A New Bridge for Venice

August 11, 2007 on 11:29 am | In Italy, Venice, country travel information, travel news | Comments Off

The first new bridge crossing the Grand Canal  in 70 years is under construction.  The unamed 180 foot long structure conncects the city’s train station on the north side of the Grand Canal with the Piazzale Roma car park on the south bank of the Grand Canal.  The construction is expected to be completed by the end of  the year.  Major sections of the bridge were floated up the Grand Canal to the location of the new bridge.   Yahoo News has more information.

Our  Venice  map shows the location of the new bridge.  Use the satellite image option for more detail.

Big Ben Stilled for Six Weeks

August 11, 2007 on 10:34 am | In London, United Kingdom, country travel information, travel, travel news | 1 Comment

Various news organization are reporting that Big Ben will not chime of over the next six weeks (until mid-September) due to maintenance and cleaning.  The work is part of the preparations for the “Great Clock’s” 150th aniversary in 2009.  As you may know, “Big Ben” is the name of the 13.5 tone bell the clocktower  houses.  For more information, see this article by the BBC 

German Rail Strike on Hold, Rome Airport Baggage Woes Continue

August 8, 2007 on 7:42 am | In country travel information, travel, travel news | Comments Off

The German courts have ruled that Germany’s train drivers may not strike until the end of September.  The union representing the drivers indicated that it would appeal.  For now, however, the strike is off.

You may have heard that Rome’s main airport (Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino) had massive baggage handling problems last weekend.  It was the start of the high travel season and thousands of bags were not loaded onto their flights.  In addition baggage claim was very slow.  See this article on how the Italian Transport Minister plans to solve this problem.


Germany Railway Strike Starts Tomorrow

August 7, 2007 on 8:44 am | In country travel information, personal travel, travel, travel news | Comments Off

As many of you know, the beginning of August marks the start of Europe’s summer vacation season.  Unfortunately, it also marks the time when many transport unions strike, knowing that it will cause massive disruption and unhappy customers.

This week, starting on Wednesday, Germany expects to be hit with a massive train strike headed by train drivers.  See this link from the BBC for more information.



Kashmir Travel Warning

July 31, 2007 on 7:59 am | In country travel information, travel, travel industry, travel warnings | Comments Off

An article in the Times of India reports two explosions last week on tourist buses in the Kashmir Valley  The Kashmir Valley is located in Jammu and Kashmir  and under Indian administration, while the remainder of Kashmir is administered by Pakistan and China. 

The terrorism resulted in 9 dead over two days and appears to be a campaign by militants, who hope to gain leverage in political discussions by attacking the tourism industry.  The tourism industry in the Kashmir Valley is one of the leading segments of the area’s economy.


Continued Flooding in Central and Western England

July 23, 2007 on 9:53 am | In country travel information, personal travel, travel news, travel warnings | Comments Off

England continues to reel from the unusual amount of summer rain.  According to the country’s national weather services this has been the rainiest summer since 1947.  Although the torrential rains have stopped, the problem is that the water is draining into river basins that are unable to cope with the enormous volume of water. 

The Severn, The Thames, the Avon and other major rivers are at flood stage.  If you plan on traveling in this area in the immediate future, you may want to change your plans.  See this article from the BBC that includes a map of the severe flood warnings that are now in place.

Morocco Travel Alert

July 17, 2007 on 1:14 pm | In country travel information, personal travel, travel industry, travel warnings | Comments Off

Although we do not cover Morocco in our ThereArePlaces website, we realize that many visitors to Spain, or those cruising the Mediterranean may do so.  If you are planning on visiting Morocco this summer, please read the following note.

On Friday, July 6, Moroccan press reported that authorities raised the terror alert level for the country to its highest level, citing a current, serious threat of a terrorist act. A statement from the Ministry of Interior clarified that the maximum level of alert “indicates a serious threat of a terrorist act and demands extreme mobilization by the bodies concerned.”

It was also reported that Moroccan security forces stepped up their activities and vigilance throughout the country. No further information was given as to what the threat might entail; only that it came from “reliable intelligence information.”

Analysts speculate that the threat may have been raised in part due to continued calls for attacks by senior al-Qa’ida leadership, as well as recent attacks throughout North Africa by al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Several major events are also approaching in Morocco, which could also increase the vigilance of security forces. These include the Fete du Trone and Fete de la Jeunesse, both likely to occur in late July, and parliamentary elections scheduled for September 7.

Oh that smelly Naples – but Campania too?

July 9, 2007 on 6:52 pm | In country travel information, travel news | Comments Off

U.S. Consulate in Naples released the following  Message on July 8:

This Warden Message is being issued to alert U.S. citizens to the non-collection and disposal of garbage in the region of Campania and province of Naples. Americans in this area may be exposed to a possible health risk from piled up and burning garbage.

Garbage collection has been disrupted in Naples and the region of Campania since May 2007, leading to a waste disposal emergency as large piles of trash lie uncollected for weeks. Some residents are setting trash piles on fire. U.S. citizens traveling to or through the area may encounter mounds of garbage, open fires with potentially toxic fumes, and/or sporadic public demonstrations by local residents attempting to block access to dumps.

Authorities generally do a good job of collecting garbage in the tourist zone comprising the port and central historic district, Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano, the Amalfi coast and the islands of Capri and Ischia. Health officials state that they have detected no outbreaks of infectious disease related to the garbage crisis and are disinfecting areas where garbage has piled up. Local physicians have indicated that airborne particles and fumes from these fires can aggravate respiratory problems. Depending on what is in the garbage, a fire could release toxic substances into the air.

Health officials are monitoring the situation closely. Americans in the area are encouraged to follow developments in the media.

Smoking Ban in England

July 1, 2007 on 4:17 pm | In country travel information, personal travel | Comments Off

As you may know, smoking in enclosed public places has been banned in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for some time.  Today (july 1, 2007) England adopted stringent rules regarding smoking in public enclosed spaces.  The ban does not apply to hotel rooms, so those allergic to or discomforted by smoke should make a request for a non-smoking room (which are sometimes hard to find in English hotels). 

Paris, the French – a Retrospective by a BBC Reporter

June 28, 2007 on 2:06 pm | In Uncategorized, country travel information, personal travel, travel | Comments Off

I just finished reading an article from BBC news written by Caroline Wyatt,  the BBC’s French Food and Wine who was departing her assignment in Paris.  Her view of Paris, France, the French and the challenges the country faces are insightful and a pleasure to read.  If you want to get to know the French or read the notes of someone with a keen eye and a social sense who lived in Paris for several years, read this article in the BBC  news. 

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