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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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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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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Travel Troubles in Turkey, Spain, and Greece

May 27, 2011 on 10:15 am | In Greece Travel, Istanbul travel, Spain Travel, Travel Safety, Turkey, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news, travels in Turkey | 1 Comment

Turkey will hold parliamentary elections on June 12 and the Kurdistan Workers party’s (PPK) separatist insurgency is thought to be trying to influence the outcome of the electoral process. On Thursday a small bomb was exploded in an Istanbul location near a police barracks and a shopping mall, injuring eight. No fatalities resulted. See this article in TodaysZaman for more details .

Today, a percussion bomb was exploded near a military barracks in the city of Diyabakir in southeastern Turkey, with no casualties resulting. See this story from Reuters for the details.

Spain continues to experience unrest due to joblessness with demonstrations occurring in most large cities. See this article in Yahoo News for more details. We note that the demonstrations in Spain have not been violent.

Meanwhile in Greece, police pepper-sprayed demonstration doctors (see this article from the AP in the Miami Herald ) who are rallying against the deep cuts to the medical and social systems in Turkey that have resulted from the country’s current economic problem (see this article in Yahoo News for a review of the recent austerity discussions being held by the government.

It seems as if the countries of Europe have experienced more demonstrations in 2011, including more violent demonstrations than have occurred in the last few years. Those planning to vacation in Europe this summer should read the local news for their travel destination and ask hotel staff in the towns and villages where they plan to stay about pending demonstrations. Avoid the areas where demonstrations are planned, perhaps taking a trip out of the city on that day.

The periods surrounding elections in countries experiencing financial or political crises are often marked with demonstration or, in in more extreme cases, by internal terrorism. If a city is a known hotbox for demonstrations, we recommend avoiding it while the crises lasts or the contested election is being held. If you cannot do that, then be sure that you are aware of local conditions, avoid crowds and avoid participating in political discussions about the problems in your destination.

Travel is inherently dangerous. You could be injured or killed driving to your the local grocery store near your home. International travel is no exception in terms of exposure to possible dangers. All travelers need to evaluate the safety of travel for themselves, based on their values and beliefs. Searching the international news on your destination is a good way to begin that evaluation.

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Aftermath of Earthquake in Spain

May 16, 2011 on 6:02 pm | In Spain Travel, Travel Safety, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings | Comments Off

On May 11, 2011 a deadly earthquake rocked Lorca in Murcia Province, Spain. Read this earthquake report from the BBC for more details. At least 10 people lost their lives in the earthquake. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Madrid reported that buildings and other infrastructure were severely damaged in both Lorca and Totana in southeastern Spain.

Although the earthquake was not particularly strong, its origin was shallow and the quake occurred close to the surface, which increased its potential for damage. In addition, many of the historic buildings in Murcia, and Spain in general, were constructed before the development of the types of safety features required by modern building codes for construction in earthquake prone regions. It is often the case that these types of buildings are particularly dangerous to be in or near during earthquakes.

Travelers intending to visit this area of Spain should check with local news sources before initiating travel.

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Greece, Ireland and Portugal – Travel Values?

January 20, 2011 on 9:57 am | In Greece Travel, Ireland travel, Spain Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, portugal travel, things travelers need to know, travel news | 1 Comment

We noticed a travel article in the New York Times today whose author indicated that travel to some countries in Europe could be a bargain this year because of difficulties related to the global economic downturn. The article targeted (the links here are to our descriptions of the best places to visit in these countries) Greece, Ireland and Portugal while indicating that Spain may be the next economic trouble spot.

Travel during hard economic times is not without its problems. Flight schedules may be limited, public transportation spotty, critical services may be limited and there may be public demonstrations reflecting the tensions between the government austerity measures and the its citizens’ views of the world.

The upside is that costs may be down, tourism venues should be less crowded and you may be able to find bargains of one sort or another almost every place you visit. In other words, if you intend to travel to any of the countries mentioned, this spring could be a great time for a visit at reduced rates. As always, make sure bargain travel is just that – an opportunity that delivers value for a reduced price.

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Goodbye October, Travelers Hope For a Better November

October 31, 2010 on 1:08 pm | In Istanbul travel, Northern Ireland travel, Spain Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, Travel Safety, air travel, air travel security, international travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings, travels in Turkey | Comments Off

It’s has been a tough month for Tourism and October appears to be ending like it started. In addition to all of the strikes across Europe, particularly those in France and Italy, terrorism has once again reared its ugly head in Europe and the Mideast.

A suicide bomber attacked Taksim Square in Istanbul, wounding 32 people. Taksim Square, Istanbul’s main square, is located close to several upscale hotels. The square is a noted meeting place and is often frequented by tourists because it is a major transportation hub. Taksim Square is located across the Galata Bridge and away from the main tourism area of the city. No organization has claimed responsibility, although it is thought that the Kurdish separatist militants are behind the incident. Authorities in Istanbul are vigilant about tourism and it is to be noted that fifteen of the wounded were police, as the terrorist appears to have focused the attack on the police stationed around the square.

Repercussions from the explosive packages shipped from Yemen to the United States seem bound to cause an investigation on security checks for air-freight packages that are shipped around the world. It has been rumored that one of the packages involved in the recent controversy was shipped on a passenger plane and that the sophisticated devices were designed to bring down aircraft.

Overall, we think establishing best practices on safety for parcel and package shipping is a good idea, but if freight is banned from passenger flights, the expense of our tickets will surely go up.

In Northern Ireland police disarmed two bombs, one near Belfast Airport, in a sign that Northern Ireland may be slipping back in to the “troubles”. Due to the presence of another bomb that required defusing, the railway connecting Belfast and Dublin was closed for 24 hours.

In the only piece of good news for travelers over the weekend, was the speculation that the days of the ETA Basque Separatist Movement in Spain may be drawing to a close, although we have heard these rumors several times in the past. See Yahoo News for more information.

As those of you who have read our travel advice at ThereArePlaces know, we advise that travelers keep a low profile when traveling and avoid large crowds when possible. We continue to regard travel as the best prescription the doctor can order!

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Travel In Europe This Autumn – It’s Great, But…

September 27, 2010 on 9:08 am | In Belgium travel, Europe travel, Spain Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, personal travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings | 1 Comment

The countries of Europe are often attractive travel destinations in the autumn. The crowds of summer have departed, as have the high temperatures and uncomfortable humidity. The changing leaves add color, while the cooler temperatures seem to convey a vibrancy that is lacking during other seasons of the year.

Unfortunately, in 2010, autumn seems to be destined to be remembered for strikes. An article in EUbusiness indicates that “radical” Europeans want to force the nations of the European Union into depositing billions of euros with the EU Government in Brussels. In turn, these monies would be forfeitable by any country country that fails to tighten national spending as much as is required to move them back within the deficit spending levels required by EU law.

The first action for creating the deficit reduction plan will be considered on Wednesday in Brussels where it is expected to generate a protest strike of over 100,000 people. A similar protest will take place in Spain on the same day, with other demonstrations planned, but not yet scheduled, across the countries in the EU. Since most member states of the EU have broken through the deficit barrier and are attempting to cut public spending (including changing the retirement systems), it is likely that strikes by concerned citizens will plague EU countries for the rest of the year and, perhaps, beyond. In fact, solving the differences of opinion among member states concerning this issue will be crucial to the future of the European Union.

We recommend avoiding demonstrations or getting anywhere near strikes or gathered strikers. It’s not that we agree or disagree with their stand, it is just that when we are on a long deserved vacation we intend to enjoy it. It is our belief that the easiest and safest way to do that is to avoid all public demonstrations when you travel.

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EU-Wide Strike on September 29, 2010

August 25, 2010 on 10:09 am | In Europe travel, France Travel, Germany travel, Greece Travel, Italy travel, Spain Travel, england travel, strikes and travel | Comments Off

On September 29, 2010 many of Europe’s trade unions are planing an EU-wide protest against the austerity measures imposed by governments in the region. For more details see this excellent article published by the European Voice.

While numerous pan-European actions are still being considered, there are currently plans for strikes in Spain, Italy, Portugal and a mass demonstration in Brussels (that could exceed 70,000 participants).

If you plan on traveling in the EU during this period, be prepared for some inconvenience. We recommend avoiding Brussels on September 29, as the demonstration is being held in advance of a meeting of the EU Finance Ministers in the city on the 30th and 31st of September.

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Its Snowing…On The Mediterranean Coast of Spain and France

March 9, 2010 on 11:58 am | In Europe travel, France, France Travel, Spain Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, things travelers need to know, travel weather warning | Comments Off

It continues to be a rough winter in Europe and it appears that “Old Man Winter” wants to extend his reach. Today, there was snow in Barcelona. In addition, there was snow in southern France , including Nimes (the link is to a video on the BBC that shows snow and palm trees, something you do not see every day).

Well, spring is on its way and it will be another glorious summer along the Mediterranean Coast of Europe. In fact, with all of the precipitation, it should be a colorful spring as well.

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