Paris – Snowbound

December 8, 2010 on 11:25 am | In Europe travel, France, France Travel, Paris Travel, air travel, travel warnings, travel weather warning | Comments Off

Paris, the City of Light, has been hit by white. Heavy snow closed the Charles de Gaulle airport and the Eiffel Tower. France has issued a weather alert forecasting snow through Thursday. If you are planning to travel to Paris or central France be prepared for travel delays and lots of white stuff. See this article from CNN for more details.

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France Travel – Ouch

October 19, 2010 on 11:05 am | In Europe travel, France Travel, Paris Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel warnings | 1 Comment

We expect that you have noticed that the strikes in France, mentioned in our last few blogs, have intensified and do not appear to be letting up. Indeed, a BBC reporter has indicated that he sensed a change in the atmosphere of the strikes and felt that it is possible the demonstrations will turn “angry”. See this report by the BBC for more details.

To show you how bad things are in France, recently a Celebrity Cruise ship on day one of 12-night Mediterranean Cruise was found to have a damaged rudder when docked at Nice, France. The cruise was canceled, but rail services is now so unpredictable in France that the passengers were offered only a 10 hour bus ride to Barcelona, rather than a seat on a high-speed TGV to Paris for a return home.

Our recommendation is that you cancel immediate plans for travel to France. Wait until the strikes and petrol shortage are resolved and, only then, consider returning to the country. We understand the emotions of the strikers and the establishment, but note that the situation is a great loss for tourists and those who depend on them for income, as this is a particularly delightful and popular time of the year to explore the wonders of France.

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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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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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Flash Floods in Southern France

June 16, 2010 on 9:21 am | In Europe travel, France Travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel restrictions, travel weather warning | Comments Off

CNN International is running a detailed article on flooding that has taken place in the France region of Var, which includes the Cote d’Azur. At least 15 were killed and 12 remain missing after a series of flash floods struck the area yesterday. The town of Draguignan was hard hit as the flooding swept cars down the city’s streets.

Train service from Toulon to Saint-Raphael has been halted until Thursday (and perhaps longer) as sections of track remain underwater. In addition, numerous roads are closed due to debris and electric service remains unavailable in some sections of the region. According the AP more rain is forecast for the Var region overnight.

If you have travel plans for this area of France, we recommend that you delay them until next week, or longer.

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Best Seaside Villas In Europe for Rent?

June 15, 2010 on 10:47 pm | In Europe travel, things travelers need to know, travel, travel news, vacation travel | Comments Off

The Sunday Times (London) published a fun article last weekend on the 20 best seaside villas in Europe that are currently for rent. Although some were too expensive for us, some were in our price range and we thought that all of the properties mentioned were inviting.

We liked the sound of “16 Windmillls Greece”, although we were attracted to several others.
How about you, which one would you choose?

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Vienna – Best Quality of Life In The World?

May 26, 2010 on 10:25 am | In Europe travel, ThereArePlaces.com, austria travel, personal travel, things travelers need to know, vienna travel | Comments Off

Today, we noticed that Vienna was rated the top city in the world for quality of life. Earlier this year, we published our new, online Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Vienna, shortly after completing extensive field research in this delightful city. When we returned to our home base, we wanted to hop on a plane and revisit Vienna, as we found ourselves longing for its historic buildings, musical heritage, fantastic museums, dazzling attractions and, of course, those wonderful coffee shops and pastries.

If you are considering a trip to Europe, Vienna may be just the ticket for you. Read our Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Vienna for all the details on why this city is one of the world’s best.

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This Week’s Strikes and Other Impediments to Travel

May 19, 2010 on 9:20 am | In Europe travel, Greece Travel, London travel, air travel, international travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, volcano travel warning | Comments Off

Another general strike against the government’s austerity plans is scheduled in Greece for tomorrow (Thursday). The prognosis is that the strike will disrupt public services and most transport, except air travel. Read about it at Kathimerini

Also, in the same publication is an article indicating that hotel occupancy in Greece is down 10 percent. In turn, the hotels have responded with price cuts reported at the 10 percent level. We suspect that bargains may be struck by those inclined to haggle (and it could be a prolonged haggle).

In the UK, the situation with the BA strike appears unsettled. Although the strike was banned by the courts, it still caused 20,000 cancellations yesterday and will likely have the same influence today. In addition, the cabin crews are seeking to have the courts overturn the injunction on striking. See this updated article in Bloomberg – Business Week for more details.

The Iceland volcano caused problems over the weekend for flights in the UK and Ireland and yesterday in the eastern Mediterranean. Britain and Ireland have relaxed the rules for flying in “ash cloud” situations. Read this article from The New York Times for more details.

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More Air Travel Woes – Volcano and Strike

May 10, 2010 on 8:15 am | In Europe travel, Ireland travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, personal travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel news, travel warnings, volcano travel warning | 1 Comment

Well, the Eyjafjallajokul Volcano is at it again and it is expected that air travel to and in Europe may be disrupted later this week (see this article at CNN). In addition, the cloud of volcanic ash is causing travel disruptions in the UK especially Ireland, as described in this article from the Clare Herald. Finally, it appears that the ash clouds that were causing problems in Europe last week are now over the eastern Mediterranean according to this article in Haaretz.

It appears that there is continued life in Iceland’s volcano and this may spell trouble for air travelers this summer. If you are going to travel to (and around) Europe this summer, this might be the time to consider travel insurance – but be sure that the policy offers protection from acts of nature (most policies do not provide this type of rider).

If all of that wasn’t enough, the cabin crews of British Airways are at it again, announcing four separate five-day strikes in May and June. The strikes are scheduled to begin on May 18 -22, but we can only hope that the matter is settled before then. See the BBC for more details.

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