Friday, February 22, 2008

Rick Steves on What's New Europe 2008

We really enjoy Rick Steves’ weekly columns in the Seattle Times, as well as his travel guidebooks. Recently, he’s been discussing some of what’s in store for Europe in 2008. Here is a highly condensed summary of information regarding travel changes on the continent for 2008.

Rome – The Vatican museum will offer extended hours to accommodate more tourists.
Florence – Reserve tickets to the Uffizi Gallery at least a month in advance.
Venice – The dome of La Salute Church will likely be covered with scaffolding during a renovation.
Milan – The Duomo Museum is under renovation and may be closed for the first part of 2008, as well as the train station.

London – The transport museum has reopened. The British Museum will undergo remodeling, and several items (including the Magna Carta) will not be on display. There will be no organ recitals at St. Paul's Cathedral in 2008 or 2009 during its restoration.
Stonehenge – This iconic monument is undergoing construction of a new visitors center, and traffic patterns may change.
Stratford-upon-Avon – The Royal Shakespeare Company has closed its Globe and Swan theaters for renovation and is using the Courtyard Theater as its main stage.

Galway – The Siamsa folk theater, which featured the step dancing popularized by Riverdance, will be closed in 2008.

Versailles – The Royal Opera House will likely be closed in 2008.
Paris – The new Quai Branly Museum is loaded with Primitive Art from Africa, Polynesia, Asia, and America. The renovated Petit Palais (and its Musee des Beaux-Arts) has art from Courbet, Monet, and other 19th-century painters. At the Louvre, the Venus de Milo has moved to the Sully wing. Charles de Gaulle Airport continues major renovations.
Nice – The city is finally getting some relief after being a construction mess for years. The first of three new light-rail lines (Le Tramway) is now fully operational.
Grotte de Font-de-Gaume – You can now reserve tickets to see France's best cave for original Cro-Magnon paintings by e-mail.
Chamonix – You can book tickets online in advance for France’s most famous mountain lift, the Aiguille du Midi.

Berlin – The building that formerly housed the Egyptian Museum (which moved to the city’s Museum Island) reopens this spring as the Scharf-Gerstenberg Museum, featuring Surrealist art.

Copenhagen – The helpful Use-It tourist information center is closing, leaving visitors at the mercy of the for-profit “Copenhagen Right Now” franchise.

Oslo – The new Opera House will open in 2008, across from the main train station. The Holmenkollen Ski Jump will close for part of 2008 and be rebuilt in preparation for the 2011 World Ski Jump championship, but the adjacent Ski Museum should remain open.

Stockholm – Entrance fees have been reinstated at state-run museums in, making the Stockholm Card a good value for visitors. The Museum of Medieval Stockholm will be closed through the fall of 2009 for renovation.

Zurich and Bern – These 2 cites (as well as others) will host the Euro 2008 soccer championships in June. Be prepared for large crowds.

Barcelona – The Palau Guell should reopen in 2008, offering the public a chance to see one of the finest interiors designed by the city's most famous architect, Antonio Gaudi.
Madrid – The Prado Museum’s expansion continues through 2008 and may rearrange the museum’s layout.
Toledo – The El Greco Museum will likely be closed for renovation through 2008, but its 20 El Greco paintings will be on display at the nearby Victorio Macho Museum.
Seville – The town’s grand boulevard – the Avenida de la Constitucion – is now a pedestrian-only thoroughfare.

Lisbon – The remodeled Rossio train station still hasn’t reopened, due to construction of a massive tunnel under a nearby roundabout.
Fatima – The Church of the Holy Trinity finally opened this past fall.

Prague – Renovation of the Charles Bridge continues, but remains open (and crossable) during construction.

Ljubljana – A new funicular zips visitors up from the riverside market to the castle above town.

Lake Bled, Slovenia