Tag Archives: london

London Walking Tours with Context Travel

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Context Travel – Private Guides and (Very) Small Group Tours for the Intellectually Curious Traveler

The Royal Wedding is over but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy London in all its glory.

One of our favorite walking tour experts, Context Travel, offers several awesome historical and foodie tours around the British capital.

One of the key reasons we enjoy Context Travel is that their tours are all led by qualified docents, Ph.D.-level scholars of history, art and archaeology. Forget the boring introductions–discover in-depth perspectives that go beyond the guidebook. 

Here are just some of the tours to check out this summer:

London Walking Tours with Context Travel

group tours context travel

1. Royal Life

The world’s attention descended upon London this past weekend as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot. It was a wedding that defied many royal traditions, from Markle’s country of origin, to its location at Windsor Castle, to the dearth of fruitcake at the reception (Gasp!). 

How did these rules become so codified, and what is the significance of their recent breaking? Get an “intellectually curious” take on royal tradition—be it marriage on Context Travel’s Westminster Abbey Tour, murder on their Tower of London Tour, or a full overview on their Full Day Royal Tour (8 hours of monarchy glory). 

2. Tate Britain

Though often overlooked by visitors, some have argued that Britain’s heart and soul resides in the stately Tate Britain Museum. Dive right in with Context Travel’s art historian and explore J.M.W. Turner’s sublime seascapes and Francis Bacon’s contortions.

Read: Why a visit to this cultural treasure is a must for any visitor. 

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3. The King’s Sport

This July, London welcomes the return of Wimbledon, but year-round there’s another royally curious sport upstream the River Thames. The week following the tournament, the Real Tennis Champions Trophy returns to Hampton Court Palace, in which world-famous players descend to play an ancient game of, shall we say, “real tennis.” Real tennis, is not your grandma’s racket sport. “Real tennis,” enjoyed by the likes of Charles II, William III, and even Prince Albert, differs significantly from its modern counterpart, and can only be played on one of 50 courts remaining in the world.

4. Shakespeare in London

What better place to celebrate the Bard than the city where his plays excelled? Behind the modern sprawl of London lies the secret history of the theatre. During this London Theater Tour,you’ll reconstruct London’s historic stages, and come to understand the social and artistic forces that were born here and that still underpin entertainment in the western world. You’ll explore in-depth the influence of one William Shakespeare, whose works, staged in London, continue to resonate throughout the world today.

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5. Pubs, Pubs and More Pubs

Pubs and beer are symbols of the best of Britain, where you can gorge yoruself on fish, chips, and brews. This 3-hour London Beer and Brewery Tour is all about ample tastings at various pubs and breweries located in the South Bank London area. Led by a trained food anthropologist specializing in beer and brewing, you’ll focus on the history of brewing in London, highlighting beer’s evolution from a dietary staple, to the almost lost tradition of cask ales, to today’s renaissance of craft beer and brewing.

For more awesome London tours or an awesome travel agent to book your trip to Britain this year, give us a call at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. Cheers!

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The Scoop on the London Pass

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So you’re planning a Spring getaway to London, City of Sherlock and tea and Dr. Who and amazing museums.

Nearly every metropolis has its transport+sightseeing card, and you can bet that London has a few. One of the best the London Pass. But is this little card actually worth it?

Validity

You can buy the London Pass for a validity of 1, 2, 3, 6 or 10 consecutive days.

Cost/Benefit Factor

One Day is 69 GBP ($98), which may seem steep at first – but if you factor in everything you get and all the time/confusion you’re spared, it’s actually a pretty good deal. The card offers free entry to over 55 top London attractions, including Must-Sees like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. It also has bonus activities like the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour, the Thames River Cruise and discounts on West End theatre tickets. Plus you can Skip the Line at certain venues, and they throw in a free guidebook for good measure. Of course, the more days you spend in London, the more it pulls its weight – a 3-day pass will cost you only 38 GBP ($54) per day.

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So how does it all break down?

For example, one morning you visit to the Tower of London, then take a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour. After lunch you tour the stunning Westminster Abbey, and wrap up the day with entrance into The Shard, the tallest buliding in Western Europe. The whole day without the pass would set you back around 110 GBP ($155). With the pass of course it’s $98 – so you’ve already saved more than $50.

Transportation

If you throw in $21 extra, then you also get the London Travel Card, usable on all public buses, trams, and the Underground for the whole day.

Where to buy?

Willamette Intl Travel sells the London Travel Card issued by Raileurope, which, if you’re an American who’s pre-booked your rail tickets in Europe, you’ve used in all likelihood. We’re in Portland – call us at 503-224-0180 or email inquiry@wittravel.com. 

Final Verdict

If you’re the type of traveler who loves museums and can spend a whole day wandering around London to the Albert & Victoria Museum, the British Library, the jaw-dropping British Museum—then yes, it’s worth it. Order it before you depart USA from Willamette Intl Travel.

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Hotel Profile: The Ampersand

ampersand in London

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Make 2018 extra special with a stay at the Ampersand in London.

Winner of multiple awards including World Luxury Hotel Awards and Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List, we at Willamette Intl Travel are absolutely in love with this hotel. The Ampersand is a hit with all of our clients who we’ve recommended to stay at this elegant boutique hotel in South Kensington. Just south of Hyde Park, and within walking distance of Harrods, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and of course the tube just across the street, all of London is well within reach.

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London was absolutely wonderful.  The Ampersand Hotel was really perfect, great location, great room – I would highly recommend to other travelers to London. 

—Our client Karen Q.

Built in 1888, the Ampersand Hotel boasts original Victorian features—from high ceilings to haunting gargoyles—and a modernist flair that attracts patrons looking for that special, atmospheric je ne sais quoi. At the Ampersand, guests can choose among 111 luxury hotel rooms, each designed with five themes in mind – botany, music, geometry, ornithology and astronomy. Their eclectic interior harks back to the Victorian age of discovery and curiosity. Dubbed by various patrons “whimsical,” “stylish” and “modern,” sometimes you just need a luxury hotel with a dash of the creative and humorous.

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The on-site restaurant Apero appeals to both guests and locals, with relaxed Mediterranean fare. In the Drawing Rooms, guests can enjoy delicious desserts and savory treats from cream cheese planet mousse to passion fruit macaroons and prosecco mint jelly. Look for the all-day coffee and tea menus and the classic hearth fire. Hosting a private dinner party? At the Wine Room, enjoy private dining dedicated to their cellar of fine wines. There is also a Game Room, Gym and Library to round out your London stay.

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Families are also welcome at the Ampersand, with a range of facilities just for parents traveling with children. Their rooms, studios, and suites in the Deluxe category accommodate either a fold-away bed or an interconnecting room. All suites come with a small kitchenette, and in their restaurant Apero, there is a children’s menu available. Children of ages up to 4 receive a complimentary continental buffet breakfast. Kids will certainly appreciate the proximity of fossils and the cool whale skeletons at the Natural History Museum!

The Ampersand is a member of the Imperial College Environment Society, which is devoted to sustainable hotel practices such as recycling, proper disposal of food waste and the use of biodegradable cleaning materials. The hotel also raises donations each year for the Great Ormond Street Hospital and the British Heart Foundation.

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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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Travel News: Will Hawaii get its Inter-island Ferry back?

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Alaska Airlines To Keep Current Loyalty Program
In a year full of bad news for frequent flyers (see Delta/Alaska fallout), Alaska appears to be stepping up, bucking the trend, and doubling down on Mileage Plan, its loyalty program. It’s the only remaining airline loyalty program that doesn’t have a revenue component attached to it.
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Will Hawaii Gets Its Interisland Ferry Back?
The Hawaii State Department of Transportation received a US$500,000 grant from the federal Maritime Administration to hire consultants to explore potential routes and boats for an inter-island ferry. But would it work this time? By all accounts, environmentalists were the reason the Hawaii Super Ferry was shut down, but some speculated the airlines were also behind the demise of this alternate mode of inter-island travel. Right now, roundtrip airfare between most islands is around $US300, although there are a few lesser-costing modes of travel on small turbo-prop planes. To put this into perspective, for US$600 roundtrip, one could fly from the US East Coast to Europe (around 3,500 miles from New York to the UK), while the furthest distance in the major Hawaiian Islands is from Kauai to the Big Island – a distance of only 305 miles. The Hawaii Superferry launched in December 2007 and was forced to shut down in March 2009. It subsequently had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with debts that included $135.8 million owed to MARAD which had provided construction financing guarantees.
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Atlantis Resorts Coming to O’ahu
The extravagant Atlantis Resorts announced plans to develop a resort project in Ko Olina on O’ahu. It’s expected to be built near Disney’s Aulani Resort, and will mimic Atlantis the Palm in Dubai. There will likely be numerous restaurants, nightclub, spas, aquarium, waterpark, and waterfront hotel rooms—but for now, all of that is speculation. Ko Olina developer Jeff Stone said that it will be designed as an “international destination for millennial travelers,” so it is unknown how much the resort will reflect the local ecosystem and culture.

Uber Is Losing Lots Of Money
Uber generated $3.76 billion in net revenue the first 3 quarters of 2016, but it is estimated that the bottom line will be a loss of more than $2.2 billion, with $800 million of that in the third quarter. By year end, it is expected that Uber will have netted US$5.5 billion. The company has tried to keep its financial information from public consumption, however, an anonymous source has revealed this data, which also shows that the San Francisco-based company is valued at a whopping $69 billion. That’s more than Twitter and General Motors combined.

Sandals Opening Fourth Resort In St Lucia
Sandals Resorts International has announced its plan to add a fourth resort to its award-winning list of properties on the Eastern Caribbean island. The Sandals brand has enjoyed tremendous success in St Lucia since 1993 when it made its first foray there and the newest resort, to be named Sandals LaSource St Lucia, will by all indications be a game changer. Groundbreaking for the new resort which will be nestled on 19 acres of land next to the existing Sandals Grande St Lucian Resort is set to begin in spring 2017. With the addition of this new resort, guests in St Lucia will now have the option of ‘Staying-at-One, Playing-at-Four’. Sandals LaSource St Lucia will boast an exotic infinity-edge sky pool bar offering picturesque views of the island’s beautiful north coast, 350 rooms and suites inclusive of the exotic SkyPool Butler Suites and all-butler signature swim-up Rondoval Suites, a first in the chain. The new resort will also feature an electrifying entertainment package to include a main stage with a 20′ high LED screen and a mobile DJ party scene.

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Lie-Detecting Robot Is The Customs Officer Of The Future
Travelers in the US and Canada may soon be forced to undergo a lie detector test as a standard part of airport security. The Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real Time (AVATAR) is currently being tested by the Canadian Border Services Agency and the US Department of Homeland Security. The robot, programmed to look for physiological changes that indicate lying through eye-detection software and other sensors, could help border agents catch terrorists or drug traffickers, according to San Diego State University researchers. “AVATAR is a kiosk, much like an airport check-in or grocery store self-checkout kiosk,” San Diego State University management information systems professor Aaron Elkins told SDSU’s News Center. The kiosk has a face on the screen that asks questions of travelers and can detect changes in physiology and behavior during the interview. The system can detect changes in the eyes, voice, gestures and posture to determine potential risk. It can even tell when you’re curling your toes. Passengers would be made to step up to the kiosk, then answer a series of questions such as, “Do you have fruits or vegetables in your luggage?” or “Are you carrying any weapons with you?” If lying is detected, a passenger is taken aside for further screening. Passengers are also asked a series of simple questions to measure whether they are simply anxious about flying. Elkins believes the kiosk, which he says is bilingual and polite, could be used not just for border security, but also for law enforcement and even job interviews. “AVATAR has been tested in labs, in airports and at border crossing stations,” Elkins explained. “The system is fully ready for implementation to help stem the flow of contraband, thwart fleeing criminals, and detect potential terrorists and many other applications in the effort to secure international borders.”

Some US Airlines Reducing Flights To Cuba
The Jamaica Gleaner reports some airlines in the United States are reducing flights to Cuba, with Silver Airways planning to trim its flight schedule to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country early in the new year. Silver Airways has become the second US airline to reduce the frequency of flights to Cuba. Between January and February, Silver Airways, which flies out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, plans to reduce the number of flights on six of its nine destinations to Cuba. The frequency of flights from FLL to Camagüey, Cuba will be reduced from five weekly trips to three; to Cayo Coco, Cuba from three weekly flights to two; to Holguín, to three per week instead of one daily flight; to Manzanillo, from three weekly flights to two; and to Varadero, Silver will trim its four weekly flights to three. Flights to Santiago, Cuba will also be reduced in February from one daily flight to three per week. Silver Airways, which does not offer flights to Havana, Cuba began regular flights to the island in September. The Silver Airways flights reduction follows American which announced in November that it would cut nearly a quarter of its flights to Cuba early next year due to poor demand. American, the US carrier with most flights to Cuba, had scheduled five daily flights to Havana and 56 weekly flights to other Cuban cities. But just over a month into operation, many of the flights were going half empty.

Port Everglades Gets Green Light To Deepen Channels
Port Everglades has received federal authorization for the US Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with a plan to deepen and widen navigation channels. The approval came as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, signed into law Dec. 16 by the President. The project, currently in the preconstruction engineering and design phase, can now proceed through the permitting and federal funding processes. It is anticipated to create an estimated 2,200 construction jobs and nearly 1,500 permanent direct jobs locally resulting from additional cargo capacity. Port Everglades received authorization for more than $335 million in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act earlier this month. The new legislation allows the port to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal and receive the larger, neo-Panamax cargo ships. The project addresses safe shipping requirements as older cargo fleets are replaced with much larger ships that require wider channels and deeper water. Larger cargo ships currently arrive from Europe and South America lightly loaded and can experience difficulty maneuvering safely when other ships are berthed in some of the port’s narrower channel areas. Key features are to deepen the main navigational channels from 42 feet to 48 feet (plus one-foot required and another one-foot allowable overdepth for a total of 50 feet), and to deepen and widen the entrance channel and parts of the Intracoastal Waterway so that cargo ships can pass safely by docked cruise ships.

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Korean Air Crew To Be Allowed To Use Stun Guns On Passengers
Korean Air Lines has said it will allow crew members to “readily use stun guns” to manage in-flight disturbances, after being criticised by US singer Richard Marx for its handling of an incident involving a violent passenger. The South Korean carrier also said on Tuesday it will beef up security training of crew members. Last week, Marx said on Facebook and Twitter he helped initially subdue “a psycho passenger attacking crew members and other passengers”. He also accused crew members of being “ill-trained” and “ill-equipped” to handle the “chaotic and dangerous event”. Korean Air Lines said on Tuesday its crew members were “hesitant” to use taser guns because they were permitted for use in only “grave” situations which jeopardise the life of a passenger or crew member or the safety of a flight.

Gatwick Prepares For Major Terminal Shake-Up
Gatwick Airport is advising passengers to check the terminal of their airline as three of its major airlines prepare to switch in January. British Airways will move to the South Terminal, Virgin Atlantic will move to the North Terminal, and easyJet, which currently operates out of both terminals, will consolidate its entire operation in the North Terminal. The move will be the airport’s biggest project to date and took two years to plan. The relocation will be staggered over three days with all three airlines operating a reduced flying programme designed to simplify the upheaval. Around 50,000 passengers will be travelling with the three airlines on the 277 flights that will be relocating across the 72 hours. From 24 January all easyJet flights will depart from the North Terminal, while from 25 January British Airways flights will depart from the South Terminal and Virgin Atlantic flights will depart from the North Terminal. Gatwick said the changes will improve passenger experience with state-of-the-art technology at check-in, security and immigration as well as new bag-drop zones. It will also bring new British Airways and Virgin Atlantic lounges. Gatwick’s COO said “We are ready to deliver this major step in Gatwick’s strategic transformation programme. The moves have been meticulously planned for more than two years, with close attention given to ensuring that the airport operation and the experience of our passengers is not affected during the transition. Relocating the airlines allows greater efficiency and positions all three carriers for growth, which in turn drives Gatwick’s growth. For our passengers, investment at every step of their journey through the terminal will be hugely beneficial.”

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London on a Dime

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London is often touted as one of the most expensive cities in the world. But with the recent fares in airfare, it’s become a lot more affordable! Here are a few of our quick tips on how to do London on a budget:

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London on a Budget–Let’s Check it Out!

1. Zoom in on Airport Rail

You can grab a taxicab OR if you don’t want to spend crazy amounts of money, opt for the Heathrow Express. This sweet commuter train is comfy, will take you right into downtown, and set you back only about £18.50. It’s the best option that’s both comfortable and convenient, even with all your luggage.

2. Free Museums

London is a huge city and offers its visitors a wealth of free things to see and do. Look out for those free museums like the British Museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery, Museum of London. Stretch out a picnic in sunny outdoor spaces: Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Hampstead Heath. Or simply wander the streets—summertime is the perfect season to catch some impromptu performances and artists.

3. Get an Oyster Card

Transportation in London doesn’t come cheap—you can spend up to £15 per day if you’re not careful. The Oyster Card is great for travelers staying in London more than three days. It’s a rechargeable card that gives you access to the Tube, DLR, Overground, TFL Rail and most national rail services in London. Plus it’s much cheaper than buying a single paper ticket.

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4. Or invest in a London Pass

The London Pass is for all those museum nuts out there. This card grants a discount for those tourist attractions that come with a price tag: Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Britain at War Museum. Plus you get free public transportation—so if you’re a museum fan, make sure you pick up this pass instead of the Oyster card. Ask your agent at Willamette Intl Travel about London Passes—we can arrange them well before you leave USA!

5. Take a Walking Tour

Our agents at Willamette Intl Travel can set you up with an affordable, context-rich tour of London. Whether your passion is food and markets, art history, or modern metropolis—we’ll find one just right for you. Remember to pack good walking shoes, a must for any day out exploring in Europe.

Willamette Intl Travel has arranged trips to London for almost 40 years! What do you expect, when our founders were born in England? 🙂 Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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This Week in Travel News

Join us every Friday for the latest news from the Travel Industry.

Chinese HNA Group To Buy Carlson Hotels
HNA Group has agreed to buy Carlson Hotels, which owns brands including Radisson and Country Inns and Suites, the latest in a flurry of overseas investments by Chinese companies. HNA Tourism Group will acquire all of Carlson Hotels Inc., the companies said in a joint statement released late Wednesday that did not disclose the purchase price. Carlson’s headquarters would remain in Minnetonka, Minn., after the deal is completed. The purchase is the latest in a string of global transactions by Chinese companies as they diversify abroad to counter slowing growth at home while also scooping up foreign expertise and technology. As part of the deal, the Chinese company will also acquire a 51.3 percent stake in Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group AB, which operates Carlson hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Carlson has 1,400 hotels in 115 countries and territories and employs about 90,000 staff worldwide. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.

JetBlue To Launch NY LaGuardia-Boston Flights, Aiming At Business Travelers
Reuters reports JetBlue Airways Corp said Thursday that it will start six round-trip flights per weekday between New York’s space-constrained LaGuardia airport and Boston, in a bid to capture business travelers on the heavily trafficked route. JetBlue said it would move some of its LaGuardia-Florida flights to nearby Newark Liberty airport in order to free up take-off slots for the endeavor, now that the US Federal Aviation Administration has made it easier for airlines to grow at Newark.

United Airlines Cutting Chicago To London Flights June 30
The airline has been flying the route for the past seven years. United gave no warning and has not formally announced the cancellation. Travellers only found out last week when told by airport counter staff and when the United website would not book direct London-Toronto flights past June 30. A United spokesperson said last week the Chicago-London route was canceled because a regular review found it was “not meeting expectations.” London International Airport president Mike Seabrook said United was cutting a number of Canadian services because the low Canadian dollar was making the flights unprofitable.

Her Majesty Queen Máxima Of The Netherlands Named Godmother Of Koningsdam
Holland America Line’s tradition will continue when Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands christens Holland America Line’s new Pinnacle-class ship, Koningsdam, in a ceremony in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 20, 2016. embers of the Dutch Royal Family have launched 11 Holland America Line ships. Most recently, then-Princess Máxima christened ms Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010 and then-Queen Beatrix served as ms Eurodam’s godmother in 2008.

London’s Big Ben To Go Silent For Several Years
The British Parliament announced Tuesday that the chimes of Big Ben that have rung out across the British capital for more than 150 years are set to fall silent for “several months” to make “urgent” repairs. Big Ben is one of London’s most famous icons, and its “bongs” are broadcast live on BBC Radio. Urgent repairs are needed on the Great Clock and the tower that houses Big Ben. While almost everyone refers to the clock tower as “Big Ben,” that’s not technically true. Big Ben is the nickname given to the 13.5-ton bell that resides inside the Elizabeth Tower. The clock itself is known as the Great Clock.

Anne Frank House In Amsterdam Aims To Cut Queues With Timed Tickets
The Anne Frank House is introducing a new timed ticketing system to reduce the length of queues outside one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors who want to see the museum before 3.30 pm will have to book their tickets online before they go. They will be allocated a 15-minute time slot so they can go in without having to wait outside. After 3.30 pm tourists will be able to pay at the desk as before and pre-purchased tickets will not be valid.

Australians Sue Scenic Over Flood-Disrupted European River Cruises
A class action against Australian-owned Scenic has begun in the New South Wales Supreme Court with 1,265 plaintiffs claiming ‘expensive luxury river cruises’ turned into ‘cheap second-rate bus tours’ because of extensive flooding in Europe in 2013. Heavy rain in France and Germany in April and May 2013 caused extensive flooding and water levels on the Rhine, Saone, Rhone and Danube rivers rose so high that river cruise ships were unable to operate as scheduled for about six weeks.

Biggest Theme Park In The Dubai Region To Open In October
It’s been two years in the making, but Motiongate Dubai’s development is on schedule; it will open its doors as the biggest theme park in the region this October. Motiongate is a park themed to DreamWorks, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Smurfs Village and Studio Central animation characters emerged to take the form of Dubai’s newest leisure and entertainment destination in 2014. Motiongate Dubai will be part of a larger complex of theme parks, which will include Bollywood Parks Dubai and Legoland Dubai. The entire complex will estimated to cost Dh10.5 billion that will cover 25 million square feet on the south side of Dubai near the border with Abu Dhabi. The complex is expected to attract 6.7 million visitors in its first year of operations. Motiongate Dubai will boast 27 attractions, with dining, retail and entertainment options throughout the area.

British Airways Takes on Budget Carriers With New Fares
British Airways has launched new fares in a bid to simplify short-haul travel and compete with its low-cost rivals. There are three new fare types – Basic, Plus and Plus Flex are now on sale, replacing the airline’s six existing options. Basic is the cheapest of the new fares and doesn’t include checked luggage. The new Plus fare includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance and allows free flight changes until the day of departure, up to one hour before the scheduled take off, though fare differences may apply. The Plus Flex fare, meanwhile, is fully refundable and includes a 23kg checked baggage allowance, free flight changes on the day, free seat selection at booking and free advance changes subject to fare difference.

Delta Air Lines Just Abolished One of the Most Hated Fees
Delta Air Lines has abruptly stopped charging extra for booking seats offline. “It is much simpler for our customers to not have to worry if they will pay a fee for ticketing with Delta,” Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s incoming president, said in a prepared statement. Phone reservation fees are among the most least popular charges in the travel industry. A recent survey found 49% of travelers “hated” them. The announcement came as a surprise, given that the airline industry lately has based its business model on ancillary fees, like these: $25 per ticket when purchased over the phone through reservation sales and $35 per ticket when purchased at airports and other ticket office.

Venezuela To Ration Electricity
On 21 April 2016, the Venezuelan government announced that it will begin rationing electricity nationwide for four hours each day, starting on 25 April. The electricity cuts will be in place for 40 days or until water levels at the Guri Dam, which provides the majority of electricity in Venezuela, stabilize. The schedule of cuts will be published on a daily basis in newspapers and on ministerial websites. Only the oil sector will be exempt from the rationing. The announcement is the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing Venezuela’s electricity usage, including plans to shift the country’s time zone forward by 30 minutes on 1 May, reducing government workers’ workdays to six hours and giving them Fridays off for the next two months, and ordering shops and hotels to ration electricity.

Germany Rolls Out ‘Women Only’ Train Compartments
Special train compartments exclusively for women have been introduced by a German rail company. The areas for female passengers only are regularly checked by workers on services run by Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn (MRB) in the east of the country. Women-only train cars are in use in many cities – including Cairo, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur – but none are believed to be in the heart of Europe. Now, in a highly controversial decision, a private German railway company wants to adopt the idea as well. According to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, women-only carriages will be available on trains running between Leipzig and Chemnitz.

FAA Orders Fix For GE Engines On 787 Dreamliners
Another problem for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The FAA has ordered an urgent fix for General Electric engines on up to 150 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a step to avoid engine failure in icy conditions. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was requiring modifications to prevent fan blades from rubbing against the engine casing, which can cause “damage and a possible in-flight non-restartable power loss of one or both engines.” The measure was prompted by a report in January that such rubbing caused vibrations, leading the pilot to shut down the engine, a GE spokesman said.

Maryland And Royal Caribbean Sign New Contract
The Maryland Port Administration announced a new contract with Royal Caribbean International that will extend the cruise line’s year-round departures from the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore through June 2020. Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas will continue to offer a wide range of cruising experiences from Maryland to the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, and New England/Canada. The Grandeur of the Seas will continue offering five, nine and 12-night roundtrip itineraries from Baltimore, including a new nine-night voyage to Nassau. In 2015, nearly 200,000 passengers sailed on 90 cruises from the Port of Baltimore. The Port ranks 6th on the East Coast, 11th in the U.S. and 20th in the world for cruise passengers.

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