Tag Archives: belgium

Travel News: New Harry Potter Exhibit

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FCC To Return To Banning In-Flight Phone Calls
Federal Communications Commission head Ajit Pai says he’s doing something many consumers may actually agree with for a change: making it harder to talk on the phone while on an airplane. The FCC yesterday announced that it’s killing an FCC proceeding that would have opened the door to allowing phone calls during commercial flights. In late 2013 the FAA lifted restrictions on in-flight electronics use during take offs and landing, and in 2014 the FCC lifted restrictions on in-flight phone calls over WiFi (but not yet cellular) with an ongoing eye on removing the restrictions entirely. The move wasn’t a popular one among consumers, and former FCC boss Tom Wheeler took a lot of heat for the decision. “I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes,” said FCC boss Ajit Pai in a statement. “I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”

Delta Changes Partner Award Mileage Requirements Without Notice 
John Ollila of Loyalty Lobby.ccom reports Delta Air Lines has been tinkering with the number of SkyMiles required for partner awards that seems to have gone up anywhere from 15% to 20% without any prior warning from the airline. Delta Changes Partner Award Mileage Requirements Without Any Prior Notice On April 7, 2017. This change was first noted on a FlyerTalk post where a member noticed that the number of SkyMiles required for an award had changed from 70,000 to 85,000 (transatlantic partner award in business class).
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New Harry Potter Exhibit Will Feature Never-before-Seen Manuscripts and Drawings
A new exhibition at the British Library later this year will offer never-before-seen pieces from author J.K. Rowling. The exhibition, titled “Harry Potter: A History of Magic,” will open at the library in October, taking visitors through a fascinating collection of wizardry books, manuscripts, magical objects, and original materials from the Rowling archives. The exhibition will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the US), delving into the origins of the story. The display will take magic lovers through medieval manuscripts covering everything from potions and herbology to caring for magical creatures. Visitors will also be able to gaze at original drafts and drawings by both Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, ranging from drawings of a mandrake for the illustrated edition of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” to an early handwritten draft of Rowling’s “Sorting Hat” song, according to Pottermore. There will also be original manuscripts and editorial notes from the series’ publisher, Bloomsbury. The exhibit runs from October 20, 2017 through February 28, 2018, though tickets are already for sale on the library’s website.
 
BA May Drop Free Meals On Long Haul Flights 
The Sunday Times reports that British Airways is apparently mulling bringing paid food and beverages for long-haul coach as well as short haul coach flights. British Airways recently enhanced away complimentary snacks, food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in short and medium haul economy and introduced paid products. Now long-haul British Airways passengers are in line for the “improvement” to services known as paying for your own food and drink. The airline could start charging long-distance flyers for a menu drawn from the aisles of Mark & Spencer, BA’s boss, has revealed. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Cruz said that after “a rough start” customers now welcomed the chance to pay for M&S food on European flights. 
 
Caribbean Princess Added Family Areas, Connecting Rooms, New Mini-Suite Category
New offerings for families, including the Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and connecting staterooms have been added to Caribbean Princess during a two-week drydock at Grand Bahama Shipyard, just ahead of the vessel’s summer Europe and fall Caribbean seasons. The ship has also been wired for the Ocean Medallion Class cruising that will be available starting with its 2018 summer Caribbean season. Camp Discovery, the reimagined youth center created in partnership with the consumer products arm of Discovery Communications, joins the line’s Discovery at Sea program. For ages 3-17, this caters to specific age groups with three center themes. The Treehouse, formerly Pelicans, is for ages 3-7 and offers a bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed area including hands-on activities. The Lodge, formerly Shockwaves, for ages 8-12, is inspired by the great outdoors, and offers sports activities and places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge. The Beach House, previously Remix, for ages 13-17, is a contemporary surf-themed lounge. New youth and teen center programming includes ‘MythBusters’ science activities with hands-on challenges, featuring show star Tory Belleci. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focusing on Europe and the Caribbean to immerse young cruisers into the culture, nature, and customs of this region. Eighty-seven connecting staterooms catering to family travelers have also been added. A new HD Movies Under the Stars outdoor movie screen will offer a higher resolution picture with double the image quality of previous systems. This will give concerts and movies more sound power, truer color, extreme wide angle viewing and smart contrast/brightness for optimal viewing any time of day. 3,200 new Princess Luxury beds and luxurious linens have been installed. In addition, Caribbean Princess will introduce Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category offers perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.
 
TripAdvisor Users Vote Emirates World’s Best Airline
Users of the online travel site TripAdvisor have voted Emirates airline their favorite carrier on a top 10 list that’s dominated by Asian airlines. In the 2017 edition of their Travelers’ Choice Awards for Airlines, Emirates received high marks as the best overall carrier in the world, taking the title of both Best First Class experience, and Best Economy Class. After Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Brazil’s Azul airline, JetBlue and Air New Zealand round out the top five spots on the list. The top-ranked major airline for North America is Delta Air Lines. 
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Belgium And Italy Have The Highest Taxes For Tourists
According to statistics gathered by Kayak, Belgium and Italy are the tourist destinations with the highest tourist taxes. Travelers who decide to visit Brussels are required to pay approximately 42, 56 or 70 euros for a seven-night stay in a 3, 4, or 5-star hotel respectively. In the case of Italy, Rome is in the lead with a maximum tax of 49 euros for the same seven-night stay. Next in line is Florence, Venice and Milan with an average of 35 euros. Except in the case of Venice, where only the first 5 days are charged for, in the rest of Italy’s cities, the tax is charged for the first ten days. The lowest taxes are found in Lisbon. Other European capitals, such as Amsterdam, Berlin, and Vienna, calculate the tax according to the cost of the room and not according to the category of the establishment. In these cities, the percentages reach 6%, 5% and 3.2%, respectively. 
Malibu’s New Ryokan Opening
You don’t need to travel to Japan for an awesome night at a Japanese-style inn. Nobu Ryokan Malibu, the first in Nobu Hospitality’s Ryokan Collection, will open on April 28, 2017. Located next to Nobu Restaurant Malibu, Nobu Ryokan Malibu will combine modern comforts with a Ryokan-inspired building. Read more here. 

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Filed under Airlines, England, Europe, UK

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?