A nationwide strike on Wednesday November 30, 2011 over pension rights will be joined by Immigration officers causing massive snarls for those entering the UK, especially inbound air travelers. The BBC and others are indicating that delays in processing inbound travelers could require as much as 12 hours before a person could enter the country. Airlines are recommending that passengers reschedule their flights to the next week.
Our advice – don’t fly to the UK until the week after the strike. Heathrow and other airports will be in chaos, although smaller airports might fare a little better.
Reuters reported today that a street crime wave has hit Brussels, Belgium, also known as Capital of Europe. There has been a marked increase of window bashing on parked cars to steal interior contents, as well as an uptick of street robberies, with some thieves showing guns during the crime. Note that the crime rate in Brussels is not all that high compared to other locations in Europe and around the world. However, the local police chief may have inflamed the situation when he pointed his finger at immigrants and drug addicts as the main source of the “crime wave.” See Reuters for the complete details.
If you will be traveling in downtown Brussels, exercise caution about where you travel and ask at your hotel about local crime and whether you should walk or have a taxi arranged to take you to your proposed destination.
Well, it is going to be a challenging week for travelers in Europe. Many of the train worker unions in France and other countries will be striking today against new railroad competition rules being addressed by the EU. See this article in the Local for more details on the potential problems in France, which are expected to be especially severe around Paris.
A work stoppage by rail workers in Portugal has stopped most rail travel in that country and will be followed by a nationwide general strike on November 24th. See this article in Euronews for more details.
Meanwhile in London, thousands of students are expected to protest this week in regards to cuts in support for the country’s higher education system. Although the students are usually well-mannered, they have been joined by trouble makers in the past and the same is expected this week. See this article from Sky News for more details.
If you are in France or Portugal, check locally to see the impact of the strikes and the potential for disruption that may follow later this week. If you are going to be in London this week, avoid Trafalgar Square and other city areas that are commonly used for demonstrations. Inquire at your hotel about local conditions before venturing out.
Seemingly unending rains have descended on parts of Europe, with France and Italy being especially hard hit. Many rivers are nearing flood stage and the problem has closed several noted attractions including Pompeii in southern Italy near Naples. Read this account of the action from Euronews for more details. Also, see this article by Reuters for more information on the rains in France.
Travelers in southern France, Italy or northern Spain should exercise extreme caution if visiting the affected areas. If possible, avoid driving in the areas of these countries having problems with flooding. If you are forced to navigate these areas, inquire locally for advice.