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.
Cold weather, ice, snow and blizzard force winds continue to wreak havoc with those attempting to travel on the “Continent”, particularly those traveling in Eastern Europe. Section of the Danube River in Romania have been closed to traffic and other sections have frozen over for the first time in twenty-five years. See this detailed review at CNN for more information. These articles from the UPI and France24 provide details on various aspects of the continued weather troubles plaguing Europe.
On February 8, 20122 the United States Department of State issued an extremely detailed Travel Warning for those who might want to visit or live in Mexico. Travel to Mexico appears to be increasingly dangerous for the casual traveler intent on exploring areas outside of recognized tourist zones.
The new travel warning provides maps that show the locations of areas to avoid when traveling in Mexico. Note that the travel warning includes this consideration,
“Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.”
The new travel warning is a “must read” for anyone considering travel to Mexico. It is quite long, but the detail is very useful. Several of the maps are downloadable, so you can keep them for future reference. Read the full text here.
The cold weather in Europe is not only getting colder, but it is spreading. On Sunday, Heathrow Airport outside London cancelled thirty-percent of its outgoing flights due to weather problems in the UK and Europe. London has been hit with ice, Rome with snow and throughout Europe many roads are impossibly impassible. See this article from CNN for details. Reuters has additional details that might be of interest.
If you can delay or defer your travel to Europe, do so as the weather is deadly and transportation difficulties will make it too difficult for quality touring. If you cannot defer your travel, take warm clothes and plan on bundling-up for the duration. The bad weather is intensifying and snow is expected in Belgium, Germany and possibly Greece. It is expected that weather conditions across Europe will worsen over the next few days.
It has been a tough week for travelers in Spain, Hungary and Eastern Europe.
Earlier this week Spanair, the fourth largest air passenger carrier in Spain, suddenly ceased operation, stranding thousands of travelers. See this article at the Avionics Intelligence web site for more information. Yesterday, Malev, Hungary’s leading airline, “collapsed” due to funding difficulties. Malev was Hungary’s official airline and carried substantial passenger traffic mainly within the country.
On top of the airline problems, dramatically cold temperatures and winter weather in Eastern Europe have contributed to a number of deaths and additional transportation delays.
It appears that this was a good week not to be in Europe.