Taxi Drivers in Greece Continue Strike

July 26, 2011 on 9:33 am | In Greece Travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel alert Greece | 3 Comments

Taxi drivers in Greece have now taken their strike into a second week and no end to the action is in sight. See this article from Reuters for details.

While there are options to the striking drivers in Athens, such as the underground and other public transportation, there is little help to be found in many of the smaller towns in Greece. Travel in Greece will continue to be difficult while this strike lasts.

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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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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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Taxi Strike in Greece Causes Havoc for Cruisers

July 21, 2011 on 8:54 am | In Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, cruise travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news, vacation travel | 2 Comments

The taxi driver strike in Greece that we reported on Monday has been extended and is causing chaos for travelers, especially those on cruise ships.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that taxi drivers have blockaded the port at Corfu and will not allow tour buses through to take the cruisers on their tour of the island. The same appears to have happened at Iraklio on Crete. Those travelers who have paid thousands of dollars for the “cruise of a lifetime” must not be too happy with the striking drivers. Finally, another set of taxi drivers have blocked major roads out of the city of Thessaloniki and similar actions are happening around the country.

Revenues from tourism have been one of the relative strengths in the economy of Greece, but the civil unrest this summer is causing a precipitous decline in these monies. Greece can be a wonderful vacation spot, but it appears that summer of 2011 may not be quite the right time for a visit.
The taxi strike must appear as a crushing blow to the many hotel chains, restaurants and tour companies that had been hoping that 2011 would be a comeback year for tourism in Greece. Unfortunately, it appears that goal will not be realized. We can only hope that 2012 is better for the country, its travel industry and for the millions of our fellow tourists interested in visiting this sometimes enchanting country.

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UK Air Travel Disruption This Thursday

June 28, 2011 on 7:33 am | In ThereArePlaces.com, UK Travel, United Kingdom, air travel, air travel security, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news, travel warnings | 2 Comments

The Guardian has reported that the United Kingdom Border Agency has informed airlines to expect delays this Thursday due to a strike by UK-based airport immigration officials. It is expected that the work action may cause havoc at airports across the UK. Travelers are advised to avoid flying into or out of the UK this Thursday, if possible.

The strike is one of the continuing actions in the UK and elsewhere in Europe that are responses to national governments reducing the benefits associated with retirement, health and other systems and public services. It appears that the 2011 vacation season in the UK and Europe will be one of the most strike-prone ever.

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Strikes in Greece Next Week

June 24, 2011 on 2:06 pm | In Greece Travel, Travel Safety, air travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news | 2 Comments

CNN has reported that major unions in Greece are planning a forty-eight hour strike next Tuesday and Wednesday. The strike is in response to the government’s planned adoption of new austerity measures required to attain loans that will keep the country from defaulting on its financial obligations.

It is expected that the strikes will be especially large in Athens and we recommend that all travelers avoid Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At this time it is unclear, but expected that other unions will join the strike action next week. We expect the strike will cause disruptions for travelers throughout Greece. In addition, we suspect that a large number of strikes will ensue during the next few weeks, causing a decline in the number of tourists willing to vacation in Greece this summer.

For those willing to risk it, you may find travel bargains in Greece over the remainder of 2011.

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TSA and Pat-Downs for Children

June 23, 2011 on 9:01 am | In Transportation Security Administration, Travel Safety, air travel, air travel security, things travelers need to know, travel alert | 1 Comment

During testimony given by TSA official John Pistole to a Committee of the U.S. Senate, the TSA intends to make repeated attempts to screen young children instead of resorting to intrusive pat-down searches. See this article from ABC News for more details.

Pat-downs of children who present “screening anomalies” is a delicate subject for many, but the TSA contends that terrorists have used children as suicide bombers in the past and may do so again. The new policy will allow parents to request a re-screening and other alternatives before a pat-down is initiated.

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LGBT Parade in Warsaw on June 11, 2011

June 11, 2011 on 3:52 pm | In Poland travel, ThereArePlaces.com, parades and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news | Comments Off

If you plan on visiting Warsaw, Poland on June 11th, you should know that the annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Equality parade is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. Authorities expect marchers from all over Poland to attend. Law enforcement will close some streets along the parade route and will increase the number of officers to prevent any violence. Polish police anticipate counter-demonstrations and possible clashes as other groups may attempt to disrupt the march, possibly through violent means. The police are prepared to respond quickly with tear gas and arrests.

The parade route will begin in front of the Polish Parliament (Sejm), go across ulica Matejki and ulica Piękna, up ulica Krucza, across Aleje Jerozolimskie, and up ulica Marszałkowska to finish at Plac Bankowy. Many streets along this route will be closed to accommodate the movement of the participants and will reopen once the parade has passed. Here is a map showing the planned parade route.

If you will be visiting Warsaw on the June 11 and are not interested in attending the parade, we suggest avoiding areas associated with the planned parade route.

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New Travel Alert Issued for Japan by U.S. State Department

June 11, 2011 on 3:36 pm | In Japan travel, Travel Safety, US Department of State, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel and health, travel news, travel warnings | 2 Comments

The U.S. Department of State issued the following Travel Alert on June 9, 2011:

This Travel Alert updates the Travel Alert for Japan dated May 16, 2011. This Travel Alert expires on August 15, 2011.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

While the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains serious and dynamic, the health and safety risks to land areas which are outside a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are low and do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens.

Out of an abundance of caution, we continue to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel to destinations within the 50-mile evacuation zone of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. U.S. citizens who are still within this zone should evacuate or shelter in place.

On May 16, the U.S. Government updated its recommendation for the principal transport routes between Tokyo and Sendai that run through the 50-mile evacuation zone. These transport routes are currently open to public use. The U.S. Government believes the health and safety risks associated with using these transport routes are low, and that it is safe for U.S. citizens to use the Tohoku Shinkansen railway and Tohoku Expressway to transit through the area. This guidance is based on measurements taken by U.S. Government scientists; more information may be found at the Department of Energy website, http://blog.energy.gov/content/situation-japan/. This updated guidance on the main railway and expressway routes corresponds to that issued by Japanese authorities.

The U.S. Government also advises that ships operating near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant should follow the U.S. Coast Guard’s recommendations. Information may be found at the U.S. Coast Guard’s website: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/

Risk of Aftershocks

Japan is one of the most seismically active areas in the world. Aftershocks following an earthquake of this magnitude can be expected to continue for more than a year. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. See the Embassy Website for detailed information on earthquake safety:

http://japan.usembassy.gov.

American Citizen Services

U.S. citizens in Japan are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulates. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy/Consulates to contact them in case of emergency.

For the latest U.S. Government information on the situation in Japan, please visit the Embassy website at http://japan.usembassy.gov. Updated information on travel and security in Japan may also be obtained from the Department of State 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. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Japan, as well as the Worldwide Caution.

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of either the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or one of the U.S. Consulates in Japan listed below:

U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
Tel: 03-3224-5000
After Hours: 03-3224-5000
Fax: 03-3224-5856

http://japan.usembassy.gov/

The U.S. Embassy serves U.S. citizens in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.

Consulates:

Osaka-Kobe: 11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; Tel: 06- 6315-5912, Fax: 06-6315-5914; serving Americans in Osaka, Tel: 06-6315-5912, Fax: 06- 6315-5914; serving U.S. citizens in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, and Wakayama prefectures.

http://osaka.usconsulate.gov

Nagoya: Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor, 1-47-1 Nagano, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001; Tel (052) 581-4501, Fax: (052) 581-3190; providing emergency consular services only (including death and arrest cases) for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures.

http://nagoya.usconsulate.gov

Fukuoka: 5-26, Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; Tel: 092-751-9331, Fax: 092-713-9222; serving U.S. citizens in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi prefectures.

http://fukuoka.usconsulate.gov

Sapporo: Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; Tel: 011- 641-1115, Fax: 011-643-1283; serving U.S. citizens in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

http://sapporo.usconsulate.gov

Naha: 2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City, Okinawa 901-2104; Phone: 098.876.4211, Fax: 098.876.4243, DSN: 645-7323; serving U.S. citizens in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group

http://naha.usconsulate.gov

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More Trouble For Tourism in Greece

June 4, 2011 on 12:31 pm | In Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, personal travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel warnings | 7 Comments

On Friday, protestors took over the headquarters building of the Greek Finance Ministry in Athens in response to the austerity cuts in the budget of the government of Greece (more privatization, higher taxes, lower benefits, etc.). See this article from the Belfast Telegraph for details on the takeover of the Finance Building. In a related story appearing on Euronews it was revealed that the government of Greece had agreed to make even deeper austerity cuts in order to bring its deficit into line with the requirements of the loan bailout that will be required to keep the country’s financial house from collapsing. Unfortunately, the Greek people are unwilling to accept these mandatory cuts and we expect a summer filled with strikes and demonstrations in Athens and across Greece.

Travelers planning to visit Greece should avoid demonstrations, as these may become more violent as the summer progresses. Strikes are, also, a difficult issue because they may effect the country’s transportation network. Our recommendation is to keep you eye on the local news and be prepared to alter you schedule if a strike does happen to occur.

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