The BBC published a story today about the current Greek strike that is stranding tourists by the boatload. The public service employees strike has shut down transportation and medical services in much of the country. Of interest to travelers, ferry passage to the Greek Islands from Piraeus (Athens) is now closed. Air travel, while sometimes a good alternative for travel to some of the Greek Islands was also shut down by the strikers. The current strike comes on the back of another ferry strike last week that was ruled illegal by the Greek courts, but the police did not enforce the ruling and the passengers were stranded.
This summer is the worst strike season in Greece in recent memory. The strike situation, a result of the country’s economic problems, has been prolonged and many think that it may come to a climax in the near future. We suspect that the “strike environment” will last the entire summer, but our opinion appears to be a minority one, at present.
While Greece and the Greek Islands have much to offer the tourist, no one wants to travel with the uncertainty posed by the current situation. The disasterous economic conditions, combined with the reduction in tourist trade caused by the strikes, will certainly drive some of the tourist operations in Greece out of business and undoubtedly harm those that manage to survive this year’s problem. Perhaps, more importantly, the situation is destined to sour many visitors from considering vacation travel to Greece now or in the future.
If you have travel plans that include visiting Greece over the rest of the summer, be prepared for delays and unexpected interruptions due to strikes and possible civil disorder.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Unite, the union representing the cabin crews at British Airways have decided to postpone a vote on further strike action against the airline in order to consider a new offer from BA.
It still remains possible that the BA crews will strike in August, but the airline has taken various steps that they believe will allow them to operate all longhaul flights, as well as a substantial portion of the shorhaul flights from London Heathrow.
If you plan of flying British Airways during the next month or two, be sure to check with the airline to determine that you reservations are still intact.
Today, we read an interesting article in Science News indicating that travelers prefer to take southern routes over northern ones. It appears that many of the subjects in the experiment seemed to think that the northern route between two places was a longer distance than a southern route connecting the two places, even though both routes were the same length. One notion advanced to explain this difference is that people may equate routes going north as being “uphill” and avoid them. You can read the Science News article here.
Going up doesn’t seem to dissuade visitors to the Eiffel Tower from the ascent, but maybe the elevators, the beautiful view and the ambiance of the Tour Eiffel overcome gravity.
Tourism in Greece has suffered this year as parades, demonstrations and riots have been common responses to the country’s economic woes. Because the government required outside funding to resolve its budgetary crisis, it was required, as a debtor, to make some severe cutbacks to the country’s social budgets and these changes are extremely unpopular. The violent responses to the governements programs have caused some travelers to avoid Greece this summer, although the trend may slowly be reversing.
In order to lure the travelers back, the government of Greece is now willing to pay the cost of tourists who are stranded in Greece due to industrial action or natural disaster. Read about this program in this announcement from the BBC. If the news sways you, see the ThereArePlaces guide to the best places to visit in Greece and start your travel planning.
This week we received a piece of promotional email from Anna Eriksson who has written a guidebook for the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Illustrated with superb photography by Mason Bendewald, the guide includes practical information and intriguing stories about 31 of the most famous people interred in the world’s most interesting cemetery, including: Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Collette, Heloise and Abelard, Moliere, Edith Piaf, Proust, Isadora Duncan, Sarah Bernhardt and Maria Callas – to name of a few.
When we updated and expanded our Paris Guide this spring, we added a new section on Pere Lachaise and think that you might find Anna Eriksson’s guide to be of interest if you will be traveling to Paris. An iPod audio edition of the guide is also available. See this website for details on the book, the author and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
CNN International is running a detailed article on flooding that has taken place in the France region of Var, which includes the Cote d’Azur. At least 15 were killed and 12 remain missing after a series of flash floods struck the area yesterday. The town of Draguignan was hard hit as the flooding swept cars down the city’s streets.
Train service from Toulon to Saint-Raphael has been halted until Thursday (and perhaps longer) as sections of track remain underwater. In addition, numerous roads are closed due to debris and electric service remains unavailable in some sections of the region. According the AP more rain is forecast for the Var region overnight.
If you have travel plans for this area of France, we recommend that you delay them until next week, or longer.
The Sunday Times (London) published a fun article last weekend on the 20 best seaside villas in Europe that are currently for rent. Although some were too expensive for us, some were in our price range and we thought that all of the properties mentioned were inviting.
We liked the sound of “16 Windmillls Greece”, although we were attracted to several others.
How about you, which one would you choose?
Several areas in Central Europe (Poland, northern Hungary, Slovakia and nearby locales) continue to be ravaged by flooding that some have described as the worst in a century. If you have plans to travel in this area during the next week or two, you might want read this article in preparation for your journey.
The G8 and G20 summits will be held in Canada later this month. The G8 and G20 are conferences named loosely for the number of countries invited to attend and are a forum where strategies for the world’s economies are discussed.
The G8 Summit will be held on June 25 and 26 in Muskoka at the Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, about 220 kilometers north of Toronto. The G20 meeting will be held in Toronto on June 26 and 27 and a portion of the center city will be closed to casual visitors. See this article from CityTV.com for a map of the area that will be cordoned off in Toronto and this site from the Toronto Sun for a good explanation of the backgrounds of the G8 and G20.
The G8 site is remote and the security for the event should not be a difficulty for most tourists, except those vacationing in the area. The section of downtown Toronto that is being secured is more heavily traveled and may inconvenience tourists visiting the city during the G20 meeting. Our advice, avoid Tornonto and the Huntsville areas until after the twin conferences have left town. Numerous demonstrations are expected and violence has been a common strategy for those protesting these meetings.
Once the meetings are over, however, it really is a delightful time of year to visit Canada, especially Ontario.