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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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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Taxi Drivers in Greece Continue Strike

July 26, 2011 on 9:33 am | In Greece Travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel alert Greece | 3 Comments

Taxi drivers in Greece have now taken their strike into a second week and no end to the action is in sight. See this article from Reuters for details.

While there are options to the striking drivers in Athens, such as the underground and other public transportation, there is little help to be found in many of the smaller towns in Greece. Travel in Greece will continue to be difficult while this strike lasts.

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Taxi Strike in Greece Causes Havoc for Cruisers

July 21, 2011 on 8:54 am | In Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, cruise travel, strikes, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news, vacation travel | 2 Comments

The taxi driver strike in Greece that we reported on Monday has been extended and is causing chaos for travelers, especially those on cruise ships.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that taxi drivers have blockaded the port at Corfu and will not allow tour buses through to take the cruisers on their tour of the island. The same appears to have happened at Iraklio on Crete. Those travelers who have paid thousands of dollars for the “cruise of a lifetime” must not be too happy with the striking drivers. Finally, another set of taxi drivers have blocked major roads out of the city of Thessaloniki and similar actions are happening around the country.

Revenues from tourism have been one of the relative strengths in the economy of Greece, but the civil unrest this summer is causing a precipitous decline in these monies. Greece can be a wonderful vacation spot, but it appears that summer of 2011 may not be quite the right time for a visit.
The taxi strike must appear as a crushing blow to the many hotel chains, restaurants and tour companies that had been hoping that 2011 would be a comeback year for tourism in Greece. Unfortunately, it appears that goal will not be realized. We can only hope that 2012 is better for the country, its travel industry and for the millions of our fellow tourists interested in visiting this sometimes enchanting country.

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Strikes in Greece – Again

July 18, 2011 on 1:11 pm | In Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know | 2 Comments

The Belfast Telegraph, among others, has reported on the ongoing strike by taxi drivers in Greece. The Taxi operators in Athens have blocked the highway to the airport as well as the road connected to the cruise ship terminals in Piraeus. Unfortunately, the strike will continue at least into tomorrow.

The Telegraph reports that authorities in Athens are advising travelers to take the shuttle trains from the airport to the city. Of course, they may be on strike next, but let’s hope not.

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Strikes in Greece Next Week

June 24, 2011 on 2:06 pm | In Greece Travel, Travel Safety, air travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel news | 2 Comments

CNN has reported that major unions in Greece are planning a forty-eight hour strike next Tuesday and Wednesday. The strike is in response to the government’s planned adoption of new austerity measures required to attain loans that will keep the country from defaulting on its financial obligations.

It is expected that the strikes will be especially large in Athens and we recommend that all travelers avoid Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At this time it is unclear, but expected that other unions will join the strike action next week. We expect the strike will cause disruptions for travelers throughout Greece. In addition, we suspect that a large number of strikes will ensue during the next few weeks, causing a decline in the number of tourists willing to vacation in Greece this summer.

For those willing to risk it, you may find travel bargains in Greece over the remainder of 2011.

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More Trouble For Tourism in Greece

June 4, 2011 on 12:31 pm | In Greece Travel, ThereArePlaces.com, air travel, personal travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel alert, travel warnings | 7 Comments

On Friday, protestors took over the headquarters building of the Greek Finance Ministry in Athens in response to the austerity cuts in the budget of the government of Greece (more privatization, higher taxes, lower benefits, etc.). See this article from the Belfast Telegraph for details on the takeover of the Finance Building. In a related story appearing on Euronews it was revealed that the government of Greece had agreed to make even deeper austerity cuts in order to bring its deficit into line with the requirements of the loan bailout that will be required to keep the country’s financial house from collapsing. Unfortunately, the Greek people are unwilling to accept these mandatory cuts and we expect a summer filled with strikes and demonstrations in Athens and across Greece.

Travelers planning to visit Greece should avoid demonstrations, as these may become more violent as the summer progresses. Strikes are, also, a difficult issue because they may effect the country’s transportation network. Our recommendation is to keep you eye on the local news and be prepared to alter you schedule if a strike does happen to occur.

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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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Greece and Australia Travel Troubles

February 5, 2011 on 8:12 pm | In Australia Travel, Egypt travel, Greece Travel, Jordan traevl, ThereArePlaces.com, things travelers need to know, travel alert | 2 Comments

Those of you planning travel to Greece or Australia need to be aware of problems in these countries that could impact travel in the next week or two.

In Greece, pharmacists, doctors and bus drivers are on strike and if you are planning travel to Greece, you should read this article.

In Australia, Queensland has once again suffered from flooding, this time related to Cyclone Yasi. Read this article if you are currently visiting Australia, or plan to travel there this week.

For the two weeks, we have been transfixed with the plight of the Egyptian people in their brave battle for a government that would respond to their needs for freedom from repression and improved economic conditions.

As a side note, we had reservations for a trip to Egypt and Jordan starting next week. We were heading up a research effort that we hoped would enable us to add Egypt and Jordan to the list of countries that we cover at ThereArePlaces. I guess our team just had the wrong timing and note that the cancellation of our trip was a minor disappointment and pales in comparison to the travails and problems of the Egyptian people. In our next blog, we will describe our experience with the tour providers, hotels and airlines that we had chosen for our adventure. A couple performed very well, but one failed quite miserably. More on that next time.

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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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