The rioting that beset London over the weekend has expanded far beyond the capital. New problem areas have been reported in London, as well as in Nottingham, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and other cities. For a map showing the location of the riots across England see this article in The Telegraph online. For the Guardian Live News Blog on the riots, see this link.
16,000 police will be on the streets of London tonight. It has been reported that the city’s jails are already full and that those arrested are being taken to jails in outlying locations.
It is our recommendation that tourists avoid London or consider postponing their trip if they have not yet departed for England. If you are already in the country and you cannot avoid the areas of rioting, pay attention to local media for up-to-date information on local circumstances and avoid the streets at night. While some think the riots in London and the rest of the country may be on the wane, we do not see any credible indications that this is so. If you are determined to be in England this week, it will likely be risky and we recommend that you change your itinerary for safety’s sake.
In London, Saturday night’s riots in Tottenham were followed on Sunday by more riots across the city. While most of the new rioting was limited in size and labelled “copycat”, it has spread across London, even to the area of Oxford Circus in central London. See this article from Sky News and this one from CNN for more details. It is possible these “pockets” of rioting will continue, so check the local news if you are traveling in London or other areas of England.
Taxi drivers in Greece have now taken their strike into a second week and no end to the action is in sight. See this article from Reuters for details.
While there are options to the striking drivers in Athens, such as the underground and other public transportation, there is little help to be found in many of the smaller towns in Greece. Travel in Greece will continue to be difficult while this strike lasts.
Train travel in Sweden may be challenging for the remainder of the week. Torrential rains have had a significant effect on the country’s train transportation system. Disruptions in the network will continue until Friday, July 29, 2011. See this note in The Local for more details on the lines impacted.
The Spanish political movement called 15M has organized what appears to be a massive demonstration to take place in Madrid this weekend. No violence is expected, but the crowd is forecast to be very large. The 15M demonstrators believe they are not represented by the current political structure in Spain and are asking that attention be paid to their strategies for improving society and the political system in Spain.
Tonight (Saturday) demonstrators will meet in several locations and then start a mass walk to Puero del Sol in preparation for the Sunday demonstration. The demonstrators are expect to gather in the Sol at 9 PM. On Sunday there will be meetings in Retiro Park and other locations followed by a march (at 6PM) from Atocha to Puerto del Sol.
Plans related to this demonstration may change, so be sure to check the local news in Madrid for more details. Vacation travelers should plan on avoiding Puerto del Sol this weekend. In addition, tourists should consider avoiding central Madrid on Saturday night and all day Sunday.
Terrorism has struck Oslo, Norway. It has been reported by several sources that a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was exploded outside of a main government office in the heart of Oslo. A second bomb was confirmed, but the location has not been revealed. In addition, a youth camp on Utoya Island, approximately 25 miles outside of Oslo, was attacked by a gun carrying individual disguised as a police officer. At last report nearly 90 fatalities and hundreds of injuries have resulted from the combined actions.
Central Oslo has been evacuated and is closed to the public until further notice. The authorities are examining the possibility that there may be additional explosive devices in the area or, possibly in the surrounding areas. It appears that this attack was staged by a Norwegian citizen with right-wing beliefs.
Travelers are advised to avoid Oslo over the next few weeks, as the clean-up and ongoing investigation of this incident will likely make tourism around the Capital difficult, if not untenable.
The taxi driver strike in Greece that we reported on Monday has been extended and is causing chaos for travelers, especially those on cruise ships.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that taxi drivers have blockaded the port at Corfu and will not allow tour buses through to take the cruisers on their tour of the island. The same appears to have happened at Iraklio on Crete. Those travelers who have paid thousands of dollars for the “cruise of a lifetime” must not be too happy with the striking drivers. Finally, another set of taxi drivers have blocked major roads out of the city of Thessaloniki and similar actions are happening around the country.
Revenues from tourism have been one of the relative strengths in the economy of Greece, but the civil unrest this summer is causing a precipitous decline in these monies. Greece can be a wonderful vacation spot, but it appears that summer of 2011 may not be quite the right time for a visit.
The taxi strike must appear as a crushing blow to the many hotel chains, restaurants and tour companies that had been hoping that 2011 would be a comeback year for tourism in Greece. Unfortunately, it appears that goal will not be realized. We can only hope that 2012 is better for the country, its travel industry and for the millions of our fellow tourists interested in visiting this sometimes enchanting country.
The Belfast Telegraph, among others, has reported on the ongoing strike by taxi drivers in Greece. The Taxi operators in Athens have blocked the highway to the airport as well as the road connected to the cruise ship terminals in Piraeus. Unfortunately, the strike will continue at least into tomorrow.
The Telegraph reports that authorities in Athens are advising travelers to take the shuttle trains from the airport to the city. Of course, they may be on strike next, but let’s hope not.
The Guardian has reported that the United Kingdom Border Agency has informed airlines to expect delays this Thursday due to a strike by UK-based airport immigration officials. It is expected that the work action may cause havoc at airports across the UK. Travelers are advised to avoid flying into or out of the UK this Thursday, if possible.
The strike is one of the continuing actions in the UK and elsewhere in Europe that are responses to national governments reducing the benefits associated with retirement, health and other systems and public services. It appears that the 2011 vacation season in the UK and Europe will be one of the most strike-prone ever.
CNN has reported that major unions in Greece are planning a forty-eight hour strike next Tuesday and Wednesday. The strike is in response to the government’s planned adoption of new austerity measures required to attain loans that will keep the country from defaulting on its financial obligations.
It is expected that the strikes will be especially large in Athens and we recommend that all travelers avoid Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday.
At this time it is unclear, but expected that other unions will join the strike action next week. We expect the strike will cause disruptions for travelers throughout Greece. In addition, we suspect that a large number of strikes will ensue during the next few weeks, causing a decline in the number of tourists willing to vacation in Greece this summer.
For those willing to risk it, you may find travel bargains in Greece over the remainder of 2011.