In Britain, Gatwick Airport was closed due the weather and British airways suspended all flights out of Heathrow. Airports across Europe were canceling flights by the hundreds and many smaller airports (even as far south as Florence, Italy) were closed. Highways in Denmark were treacherous, as were roadways across much of the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Rome, the city’s fabulous fountains iced over and snow was swirling around the Colosseum.
According to the weather forecasts, it does not look like the problems will go away soon. In fact, this may go down as the coldest December in the United Kingdom since weather statistics have been kept on an official basis. If you are planning on traveling to the UK or Europe for Christmas, bring plenty of patience, prepare for traffic jams and expect canceled flights. Most of all dress warm, wear layers and bring a winter coat. Leave those flip-flops at home and wear waterproof boots.
The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano (located near the island’s south coast, approximately 149 kilometers (92 miles) southeast of Reykjavik) has the potential to cause much damage to the country and the world’s climate. Today, however, the volcano’s cloud of steam and smoke, spread across Western Europe and the UK by prevailing winds, has become a major hazard to air travel.
Many of the airports in Europe, particularly those along the western coast zone of Europe, have closed in response to the threat that the volcanic cloud poses. Concentrations of volcanic ash and dust can decrease visibility during flights at higher altitudes and damage or cause engine shutdowns in jet-powered aircraft at any altitude.
For detailed information on the event and the response, see this article in the Wall Street Journal.
For some great photos of the volcano and detailed information on the eruption,see this excellent presentation from the Detroit Free Press.
The volcanic eruption in Iceland has created a major problem for all air travelers in Europe, as well as those planning on flying to Europe. The length of the eruption and the wind patterns can vary and there is no easy way to tell when air traffic will resume normal patterns. If you are planning on traveling to or in Europe in the next week, be sure to contact your airline, well in advance, to see what information they can offer. If you are in Europe and trying to return home, this will be a frustrating week, as volcanic eruptions are one of those situations beyond the control of the airlines or anyone else.
For many travelers, the “Little Mermaid” statue in Copehagen is the most well-known icon of this delighful Danish city. Modeled after Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”, the small statue has captured the imagination of almost every visitor to the city and is one of Copenhagen’s most popular attractions.
However, for some unfathomable reason, the Little Mermaid Statue has been uprooted by the authorities and it is on its way for a six-month sojourn in …Shanghai, China for the World Expo, where is will be the centerpiece of the Danish exhibition. So, those of you hoping to see the little lady during your summer trip to Denmark, will have to make do with a video that will run in its place, until it returns.
See this video at the BBC for more information.
As you know, Copenhagen is the site of the ongoing Climate Meetings and several mass demonstrations are expected. We urge vacation travelers to avoid Copenhagen untl after December 20th. For those of you who cannot avoid the situation, the following information may be of interest.
The U.S. Embassy Copenhagen issued the following Warden Message on December 10:
This Warden Message is to inform U.S. citizens that Copenhagen may experience demonstrations from Friday, December 11th until Friday, December 18th. Some of the demonstrations on these days may become violent.
Areas of Copenhagen that may have demonstrations are:
Strøget (Walking Street)
Town Hall Square
The Harbor area
Today, we saw the results of a poll by the website TripAdvisor representing the sentiments of their members on travel in Europe. (We have attached links to each city mentioned here in case you want to take a look at our recommendations on these destinations.)
According to the 2,376 people surveyed, London is the most expensive, has the worst-dressed citizens and is the dirtiest city in Europe. The headline of the article claimed that London had the worst cuisine in Europe, but in the poll it was voted second behind Paris (by one percentage point), and ahead of Rome (by four percentage points). How London could be the worst, when it was not voted the worst seems like editorial malpractice. Somewhat curiously, in a poll by TripAdvisor held on March 13, 2008, London was voted as the best European city to visit, although it was cited as being the most expensive and the dirtiestParis was evaluated as overrated and expensive.
Apparently there is a silver lining to every dark cloud as the voters loved London for its numerous free attractions (most of its major museums for instance), while Paris was cited for having the best food and best-dressed people. Dublin fared well as a friendly place, as did Amsterdam and Prague (the best bargain). Copenhagen was voted as Europe’s cleanest city. Barcelona was rated as having the best architecture, while Warsaw was rated as having the ugliest.
We don’t know about you, but if we had the chance to hop on a flight today for any of these cities, we would happily do so. In large part, the quality of your travel experience depends on your doing the research to find the place that is right for you. If you do not like art, fashion, history and great food, or the French, you will hate Paris. Most of us find it a joy to visit the City of Light and would recommend it to others. London, too, is a fantastic place to visit and we have never had a bad time while exploring the complex entity that is London. We have found that street food in London is greasy and poorly prepared. However, if you are willing to pay the price, London has some of the best restaurants in Europe.
One final observation – we tend to fill out review forms when we have had a bad experience. If the restuarant’s service was poor, we let them know. If the flight was delayed and the service was cruddy, we let them know. Conversely, when things go well we also let them know, but would likely not fill out a form to tell that that our experience was just as it should have been. In other words, we take polls for what they are worth – very little. But, they do make life interesting. As does travel.
Pasted below is the data from the TripAdvisor Poll, in case you do not want to read the release.
Attractions: 1. London (35%) 2. Rome (9%) 3. Barcelona (9%)
Most Over-Rated: 1. Paris (25%) 2. London (12%) 3. Dublin (6%)
Most Under-Rated: 1. Krakow (7%) 2. Bruges (6%) 3. Edinburgh (5%)
Locals: 1. Dublin (15%) 2. Amsterdam (14%) 3. Edinburgh (8%)
Least Friendly: 1. Paris (36%) 2. London (17%) 3. Moscow (6%)
Most Boring: 1. Brussels (14%) 2. Zurich (9%) 3. Dublin (6%)
Traps: 1. London (30%) 2. Paris (15%) 3. Rome (10%)
Most Romantic: 1. Venice (29%) 2. Paris (21%) 3. Rome (11%)
Most Expensive: 1. London (23%) 2. Paris (19%) 3. Venice (8%)
Best Bargain: 1. Prague (16%) 2. Amsterdam (9%) 3. Istanbul (8%)
Best Nightlife: 1. London (27%) 2. Amsterdam (17%) 3. Barcelona(11%)
Cleanest: 1. Copenhagen (9%) 2. Zurich (8%) 3. Stockholm (7%)
Dirtiest: 1. London (36%) 2. Paris (9%) 3. Athens (7%)
Best cuisine: 1. Paris (18%) 2. London (17%) 3. Rome (13%)
Worst cuisine: 1. London (10%) 2. Moscow (7%) 3. Warsaw (6%)
Architecture: 1. Barcelona (15%) 2. Rome (14%) 3. London (12%)
Architecture: 1. Warsaw (8%) 2. Berlin (7%) 3. Brussels (6%)
Parks: 1. London (50%) 2. Paris (7%) 3. Barcelona (6%)
Best Dressed: 1. Paris (26%) 2. Rome (23%) 3. Madrid (8%)
Worst Dressed: 1. London (20%) 2. Dublin (6%) 3. Moscow (6%)
Norrebro is a neighborhood of Copenhagen, Denmark that has been likened by some to Greenwich Village in New York City. We do not include Norrebro as one of Copenhagen’s Best Places to Visit in our ThereArePlaces Guide to Denmark, as we regard it as a little too edgy for most visitors. We read earlier today that The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office has advised travellers to be cautious when visiting Norrebo, as it has become the scene of significant gang violence. Read this article from the Copenhagen Post Online for more information.
Last week we read another article on Norrebro indicating that a volunteer group providing a neighborhood watch function in this section of Copenhagen had thrown in the towel and given up “policing” the area because of the dangers involved. We recommend that you avoid Norrebro, at least for the time being.