Crime Up in Brussels

November 9, 2011 on 2:50 pm | In Belgium travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel warnings | 1 Comment

Reuters reported today that a street crime wave has hit Brussels, Belgium, also known as Capital of Europe. There has been a marked increase of window bashing on parked cars to steal interior contents, as well as an uptick of street robberies, with some thieves showing guns during the crime. Note that the crime rate in Brussels is not all that high compared to other locations in Europe and around the world. However, the local police chief may have inflamed the situation when he pointed his finger at immigrants and drug addicts as the main source of the “crime wave.” See Reuters for the complete details.

If you will be traveling in downtown Brussels, exercise caution about where you travel and ask at your hotel about local crime and whether you should walk or have a taxi arranged to take you to your proposed destination.

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More Travel Troubles in Europe

November 8, 2011 on 12:06 pm | In Europe travel, France, France Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, portugal travel, things travelers need to know, train travel in europe | 2 Comments

Well, it is going to be a challenging week for travelers in Europe. Many of the train worker unions in France and other countries will be striking today against new railroad competition rules being addressed by the EU. See this article in the Local for more details on the potential problems in France, which are expected to be especially severe around Paris.

A work stoppage by rail workers in Portugal has stopped most rail travel in that country and will be followed by a nationwide general strike on November 24th. See this article in Euronews for more details.

Meanwhile in London, thousands of students are expected to protest this week in regards to cuts in support for the country’s higher education system. Although the students are usually well-mannered, they have been joined by trouble makers in the past and the same is expected this week. See this article from Sky News for more details.

If you are in France or Portugal, check locally to see the impact of the strikes and the potential for disruption that may follow later this week. If you are going to be in London this week, avoid Trafalgar Square and other city areas that are commonly used for demonstrations. Inquire at your hotel about local conditions before venturing out.

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Torrential Rains in France and Italy

November 7, 2011 on 9:08 am | In France, France Travel, Italy, Italy travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel weather warning | 2 Comments

Seemingly unending rains have descended on parts of Europe, with France and Italy being especially hard hit. Many rivers are nearing flood stage and the problem has closed several noted attractions including Pompeii in southern Italy near Naples. Read this account of the action from Euronews for more details. Also, see this article by Reuters for more information on the rains in France.

Travelers in southern France, Italy or northern Spain should exercise extreme caution if visiting the affected areas. If possible, avoid driving in the areas of these countries having problems with flooding. If you are forced to navigate these areas, inquire locally for advice.

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Turkey Struggles With Earthquake Damage

October 26, 2011 on 10:20 am | In Istanbul travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel in Turkey, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel warnings, travels in Turkey | 4 Comments

On Sunday October 23rd Turkey suffered a devastating earthquake of 7.2 magnitude. The quake was centered in the east of the country near Turkey’s border with Iran with the destruction focused on the towns of Ercis and Van. The death toll from the earthquake is nearing 500 with thousands injured. It is feared that more dead will be discovered as a large number of multi-story dwellings collapsed. Our hearts go out to the people of Turkey who have suffered from this catastrophe.

For more details see this information article from the Voice of America, which includes a map showing the major earthquake faults in the area.

Van and its surrounding areas are off the paths normally taken by tourists, but anyone thinking of traveling in this area should postpone or cancel their trip. The earthquake was particularly devastating and it will take months, if not longer, to restore the infrastructure and allow Turkey to focus on anything other than caring for its citizens.

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Comics Are the Big Thing In Brussels

October 23, 2011 on 7:48 pm | In Belgium travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, things travelers need to know | 2 Comments

Ever since Steven Spielberg began working on the movie the Secret of the Unicorn featuring Tintin, Belgium has become one of the focal points of the comic strip world. Visit Brussels, the official website of the city of Brussels has a page devoted to activities that will surround the grand opening of the movie, which premiers in the city. In addition, we were pleased to find that Brussels has a Comic Strip Center with exhibitions on various comic strips and comic characters, including the Smurfs.

If you are a Tintin fan, see our guide to the Best Places to Visit in Belgium, where we detail the Herge Museum (Herge was the creator of TinTin) that is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. In addition, you can find more details on the Comic Strip Center in Brussels on our page on the Best Places to Visit in Brussels.

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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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Rioting Continues in London, Spreads Across Country

August 9, 2011 on 3:53 pm | In London, London travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, UK Travel, United Kingdom, air travel, england travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel warnings | 2 Comments

The rioting that beset London over the weekend has expanded far beyond the capital. New problem areas have been reported in London, as well as in Nottingham, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and other cities. For a map showing the location of the riots across England see this article in The Telegraph online. For the Guardian Live News Blog on the riots, see this link.

16,000 police will be on the streets of London tonight. It has been reported that the city’s jails are already full and that those arrested are being taken to jails in outlying locations.

It is our recommendation that tourists avoid London or consider postponing their trip if they have not yet departed for England. If you are already in the country and you cannot avoid the areas of rioting, pay attention to local media for up-to-date information on local circumstances and avoid the streets at night. While some think the riots in London and the rest of the country may be on the wane, we do not see any credible indications that this is so. If you are determined to be in England this week, it will likely be risky and we recommend that you change your itinerary for safety’s sake.

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Riots in London

August 7, 2011 on 10:11 pm | In ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, UK Travel, United Kingdom, air travel, england travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel warnings | 2 Comments

In London, Saturday night’s riots in Tottenham were followed on Sunday by more riots across the city. While most of the new rioting was limited in size and labelled “copycat”, it has spread across London, even to the area of Oxford Circus in central London. See this article from Sky News and this one from CNN for more details. It is possible these “pockets” of rioting will continue, so check the local news if you are traveling in London or other areas of England.

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Sweden Train Disruption

July 26, 2011 on 9:26 am | In ThereArePlaces.com, sweden travel, things travelers need to know, train travel in europe, travel alert | Comments Off

Train travel in Sweden may be challenging for the remainder of the week. Torrential rains have had a significant effect on the country’s train transportation system. Disruptions in the network will continue until Friday, July 29, 2011. See this note in The Local for more details on the lines impacted.

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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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