Egypt Travel Warning

July 3, 2013 on 2:17 pm | In Egypt travel, Travel Safety, US Department of State, United Kingdom, travel alert, travel news, travel warnings | Comments Off

The current trouble in Egypt has caught the attention of the world. While this is clearly an interesting moment in Egyptian History, it is not the time to travel to Egypt. The governments of both the UK and US have issued travel warnings for Egypt, for good reason.

While we love Egypt and would travel there again if the situation was calm, we urge travelers to avoid the country now and until the current unrest is settled. We have some fear that the situation may remain unsettled for quite some time and suspect that travel in 2013 will show an incredible drop-off. What a shame for us and for the people of Egypt who depend on travel.

Here is an excerpt of the main text from the message issued by the U.S. Department of State. The full message can be found here.

July 3, 2013

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Egypt and U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on June 28, 2013.
On July 3, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest.

Political unrest, which intensified prior to the constitutional referendum in December 2012 and the anniversary in 2013 of Egypt’s 25th January Revolution, is likely to worsen in the near future due to unrest focused on the first anniversary of the President’s assumption of office. Demonstrations have, on occasion, degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters, and between protesters supporting different factions, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. There are numerous reports of the use of firearms as well. While violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including downtown Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said, the security situation in most tourist centers, including Luxor, Aswan, and Red Sea resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh, continues to be calm. Of specific concern is a rise in gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the specific targets of sexual assault.

On June 28, a U.S. citizen was killed during a demonstration in Alexandria. On May 9, a private U.S. citizen was attacked with a knife outside of the U.S. Embassy after being asked whether he was an American. Additionally, Westerners and U.S. citizens have occasionally been caught in the middle of clashes and demonstrations. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by knowing the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy.

If you wish to depart Egypt, you should make plans and depart as soon as possible. The airport is open and commercial flights are still operating, although cancellations may occur. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Egypt are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.

The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse. Because of the proximity of the U.S. Embassy to Tahrir Square in Cairo, the U.S. Embassy has sometimes been closed to the public on short notice due to violent protests. The Embassy will notify U.S. citizens as quickly as possible of any closing and the types of emergency consular services that will be available. Should security forces block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, U.S. citizens should contact the American Citizens Services section before attempting to come to the U.S. Embassy during that time. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to carry identification and, if moving about alone, a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy in Egypt is located at 5 Tawfik Diab Street (formerly known as Latin America Street), Garden City, Cairo. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300.

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Weather in Europe Worsens

February 5, 2012 on 3:21 pm | In Europe travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings, travel weather warning | 4 Comments

The cold weather in Europe is not only getting colder, but it is spreading. On Sunday, Heathrow Airport outside London cancelled thirty-percent of its outgoing flights due to weather problems in the UK and Europe. London has been hit with ice, Rome with snow and throughout Europe many roads are impossibly impassible. See this article from CNN for details. Reuters has additional details that might be of interest.

If you can delay or defer your travel to Europe, do so as the weather is deadly and transportation difficulties will make it too difficult for quality touring. If you cannot defer your travel, take warm clothes and plan on bundling-up for the duration. The bad weather is intensifying and snow is expected in Belgium, Germany and possibly Greece. It is expected that weather conditions across Europe will worsen over the next few days.

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Weather and Air Travel Woes in Europe this Week

February 3, 2012 on 11:14 am | In Spain Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, hungary travel, russia travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel weather warning | 3 Comments

It has been a tough week for travelers in Spain, Hungary and Eastern Europe.

Earlier this week Spanair, the fourth largest air passenger carrier in Spain, suddenly ceased operation, stranding thousands of travelers. See this article at the Avionics Intelligence web site for more information. Yesterday, Malev, Hungary’s leading airline, “collapsed” due to funding difficulties. Malev was Hungary’s official airline and carried substantial passenger traffic mainly within the country.

On top of the airline problems, dramatically cold temperatures and winter weather in Eastern Europe have contributed to a number of deaths and additional transportation delays.

It appears that this was a good week not to be in Europe.

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Costa Cruise Liner Runs Aground Off Italy’s West Coast

January 13, 2012 on 11:14 pm | In Italy, Italy travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, cruise travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel alert, travel news | 4 Comments

The Costa Concordia Cruise liner ran aground on a sand bar near the Island “Isola del Giglio: off the west coast of Italy, killing six and endangering 3,000 passengers and a crew of 1,000. Several hundred remain on the aground, but severely listing boat. Several were injured during the rescue. For more information see this article by CNN

While looking for news about the boat, we ran across this promo for the Concordia in Costa’s US website. Next, you may find this description of the rescue posted on the Costa UK website to be of interest.

From Costa Cruises
Saturday, January 14th

Time 5.00 am
It is a tragedy that deeply affects our company. Our first thoughts go to the victims and we would like to express our condolences and our closeness to their families and friends. In this moment all our efforts are focused on the completion of the last emergency operations, besides providing assistance to the guests and the crew who were onboard in order to have them going back home as soon as possible. The emergency procedures started promptly to evacuate the ship. The slope, gradually taken over by the ship, made the evacuation extremely difficult. We would like to express our profound gratitude to the Coast Guard and all the forces co-ordinated by the Coast Guard, including the authorities and citizens of the island “Isola del Giglio”, who have been involved in the rescue and assistance to guests and crew members. The company will fully co-operate with the relevant Authorities in order to determine the causes of what happened.”

Time 1.00 am
Costa Cruises confirms the evacuation of about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members on board of the Costa Concordia. An incident occured near the island ‘Isola del Giglio’ of the coast of Italy. The evacuation started promptly, but the position of the ship has worsened, making it more complicated to complete the last part of the evacuation. At this moment, the cause of the incident cannot yet be confirmed. The Company is currently working with the highest commitment to provide all the needed assistance. The Costa Concordia was sailing across the Mediterranean Sea, starting from Civitavecchia with scheduled calls to Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo. About 1.000 passengers of Italian nationality were onboard, as well as more of 500 Germans, about 160 French and about 1.000 crew members. ”

“The Guests had to embark today in Savona and in subsequent ports will be contacted directly by Costa Cruises.”

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In Israel, Is It the Gospel Trail or the Jesus Trail?

December 28, 2011 on 3:09 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, israel travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel tips | 2 Comments

Sometimes the world of travel is filled with controversies that are somewhat ironic. The two that follow are not your prime examples of Christmas stories, but are interesting nonetheless.

First, late last month the Israeli Ministry of Tourism announced the opening of the Gospel Trail, a forty mile hiking trail that connects Nazareth with many important sites in the Galilee area of Israel that were central in the life of Jesus Christ. We were pleased to see this acknowledgement by the Ministry of the importance of Christian tourism in the Holy Lands, as about two-thirds of the country’s visitors see the sites associated with Jesus of Nazareth. However, there already is a trail that connects the important sites in the Galilee that were important locations in the life of Christ. Before the announcement, the Ministry of Tourism had backed the Jesus Trail, a commercial endeavor that created the Jesus Trail connecting sites in the Galilee important to Christians. The founders of the Jesus Trail provide tours, accommodations and have published an excellent book to hiking the Jesus Trail.

The people representing the Jesus Trail were obviously miffed at the change in direction by the the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and, in response, established an interesting website to present their point of view. The two routes are similar, as is reasonable since they connect towns and places of significance in the life of Jesus, but the trails are not identical. Why the Ministry of Tourism felt there was a need for a second trail has not yet been made clear, but two different approaches to the same objective seems somewhat counter productive and will lead to confusion for many visitors. Perhaps time will reveal the factors that led to the development of the Gospel Trail.

A second item about activities in Israel caught our attention in the news this week. We understand that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is administered by the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church. Those who have visited this important church will have noticed that it is in need of repair, but the administrators cannot decide which party is responsible for which repairs. Last week the frictions between the religious orders that represent the three parties boiled over and they began having a spat while cleaning the church for a Christmas Mass. The clergy began beating each other with brooms to show their discontent. Apparently the action rose to the scale of a riot and the Palestinian Authority had to be called to restore order, which took over an hour. The spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority indicated that it “…was a trivial problem that…occurs every year.” Every year? The things you learn while reading travel blogs!

Click to see our recommendations on the best places to visit in Israel.

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Tour Operator Evaluation

December 21, 2011 on 3:20 pm | In air travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel tips, vacation travel | 2 Comments

Happy Holiday wishes to all travelers around the world.

It seems like this is the time of year when many of us start to think about taking a tour to some exotic destination next spring or summer. Perhaps it’s the cold weather and being locked inside, or the end of the year rush to get things done, but we always start dreaming about travel at this time of year and really go nuts with exploring our dreams the week after Christmas. Somewhere about this middle of this process we decide that travel is really hard work. Maybe we could find someone to do it for us, or perhaps we should take a tour. Hmmm, a tour?

For those of you considering a taking a tour might want to read our article on evaluating tour operators. If you are concerned about the financial stability of your potential tour operator (after all you will need to make a deposit to reserve your trip), you might want to see of they are a member of the United States Tour Operators Association, a trade group trying to ensure integrity in tourism. Read our article on the USTOA for more details on why booking with one of their members might be a good idea.

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UK Pension Strike Will Cause Airport Chaos

November 27, 2011 on 12:50 pm | In Europe travel, ThereArePlaces.com, United Kingdom, air travel, air travel security, england travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings | 2 Comments

A nationwide strike on Wednesday November 30, 2011 over pension rights will be joined by Immigration officers causing massive snarls for those entering the UK, especially inbound air travelers. The BBC and others are indicating that delays in processing inbound travelers could require as much as 12 hours before a person could enter the country. Airlines are recommending that passengers reschedule their flights to the next week.

Our advice – don’t fly to the UK until the week after the strike. Heathrow and other airports will be in chaos, although smaller airports might fare a little better.

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New York Travel News – The 9/11 Memorial and The Statue of Liberty

August 23, 2011 on 7:35 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, new york travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel new york city, travel news | 2 Comments

Our team has been on assignment this summer and we regret that we have not been able to publish new articles in our blog as often as we would like. Last week we were passing through New York and stopped in to check on the progress of the 9/11 Memorial, as well as the renovations planned for the interior of the Statue of Liberty.

The Grand Opening of the 9/11 Memorial is scheduled, quite fittingly, for dedication on September 11, 2011 and will be open to public visitors, who have reserved advanced passes, starting on September 12. We were able to get a view from a neighboring building and were stunned by the beauty and power of the Memorial. The footprints of the North and South Towers have been excavated and lined with black marble to create reflecting pools which are highlighted by water cascading down four walls. The names of the fallen are inscribed on bronze panels near the lip of each tower’s footprint and these monuments are surrounded by grass, trees and other plantings. The Museum features a large pavilion and a glass atrium. Below is a photograph taken from the upper stories of a building adjacent to the Memorial site.

The 9/11 Memorial taken in mid-August 2011

If you are planning a trip to New York, be sure to make reservations as far in advance as you can. See the official 9/11 Memorial website for details on the Memorial, as well as reserving tickets. Even though the location is not yet open to the public, the area is a virtual magnet for tourists wanting to pay their respect to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Below is an architectural model of the Memorial as it will look when completed.

The architectural model of the 9/11 Memorial

As one monument opens in New York, another will experience reduced access. Just so you know, all interior spaces of the Statue of Liberty will be closed for approximately one-year starting October 29, 2011, just a day after Lady Liberty celebrates her 125th anniversary. Both Liberty and Ellis Island will remain open during this period. Most visitors do not climb to the crown and the National Park Services feels that the closure, which is necessary to improve the safety of visitors to the interior, will not have a significant influence on visitors since most do not climb the stairway to the crown. However, if this ascent is one of your goals, you may want to postpone your visit until late 2012.

During our short visit to New York, we dined three times in the East Village and now have a new bevy of favorite restaurants. New York’s culinary scene seems to continually add fabulous restaurants whose menus include noteworthy feasts.

If you are thinking about a visit to New York City, see our detailed New York travel guide for our recommendations on the best places to visit in New York.

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Major Demonstration in Madrid On Sunday

July 23, 2011 on 9:06 am | In Spain Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, parades, things travelers need to know, travel news | 2 Comments

The Spanish political movement called 15M has organized what appears to be a massive demonstration to take place in Madrid this weekend. No violence is expected, but the crowd is forecast to be very large. The 15M demonstrators believe they are not represented by the current political structure in Spain and are asking that attention be paid to their strategies for improving society and the political system in Spain.

Tonight (Saturday) demonstrators will meet in several locations and then start a mass walk to Puero del Sol in preparation for the Sunday demonstration. The demonstrators are expect to gather in the Sol at 9 PM. On Sunday there will be meetings in Retiro Park and other locations followed by a march (at 6PM) from Atocha to Puerto del Sol.

Plans related to this demonstration may change, so be sure to check the local news in Madrid for more details. Vacation travelers should plan on avoiding Puerto del Sol this weekend. In addition, tourists should consider avoiding central Madrid on Saturday night and all day Sunday.

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Oslo Bombing and Youth Camp Attack

July 22, 2011 on 10:43 am | In Oslo travel, Terrorism and travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, air travel, norway travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news, travel warnings | 1 Comment

Terrorism has struck Oslo, Norway. It has been reported by several sources that a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was exploded outside of a main government office in the heart of Oslo. A second bomb was confirmed, but the location has not been revealed. In addition, a youth camp on Utoya Island, approximately 25 miles outside of Oslo, was attacked by a gun carrying individual disguised as a police officer. At last report nearly 90 fatalities and hundreds of injuries have resulted from the combined actions.

Central Oslo has been evacuated and is closed to the public until further notice. The authorities are examining the possibility that there may be additional explosive devices in the area or, possibly in the surrounding areas. It appears that this attack was staged by a Norwegian citizen with right-wing beliefs.

Travelers are advised to avoid Oslo over the next few weeks, as the clean-up and ongoing investigation of this incident will likely make tourism around the Capital difficult, if not untenable.

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