Travel News: Egyptian Mummies, King Tut, & Venice’s New Tourist Tax

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Egypt Unveils Ancient Burial Site, Home To 50 Mummies 

Reuters UK reports Egyptian archaeologists uncovered a tomb containing 50 mummies dating back to the Ptolemaic era, in Minya, south of Cairo, the Ministry of Antiquities said on Saturday. The mummies, 12 of which were of children, were discovered inside four, nine-meter deep burial chambers in the Tuna El-Gebel archaeological site. The identities of the mummies were still unknown, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. “We have not found names written in hieroglyphics,” he said, adding it was obvious from the mummification method that the individuals whose remains were found had to some extent held important or prestigious positions. Visitors, including ambassadors from several countries, gathered at the discovery site where 40 of the mummies were exhibited during the announcement ceremony. Some of the mummies were found wrapped in linen while others were placed in stone coffins or wooden sarcophagi. The archaeological finding was the first of 2019 and was unearthed through a joint mission with the Research Centre for Archaeological Studies of Minya University.

Premium Bus Lines Emerge, Challenging Airlines 

Forbes reports the bus is back. The amenities that have vanished from airlines in recent years, swift departures, comfortable seats, fine dining’ are appearing on premium bus lines sprouting across the US, some staffed by attendants and equipped with leather chairs, wide video screens and tables for work or dining. The bus lines are competing with airlines in important corridors like D.C. to New York and Los Angeles to San Francisco. The largest carrier, Vonlane in Texas, refers to its service as “a private jet on wheels.” Premium buses may also draw riders from Amtrak, but airlines stand to lose the most, according to Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. “Let’s face it, most frequent flyers, even those flying business class, have grown weary of spending time in airports,” Schwieterman said. “Being able to step out of an Uber or cab and immediately climb aboard a custom-designed motor coach can feel like a godsend, even if the trip takes longer.” The Chaddick Institute has released a 2019 outlook report on the intercity bus industry, highlighting premium bus services as a prominent development. There are now 17 premium bus operators in the US. Four launched in 2018, and the report predicts more in the future. “These services are attracting new demographic and socioeconomic segments to motor-coach travel, including travelers otherwise likely to fly,” the report states.

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King Tut Revealed: Iconic Tomb Reopens After Decade Of Restorations

Travelwirenews reports visitors have poured to the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in Egypt after conservationists completed decade-long renovations, cleaning up the dust-covered walls of the burial and erecting a viewing platform. The mummified body of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh, wrapped in fresh linen sheets, has been put on full display in the special oxygen-free glass case. Photos of the face and feet of the pharaoh, who ascended to the throne at the tender age of nine or ten and reigned for only nine years, have been released following a thorough clean-up and restoration works at what has become one the world’s most renowned tourist attraction sites. Although the centuries that passed since the pharaoh’s death did their work on the mummy, his face has been almost fully preserved and none of the toes are missing. The 3,000-year-old tomb, discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter almost a century ago in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, has become the symbol of the ancient kingdom, luring crowds of tourists from all over the world. The incessant flow of visitors took a heavy toll on the burial chamber, changing its inner atmosphere and endangering the artifacts. Apart from physical damage such as scratches from filming equipment and lost items, it has suffered from dust, humidity and carbon dioxide. Conservationists have cleaned up the murals depicting the scenes from the pharaoh’s life and fitted an air filtration and ventilation system into the tomb. The work by Getty Conservation Institute and Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities started in 2009 and was underway for 10 years, save from a brief halt due to the political unrest in 2011. During the restoration, the conservationists paid special attention to mysterious brown spots on the walls of tomb feared to be toxic mold potentially dangerous to humans. However, the scientists determined that while the spots were of microbiological origin, the bacteria, whatever it was, have long since died and present no danger.

American And United Boost Onboard Entertainment Options

American Airlines announced that travelers can now stream Apple Music at no charge. United announced that it is eliminating charges for DIRECTV, a live TV service available on more than 200 Boeing 737 aircraft. Previously, the airline charged $5.99 to access live TV on flights shorter than two hours, and $7.99 on longer flights. Competitors American, JetBlue, Southwest and Delta already offer live TV on flights for no charge. On American flights, travelers who subscribe to Apple Music will now be able to stream more than 50 million songs onboard at no charge, Digital Journal reports. American is the first airline to offer free streaming of Apple Music. Airline officials said the new service, like the airline’s investment in high-speed wifi and live TV, is part of an effort to give travelers more entertainment and productivity options.

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Ushuaia Makes Room For More Cruise Ships

Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Patagonia, has gained more docking space for small and medium-size ships as Argentina acts to accommodate the growth of Antarctica expeditions and cruises around South America. Seatrade reports the removal of an idle floating drydock opened more berthing space for cruise ships. This was possible thanks to the removal of an Argentine navy floating drydock that sat unused for approximately 20 years. The governor of Tierra del Fuego requested the change, which required the involvement of several areas of the national government. The Ministry of Transport entrusted the project to Gonzalo Mórtola, comptroller of the General Ports Administration. Mórtola collaborated with the navy and the prefecture to obtain authorization and move forward with landside improvements financed by the Provincial Directorate of Ports of Tierra del Fuego. Once repaired, the dock will be used by the navy to service boats that patrol and protect southern Argentina. Thanks to the investments in infrastructure and the low rates implemented by the national government to boost the cruise industry in the region, this season Ushuaia is receiving 36 cruise calls, many of them maiden visits, and a 16% increase in cruise passengers from last year. In addition, the large ships Celebrity Eclipse and Royal Princess were able to dock without problems thanks to the dredging carried out by the province with the collaboration of the Port Buenos Aires. Also, fuel costs were decreased, leading to more bunkering in Argentine ports instead of in Chile. ‘It is important to continue moving forward with the necessary infrastructure works so that more and more cruise ships visit us,’ Mórtola said. ‘This promotes tourism, generates work and allows more and more people to know the attractions of our country.’

Dangerous Air Quality In Bangkok

Travelwirenews reports Bangkok is the world’s most-visited city and relies on tourism for economic growth. The travel and tourism industry in Thailand is concerned, and some visitors are canceling trips or leaving the City of Angeles early. The reason is haze and poor air quality. The Air Quality in Delhi, India is a dangerous 342, while Bangkok is in a state of panic over an unhealthy 170 reading. For Indians, it’s a routine situation, for visitors and locals in Bangkok it means a run on an air purifier, that is now often out of stock. Bangkok is the world’s most-visited city and relies on tourism for economic growth. The travel and tourism industry in Thailand is concerned, and some visitors are canceling trips or leaving the City of Angeles early. The reason is haze and poor air quality. Residents fear a long battle lies ahead to keep the toxic smog at bay, signaling growing opportunities for purifier makers such as Sharp or mask manufacturer 3M in the city of roughly 10 million people. More than 2 million people are tracking Bangkok on the IQAir AirVisual app, compared with about 80,000 for the Indian capital. A rattled Thai military government is stepping up oversight of the worst polluters, such as factories. Weather patterns, vehicle fumes, construction dust and the burning of both trash and crops have also been blamed for the haze. While some businesses may benefit from demand for products that fight smog, the metropolis as a whole is at risk of being the big loser, because of tourism.

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Venice Tourist Tax To Be Introduced In May

The Telegraph reports a tourist tax that Venice will introduce in May has been criticized by the country’s tourism minister as “useless and damaging”. Plans to charge tourists €3 (£2.60) from May 1, with the amount rising to a maximum of €10 within three years, were announced on Monday by Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice.  “The city will remain open to all,” he said. Venetians will be exempt from the tax, as will Italians who commute to work there from the mainland, and children under the age of six. Revenue from the tourist tax will be used to offset the high charges that Venetians pay for services such as rubbish collection, which is more expensive because of the city’s unique geography. Handcarts are used in the narrowest alleyways and refuse has to be taken away on special barges. The tax will apply to tourists who arrive by cruise ship, in water taxis and by plane or train. The cost will be incorporated into their tickets, although the logistical details are still to be worked out. The 50,000 inhabitants of the city endure great inconvenience and the costs of maintaining Venice are exceptional.

 

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Quirky Tea Time in London

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Afternoon tea dates back to the early 1800s, during a period where two meals a day, breakfast and supper, were de rigueur. But one Duchess of Bedford, Anna, must have had a high metabolism, as she suffered from this schedule and proposed a break of tea time in the middle of the afternoon. Since then, tea with a snack has been a staple of the English timetable.

Fortunately for you, tea time is now a classic pastime and easily found on any trip to London. It’s impossible to list them all, but here are a few of our more quirky favorites:

Ampersand Hotel

Looking for a side of quirky to go with your Earl Grey? Afternoon tea at the Ampersand includes creative delights such as planet mousse with clouds of dry ice, and a chocolate dinosaur fossil. There are also loads of vegetarian and gluten-free options.

£39.50 per person, £49.50 with a glass of champagne.

10 Harrington Rd, Kensington. 

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Dandelyan

Award-winning bar Dandelyan offers adorable confections like blackcurrant and verbena Battenberg cakes, and lager-braised bacon jam. This one tends to draw the crowds looking for kooky cocktails.

Full Wyld Tea £58 (including four botanical cocktails), Champagne Wyld Tea £48 (includes a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne), Boozeless Wyld Tea £38.

20 Upper Ground.

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Dominique Ansel Bakery

Portland foodies may be familiar with Dominique Ansel, the creator of the cronut, but did you know that his London location also offers a curious afternoon tea? We’re talking squid ink black chow pastry, and mini financier cake topped with rose petals.

£42 signature, £55 sparkling, £80 splendid.

17-21 Elizabeth St.

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The Lalit London

For something a little different, try the Indian High Chai at the Lalit’s Gallery. Grandiose blue chandeliers are paired with delicate spins on Indian street food—samosas, bhel puri with pomegranate, cardamom-spiced shrikhand and a refreshing glass of milky chai.

£47 per person.

181 Tooley St. 

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Travel News: Viking River Cruises Adds Itineraries for 2019

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Busabout Launches Hop-On, Hop-Off Travel In The US

Busabout, the popular hop-on hop-off coach service that offers travelers as much or as little structure and support as they want, is expanding with a new product launch and destination offering for 2019. For the first time, Busabout will offer its classic coach network on this side of the pond with the launch of a hop-on, hop-off network which provides unlimited travel between eight stops on the US west coast. The Travel Corporation-owned company’s original hop-on, hop-off service, launched in 1998, has grown to connect 38 cities across 14 countries in Europe. As in Europe, the US circuit will see a coach pass through each of the cities on the itinerary every two days and travelers can hop on or hop off the network as many times as they want throughout the duration of their pass. Pass increments include two weeks, one month, two months, an unlimited pass or, for the first time this year, a standalone one-week pass.

Southwest CEO: We Won’t Introduce Basic Economy 

While the big three US network airlines, Delta, United, and American, have introduced a no-frills Basic Economy product that generally comes with no seat selection or early boarding, and JetBlue plans to do so, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly flatly ruled it out. In talking about two revenue-generating initiatives planned for 2020, which will be detailed later this year, Kelly also crushed any speculation and repeated that the airline will also not introduce bag fees for the first two checked bags. In other words, those bags will still fly free. 

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Hawaiian Airlines Flew Its First International Hawaiian Language Flight

In December Hawaiian Airlines Flight 852 made history. Guests on the flight from Haneda Airport in Japan to Kona International Airport were greeted by six flight attendants fluent in Hawaiian. Every passenger was greeted with kukui nut lei before departing Japan and fresh flower lei upon leaving the plane in Kona. Hawaiian Airlines crew also announced all boarding and in-flight announcements in ‘Olelo Hawaii, followed by Japanese and English translations. Passengers also received a travel-size language book, a “how-to” guide for ordering drinks in Hawaiian and a commemorative certificate of participation. Hawaiian Airlines also made history by flying with a native language flight between Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland during its flight from HNL to Las Vegas in December.

Viking River Adds Itineraries for 2019

Open Jaw reports Viking has announced the addition of two new itineraries and a variety of new pre- and post-cruise extensions to its river cruise offerings for 2019. Debuting in March 2019, the new 10-day Holland & Belgium itinerary will sail between Amsterdam and Antwerp, allowing guests to explore the inland waterways of the Low Countries and visit new ports of call for Viking: Rotterdam, Maastricht, and Nijmegen. Also, in commemoration of World War II and D-Day, Viking will offer a new 11-day cruisetour, Paris & D-Day 75th Anniversary, with two special departures that coincide with the June 6, 2019 anniversary. On this historic journey, guests will travel from London to the maritime city of Portsmouth before boarding their ship in Paris and sailing through Normandy, where they will visit and honor D-Day landing sites. 

What Passengers Would Like To See On Ultra Long Haul Flights

Airlineratings reports stationary exercise bikes, cafes, and virtual reality are on the wishlist of features Qantas passengers would like to see on ultra-long-haul flights. The responses captured last year in conjunction with Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre are part of research being done as Qantas prepares to launch the first non-stop, long haul flights from Australia’s East Coast to New York and London from 2022. 

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Travel Firm Offers First-Ever Tours Of Machu Picchu For Wheelchair Users

Travelwirenews reports Wheel the World is offering the first-ever tours of Machu Picchu for wheelchair users thanks to a ‘trekking-style’ mobility aid. Wheel The World uses a foldable wheelchair made from steel and aluminum. The wheelchair is able to navigate the bumpy terrain and narrow walkways. The firm currently offers four-day tours of Peru to Machu Picchu and Cusco. The 600-year-old Inca site in Peru had previously been off-limits to traditional wheelchair users due to its rough terrain, steps, and narrow walkways. The firm, which specializes in tours for those with disabilities, has developed a way to visit the Unesco site by using a special foldable trekking-style wheelchair. The chair itself is made from steel and aluminum, the same as a bicycle, and it has a wheelbarrow shape because it only has one wheel and two long sticks at the front. The chair cannot be self-propelled by the user but travel companions or guides can carry it using these sticks and a handle at the back. It is also fitted with suspension, brakes and a harness so it can easily travel over uneven or steep ground.

Oceania Cruises To Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles

Cruise Industry News reports Oceania Cruises has announced an initiative to eliminate millions of plastic water bottles per year through a new partnership with Vero Water. The deal is part of the line’s OceaniaNEXT enhancement and the company’s larger Sail & Sustain environmental program. “By introducing Vero Water to the Oceania Cruises experience, we are not only taking a quantum leap forward environmentally, we are providing our guests with the gold-standard of still and sparkling water,” stated Bob Binder, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises. As part of its OceaniaNEXT initiative, the line’s ships will be outfitted with Vero Water’s still and sparkling water distillation systems starting in April. Installation of the Vero Water systems will ultimately eliminate an estimated three million plastic bottles per year.

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Travel News: Luxury Sailing Cruise Line Ponant Adds Free Wifi on all Sailings

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New Adults-Only All-Inclusive Resort Opens In Florida Keys
The Press Release reports all-inclusive, adults-only luxury resort, Bungalows Key Largo, opened on the Northernmost island of the Florida Keys. Opening as the first-ever all-inclusive in the Keys and located just 63 miles south of Miami, the upscale, boutique, waterfront resort features 135 private bungalows dotted across the property’s 12 acres. Organic textures, soothing tropical hues, and all-natural materials complement the bohemian expression of Key Largo’s relaxed cabana lifestyle. The expansive, adults-only oasis is nestled within a botanical garden edged by the ocean and flanked by the Intercoastal Waterway and Everglades National Park. Immersed in timeless island-elegance under thatch roofing, Bungalows Key Largo boasts three dining experiences: Bogie & Bacall’s for multi-course fine dining and wine pairings, the beachside Sea Señor for Mexican fare under cooling coconut trees and resort-casual seafood restaurant, Fish Tales, inspired by the vibrancy of Capri in Italy. For those laying by the sun-drenched infinity pool or on the sands of Coconut Beach, the resort also features two floating six-seat tiki boats, aptly named the S.S. Rum Runner and S.S. Margarita; Largo Larry’s food truck for quick beach bites and the Sunset Tiki Bar where exotic cocktails are served across African teak and guests can enjoy sunset happy hours surrounded by unpretentious, coastal décor. Call your WIT Travel Agent for the full details!

Rapid Response Force Deployed To Carry Out Checks At US Airports

National Deployment Force officers have been drafted into major US airports to carry out security checks after one in 10 security staff called in sick over the weekend. The normal absence rate for Transportation Security Administration staff at this time of year is about 3%, but more staff are calling in sick rather than working without pay during the US government partial shutdown. The shutdown, which means there’s no money to pay around 800,000 government employees, including airport security staff, is now in its fifth week. As a result of staff shortages, passengers are seeing longer security queues at some airports. A checkpoint at Baltimore airport was shut down on two occasions last weekend due to a lack of staff but reopened on Monday. “Some airports experienced longer than usual wait times,” the TSA said, adding that the average waiting times are within the 30-minute standard for regular screening lanes. Of the 1.78 million passengers screened on Sunday, the TSA said fewer than 7% had to wait longer than 15 minutes. National Deployment Force officers, who make up the TSA’s rapid response team, have been drafted into several airports including Newark, New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.

World’s Largest Eco-Friendly Underwater Theme Park In Bahrain

The world’s largest eco-friendly underwater theme park is coming to Bahrain. Expected to welcome visitors by summer 2019, the underwater playground will feature a submerged 70-meter Boeing 747 aircraft. The plane is believed to have been transported to Bahrain from Fujairah, UAE, and is reported to be the largest plane ever to be submerged. The announcement, made by the personal representative of His Majesty King Hamad, president of the Supreme Council for the Environment, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, confirmed: “Covering an area of over 100,000 sqm, the exceptional dive experience includes several structures in addition to a submerged jumbo jet as its centerpieces, such as a replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs and other sculptures fabricated from eco-friendly materials, all submerged to provide a safe haven for coral reef growth and a habitat for marine life.”

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Bali To Introduce Tourist Tax

Bali plans to impose a US$10 tax for all foreign tourist arrivals. Revenue will go toward environmental works and protection of cultural assets, said Bali governor Wayan Koster.”Most foreigners come to Bali for a holiday, local tourists only come to visit their family, have meetings or for their institution’s events,” he added. Bali is trying to combat the growing problem of plastic waste strewn on its beaches and in the ocean. The island generates more than 3,000 tons of rubbish every day. It has already taken steps to ban single-use plastics such as straws and plastic bags but remains to be seen how effective this will be.

Emirates Introduces Entertainment Playlist Syncing Ahead Of Travel

Emirates has introduced an innovative new function on its app to allow customers to create bespoke playlists ahead of their flight and sync it to their seats once on board. Customers can plan their trip more effectively, and maximize their onboard experience by using the Emirates app to browse the expansive entertainment catalog at any time. ice, Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment has reached a new milestone of over 4,000 channels of on-demand entertainment. The catalog includes over 1,000 movies, more than any other airline, popular television box sets, tens of thousands of music tracks, podcasts and games. The syncing capability is currently available on over 100 Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft and will be made available progressively across the entire fleet, including A380 aircraft in the coming months. In addition to the catalog, travelers can browse through their flight’s menus and wine lists up to a month before the departure date. The Emirates app also features 3D seat maps which allows customers to navigate the interior of the Emirates A380 and the Emirates Boeing 777 during seat selection and explore the spacious cabin before they board.

Universal Orlando Is Accepting Reservations For Its Newest Hotel
Universal Orlando revealed the opening date for the second phase of its Endless Summer value-priced resort. Universal and its partner Loews Hotels are now taking reservations for Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, Dockside Inn and Suites, which will start accepting guests in May 2020. Prices start at just $89 a night for the budget-priced hotel, which is going up on the site of the former Wet ‘n’ Wild water park. Dockside’s sister hotel next door, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, will open this August. Reservations have been available for that hotel for a few months now, with its rates starting at $85 a night. These promotional rates for both hotels are based on a four-night stay.

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Brazil Plans To Eliminate the need for Visitor Visas For US Citizens 
Brazil plans to eliminate the need for visitor visas for Americans, the country’s tourism minister said on Wednesday, as President Jair Bolsonaro seeks to turn around the lagging tourism sector and engineer cozier relations with the United States. The visa initiative is part of the Foreign Ministry’s plan for the first 100 days in power of Bolsonaro, who assumed office on Jan. 1, Tourism Minister Marcelo Alvaro Antonio said in an interview “Our intention is really to eliminate visa applications for Americans.” Bolsonaro won the presidency running on a right-wing populist platform. He has sought to realign Brazil with the United States, unlike the leftist Workers Party government that led the country for 13 of the past 15 years and favored relations with fellow developing economies. “The left has treated the United States as an adversary, but not our government,” Antonio said. “President Bolsonaro wants to embrace the United States as a partner of Brazil.” Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy but has long punched below its weight in tourism. The country currently receives 6.6 million foreign tourists a year, roughly half that of New York City alone. Brazil will also seek to eliminate visas for Canadians, Japanese and Australians but the timeline is up to the Foreign Ministry, Antonio said.

Ponant Adds Free WiFi on All Sailings

The luxury cruise line Ponant announced that it is offering unlimited free access to WiFi to all guests across its fleet of ultra-luxury French-flagged vessels. All Ponant passengers will have free access to WIFI throughout the entire ship from January 2019, irrespective of their category of stateroom,” the company said, in a prepared statement. Ponant noted the complimentary WiFi will add to the customer experience aboard and is a key step in the company’s ship digitization process. Ponant also recently inked a deal with industry-leading connectivity provider Global Eagle to provide new technology, entertainment, and television services.

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Hotel Profile: The Brunelleschi in Florence

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You can imagine that our travel agency has booked thousands of clients for a vacation in Italy over the years.

Among the many hotels that we’ve recommended and clients have raved about, one of the places that receives the most praise, time and time again, is the iconic Brunelleschi in Florence.

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In the Shadow of the Duomo

This luxury hotel is located in the heart of Florence, near the Duomo. It blends modern design with elegant, ancient architecture. The hotel was reconstructed from the foundations of an ancient tower called the Pagliazza–which dates from the 6th Century c.e. and once housed Roman thermal baths–and the medieval church of San Michele in Palchetto. Sometimes it feels like your very own museum!

You certainly feel like you’re staying at the Crème de la Crème of Florence! The hotel has established itself as one of the best hotels downtown, and has won countless rewards by Forbes Travel Guide and Conde Nast—and we definitely see why.

Nearby attractions are the Uffizi Gallery, central market, Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, and of course the Duomo.

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Rooms in Style and Sophistication

Rooms are variable to taste and traveling situation. A romantic suite for a couple or connecting rooms for families. If you’re staying in one of the Suites, you’ll be assigned a personal Suite Ambassador—a concierge at your disposal for any request, advice or reservations.

Ask your WIT travel agent for a room with a view of the Duomo on your next trip to Tuscany’s Renaissance capital!

The two in-house restaurants are exquisite, the luxurious Santa Elisabetta, and the fresh bistro of Osteria Pagliazza. Or if you feel like a nightcap, grab an antipasto or glass of Perrier-Jouet Champagne at the Tower Bar.

Excellent service, gorgeous furnishings, sophisticated palates, exceptional attentiveness, free Wifi, complimentary welcome aperitif, daily newspaper, breakfast included–what more could you ask for?

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Did you know? The Hotel Brunelleschi was even mentioned in the bestselling book, The Da Vinci Code. As author Dan Brown writes: 

“When can I see you again?” Langdon reeled momentarily, lost in her eyes. “When?” He paused, curious if she had any idea how much he had been wondering the same thing.
“Well, actually, next month I’m lecturing at a conference in Florence. I’ll be there a week without much to do.”
“Is that an invitation?”
“We’d be living in luxury. They’re giving me a room at the Brunelleschi.”

Why should you visit Florence over Easter?

On Easter morning (this year Sunday, April 21), Florence welcomes the Scoppio del Carro, or the Explosion of the Cart. This religious festival dates back over 350 years. An ornamental wagon, built in 1622 and towering 2-3 stories high, is pulled by a pair of oxen in garlands through the streets of Florence and Piazza Duomo. Certainly, a sight to behold!

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Escorted Culinary and Art Tour of Morocco with Caravan-Serai

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Caravan-Serai is one of our favorite outfits for the Middle East and North Africa. Long-time subscribers of our blog will remember that this tour operator tailors unique itineraries for small groups. If you’re looking for trustworthy guides to Jordan, Iran or Morocco, they are one of the best.

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Intricate Palatial Latticework

Today, we’re sharing one of their upcoming tours to Morocco. Though it’s right around the corner (April is fast approaching!), this Culinary and Art Tour is one that’s very unique and shouldn’t be missed. Call WIT to book your Moroccan escorted tour today. 

503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com

WIT Agent Gavi Piper returned from her trip to Morocco a few months ago, so we’re sure she’d love to tell you all about this colorful and delightful country. Attached are some of her photos from the journey!

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Moroccan Rugs

Escorted Culinary and Art Tour of Morocco

April 18 – 27, 2019

Accommodations will be in authentic Moroccan bed and breakfast riads. A riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard, and many have been converted to accommodations for travelers. Local chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations with all local ingredients in each of the four cities to showcase the diversity of Moroccan cuisine. Space will be limited on this special tour, so reserve your space early! 

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Arabesque Archways

Day 1 & Day 2: Arrival / Rabat

Welcome to Rabat, the capital of Morocco, also known as the White Imperial City. After assistance with airport formalities, we will be driven to a group welcome lunch. We will then check into a riad for the evening. Rabat has a rich, long history and we will learn about it in art guided tours of colonial architecture left behind, along with a culinary tour of coastal influences in a group cooking class. Local sights include Hassan tower, the splendid Mohamed V Mausoleum, the Kasbah of Oudayas and the Medina. Overnights at RIAD KALAA.

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Fes Dye Pools

Day 3 to Day 5: Fes

Three days are devoted to the sightseeing of Fez, the Medieval City, the most ancient cultural and spiritual city of Morocco. This medieval marvel has been frozen in a time capsule and houses the world’s oldest university, Karaouine Mosque, a World Heritage site. Art guided tours include a visit through the old medina to see different craftsmen still operating in the old oriental tradition Fes El Jdid & the Jewish district. We will also visit the historic Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts and Batha Museum to learn about geometric patterns that make this area unique. Hammam options will also be made available for anyone interested in experiencing a private treatment. We will have an evening cooking demonstration of Amazigh & Tunisian influences, as Fes cooks are considered the country’s most elegant and gifted. Overnights at PALAIS OMMEYAD.

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Gavi in Chefchaouen, the “Blue City”

Day 6 & Day 7: Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen is called the Blue City and is tucked away high in the Rif mountains. It remained shut off from the world for almost 500 years, forbidden to Christians until 1920. Now its narrow, labyrinthine streets, decked in shades of blue buildings with red tile roofs, are open to all. Its relaxed easy atmosphere is a strong contrast to the bustling bigger city life. The art tour will include historical visits to the Medina to relax along the Plaza Uta Hammam. We will learn about the influences of the neighboring Andalucían in the unusual octagonal tower of the Grande Mosque, visit the Kasbah, & enjoy the Ethnographic Museum, stopping for a moment to enjoy the breathtaking views it offers. We will visit the falls of Ras El Maa, and delight in a cooking demonstration of Mediterranean influences. Overnight in PARADOR.

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Moroccan Zellij Tilework

Day 8 & Day 9: Tétouan

Tétouan, sometimes called the White City or The Daughter of Granada is also situated in the Rif Mountains and was built by Muslim refugees from Spain in the 15th century. It is one of only two Moroccan Mediterranean port cities and is known for its craftsmanship and musical gracefulness. We will tour the Hispano-Moorish influence in the architecture of the Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site. We will also explore Tétouan’s culinary influences from local Amazigh, Andalusian and Ottoman cuisine, brought by Algerian immigrants, in a cooking demonstration. Overnight in EL REDUCTO.

Day 10: Rabat / Depart

After breakfast, departure transfer to Rabat–Salé airport for return flight and assistance with boarding formalities. 

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Islamic Symmetrical Designs

Included:

  • 9 nights’ accommodation in bed & breakfast at selected hotels/riads
  • 4 cooking demonstrations showcasing the diversity of Moroccan food
  • A/C minibus with a qualified driver at disposal for the whole tour
  • English speaking art guide for the whole tour
  • Entrance fees to monuments with an exterior visit of Mosques
  • Taxes

Not included:

  • All personal extras, gifts, etc
  • Dinners and lunches, not included in cooking demos
  • Drinks during the meals, mini bar, etc
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Travel insurance
  • Airline tickets

Price per person in a double room is $2200

Single Supplement is $500

Take it from us, the price is incredible for 10 days in Morocco in excellent riads and a peek into the more unique sides of the country. 

Read More:

Conscientious Traveler: Caravan-Serai

Vendor of the Month: Caravan-Serai

Caravan-Serai Recipes: Persian Jeweled Rice

Recipes from Caravan-Serai

Caravan-Serai Sample Tour

Rice Pudding with Caravan-Serai

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Travel News: Owner of Famed French Hotel may have left it to the Dogs

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Owner Of Famed French Hotel May Have Left It To The Dogs

Uncertainty surrounds the future of one of the most famous grand hotels in Europe after the property’s flamboyant owner and chief executive died at the age of 95 without an heir, amid speculation that she may have left her hotel to animals. Jeanne Augier personally ran the striking pink-domed Negresco Hotel, in the French Riviera city of Nice, for more than 60 years after inheriting it from her father in 1957. She died this week in her 96th year and legal disputes are reportedly already underway about what will happen to the hotel. In 2009, it was reported that Augier planned to leave the hotel and its profits to a new foundation devoted to animals and the poor. A great lover of dogs, she championed both causes, and she was determined to keep the hotel out of the clutches of international hotel chains. Whether dogs will inherit her hotel has not yet been determined. The Negresco opened in 1913 in Nice and quickly became a favorite with European royalty. It has more than 140 rooms, each with its own unique furnishings and French art “collection pieces.” The property has always been open to pets and guests are encouraged to bring them along. Augier famously told Microsoft founder Bill Gates that he was not rich enough to buy her fabulous hotel. In an interview with French newspaper Liberation in 2009, she said: “I must have a hundred offers a year to buy the Negresco. It’s out of the question.”

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Courtesy of Le Negresco

United Airlines Replaces Delta As World’s Second-Largest Carrier

Travelmole reports United Airlines has reclaimed the world’s number-two spot for passenger traffic. It edged in front of Delta thanks to mostly domestic expansion with capacity increases at hubs like Chicago, Houston and Denver. Capacity has been increasing by up to 6%. United recorded 230.2 billion revenue passenger miles last year, ahead of Delta’s 225.2 billion. Delta overtook United as the second largest airline in 2015. United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said: “Our goal is not to be the biggest. We want to be the best and as we implement our strategy, we are looking to build on this momentum in 2019.” Following a couple of years in the doldrums after several high profile missteps, United’s share price has rebounded. While other major US airline stock values have contracted, United saw a 24% bump last year. American Airlines hasn’t released its full-year traffic results yet but is expected to remain the world’s largest airline.

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New Zealand Tourism App Adds Enhanced Reality

An “augmented reality” (AR) app is giving New Zealand visitors the chance to experience a once-famous geological formation that disappeared over 130 years ago. The Pink and White Terraces were once known as the “eighth wonder of the world” and were obliterated by the Mount Tarawera eruption in 1886. They were located 20 km from Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. In the 19th century, intrepid tourists traveled from around the world to visit the terraces, which became the most famous tourist attraction in the country. Visitors would gather on the terrace shores to experience the natural spa and health benefits that continue to be a feature in the Rotorua region. The popularity of the terraces signaled the start of organized tourism in New Zealand. Old reference photos and paintings, plus work by early explorers and scientists, have been used to recreate the terraces in augmented reality. The terraces have been brought to life again with a specially developed app launched as an eco-tourism experience. Visitors can download the free app and experience the recreated terraces on daily cruises across Lake Rotomahana to the place where the terraces once were. Users need only hold up their device to explore the site and discover its hidden secrets. The Pink and White Terraces were formed over thousands of years, as silica-rich water emerging from springs and boiling geysers crystallized into giant tiered staircases. The White Terrace covered more than three hectares while the smaller Pink Terrace was used for bathing on the lower levels.

Hawaii Issues Warning Of High Bacterial Levels At Several Beaches

HawaiiNewsNow reports high bacterial levels were detected Wednesday at several beaches across Oahu, and have even prompted the closure of a popular spot. The state Department of Health Clean Water Branch said inspectors found elevated levels of enterococci at the following beaches: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Ala Moana Regional Park, and two sites at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki. The normal level for enterococci doesn’t surpass 130% per 100 mL. DOH officials issue alerts when levels exceed 130. Due to the elevated levels, a city spokesperson said Hanauma Bay would be closed Thursday. The upper viewing area, parking lot, and visitor center will remain open. Officials say swimming in waters with elevated bacteria counts could make you sick. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable. The most common symptoms associated with swimming in affected waters include nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. But the warning wasn’t enough to keep many beachgoers out of the water here in Waikiki. “The water was nice and clean from what I could see,” said Canadian visitor John Jonker. “We didn’t see any problem in the water at all, and we never noticed anything on the shore either. Everything is nice and clean.” The advisories will remain in effect for the beaches until levels return to normal. In addition, a Brown Water Advisory has been issued for Punaluu Beach Park in Windward O’ahu.

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Turkey Has Introduced A Passenger Security Tax

Travelwirenwews reports Turkey has introduced an airline passenger security tax of 1,5€ applicable as from 1 January 2018 without any advance notification. In addition, the Turkish Tourism Minister is considering changes to the tourism strategy and marketing activities. He wants to cut the state-financed budget for tour operators promoting Turkish destinations and plans a more centralized approach focusing on high-end products.

This App Will Deliver Food Right To Your Boarding Gate

Airwise reports most people-and certainly most underrated comedy writers-agree that airline food is bad. Luckily a food delivery app wants to make sure that you never fly hungry again and won’t be tempted to eat whatever it is the airlines are serving. AtYourGate is a food delivery service that will bring you food while you loom around the boarding gate, even though you’re sitting in Row 44. The delivery team doesn’t have to bring your loaded baked potato through security, though, because for better or worse, the app only lets users choose from options within the airport. To use it, just download the app, browse the options, make your selection, and they will run it over to you, usually within 20-30 minutes. AtYourGate has just announced it is landing in the New York area, making it easier for passengers flying through Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, and Terminal 7 of John F. Kennedy International to decide whether it’s worth paying someone to bring them an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. (New York and New Jersey airport travelers who download the app qualify for free delivery on their first purchase by entering the promotion code AYGFREE. There is no minimum order requirement.) The app is still pretty new, with only New York City, San Diego, and Minneapolis St. Paul airports on board, but if it rolls out nationwide, those traveling through Portland International Airport (hello, Country Cat) or O’Hare (where Rick Bayless has a torta restaurant) may never eat airplane food again.

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