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.
 

Athens – Hot and Smokey

July 17, 2007 on 1:05 pm | In Uncategorized | Comments Off

The International Herald Tribunes has an interesting article on the forest fires that have been raging around Athens, Greece.  You can find it at

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/16/news/greece.php

The present fire seems to have been the result  the mid-June heat wave across Europe that was especially intense in Greece.  If you are planning on visiting Athens soon or the Greek Isles, you should read the article cited above.

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.
 

Terrorism in UK

July 1, 2007 on 4:54 pm | In Uncategorized | Comments Off

London was hit with two aborted car bombings last week and the central airport at Glasgow, Scotland was damaged by what appears to have been a suicide-car bombing attempt gone awry (thankfully).

Obviously, these events have been covered in-depth by the major new services, although the most detailed coverage is available from the BBC (http://www.bbc.com/).  In what can only be called errors, due to the “fog of terrorism” or the ineptitude of the press, almost every piece of news coverage had major mistakes while reporting on this event.

First, most U.S. television networks got the location of the first London attempted car bombing correct.  Unfortunately, the second car was parked between the first car and Trafalgar Square.  Most networks reported the second car as being found in an impound lot along Park Lane next to Hyde Park.  Yes, the car was examined at the impound lot, but it had been towed from where it was found on Cockspur Street, just down from where the first car was found on Haymarket.

Next, the terrorism chief of Scotland Yard indicated that the first car was loaded with gasoline, propane cylinders and numerous boxes of nails, while the first was found with gasoline and propane, but no mention of nails, which was not what was reported by the news services.

Of course, the location of the first bomb was next to the Tiger Tiger nightclub.  If you would believe the press, because it was ”ladys’ night” the place was packed.  Why it had 2,000 – no make that 1,700 – no make that 2,400 – no make that less than 500 revelers by the time it was sifted through.  What is interesting here is that  1700 seems to be the best “guess” of the maximum size of crowd that the nightclub could contain.
 
Finally, if you were listening to the reports of the car bombing at Glasgow airport, you would have heard that the vehicle was a Land Rover.  This lasted for several hours, even though the profile of the vehicle showing through the flames was not that of any model of Land Rover.  Ah, it was a Jeep.
 
Not that any of these errors changed police procedure or really mattered to most listeners.  What is important is that if you are traveling away from home and there is an incident, it will be hard to get “useful” news about the event while it is unfolding. 

Our advice is to focus on local source for news (for example, the BBC had the most accurate and updated coverage of the attempted car bombings in London).  We advise you to consider curtailing local touring immediately after any incident that occurs in a town you are visiting (we assume the people who thought the second car bombing in London was near Hyde Park got quite a surprise when they tried to visit Trafalgar Square that day).  Or to put it another way, for those of you in London this week,  the fact that the British raised their terror rating system to the highest level, should be taken as a recommendation to be vigilant and careful.

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). 

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