Tag Archives: portland

Un-Cruise Adventures: Not Your Typical Cruise

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Are you an adventurer by heart? Sailed with a large cruise line and on the lookout for something a bit different? Try Un-Cruise! We recommend Un-Cruise Adventures to travelers seeking an entirely unique trip experience.

Our clients who have sailed with Un-Cruise have raved about their small ships and the cozy, casual vibe onboard. The cruise line stations seven boats in Alaska, Hawaii, the Sea of Cortez, the Columbia River and British Columbia–each of which invites fewer than 90 guests at any one time.

The crew are dedicated to providing an exceptional vacation, and onboard you may be joined by wildlife rangers, historians, actors, or lecturers that bring the destination to life. There are ample opportunities for kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and cultural encounters.

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Call Wittravel at 503-224-0180 to find out more on any one of Un-Cruise’s amazing trips:

Alaska: Explore Alaska’s Inside Passage and Glacier Bay on an unforgettable expedition.

Hawaii: Cruise among the islands of Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui and Hawai’i on a 36-guest yacht.

Columbia River: Visit the Columbia river gorge and discover pioneer history roundtrip from Portland Oregon.

Sea of Cortes: Sail into a world of wildlife: whales, manta rays, sea turtles, pelicans and more roundtrip from San Jose del Cabo.

Galapagos: Venture out into the famed Galapagos Islands on a 9-night journey to eight islands and islets.

Last year, WIT Agent Linda sailed on an Un-cruise ship around Baja:

We stopped at 5 different deserted islands where we would snorkel, hike or enjoy water sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding. Out of La Paz, we were taken out to see the whale sharks…the world’s largest fish species with lengths of up to 46 feet and weighing up to 66,000 pounds! There is such a wonderful ambiance onboard and the crew will do anything for you. One guide tried to get me standing up on the paddle board one day – I couldn’t quite do it, due to the swells being too high, so enjoyed paddling on my knees, but she was so supportive and kind. Honestly, the entire crew was phenomenal and I felt so at home with all of them. I highly recommend Un-Cruise Expeditions.

Click here to read her whole trip report!

Or call 503-224-0180 to talk to Linda directly about her incredible trip!

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Happy Holidays from Willamette Intl Travel!

Start the Holidays off right!

The Pearl District Business Association is holding a special holiday event, and Willamette Intl Travel is joining the festivities!

We’ve dressed up our windows on Irving Street to reflect the holiday spirit—look for the Chinese lanterns and humongous fortune cookie! Thanks to Jill Jeske, student at the Art Institute of Portland, who acted as designer of our lovely window display.

You can find us at 1314 NW Irving St., Suite 101 in downtown Portland, OR.

PLUS: Enter the PDBA raffle by taking a selfie in front of our store and posting it online to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #PearlHolidays and #BestWindow!

For bonus points, attend the annual Tree Lighting celebration in Jamison Square on November 29. The first 50 guests will win a free PDBA logo umbrella, and earn extra raffle points if you take the selfie with the umbrella in hand.

Willamette Intl Travel is closed Thanksgiving weekend, from November 27 to 30. We’re open again from 8 to 5:30pm on Monday, feel free to drop in!

pearl

 

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WIT Agent’s Insider Look: The North

This week we’re taking a close look at WIT Agent Wailana’s trip to Iceland early October. Today we continue on the Ring Road to Mývatn and Akureyi—checking out some amazing waterfalls on the way.

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The NE Highlands, photo by Wailana

Dettifoss & Goðafoss

Though waterfalls are chiefly associated with the South, there are two memorable falls in the north part of the country that you must not miss on you road trip aroundIceland. On the empty road from West Iceland to Akureyri lies Goðafoss, the “waterfall of the gods.” Legend has it that in 1000 c.e., the high chief converted Christianity and threw his pagan idols down this waterfall. He might have picked a more dramatic location—the water falls a mere 39 feet down—but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

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Dettifoss, photo by Wailana

Much more majestic is Dettifoss, which lies about an hour east of Mývatn. The most powerful waterfall in Europe, it is situated on the massive Jökulsá á Fjöllum river that flows from the massive Vatnajökull glacier. The falls are 330 ft wide and plunge 150 ft down into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.

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Myvatn Area, photo by Wailana

Mývatn

Mývatn (pronounced “mee-va”) is a large lake in the north that is famed for its bird-watching, beautiful landscapes, and otherworldly natural attractions. Mývatn is also known for Hverabrauð, a delicious molasses bread that is slow-baked for 24 hours underground by natural geothermal heat.

Though the towns surrounding the lake are fairly tiny—the entire circumference home to only 450 inhabitants during the winter—you can easily base yourself in Reykjahlíð or Skútustaðir. Book far ahead–this is one of the more popular destinations in Iceland in the summer!

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Dimmuborgir, photo by Wailana

Mývatn is a volcano lover’s paradise. What it lacks in verdant forests, the region more than makes up in the way of rock pillars, eruptions, and lava caves. Wander through Dimmuborgir, the “dark forts,” an area of volcanic arches, towers, caves and bridges. You can spend half a day exploring one of the many well-marked trails. Check out Hverfjall Crater, a massive tephra crater nearby. For some interesting lava caves, drive 45 minutes away to Lofthellir lava cave, which runs about 370m long and boasts some of the greatest natural ice sculptures in the north. The south side of the lake, Skútustaðir, is home to many pseudocraters. Krafla volcano is less than an hour’s drive away. Its latest eruption lasted from 1975 to 1984, and the area is still steaming. It’s definitely worth a visit to explore its striped lavafields, nearby geothermal field, hot mud pools, solfataras and fumaroles.

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Grjótagjá Cave, photo by Wailana

Akureyri

About 45 minutes’ drive west of Mývatn is Iceland’s second largest city—Akureyri. With a population of 18,000—positively gigantic after hours and hours of farmsteads and wilds—the city is the unofficial capital of North Iceland. It’s a great base for exploring nearby Mývatn and Goðafoss, plus it has a few noteworthy sites itself. Don’t miss the picturesque town center, the Lystigarðurinn botanical garden, and the “art canyon” or Listagilið street—home to galleries and artwork. Check out Hallormsstaðaskogur, the largest forest in Iceland, something of an anomaly in a land without many trees!

Stay Tuned for Next Time: The West Fjords

Thinking about a trip to Iceland next summer 2014? Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to chat with one our agents! Wailana would love to share with you more of her firsthand impressions about traveling to Iceland!

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Global Entry Opens at PDX

The Global Entry Enrollment Center is now open at Portland International Airport. Hours of operation are from Mondays through Fridays, 9am to 3pm.

What is Global Entry? GE is a program that promotes expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk travelers entering the U.S. U.S. citizens and permanent residents at least 14 years of age are eligible to apply. If approved, membership is valid for five years. Members are also eligible to participate in other Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs such as TSA Pre, the expedited screening process for domestic travel on five airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, United and US Airways.

How Do I Apply? To apply, fill out an online application at www.globalentry.gov and pay the $100 nonrefundable application fee. (The $100 fee is waived for American Express Platinum Cardholders.) If approved, you’ll be contacted for an interview. Bring your valid passport and one other form of government-issued identification. CBP officials will take your photo, obtain fingerprint information and provide you with a profile number. The GBP sticker is placed on your passport. After your card is issued, give your travel agent your Global Entry information so they can add it to your reservation.

How Do I Use Global Entry? While at the airport, locate the Global Entry kiosk. You will go through a few seconds of identity verification—the camera will take a quick photo and scan your prints. This automatically pulls up your flight information and once you verify you have nothing to declare, the machine will print a GE ticket. Give this to the customs official in a special Global Entry line, bypassing the long customs and/or immigration lines and you are on your way.

Global Entry kiosks are available at the following airports:

http://www.globalentry.gov/locations.html

Where is the Global Entry Enrollment in Portland International Airport (PDX)?

global entry

 Willamette Intl Travel Agents are up to date with all the latest and current travel news. Call us for more details, 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

 

 

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Seattle Trip Report

This week we are reporting on WIT agent Wailana’s trip up to Seattle mid-July to view Celebrity and Disney cruise ships. Today we take a look at her impressions of Seatown herself.

Seattle Trip Report: By Wailana

Seattle seems to thrive on its tourism—Pike Place, the main shopping area, feels like your wandering through a carnival. You can find gourmet marmalade, freshly fried fish, bubble tea, piroshky and 1930s art deco advertisements of Morocco. On hot days, expect to see DVD-tooting magicians and jugglers spinning plates.

photo by Rafael Amado Deras

I departed from Salmon and 6th, downtown Portland, on the Bolt Bus. I rate the quality of ride similar to Amtrak’s—leather seats, electrical outlets, free wi-fi. A month in advance ticket cost around 8$, a week in advance $14. Purchase when boarding was $25. Future expansion of routes expect this Fall—to Bellingham and Eugene. Took about 3h30 to arrive in Chinatown, Seattle—just next to Union train station.

I arrived around seven o’clock in Chinatown, hungry. I checked in at the Belltown Inn, great location on Third, decent rooms for a brief stay. The free bike rental was a plus. Ask for a courtyard room, because it can get quite loud due to all the buses. Why Seattle insists having most of its buses on just one street I will never know.

Transport is pretty manageable downtown—if you are keeping to the main sights, the downtown bus is free 6am to 7pm or you can walk everywhere.

I first hit up Pike Brewery, the downstairs brewery just off of the market, with glossy, wooden counters. They had a sweet raspberry lambic served in a traditional flute glass and an IPA. The crowd here was mostly businessmen and tourists. Colors were bold and gaudy, hops were stuffed in glass cases—it was like drinking in a Planet Hollywood.

On the main corner of the market, I can recommend two places everyone must hit up—the crumpet shop and the piroshky shop. Crumpets are warm biscuits served with everything from pesto to honey butter to nutella. There were dozens of kinds of piroshkies, onion and beef, Bavarian custard, grilled chicken, polish sausage—all stuffed into crispy phyllo dough.

photo by WK

I felt more at home on Capitol Hill; though it has grown up a bit, it still maintains of laid-back, comfortable atmosphere. Streets are lined with thrift shops, eateries with gray and weathered window shutters, hipster-run cafes and bookshops. I spent one morning in Elliot Bay Books, nibbling at my latte and lemon curd muffin while buried in a Jan Morris travelogue. Not far walk from here is Elysian brewing—Greek pantheon-themed beer in love with its hops. I had the Perseus Porter.

Saturday was Bastille Day, and that evening down in one of the postalleys Café Campagne dressed up in all her tricolor finest. There were French jazz musicians—bassists, guitarists, accordionists—and two costumed ladies who danced the high-step to Piaf’s La Vie En Rose. A young Japanese-American girl was passing out brie and pear baguettes in a sailor dress and beret, and tightly vested hostesses were dispersing rosés and cabernets.

Of course, I was in Seattle to tour both Celebrity’s Infinity and Disney’s Wonder, two impressive cruise ships, and the Pacific Science Center’s exhibition on King Tut. Tune in next time to hear about them! In the meantime, check out my trip photos here.

Willamette Intl Travel can recommend great hotels, activities, and sights for your trip to Seattle. Call us for details at 800.821.0401 or email wailanak@wittravel.com.

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Filed under North America, The Pacific Northwest, Travel by Bus, USA, Washington, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Summer in PDX

photo by Michael Silberstein

We interrupt our very productive series of glamorous destinations to focus on one closer to home—in fact, it is WIT’s home, the City of Roses–Portland. Summer is blooming here in the city, and every Portlander is awake, alive, moving on the streets, through the rivers and across the mountains. The rain has, for the time being, abated, and of course with the weather comes a variety of incredible local tours ready to hit the path.

Portland Spirit Cruises

There are a number of cruises on the Columbia River just perfect for sightseeing excursion down the lovely Gorge. The Sternwheeler houses 499 passengers, and resembles a steamboat from the 1800’s. They board in Cascade Locks, and have a number of themed options available, from sightseeing, brunch and dinner cruises, to the spectacular “landmarks of the gorge” cruise—including Multnomah Falls, Beacon Rock, Bonneville Locks and Dam, among others.

Also check out the new Outrageous Jet Boat adventures, which take you out on your very own motor coach to either Astoria or Cascade Locks. For those interested in the history of region, check out the Portland Bridge Cruise, a tour that takes you from St. John’s to Sellwood Bridge, and— new in 2012—the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge. There are discounts for groups, seniors, children, as well as upgrades, gift cards, and private rentals available.

Hop-on Hop-Off Portland Trolley Tour

This sightseeing tour includes live narration and 11 stops at major attractions all over Portland. Departures start 10:00 AM at Pioneer Courthouse Square, last train at 4:00 PM. Stops include The Rose Garden, Oregon Zoo, NW23rd shopping district, Powell’s Books, Chinese Garden, and OMSI, plus many more. See the city of roses with an expert tour guide, at your own pace. One day passes are adults $27, children (6-12) $14, and two-day passes are adults $32, children $16. Under 6’s ride free.

Evergreen Escapes

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking nature of the Northwest with these inclusive tours that merge mountains and waterways with local culture, food and beverages. Customize your experience with a range of available tours, from half days to multi days, with activities from kayaking and rock climbing to cycling and wine/brew tours. Evergreen Escapes operate from March to October only, and run the gamut from Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood, to Silver Falls and Cannon Beach. All tours are escorted in groups of 9 or smaller, include tea and pastries, with select Oregon wines and fruits where available. Call for more information on specific tours.

Interested in exploring what the Northwest has to offer? Email at info@wittravel.com or call 503.224.0180 for more information and reservations. We have local connections for excellent hotel rates in Portland and the metro area.

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Where in the World is the WIT Agent? — Beijing, China

photo by maltman23

Today Pam finds herself in Beijing, China, with her Viking River Cruise. History, culture, glamor, the beauty of nature and rural villages, and now back to the cosmopolis–what a tour!

Bejing, the relatively new capital of China, is also one of the biggest in the world. At more than 19 million people, it is an international hub of ideas, food, technology and personalities.

There is countless to see and do in the city, including rowing through the gorgeous Shichahai lakes, wandering through the traditional houses of the hutong neighborhoods, buying souvenirs at the Panjiayuan Flea Market, watching a performance at the Beijing Opera or one of the many acrobatic shows, or checking out Beijing’s historical heart, the Forbidden City.

The main attraction is of course the Great Wall, located one hour from the center via train. We would recommend different sections based on your preferences. Badaling is restored but crowded, Jinshanling and Huanghuachen offer better views, and Mutianyu has less tourists. Check before you go to avoid the crowds!

When to Go: Going for the climate or the festivals? For the best weather, visit Beijing in September or October when it’s warm and dry, or in the Spring for the flowers and winds. Do avoid the bitter winters and humid summers! If holidays are your thing, head over during New Year’s Day or the Spring Festival—the Chinese New Year.

How to Go: You can get in by train, car, bus, or international or domestic plane. Bicycles are pretty popular in Beijing, the nation’s “Bike Kingdom,” so feel free to hop on a rental and check out the City of the North on wheels!

Pam returns tomorrow with stories and photos and–just maybe–souvenirs for the rest of us! We can’t wait to hear her report!

Interested in heading to Beijing or checking out one of Viking’s amazing River Cruises? Email info@wittravel.com or call us at 503.224.0180.

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