By Chris Elliot, Baltimore Sun
Traditionally quiet and predictable Western Europe, a magnet for many American tourists, hasn't seen this much political and economic uncertainty in a while. As reports of economic bailouts, work stoppages, unrest in the streets and fluctuating currencies find their way back to the States, travelers wonder whether it's safe.
I do. I'm headed to Europe twice with my family: on a Mediterranean cruise in July and a tour of Italy in early September.
While none of the experts I spoke with advised me to cancel, they did caution me to monitor the situation carefully.
"This is very different from years past," says Bruce McIndoe, president of iJET Intelligent Risk Systems, a security consulting company. "The nexus of governing and financial issues will create a much more dynamic and tense environment throughout Europe over years past, where it has been much more localized."
American visitors are worried about two key issues: safety and money.
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As always, the silver lining is the bargains that await contrarian travelers. James Stathis, who publishes the website CelebrateGreece.com, says recent news of riots in Athens'sConstitution Square have created opportunities for bargain hunters.
"This is a great time to visit because smart travelers know that crowds will be down," he adds. "Prices are also down. The islands, villages and everywhere outside of Constitution Square in Athens are safe and fun to visit."
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