Greece Adds Gasoline to the Fire

February 10, 2012 on 2:46 pm | In Europe travel, Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert Greece, travels in Turkey | Comments Off

While the rest of Europe is freezing, the political heat in Greece seems to keep rising. It appears that the “debt deal” that was being considered has taken a back stage to the country’s apparent unwillingness to cut spending in order to qualify for the loans necessary to help it through this economic crisis. See this article from the Wall Street Journal for more detail.

From a traveler’s perspective, we think this means another “poor” year for travel in Greece. While you might be able to find some bargains, because travel will be down, you may also run into strikes, riots, demonstrations, intermittent transportation service and other headaches that do not appeal to most travelers. Our recommendation: look for an alternative to travel in Greece this summer. If you want to head in that direction, we recommend that you consider a vacation in Turkey.

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Continued Travel Woes for Europe

February 10, 2012 on 2:35 pm | In Belgium travel, Czech Republic travel, Denmark travel, Europe travel, France Travel, Germany travel, Italy travel, London travel, Netherlands travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, england travel, hungary travel, russia travel, things travelers need to know, travel weather warning | Comments Off

Cold weather, ice, snow and blizzard force winds continue to wreak havoc with those attempting to travel on the “Continent”, particularly those traveling in Eastern Europe. Section of the Danube River in Romania have been closed to traffic and other sections have frozen over for the first time in twenty-five years. See this detailed review at CNN for more information. These articles from the UPI and France24 provide details on various aspects of the continued weather troubles plaguing Europe.

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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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Heavy Snow Hits Austria

January 8, 2012 on 7:15 pm | In Europe travel, air travel, austria travel, train travel in europe, travel warnings, travel weather warning | 3 Comments

High winds, heavy snowfalls and icy conditions are playing havoc with travel in Austria. The BBC, in a bevy of articles, describes the problems being caused by heavy snowfall in the west of Austria where villages and some towns have been cut-off due to road and railroad closure.

If you are planning on travel in Austria this week, you might want to avoid the most heavily hit areas.

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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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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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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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U.S. State Department Issues New Worldwide Travel Caution

May 3, 2011 on 6:55 pm | In Europe travel, Terrorism and travel, Transportation Security Administration, Travel Safety, air travel security, things travelers need to know, travel, travel alert, travel warnings | 1 Comment

The U. S. State Department has issued a Worldwide Travel Alert based on the potential for terrorists to react to the death of Osama Bin Laden, as the result of what is described in the document as “…recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan.”

Partial text of the report includes this extended quote:

“The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan. Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. This Travel Alert expires August 1, 2011.

U.S. Embassy operations in affected areas will continue to the extent possible under the constraints of any evolving security situation. U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.”

You can find the full text of the document here at the website of the U.S. State Department.

In addition, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration issued this statement on its website regarding airport security following the death of Osama bin Laden:

May 2, 2011

“TSA continually evaluates the latest threats and screening measures which are implemented based on the latest intelligence. As always, passengers may notice a variety of security measures at U.S. airports to include the use of physical bag checks, random gate screening, explosives detection technology, canine teams and behavior detection officers. We ask the traveling public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.”

Note that the State Department Travel warning will be in effect until the end of August. The TSA announcement, as is usual, did not mention a specific term, but was used to inform the traveling public that they may experience additional security during the future months.

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More Air Travel Woes in France

December 24, 2010 on 8:53 am | In Europe travel, France Travel, Germany travel, Ireland travel, Paris Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, england travel, things travelers need to know, travel weather warning | 1 Comment

Winter in Europe seems to be the gift that keeps on giving and one that does not want to go away. Today’s weather-related focus is Paris, where Charles de Gaulle Airport is dealing with two problems. First, heavy snow accumulations on the roof of one of the airport’s terminals has caused its evacuation. Second, the airport is running out of deicing fluid and has asked airlines to cancel flights because of the problem.

Over half of the flights scheduled to arrive or depart from Charles de Gaulle Airport have been canceled with more cancellations expected tomorrow. By the way, Orly, the other Paris airport has enough deicer and has not canceled any flights, so this may be an option for some. Information on the deicing problem at de Gaulle Airport and conditions at several other European airports are described in this article from Bloomberg.

To all of our readers, we wish you a Happy Holiday Season filled with rest, relaxation and good times. May the next year be your best ever.

Thanks for reading our blog and visiting our website ThereArePlaces.com.

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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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