Tag Archives: architecture

Silk Road of China with Art Tours by Amy, October 2019

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Amy Osaki from Art Tours by Amy has announced their most recent tour on the Silk Road!

It promises to be a spectacular, one-of-a-kind itinerary focusing on Art and History along China’s Silk Road.

Silk Road of China: Art, History and Archaeology

October 10-20, 2019

Join Art Tours by Amy’s third trip across China, and journey from Xi’an over two thousand miles west to Kashgar. For thousands of years, the Silk Road connected China with the Mediterranean Sea over four thousand miles distant. This route was already a thousand years old when Marco Polo made his journey in 1271.

Call Willamette Intl Travel to arrange your once-in-a-lifetime tour through ancient art and history of the Silk Road

503-224-0180  |  inquiry@wittravel.com

  • Traverses the eastern part of the route, including three Chinese provinces
  • Xi’an, home of the Terracotta warriors
  • Jiayuguan and westernmost part of the Great Wall
  • imposing sand dunes of the Gobi Desert
  • Dunhuang and Mogao Caves filled with a thousand years of Buddhist art
  • Silk Road city of Turpan
  • Bezeklik grottoes
  • alpine lake of Tianchi in the Tian Shan (Celestial Mountains)
  • Bazaar & mosques of Kashgar
  • Muztagh Ata and Kongur Mountains, the tallest peaks in the Pamir and Kunlun mountain ranges
  • Pre-Trip Tour Available: Oct 8 in Beijing

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Click here for the detailed trip itinerary.

View slide show from the previous Silk Road trips:

2013 Silk Road trip

2011 Silk Road trip

READ MORE:

Art Tour of Japan with Amy

Art Tours by Amy | Mountain Hiking Holidays

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Filed under Asia, China

Casablanca’s Architectural Wonders

As Morocco’s chief port, Casablanca has enjoyed a wealth of tourists, immigrants and traders for centuries. It’s only natural then that the city is a garden of cultural diversity and artistic flavors. Nowhere else is this more evident than in Casablanca’s varied and highly stylized architecture. From the famous Hassan II Mosque to the Art Deco buildings of the new town, the city is a delight to art lovers everywhere.

photo by Laura 0509, creative commons

Hassan II Mosque. Open in 1993, this mosque is one of the few open to non-Muslims. It’s gorgeous lime green and eggshell minaret towers above the ocean. The mosque is the third largest in the world. Tours run frequently through the inner chambers and a tranquil ablutions area.

photo by Khalid Albaih, creative commons

Mauresque Style. Mauresque was an art movement developed by the French that built on traditional Moroccan styles. It was fashionable especially during the turn of the century, and many pre-1930s colonial buildings reflect this. Typical elements include zillij plaster, latticework, geometric designs and arabesque florals, as well as the use of stucco and brass. You can still see these patterns all over the city.

photo by Colros, Creative Commons

Art Deco Style. Casablanca’s Ville Nouvelle was designed by French architect Henri Prost, and his colorful blend of Hispano-Mauresque and Art Deco illuminates downtown. Developed in the 1930s, these buildings are characterized by intricate friezes, stunning tilework and ornate wrought-iron balconies. Some of the best known facades are on Rue Prince Moulay Abdellah—look for Hotel Guynemer and Hotel Transatlantique.

photo by indiepants, Creative Commons

Cathedrale Sacre-Coeur. For a perfect example of stylized Mauresque architecture, check out the old Casablanca cathedral. Designed by French architect Paul Tournon in 1930, it blends a Moroccan casbah look with neo-gothic aspirations. This massive white church lies on the northwest edge of the Parc de la Ligue Arab, and decades ago was converted into a public cultural center.

Interested in exploring the many hidden gems of Morocco? Our agents have traveled throughout the country and sent dozens of clients there. Call us for more details at 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Africa, Art & Architecture, Morocco

Where in the World is the WIT Client? – Flanders

Most travelers to Europe dream of iconic destinations such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. Outside of these main hubs is a wealth of scenic charms under the radar. Among these jewels is Flanders, the northern, Dutch-speaking region of Belgium. It’s definitely not a destination to be missed on the European itinerary. Flanders has much to offer, including a lively industry of fashion, cuisine, art and architecture, and of course beer.

Main Places of Interest

1) Antwerp is Flander’s largest city and site of the Rubenshuis, former home of Peter-Paul Rubens, The Chocolate Line, a delicious chocolatier, and the Antwerp Fashion Museum. It’s a lovely modern town that still wears its medieval heritage with pride in historical buildings, squares and streets. Major sites of interest include the Antwerp Central Station and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal.

2) If there’s one town high on the tourist’s radar, it’s Bruges, the famed and canaled “Venice of the North.” And it’s no wonder with its romantic canals, culinary succulence, and the wonderfully preserved medieval architecture. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its old district houses some incredible buildings—some major points of interest are the Halve Maan Brewery, the Belfry, the Beguinages Nunnery and any one of its 55 chocolate shops.

photo by Wolfgang Staudt

3) Ghent is a gorgeous medieval city that still manages to avoid the worst of the tourist crowds. Ghent is a university town, and this means plenty of cafes, affordable eateries, and a relaxed atmosphere—a perfect setup for any flâneur. There’s no reason why Ghent should remain undiscovered, with its magnificent Opera House, 18 museums, 100 churches, Castle of the Counts, and over 400 historical buildings. Thursdays are “Veggieday” here, a city-wide event to promote meat-free meals once a week.

4) Also check out Courtray, with famous medieval towers; Leuven, an old town with an old university and elegant town hall; Mechelen, a small town with a famous cathedral-hotel; Sint-Niklaas, hosting Belgium’s largest market square; and Ypres, famed for its war memorials and museums.

Fashion

Flanders offers some of the best in exclusive couture. Visit the kitsch rack at Zsa Zsa Rouge in Ghent, the quality tailors at Café Costume in Brussels, the old leather goods at Delvaux Brussel. Don’t forget that Belgium also has the largest diamond industry in the world. If shopping is your thing, check out the trendy fashion center at Rue Dansaert or Dansaertstraat in downtown Brussels.

photo by Roger Price

Art and Architecture

Flanders is known for its rich contributions in architecture, design, and the fine arts. The lauded Flemish Renaissance originated here, and contributed to later baroque and engraving movements, heralded by Peter Paul Rubens and the Sadeler family respectively. In modern times, Flemish artists have inspired the international fashion scene—during the 1980s the Antwerp Six was a collective of avant-garde designers who helped but their hometown on the artisan map. Tourists might recognize the Art Nouveau styles that decorate the town squares, or influencing artists such as the sculptor Panamarenko and comic book artist Hergé (known for his Tintin books).

History

The history buff has plenty to see in Flanders, home to ample historical monuments and battle sites. Perhaps not a well-known modern battlefield as France or Germany, but Belgium has seen some of the worst of the two world wars. During the First World War, the three battles of Ypres resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties, and prompted the composition of John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” Check out the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, which focuses on personal stories and houses more than 500 original objects and documents. Flanders has seen several notable battles and conflicts—including the Schlieffen Plan and Germany’s invasion, the Battles of the Yser, Belgium, the Scheldt, the Ardennes Offensive, and skirmishes under the Belgian resistance against the Nazis. For a chilling exhibition, visit Dossin Barracks, the execution site of tens of thousands of Jews from 1942 until Belgium’s liberation in 1944.

photo by Edwin van Buurringen

Cuisine

Flanders is a great location for the foodie tourist. Offering a wide selection of delicious and world-renowned chocolate, waffles, fries, asparagus, and dishes cooked in beer. We’ve taken a look at some of the beer recipes Belgian chefs are tapping into, and they certainly are stunning: Panna Cotta with white chocolate and Hoegaarden (wheat beer); Chocolate Lavacake with Belle-Vue Kriek (cherry lambic); Carbonnade à la Flamande Short Ribs, cooked with brown ale and stout.

As for the drink itself, Belgian bars continue to add more and more beers to the country’s expanding repertoire. Beers range from browns, ambers, goldens, to pilsners, whites, lambics, and trappists—ensuring is a flavor for every beer aficionado. The markedly Belgian lambic and trappist styles are not to be missed. A trappist beer is a beer brewed in one of seven Trappist monasteries utilizing centuries-old techniques and local yeast for a distinctive flavor. They are labeled with Authentic Trappist Product logo that ensures authenticity. Lambics are a treat for both wine and beer lovers—these are beers that are fermented by the yeasts in the Zenne valley, rending them dry, vinous, cidery, sparkling—and often fruit (raspberry, peach, blackcurrent) is added for flavor and to trigger second fermentation.

photo by Bernt Rostad

If you have time, don’t miss the Fries Museum or Frietmuseum in Bruges, housing educational exhibits, tours, and tasty samples in the beautiful building of Saaihalle. For a real treat visit the incredible chocolate museum Choco-Story and learn the history of the cocoa trade—with samples, of course. True “Belgiumophiles” will appreciate Dreupelkot, a bar with over 200 kinds of jenever, the strong juniper-flavor liquor native to this land—and, perhaps little known, the ancestor of gin.

photo by KLMircea

Tips

Best time to visit? Flanders tends to have weather similar to London, and therefore great to visit any time of the year. If you prefer a low season, take a look at the winter months since it never gets super cold—if you prefer festivals and outdoor markets, try the summer.

Transport. Rail is the most convenient mode of transport in Belgium, and recommended to tourists over car rental. You may also enter via several airports, highways and docks. As Flanders is mostly flat, cycling is very popular and the natural scenery along the bike paths is charming.

Hotels. If you are headed to Brussels, ask your agent about weekend deals in four to five stars. Due to the high amount of business travelers going through the capital during the weekdays, the weekends are the prime time to head over for the tourist! For a unique stay, spend a night at Martin’s Patershof, a cathedral-turned-hotel in Mechelen that has retained its original design, stained glass, and interior polish.

Speak. It is generally best to avoid speaking French with Flemings, as this is politically disrespectful. Most people speak Flemish (a form of Dutch), English or Dutch.

Tours. Brussels has a great hop-on, hop-off tour at 12 different tourist hotspots that is valid for 24 hours. There are also a number of walking, history, and bus tours and, as Flanders was made for foodies, a variety of tours specializing in chocolate, beer, and other culinary delights.

Interested in adding Flanders to your European itinerary? Or flying into Belgium specifically? Email us for more information at info@wittravel.com or call us at 800.821.0401 to book a vacation!

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Filed under Belgium, Europe, Features, Where in the World is the WIT Client?