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Travel News: Spain promises Extra Security

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Spain Promises Extra Security In Tourist Areas

The Spanish Government has said it will increase security at tourist sites across the country following last week’s terror attacks. Interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said areas deemed to be potential terror targets would be given special protection. There will also be increased security at the Spain/France border, while Italy is putting up barriers at popular landmarks. The Times reports barriers appeared over the weekend in central Milan, they will also be erected in Palermo and Rome, while security has been tightened up in other areas, such as Bologna. Italian interior minister Marco Minniti is reported to have said he is ‘amazed a van could have driven undisturbed down La Ramblas’. The driver of the van has now been found and killed. Despite last week’s attacks, Spain’s terror threat level has not been increased and remains at four.

Rome Experiments with Controlled Flow of Tourists at Trevi Fountain

Italy Magazine reports Rome is experimenting with a new measure aimed at controlling the crowds at one of its most iconic monuments, the Trevi Fountain. This comes during a summer when problems caused by mass tourism have become more apparent than ever in a number of Italian destinations. From 9 am until midnight, ten volunteers (retired Carabinieri and traffic policemen) will take turns patrolling the area around the Trevi Fountain, directing the flow of visitors and making sure people don’t misbehave. During peak hours, visitors will have to follow a specific path, accessing the fountain from the central entrance and exiting from the one on the left. “This measure is intended to allow everyone to enjoy the monument more effectively,” Diego Porta, commander of Rome’s municipal police, told La Repubblica. “Tourists can throw their coins, take a photo and then leave in order to make room for others.” The volunteers are also tasked with presiding over the monument, and sanction possible inappropriate behavior, such as eating, playing in the water, sitting or leaning on the fountain, which would violate the ordinance signed in June by Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi to safeguard the city’s artistic fountains. “We’ll make sure that tourists don’t eat in the area adjacent to the monument and don’t sit on the edge of the fountain,” added Porta. The experiment, which began at the end of July and is scheduled to continue for 80 days, will become permanent in October if the results are deemed positive. The Trevi Fountain reopened in November 2015 after a $2.2 million restoration funded by the Italian fashion house Fendi.

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Antwerp Plans New Terminal for 2020

Nadine Brasseur, who heads up cruise operations for the city of Antwerp said the city has plans to build a new cruise terminal, that should be finished in 2020. “Our current cruise terminal is located directly in the city center,” she said. “Passengers like that. They can walk two minutes and enjoy the Christmas markets, for example, eat in one of many restaurants, have a Belgian beer or visit museums.” A 28,000-passenger season this year will be highlighted by a first-time call from Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Columbus, which will become the biggest ship to ever call at the Belgian port. Also scheduled is a first time call from Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator, and another exceptional news item: a first time turnaround call from the Crystal Symphony, said Brasseur.

American Airlines To Offer Premium Economy On Hawaii Flights

American Airlines is selling Premium Economy tickets on flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and three Hawaiian cities, beginning on December 15th. American is launching service with Premium Economy fares from DFW to Kahului Airport beginning in December and from DFW to Kona International Airport and Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport set to begin on June 7th, 2018. Also, AA will launch Premium Economy seats from Los Angeles International Airport to HNL, beginning on December 15th until January 7th. The routes will be operated on retrofitted Boeing 777-200s. This is the first time a domestic route will include the larger seats and elevated service Premium Economy offers with its 2-4-2 layout. American Airlines’ Premium Economy offers seven more inches of legroom than standard seats. Customers receive noise-reducing headphones, an amenity kit, blankets and pillows, meal service, and free alcoholic beverages. It was launched earlier this year on international flights to Barcelona in Spain, and Seoul in South Korea.

IHG Goes To 24-Hour Cancellation Policy

Travel Weekly reports InterContinental Hotels Group is introducing a policy enabling customers at most hotels to cancel without penalty if they give at least 24 hours’ notice. The move comes about a month after Marriott International tightened its cancellation policy, requiring guests at most hotels to give 48 hours’ notice to cancel without penalty. IHG’s new policy will go into effect next month across most of IHG’s chains (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Even and Candlewood Suites) in the Americas and Europe, and by October for the Middle East, Africa and Asia, excluding China (where most hotels already have a same-day cancellation policy). Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants chain will retain its 48-hour cancellation policy.

American Airlines Will Now Alert You If Your Bags Get Lost 

American Airlines has launched a program that alerts travelers when their bags don’t arrive at the same airport. Airline passengers often must wait at the baggage carousel until every suitcase has been picked up before realizing that their bags didn’t land with them. Now, Fort Worth-based American Airlines is giving travelers a digital alert if their bags don’t arrive at the same destination at the same time. The alert comes through the contact information provided by the fliers during the booking or check-in process. Loyalty reward members at American Airlines can also get notices through the airline app. The alert tells travelers if their luggage has arrived early or will arrive later. If the luggage is arriving late, the alert informs the traveler to head to the Baggage Service Office to arrange a pickup later or notifies the passenger to fill out a mobile baggage order to have the airline deliver the bag to the traveler’s home, office or lodging. American Airlines’ system relies on bar codes that are printed on each bag label. To keep track of the bags, the bar codes are scanned at several points in the loading and transportation process.

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Glasgow Could Have Water Taxi Service To Airport

A Venetian-style entry to Glasgow has been proposed with plans for a water taxi service from the airport. Arriving passengers would be whisked up the Clyde into the city centre in 25 minutes. Boats would operate from a pontoon on the White Cart Water about 500 m east of the airport. The plans include passengers transferring from the terminal in golf buggy-style vehicles. These would eventually be replaced by a travellator, a moving walkway which would have to go either over or under Abbotsinch Road. The scheme has been devised by John Hillis, who runs power boat trips on the Clyde in Glasgow. He said the route would provide visitors with a stunning introduction to the city. Hillis also said more transport options to the airport were required as it continued to grow, It handled more than 1 million passengers for the first time in June and the annual total has grown by 7 per cent, to 9.7m. 

Conservation-Themed Murals At Honolulu Airport Are Under Threat Of Destruction 

Two of Hawaii’s landmark conservation-themed murals are under threat of destruction by Hawaiian Airlines. The 35,000-square-foot murals “Hawaiian Humpbacks” and “New Millennium” painted in 1999 by renowned marine life artist and muralist Wyland, were created as a gifts to the city of Honolulu to recognize the past, present, and future of Hawaii’s fragile marine life ecosystems. The murals at the Pacifica Airport Center Building, 3049 Ualena Street, Honolulu, were among 100 murals painted in 17 countries by the artist over a 30-year period as part of one of the world’s largest arts-in-public places projects. In every instance, the artist donated his time and services, receiving no compensation, while project partners provided support. The murals are intended to raise global environmental awareness. Hawaiian Airlines, which recently purchased the Airport Center Building, has threatened to remove the mural, “painting it over with a neutral color.” The Airline has threatened to begin destruction of the mural as early as last Friday. Hawaiian Airlines has maintained they will only allow Wyland to restore the mural pending a signed agreement that would remove any protections the public has for the artwork – and allow the company to move forward with the destruction of the mural, regardless of the artist’s efforts to save it. The airline is using building repairs or spalling to set an artificial deadline to pressure the artist into signing an agreement. Wyland has agreed to donate his time and services to repaint the mural and provide all insurance. The murals stand as important beacons to the people of Hawaii and the millions of visitors who come to the Islands every year.

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World Tapas Day 2017!

world tapas day

Tomorrow is World Tapas Day!

We at Willamette Intl Travel love any excuse for delicious food.

A month ago, WIT Agent Nancy embarked on a cruise through the Mediterranean, kicking off the trip with a few lovely days in Barcelona. 

She has some stellar recommendations for the next time you’re in the neighborhood: 

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Ciudad Condal was suggested by the front desk staff at the Citadines Ramblas and also by our guide from Spanish Trails the following day. Prices are very reasonable and food is excellent.

The wait staff asks if you are English-speaking. And if you are, they make sure your waiter speaks some English — and the menus can also be provided in English. We ate here twice; once inside and once at their outdoor seating area.

They are open 8am to 130am every day and don’t close at midday. You don’t have to wait until 9pm to go to dinner 🙂

We tried a variety of different tapas. Our favorites:

  • Prawn skewers
  • Croquettes
  • Beef tenderloin montaditos (small rolls of bread similar to a baguette)
  • Patatas Bravas (crispy crusted potatoes in a yummy, spicy sauce)

ROCKSTAR RECOMMENDATION: Brie covered in peanuts with raspberry sauce  (first time we shared; second time we each got our own order!)

Ambiance is Catalan. Wood floors, tables that are unsteady, loads of collectibles and kitschy stuff to catch the eye.  Waiters are efficient and maybe a bit brusque, as the restaurant was busy. There was always a line out the door.

The drink menu was varied with sangria, wines, beers, cocktails, coffees, teas, sodas, etc.  A bottle of good white Catalan wine was 12 euros.

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Catalan is known for its Iberico ham and other charcuterie as well as their cheese. There was a wonderful market across from our apartment with loads of takeaway food, breakfast goodies, smoothies, wine, bread, soups–as well as “regular” grocery items.

Thinking about Spain? Who isn’t, one day or another? Give us a call at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com and let us plan the perfect vacation in Spain for you and your family. 

Learn more on Spain’s official website!

Does this post look familiar? That’s because we featured World Tapas Day on our blog in 2016! Read it here.

Portland Bites? Did you know that from June 12 to 18, you can join Spain on a culinary expedition right here in Portland? Explore Spanish gastronomy in small plates in select restaurants throughout Portland, and enter a chance to win a trip to Spain.  (Toro Bravo, Bar Vivant, and more!) Click here to find out more.

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All About Day Tours

A new, foreign country can be daunting. Imagine heading out with only yourself and a guidebook. You can waste precious trip time wandering unfamiliar streets and unexpected corners with only a vague sense of the highlights. Where is that Cafe you’re friend told you about in Montparnasse?

Why not hire a local guide for a few hours or even for a day? Friendly, approachable guides love to chat about their city and introduce visitors to the local culture. Theirs is a personal, tailored touch that can’t be replicated from a guidebook. Since they already know all the best places to visit and the best way to get there, they can be a great source to save valuable time and money you could instead spend on that gelato.

Day trips can be simple walking tours around Rome, dinners with flamenco dancers, or full day excursions to see Stonehenge. They can be tailored to your needs, providing private services for you and your family or group tours with 12 or more people at affordable prices.

We at Willamette Intl Travel have contacts all over the world that come highly recommended. Have a destination in mind? Let us open your experience by arranging day trips with any one of our great guides. Here is a sample of the best:

Anselmo in Lisbon. Anselmo and his band has provided tailor-made tours all over Portugal and Spain for the last 15 years, specially designed for private families and small groups. They can take you on unforgettable day trips to Sintra and Lisbon or multi-day tours through the Douro Valley, Santiago de Compostela, or the amazing cities of Batalha, Tomar and Evora. “Just a note to tell you how wonderful Anselmo has been. If you can imagine being squired around Portugal by Mr. Carson of Downtown Abbey, but with a sense of humor, you can get a sense of Anselmo” ~~ Carla, client of Wittravel

Spanish Trails in Barcelona. This group offers amazing and unique tours in and around Barcelona.Their tours include wine tastings in the Catalonia countryside, sea kayaking along the Costa Brava, and food and wine tours in the city.

A&R in Rome. Adrienne & Renato are a husband-wife team, she from Portland and he from Naples. With their team of local guides they can arrange everything from private Pompeii tours to dinners in the Tuscan countryside. Their services include close, personal attention illuminated by a background in art history and mythology.

Chocolatine in France. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Chocolatine offers private services in France that are 100% tailored to your needs. We work closely with them to arrange private excursions in Paris and elsewhere in France. Recently, they have helped to track down a client’s ancestral ties in battlefields in Alsace-Lorraine.

Meli in Istanbul. Meli is the founder of MeliTours, an exceptional tour company based in Kusadasi. For years they have escorted our clients in unique itineraries in Turkey, Greece, and on sailing trips along islands and coasts.Their guides are passionate, knowledgeable, and geared toward the interests of each individual guest.

Laura in Cape Town. Laura’s Township Tours is operated by Laura Ndukwana who was a born and bred in Guguletu, South Africa. As a tour guide for 17 years, she is the perfect guide to Cape Town, opening up the experience with her personal anecdotes of day to day life in the area. Laura is also actively involved in community projects that aid local children.

Marissa in Buenos Aires. Marissa is a unique one-woman operation in BA, and has organized tailor-made tours in and around the city for the past 12 years. “When you spend a day with Marisa in the fabulous city of Buenos Aires, you become Argentinian!!” ~~ John @ Wittravel

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Beyond Barcelona

It’s hard to beat Barcelona’s cosmopolitan air, tasty seafood dishes and playful Gaudi architecture. However, when you’ve explored the city for a few days, it may be time to hit the road and check out nearby locales. Simple daytrips are just a brief drive/train away—don’t leave Northern Spain without a trip to the countryside!

Our friends at Spanish Trails do a remarkable job taking our clients on day trips in and around Barcelona. Our clients always come back with great feedback. Call Wittravel to arrange a fun excursion hiking, wining, dining, and more.

montserrat oseillo

Montserrat by oseillo, Creative Commons

Montserrat. For almost 1000 years, monks have lived atop the serrated peak of Montserrat. Legends have it that shepherds witnessed an image of the black Madonna, La Moreneta, in a cave on the mountain. Since then, the site, church and monastery have been a pilgrim magnet. You can take a train from the city or combine it with a day tour around the Penedes wine region.

Girona. Explore the walled and Roman city of Girona, which still has one of the best preserved old Jewish quarters. Check out the world-famous Gothic Cathedral and the Jewish heritage center of Bonastruc ça Porta. Get a feel for Mediterranean lifestyle and delicious cuisine.

dali museum by Fifth World Art

Dali Museum in Figueres by Fifth World Art, Creative Commons

Figueres and Salvador Dali. Take a personalized day trip to Figueres, and visit the memorable museum of the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. The museum was designed by Dali himself and houses a number of his works: paintings, sculptures, furniture and jewelry. Don’t miss the labyrinthine Dali House museum in nearby Port Lligat, and the picturesque Cadaques, the historic home to many of Catalan’s famous artists including Picasso.

La Garriga. Just 20-40 minutes from Barcelona lies a village with beautiful medieval buildings and hot springs, the latter whose curative properties have been in use since Roman times. You can stay at a local villa spa and enjoy these amazing natural springs with tea and a massage.

Costa Brava. Follow a guide out along the Northern Spanish coast and explore high winding cliffs and hidden coves. Check out unforgettable views, snorkeling opportunities off of secluded beaches and beach front dining. Guides will enrich your knowledge of the history and traditions of Catalunya. Like water sports? Book a family kayak trip with professional guides!

Pyrenees. Always dreamed of a Pyrenees adventure? Now you can hike up through these panoramic trails, explore charming medieval villages and enjoy beautiful streams and waterfalls and country dining.

sitges by jsmuns

Sitges on the Costa Brava by jsmuns, Creative Commons

Sitges. Looking for a spot of sand to stretch out on? Head to Sitges for some summer sun, just 45 minutes south of the city. Despite crowds on the nicest days, it’s still a great place to check out.

Many of these excursions are available through our partners at Spanish Trails, so give us a call and we’d love to set one up for you. We can also arrange flights, accommodation, car rental, and trains.

Several WIT Clients have traveled around Spain and would love to give you their firsthand tips and recommendations! Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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