Ouch – Travel Troubles Everywhere

October 16, 2011 on 6:57 pm | In Egypt travel, Europe travel, France Travel, Greece Travel, Italy travel, London travel, Mexico travel, Paris Travel, Spain Travel, Travel Safety, UK Travel, air travel, england travel, international travel, new york travel, personal travel, rome travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel alert Greece, travel new york city, travel warnings | 2 Comments

Where to start?

Two of the largest labor unions in Greece have announced a 48 hour nationwide strike for October 19 and 20. Currently, lawyers are on strike, as are customs officers who are on a ten-day strike. See the Belfast Telegraph for details.

The “Occupy Wall Street has gone international with demonstrations in London, Toronto, Mexico City, Madrid, Rome and other locations. Unfortunately, the demonstrations turned violent in Rome. See this article from CNN for a top level overview of the demonstrations.

In Egypt, reform leaders are criticizing Egypt’s Military leadership, while the friction between the Copts (Christians) and some sects of believers in Islam, continues.

All in all, not a good week for travelers, at least those in the centers of major cities around the world. We are unsure what lies ahead for the demonstrations in Europe and the United States, but urge you to search local news sources to see if the activity might interfere with any travel you have planned. Other hotspots such as Greece and Egypt look to be long term problems that might just wind up with you taking these potential travel destinations off your bucket list, at least for a while.

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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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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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New Round of London Tube Strikes?

June 9, 2011 on 8:06 am | In London, London travel, ThereArePlaces.com, UK Travel, United Kingdom, air travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, vacation travel | 2 Comments

Tube drivers plan to strike the London Underground System on June 19, 27, 29 and July 1. The work stoppages will occur at various times on each of these days, although not for a complete day on any of the dates. The disruptions in Tube service are certain to bring chaos to transportation in London. See this article in the Guardian for details on the times of the strikes and the reason behind the action.

On the strike dates, travelers who rely on the Underground for travel connecting to Heathrow terminals or to trains that connect to Heathrow terminals may need to make other arrangements and should plan accordingly.

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Volcanic Ash and Air Travel – Again!

May 24, 2011 on 9:38 am | In Scotland travel, UK Travel, United Kingdom, Wales Travel, air travel, air travel security, travel news, travel warnings | 8 Comments

Ash from the erupting Grimsvotn Volcano in Iceland may cause problems in the air space over the United Kingdom by the end of the week. See this article from the BBC for details.

If you are planning on flying to Scotland or England later this week, check with your airlines to see if the flights might be delayed or cancelled. Depending on upper atmosphere wind patterns, the Icelandic volcano may cause problems for air traffic in Europe during the eruption cycle.

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Travelers in Europe Stranded Until After Christmas?

December 21, 2010 on 9:39 am | In Europe travel, Germany, Germany travel, London travel, ThereArePlaces.com, UK Travel, air travel, england travel, international travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel weather warning | Comments Off

Snow continues to plague holiday travelers across Europe, as well as in the United Kingdom. New storms and snow have caused more delays at Frankfurt Airport, while the managers at Heathrow Airport seem to be unable to figure out how to remove the snow quickly enough to solve their overload dilemma. However, airlines are not the only ones being influenced by the weather, as travel by trains, buses and cars suffers from long delays and, in some cases, route closures. See this article by DW-World.DE for detailed information on the troubles across Europe and this one from the Guardian about the travel-related troubles at Heathrow Airport outside London.

The weather situation in Europe and the UK is unprecedented and airports and airlines are not prepared to handle situations that fall outside of normal operating conditions. While this is not what travelers want to hear, it is, nonetheless, true. No matter how angry you get about being stuck in an airport, it will not change the situation or get you home any earlier. We know it is not very satisfying to read this, but you will need patience to get through any travel delay. Your stories about the delay will likely become a comedy routine at the next family reunion, even if you cannot believe that you would someday laugh at the incomprehensible disorganization that befallen you on your trouble plagued travels.

Several years ago we spent the night trapped at Heathrow airport, forced to sleep on their cold, hard floors. It was yet another weather related difficulty and British Airways cancelled our flight without notice and said we were on our own. Since we had been in London and were leaving from London, apparently they thought we could return to our home and spend the night. When we made inquiries to the airport hotels, we were told there were none available. When we inquired about hotels in London, our travel agent told us that there were no rooms available due to the storm and that they had never seen anything like it. When we asked about hotels anywhere in the UK, we were told it did not matter as the roads were closed and we could not get there anyway.

Sometime in the middle of the night, airport police tried to evict us for sleeping in the airport and told us we would have to leave. We refused, thinking that even a cell in jail would be more comfortable than the floors in Heathrow’s Arrival Hall. Finally, the constables relented and let us stay. We arrived home several days late and swore that we would never travel again. Of course, we soon began dreaming about some exotic destination where we could sleep on the sands of a nice, warm beach.

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Cold and Snow Continues in the UK and Europe

December 19, 2010 on 9:39 am | In France Travel, Germany travel, Ireland travel, London travel, Scotland travel, UK Travel, air travel, international travel, things travelers need to know, travel weather warning | Comments Off

The weather-related travel misery we noted yesterday continues today in the United Kingdom and Europe. It now looks as if planes might start flying on Monday, but even that is not a sure thing at this point.

See these articles by CNN and Bloomberg for more information. The CNN article has a slide show of winter scenes across Europe that might help you judge the snowfall and how cold it is in some of these locations.

We note that this has been a unique storm in the annals of weather history, but are equally sure that this is no comfort to those stuck because of it.

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Rail Strike in Belgium on Monday

October 15, 2010 on 6:12 pm | In Belgium travel, ThereArePlaces.com, UK Travel, United Kingdom, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know | Comments Off

Well, it appears that Europe is ablaze with strikes. On Monday there will be a train strike in Belgium that will impact the country and rail services to Belgium from other countries. See this article for more information. In addition, the BBC has a good description of the problem for the Eurostar from London to Brussels.

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Travel Alert For Europe – What To Do?

October 3, 2010 on 9:50 am | In Europe travel, France Travel, Germany travel, Terrorism and travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, UK Travel, england travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings | Comments Off

The State Department of the United States has issued a travel alert for US citizens who may be planning travel to Europe, those already traveling in Europe and those who may be living or studying in Europe. The crux of the matter is that a recently captured terrorist has apparently revealed that Al Qa’ida operatives are in the planning stages for launching terrorist attacks in Europe similar to the one that happened in Mumbai, India in 2008. While the cell in question has been penetrated and appears to be in disarray, it is thought that others may be planning similar operations in Europe and elsewhere.

By the way, in the jargon of the State Department, travel alerts are defined as follows. “Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions that pose significant risks to U.S. Citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert.” Travel Alerts, such as the one just issued for Europe do not mean that the government will prohibit you from traveling to a location, only that it wants to inform you of potential risks that may exist at the location.

The State Department, also, issues another, more severe form of advisory called a Travel Warning when they want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. At this time, they have not issued a Travel Warning for Europe.

As we have noted previously, terrorism is a fact of modern life that each of us has to decide how we will deal with. Some will plan their vacations and have a wonderful time while abroad. Others will be nervous wrecks while traveling and not enjoy their trip. Still others will decide to delay travel until sometime in the future when they feel more comfortable with the terrorism situation. The reality is that each of these choices are appropriate for various individuals and this leads to the conclusion that you, as an individual, must evaluate the risk of travel against the rewards and decide to travel or not based on your values and intuition.

Our role is to attempt to provide you with the information that might help you make your travel decision. Below, we present the complete text of the State Department Travel Alert on Europe.

Travel Alert
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs

Europe
October 3, 2010

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from elsewhere in the world.

For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country-Specific Information as well as the Worldwide Caution, which can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. For further information on safety tips while traveling abroad, U.S. citizens should also consult the following website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html

This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2011.

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