We have been busy at work updating and expending our Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Paris. You can find the New ThereArePlaces Guide here.
Paris is lovely at any time of the year, but the best seasons are rapidly approaching and if you have not yet been to Paris, make this year the one. Our new Paris guide has updated information for all attractions, an expanded list of best places to visit, more photographs and additional “color” commentary on neighborhoods. If you have never been to Paris, see our Paris Travel Tips section for hints of how to make Paris your pearl.
As many of you may have read, Chile was struck with a massive earthquake late last week, while severe storms struck Europe this weekend, both natural events causing significant deaths and destruction. Our hearts go out to the residents of Chile and those of the European countries who are suffering from these natural disasters.
All travelers should have a mental checklist prepared for those circumstances where an event beyond your control occurs in an area in which are are traveling. Many catastrophes, such as storms, are often predictable and when you are “on the road” you should check the local weather on a daily basis. Doing so will let you know whether your plans are advisable or if you should stay put for a day or two. While most of you travel by schedule, there is no sense heading to an area that is predicted to have severe weather. Instead, cancel the reservation for your next night and find one where you currently are lodged, if you regard it as a safe destination. Always ask locals for advice – they likely have seen this problem before.
In the case of earthquakes, there is simply nothing you can do to avoid being in an earthquake. Instead, be sure to read the evacuation notices and plans posted in most hotel rooms. In addition, be sure to travel with a small flashlight for use in emergencies. Next, stick the flashlight and your room key in a pocket in your pants, along with your wallet and keep them near your bed while sleeping and the same goes for your shoes. If you need to evacuate during the night, just slip on our pants, shoes and a jacket and head out, knowing you have your money and identification, as well as a light. Many recommend keeping a bottle of water in your other pocket, backpack or purse. In other words, the Boy Scouts had it right with their “Be Prepared” motto and travelers should do the same.
The U.S. Department of State issued a travel alert for Mexico on February 22, 2010. The alert included this information:
“While millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year (including tens of thousands who cross the land border every day for study, tourism or business and nearly one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico), violence in the country has increased. It is imperative that U.S. citizens understand the risks in Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and whom to contact if one becomes a crime victim. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.
Recent violent attacks have caused the U.S. Embassy to urge U.S. citizens to delay unnecessary travel to parts of MichoacĂˇn, Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua (see details below), and to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in those areas to exercise extreme caution. Drug cartels and associated criminal elements have retaliated violently against individuals who speak out against them or whom they otherwise view as a threat to their organization. These attacks include the abduction and murder of two resident U.S. citizens in Chihuahua.”
We recommend taking this travel alert seriously. Travel in many areas of Mexico outside of the major tourist zones is becoming increasingly dangerous.
Air traffic controllers in Paris started a five-day strike protesting an air traffic modernization deal between several European countries. See this article from the BBC for more information.
We suspect that 2010 will be a year of strikes in Europe, due to the economy and will do our best to advise you of of strikes or potential strikes as soon as we are have definitive information about them.
The four-day Lufthansa strike, scheduled to last until Thursday, has ended early. Approximately 900 flights were cancelled Monday and the union representing the cabin crews of British Airways had opted for a sympathy strike. See this article from Reuters for more details.
The government of Peru has indicated that it should have Machu Picchu open again in April. The site has been closed since last month when torrential rains washed out the only rail line serving the attraction. See this article from Reuters for more details. Although we do not yet cover South America at ThereArePlaces, we have provided this information for those of you interested in this dynamic continent.
The Transportation Security Administration plans to begin randomly swabbing the hands of airline passengers to determine the presence of bomb making residues in an attempt to preclude potential attacks similar to the Christmas Day 2009 incident. It appears that the testing units are portable and will be used at the security checkpoints, as well as the departure gates and possibly randomly through the airport. See this article for more information.
The Associated Press, in a story published by Forbes, indicates that the pilots working for Lufthansa will go on strike next Monday at midnight for four days. See this article for more information. If you have a booking with Lufthansa during this period, contact the airline to see what alternatives they may have for you.
Snow and drifting wind have made travel in Kent and Sussex, England difficult today. Eurotunnel Freight services have been suspended, although Eurostar trains are running, they are behind schedule. For more information, see this article in the Telegraph.
Today Rome experienced a rare snowfall that closed the Coliseum and a local airport. Although the amount of snow was minor, more may fall in the next 24 to 36 hours. See this article from Bloomberg in Business Week for more details.