Cold weather, ice, snow and blizzard force winds continue to wreak havoc with those attempting to travel on the “Continent”, particularly those traveling in Eastern Europe. Section of the Danube River in Romania have been closed to traffic and other sections have frozen over for the first time in twenty-five years. See this detailed review at CNN for more information. These articles from the UPI and France24 provide details on various aspects of the continued weather troubles plaguing Europe.
In Britain, Gatwick Airport was closed due the weather and British airways suspended all flights out of Heathrow. Airports across Europe were canceling flights by the hundreds and many smaller airports (even as far south as Florence, Italy) were closed. Highways in Denmark were treacherous, as were roadways across much of the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Rome, the city’s fabulous fountains iced over and snow was swirling around the Colosseum.
According to the weather forecasts, it does not look like the problems will go away soon. In fact, this may go down as the coldest December in the United Kingdom since weather statistics have been kept on an official basis. If you are planning on traveling to the UK or Europe for Christmas, bring plenty of patience, prepare for traffic jams and expect canceled flights. Most of all dress warm, wear layers and bring a winter coat. Leave those flip-flops at home and wear waterproof boots.
The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano (located near the island’s south coast, approximately 149 kilometers (92 miles) southeast of Reykjavik) has the potential to cause much damage to the country and the world’s climate. Today, however, the volcano’s cloud of steam and smoke, spread across Western Europe and the UK by prevailing winds, has become a major hazard to air travel.
Many of the airports in Europe, particularly those along the western coast zone of Europe, have closed in response to the threat that the volcanic cloud poses. Concentrations of volcanic ash and dust can decrease visibility during flights at higher altitudes and damage or cause engine shutdowns in jet-powered aircraft at any altitude.
For detailed information on the event and the response, see this article in the Wall Street Journal.
For some great photos of the volcano and detailed information on the eruption,see this excellent presentation from the Detroit Free Press.
The volcanic eruption in Iceland has created a major problem for all air travelers in Europe, as well as those planning on flying to Europe. The length of the eruption and the wind patterns can vary and there is no easy way to tell when air traffic will resume normal patterns. If you are planning on traveling to or in Europe in the next week, be sure to contact your airline, well in advance, to see what information they can offer. If you are in Europe and trying to return home, this will be a frustrating week, as volcanic eruptions are one of those situations beyond the control of the airlines or anyone else.
For many travelers, the “Little Mermaid” statue in Copehagen is the most well-known icon of this delighful Danish city. Modeled after Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”, the small statue has captured the imagination of almost every visitor to the city and is one of Copenhagen’s most popular attractions.
However, for some unfathomable reason, the Little Mermaid Statue has been uprooted by the authorities and it is on its way for a six-month sojourn in …Shanghai, China for the World Expo, where is will be the centerpiece of the Danish exhibition. So, those of you hoping to see the little lady during your summer trip to Denmark, will have to make do with a video that will run in its place, until it returns.
See this video at the BBC for more information.
As you know, Copenhagen is the site of the ongoing Climate Meetings and several mass demonstrations are expected. We urge vacation travelers to avoid Copenhagen untl after December 20th. For those of you who cannot avoid the situation, the following information may be of interest.
The U.S. Embassy Copenhagen issued the following Warden Message on December 10:
This Warden Message is to inform U.S. citizens that Copenhagen may experience demonstrations from Friday, December 11th until Friday, December 18th. Some of the demonstrations on these days may become violent.
Areas of Copenhagen that may have demonstrations are:
Strøget (Walking Street)
Town Hall Square
The Harbor area
As you may know, Athens was the scene of violent demonstrations this weekend on the anniversary of the fatal shooting of a teenager by the police. The death has become a cause for what has been labeled in the International press as “a student anarchist movement.” We are not sure how the classify the unrest, other than to note our recommendation the travelers avoid central Athens during the next week. Check with news sources in Athens for more detailed information.
Another location to avoid for next two weeks is Copenhagen, as the city is hosting the international Summit On Climate Change. By all accounts the city is brimming with security, in addition to the 15,000 delegates and 100 world leaders who will attend over the next two weeks. See this article by the BBC for detailed information. It is expected that there will be numerous demonstrations in Copenhagen by those dissatisfied the both the status quo and the pace of the talks, since it is not expected that any major agreements will be signed during the meeting.
Our recommendations is that travelers who want to see Copenhagen, but have nothing to do with the Climate Summit avoid the city until the Summit has ended. Hotel rooms are in short supply, restuarant service will be slow, the crowds will be huge and the demonstrations could get ugly.
Several items caught our eye recently. For those of you traveling to Greece, there is a new ban on smoking in public places, although there is some disagreement on how effective it will be since over forty-percent of the Greek population like to light-up now and then.
In Odense, Denmark there has been a curious turn of events. The Hells Angels have taken a stand against Muslims and immigrants in Denmark who hate, so the Hells Angels state “…the Danish culture and way of life.” Under the guise of rescuing the country from what it calls the “jackal mentality”, the Hells Angels are recruiting new gang members to help them with this task. Police believe that this is really a turf war in disguise between the Hells Angels and immigrant gangs for the control of drugs and other illegal activities. Note: there have been daylight attacks by the immigrant gangs in Odense, Funen, sometimes involving innocent people just wandering by.
Next, they must be having a good time on the island of Crete, since today it was hit with a magnitude 6.7 earthquake offshore of Iraklion, but it appears the quake was not felt by anyone asked.
For those of you in the U.S. American Airlines is having an air sale to Europe, but tickets must be purchased by July 15 for travel into the fall. See American’s website for details.
Finally, although not as newsworthy as more important things happening around the world, our new Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Rome is proving very popular with our readers. If you have not yet seen it, take a look at ThereArePlaces to try it for yourself.