin with a deposit today. 

Last December, WIT Agents Barb and Racheal joined UnCruise Adventures to Baja California. Click here to read what they thought!

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Our longtime client Bruce Mate has been involved in whale research for over 47 years, mostly at the Marine Mammal Institute in Newport. He’s served on the International Whaling Commission for over 30 years and was sent by Exxon to track whales in Siberia. Join him and his wife Mary Lou Mate on this wonderful cruise, which will also be a fundraiser for the MMI foundation and provide scholarships to students.

Call 503-224-0180 and ask for Barb or Racheal to secure your cabin today!

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