Travel Security Tips


By Jim Sutton

 

 

 

 

 

Petty crimes against tourists are the most ubiquitous forms of illegal behavior around the world. No major urban area is safe from them. Even though they are costly and common, exceeding millions of dollars and euros and making up over half of all crimes committed, they are not always prosecuted.

Don’t Be a Victim

Despite these trends, you don’t need to become a victim. You can have control over your own safety. As WTT has emphasized, this requires being well informed, alert to the environment, and exercising prudence as all times.

Strong personal security practices include:

  • Avoid becoming a victim of a crime by considering the environment and situations where victimization can occur
  • Be aware that crime may occur at any time, in public or private areas, during the day or night

Petty crime against tourists take several forms and activities largely dependent upon the environment (street, restaurant, theater, hotel, taxi cab, etc.) and the perceived vulnerability of the victim. Perpetrators will likely assess the target’s vulnerability and do a cost benefit analysis of his/her effort. The greater the risk versus benefit that the perpetrator perceives, the less likely the crime becomes.

It is impossible to anticipate and prepare for every possible contingency. However, it is important to project an attitude of grit, resiliency and alertness that conveys the message, ‘Don’t even think of messing with me or my family/friend/companions.”

Petty criminals often see the following as vulnerable targets:

  • An unaccompanied small child; the younger the child, the more vulnerable they are
  • Unaccompanied females
  • A person who seems intoxicated or disabled
  • Someone who is inattentive, lost, confused, or otherwise not situationally aware
  • Ostentatious displays of wealth that are inappropriate to the environment. Jewelry worn to a gala event or secured environment is appropriate, the same cannot be said about such a display in a crowded public venue.

How Criminals Work

Historically, petty criminals rely on two basic techniques to accomplish their goal: distraction or force. Thieves typically prefer distraction over force.

In the case of distraction:

  • It minimizes the likelihood of a physical confrontation
  • It decreases the possibility of friends or by-standers coming to the aid of the victim
  • The victim is unaware they have been targeted and often finds out – much to their dismay – only after the loss has occurred. This makes capturing the perpetrator or recovering the property unlikely or even impossible.

Since the risk to the perpetrator in these sorts of crimes is relatively small, so are the profits, which normally consist of cellular telephones, purses, wallets, watches, high-end scarves, and jewelry. To make their quota criminals often rely on quantity versus quality. An individual or small group will typically target several dozen victims in a single day.  In these cases, there is little law enforcement can do other than take reports to analyze trends and patterns, and deploy officers accordingly.

Distraction is such a common practice that many entertainers use it to perform magic tricks or other acts, and distract the crowd with amusement and admiration at their skill.

Force is most often used when the perpetrator is desperate due to either psychological or physiological issues. Psychological issues may include pathological conditions that are often visible, such as strange or abnormal behaviors. Physiological conditions might involve ingestion or withdrawals from intoxicant substances. In both of these cases, there is usually a degree of unusual or atypical behavior. Exercise caution in these high-risk situations. It is important to maintain awareness of the immediate environment and trust your intuition.

Travel Smart

While petty street crime is common is all cities around the world, there are some regions where it may be more likely. Identification of these cities in no way implies they should be avoided. On the contrary, the gifts they offer surpass their risk provided that visitors follow low-key and prudent precautions.

  • Major cities in Spain, with a focus on Barcelona and Madrid
  • Major cities in Italy with a focus on Rome, Naples, Florence
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Tourist destinations in Colombia, Mexico, and Central Latin America including Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras
  • Major cities in South America, with a focus on Montevideo, Uruguay and the Casinos in Punta del Este; Buenos Aires and Rio de la Plata in Argentina.

The problem with “motochorros” is a special concern. These are criminals on motorcycles operating in packs, which specialize on “snatch and grab” assaults particularly outside of banks, shopping centers, where victims are likely to have money or valuables in their possession. The motorcycle allows the criminals to make a quick getaway.

  • Major cities in Europe, and including the countries of Holland, Germany, and Poland

Most of these areas have a high level of economic inequality, unemployment, official corruption, and a degree of impunity. This leaves young people, recent arrivals, and people experiencing homelessness few options to ensure their survival other than petty crime.

Absolute security is impossible, but smart goals include:

  • Observation
  • Knowledge
  • Awareness
  • Initiative
  • Prudence
  • Information

Key Concepts in Self-protection

Risk

The probability of a harmful event occurring as a result of behavior that you have control over.

Threats

Harmful events or situations intentionally carried out by other persons.

Vulnerabilities

Susceptibility or exposure to harmful events by nature of one’s self, behavior, actions, or status.

Security & Self-Protection

A combination of behaviors and attitudes a person can individually depend on to protect themselves, their families, and personal possessions.

A failure to identify, underestimate, or prevent a harmful incident will only increase its probability. Truly catastrophic events that can lead to death or grievous bodily injury come in two flavors:

  1. Sudden and unexpected. There is little we can do prevent them other than to have a contingency plan in place that contemplates the WHAT IF? What options do I have if X or Y happen?
  2. Unrecognized and slow to develop. Failure to recognize or act on a timely basis can turn an emerging event into a catastrophe. Think of a fire, tsunami, avalanche, or riot.

It is very important to keep in mind that risks, threats, and vulnerabilities are dynamic and can change in a short time, depending on location and immediate environment. This highlights the critical importance of staying alert and ensuring that the safety and security measures you adapt are appropriate to evolving circumstances.

When it comes to personal safety, a good memory hack is to keep the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) in mind. This is sometimes known as the Rule of Parsimony. In essence, the rule notes that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

PREVENTION = 80%

DETECTION = 10%

CORRECTION = 10%

As applied to personal security practices, 80% of your efforts should focused on anticipating or preventing an event, 10% on detection and observation, and 10% in changing your behavior to adjust to evolving conditions.

Obstacles to Prosecution

Although petty street crime is common, there are three major obstacles to detection and prosecution.

  1. Even though we all know someone who has been the victim of petty crime, public attitudes (other than the victim) are very ambivalent. Many tourists don’t report the crime, thinking it is not worth the time and aggravation.
  2. In some areas of the world, victims rightfully fear corrupt law enforcement as much as the thief.
  3. Even in locales with ethical and reliable law enforcement, all forms of street-level crimes are viewed as a nuisance. These petty crimes detract police resources, time, and effort from handling serious crimes such as assaults, rapes, homicides, and terrorism.

In this post, we’ve focused our attention on common street crime, the most pervasive crime around the world. In future posts we’ll address more serious forms of crime, such as homicides, rapes, abductions, hostage incidents, and life-threatening assaults. These are complex issues and we’ll be focusing on each one independently.


Spanish Version

Prevención de microdelinquencia/delitos menores contra turistas

Precauciones durante un viaje turístico

La microdelinquencia contra turistas son las formas más generalizadas de delitos menores y callejeros en el mundo. Ninguna ciudad en el mundo está libre de los mismos. Aunque son comunes, las pérdidas son cuantiosas superando millones de dólares y euros anualmente. También causan daño, merman el encanto, atracción, y reputación de un destino turístico. Esto también resultan en pérdidas económicas incalculables para personas que cuyo empleo depende del turismo.  Aunque la microdelinquencia y delitos callejeros constituyen más de la mitad de todos los delitos cometidos, su investigación, solución y consignación raramente ocurre, incluso donde el responsable es capturado en flagrante delito.

Como evitar ser una víctima

A pesar de estas tendencias, uno puede evitar convertirse en una víctima y sortear daño a la familia o acompañantes. Esto requiere con uno mismo se haga responsable por su propia seguridad. Puede tener control sobre su propia seguridad. Como los hemos enfatizado en previas ediciones de WTT, esto requiere estar bien informado, alerta al entorno donde uno se encuentra y constantemente ser prudente y ejercer sentido común.

Todos los casos es los cuales turistas son lastimados o dañados tienen solamente tres causas:

  1. Catástrofes naturales (Actos de Dios)
  2. Imprudencia
  3. Falta de atención

Prácticas de seguridad personal incluyen:

  • Constantemente tener conciencia de que un crimen puede ocurrir en cualquier momento, en áreas públicas o privadas, durante el día o la noche
  • Mantenerse constantemente alerta, perspicaz, observando analizando el medio ambiente por condiciones fuera de lo que sería común es ese tiempo y lugar. Reconocer condiciones anormales es un paso crítico para evitar ser víctima de un delito.

Atracos contra turistas toman varias formas y actividades que en gran parte dependen en el entorno donde uno se encuentra, por ejemplo, en la calle, transporte público, restaurante, teatro, hotel, cinema, taxi, etc.) Otro factor muy importante en el proceso de victimización es la percepción pública de la persona. Los criminales siempre hacen un análisis de riesgo versus beneficio. Este es un comportamiento que todos los seres humanos hacen cotidianamente. Si percibimos que el riesgo es mayor que un beneficio posible, evitamos el contacto o intercambio.  Por eso es importante cultivar una imagen de estar alerta, consciente de uno mismo, prudente, y defensivo. Entre más riesgo percibe el o los delincuentes menos probables es un acto criminal.

Como el delincuente y la vulnerabilidad percibida de la víctima. Los autores probablemente serán evaluar la vulnerabilidad del objetivo y hacer un análisis de costo beneficio de su esfuerzo. Mayor es el riesgo versus el beneficio que percibe el autor, llega a ser menos probable delito.  Es imposible anticipar y prepararse para cualquier contingencia posible, pero si es posible proyectar una imagen que transmite en mensaje: “Ni se te ocurra meterte conmigo, porque vas a salir perdiendo.” Esto no implica un comportamiento confrontacional o agresivo, pero si comunica estar alerta y capaz de reaccionar apropiadamente.

Los microdelincuentes/ladrones/pillos — normalmente consideran las siguientes personas como una objetivo o blanco vulnerable:

  • Niños/creaturas pequeñas no acompañadas; entre menor la edad, mas es la vulnerabilidad
    • Mujeres/jovencitas no acompañadas
    • Una persona que parece estar intoxicada o con discapacidad física o mental
  • Alguien que no presta atención a su ambiente, aparece estar perdido, confundido o no consciente de su entorno.
    • Muestras ostentosas de riqueza o poder económico constituyen una invitación al robo. Particularmente cundo no es apropiada para el ambiente. Usar joyas de alto valor son adecuadas para una recepción oficial que incluye seguridad, evento de galas (opera, obras teatrales, etc.) Lo mismo no es cierto en lugares públicos, mercados populares, plazas, museos, iglesias, centros turísticos, sitios donde hay muchedumbres o gran número de personas.

Cómo funcionan los criminales

Históricamente, delincuentes dependen de dos técnicas fundamentales para lograr sus objetivos: la distracción o la fuerza. Los ladrones normalmente prefieren distracción en vez de la fuerza. La distracción:

  • Minimiza la probabilidad de una confrontación física
  • Disminuye la posibilidad de amigos, colegas o acompañantes defiendan  a la víctima
  • La víctima no está reconoce — en el momento — que ha sufrido un robo y descubre el mismo – muy a su pesar – después de que la pérdida ha ocurrido. La captura del pillo o recuperación del artículo es improbable y frecuentemente imposible.

Desde que el riesgo para los microdelincuentes de captura o intercepciones son relativamente menores, es el mismo caso con los beneficios/botín. Bajo riesgo/bajo beneficio. El botín normalmente consiste de carteras, bolsos, cámaras, billeteras, teléfonos celulares, relojes, y joyería de fantasía.

Para lograr la cuota o ganancia deseada el criminal depende en cantidad en vez de calidad. El individuo o grupo microdelinquencial por lo general se centrarán en varias decenas las víctimas en un solo día. En estos casos, hay poco que la policía puede hacer, aparte de escribir reportes del incidente para analizar tendencias y patrones y desplegar agentes en consecuencia pera prevenir incidentes futuros.

La distracción es una práctica tan común que muchos artistas la utilizan para realizar trucos de magia distrayendo al público los cuales son divertidos y admiran la habilidad del mago o prestidigitador.

Así como la distracción es más común, la utilización de la fuerza es manos comunes por varias razones. Más a menudo se usa la fuerza cuando el agresor está desesperado debido a problemas psicológicos o fisiológicos.

Problemas psicológicos pueden incluir condiciones patológicas que a menudo son visibles, tales como comportamientos extraños o anormales. Condiciones fisiológicas podrían involucrar la ingestión o dependencia crónica de sustancias intoxicantés/enervantes. En ambos casos, generalmente hay un grado de comportamiento inusual o anormal. Es prudente y recomendado separarse del comportamiento raro e inusual. Mantener atención continua al medio ambiente y confiar en la intuición.

Viajes seguros e inteligentes

Mientras que el micro delito y crímenes callejeros ocurren en todas las ciudades del mundo, hay algunas regiones en las que este tipo de actividad es más probable. La enumeración o Identificación de estas ciudades de ninguna manera implica que deben evitarse. Al contrario, los beneficios turísticos que ofrecen superan su riesgo siempre que los visitantes sigan precauciones de seguridad discretas y prudentes.

Estos sitos son:

  • Principales ciudades de España, centrándose en Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, y zonas costeras
  • Principales ciudades en Italia con un enfoque en Roma, Nápoles, Florencia
  • Praga, República Checa
  • Destinos turísticos de Colombia, México y Centro América Latina, incluyendo Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras
  • Principales ciudades en América del sur, con un enfoque en Montevideo, Uruguay y los Casinos de Punta del Este; Buenos Aires y Río de la Plata en Argentina.
  • Otros centros urbanos en Asia, Medio Oriente, y ciudades principales alrededor del mundo.
Un crimen que es común en América del sur, particularmente Argentina son los llamados motochorros. Estos son grupos de delincuentes en motocicletas que se especializan en ataques de “arrebato” especialmente, de mochilas, y paquetes, a la salida de bancos, hoteles, centros comerciales, donde las víctimas son propensas a cargar dinero u objetos valiosos. La motocicleta permite a los delincuentes arrebatar el botín y escapar a gran velocidad.

La mayoría de estos centros urbanos tienen niveles altos desigualdad económica, desempleo, corrupción oficial, impunidad generalizada y aceptación popular del micro-delito. Esto deja a jóvenes desempleados, emigrantes, los recién llegados y personas en situación de desamparo con pocas opciones para asegurar su supervivencia, a las cuales no les queda otra opción de aceptar trabajo de explotación, el mendigase q que no sea de pequeña delincuencia.

Seguridad absoluta es imposible, pero metas razonables incluyen:

  • Atención y Observación
  • Conocimiento
  • Reconocer y darse cuenta de un problema emergente o una situación anormal
  • Prudencia
  • Información sobre antecedentes en la zona de fuentes fehacientes

Conceptos clave de autoprotección

Riesgo:  El riesgo es una vulnerabilidad de daño ante el peligro de que ocurra. Si bien no siempre se hace, debe distinguirse adecuadamente entre peligrosidad (probabilidad de ocurrencia de un peligro), vulnerabilidad (probabilidad de ocurrencia de daños dado que se ha presentado un peligro) y riesgo (propiamente dicho). La probabilidad de un evento dañoso que ocurren como resultado de un comportamiento que se puede controlar.

Amenazas:  Situaciones o daños causados deliberadamente por otras personas (terceros)

Vulnerabilidades:  las características de una persona o grupo que se basa en su capacidad para anticipar, sobrevivir, resistir y recuperarse del impacto de una amenaza natural, social o criminal.

Seguridad y autoprotección:  Una combinación de comportamientos, actitudes, presencia que una persona puede exhibir para protegerse ellos mismos, sus familias y sus pertenencias personales.

El no poder identificar, reconocer, o subestimar o prevenir un peligro aumenta la probabilidad de que ocurra.

Acontecimientos catastróficos que pueden conducir a lesiones graves o la muerte vienen en dos sabores:

  1. Repentinos e inesperados. ¿Estos casos hay poco de lo que se puede hacer para evitar los; aparte de pensar en posibles contingencias? Importante también es mantener conciencia a medida que el incidente se desarrolla. ¿Qué opciones tengo si pasa X o Y? (Si el avión se estrella y sobrevivo el impacto, o el barco de hunde y sobrevivo el accidente, un incendio estalla en el hotel, teatro, restaurante, etc.)
  2. De dimensión no reconocida e lentitud para captar su capacidad. La incapacidad de reconocer la dimensión real de un hecho lo puede convertir en una catástrofe mortal, por ejemplo, un incendio, una avalancha, maremoto acompañado por una marejada gigantesca, una muchedumbre.

Es muy importante reconocer que los riesgos, amenazas y vulnerabilidades son dinámicas y pueden cambiar en poco tiempo, dependiendo de la ubicación y entorno inmediato. Esto pone de relieve la importancia de mantenerse alerta y garantizar que las medidas de seguridad que se adapta son adecuadas a la evolución de circunstancias.

En cuanto a la seguridad personal, un buen hack es recordar el principio de Pareto (también conocido como la regla 80/20). A veces esto se conoce como la regla de la parsimonia. Esencialmente el principio reconoce que normalmente; aproximadamente 80% de los efectos vienen del 20% de las causas.

En términos de nuestra seguridad personal utilizamos

  • 80 por ciento de nuestro tiempo y esfuerzo en PREVENCION
  • 10 por ciento de nuestro tiempo y esfuerzo en la DETECCIÓN
  • 10 por ciento de nuestro tiempo y esfuerzo en la CORRECCIÓN Y MODIFICACIÓN DE NUESTRAS ACCIONES. Cambios de nuestra conducta para ajustarnos a la evolución de las condiciones.

 Obstáculos a la consignación y castigo de la microdelinquencia

Aunque delincuencia callejera es común, hay tres obstáculos principales para su detección y enjuiciamiento.

  1. A pesar de que todos sabemos alguien qué ha sido víctima de atracos, las actitudes del público (que no sea de la víctima) son muy ambivalentes. Muchos turistas no reportan el delito, pensando que no merece la pena el tiempo y la agravación.
  2. En algunas zonas del mundo, las víctimas tienen un miedo legítimo y bien justificado que las autoridades pueden ser tan corruptos como el ladrón.
  3. Incluso en lugares donde la policía es ética y confiable, la microdelinquencia es una distracción irritante, delitos mezquinos que le restan importancia a los recursos limitados de policiales el tiempo, equipo, y esfuerzos necesarios para esgrimir crímenes graves como agresiones armadas, secuestros, violaciones, homicidios y terrorismo.

En este post, hemos centrado nuestra atención en crímenes callejeros comunes, que son el delito más generalizado del mundo. En el futuro los reportajes serán enfocados en crímenes graves, teles como homicidios, violaciones, secuestros, incidentes de rehenes y ataques mortales. Estos son temas complejos y los analizamos en detalle e independientemente.

 


©2017 TORO Media, LLC


Traveler’s Spotlight


 

By Amy Arden

 

 

Fourth of July: think picnics, hot dogs, fireworks. Main Street parades and flags in the breeze. A tradition that rolls into the American calendar as easily as Black Friday shopping and summer road trips.

Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Two centuries and some change separate us from an audacious piece of paper and the 8 years of insurrection that followed. Eight years of uncertainty. Eight years of hardship. Eight years of violence and espionage and deep, sometimes fatal divisiveness.

On the quiet, tree-lined streets of Colonial Williamsburg, visitors are invited to place themselves in a time when America’s emergence as a separate, sovereign nation was far from a foregone conclusion. Here is a place to ask questions about America’s beginnings, and just as importantly, her present.

I first visited Colonial Williamsburg as a child: it held two of my great loves, history and animals, in plentiful supply. I wandered the streets enthralled by the historical interpreters clad in period clothing and by the horses, sheep, and cattle that were never far away. On a house tour our guide explained colonial cuisine and the practice of keeping pigeons so that the young birds could be harvested and eaten. I was horrified as only a seven-year-old could be, and saw that history could be frightening as well as fascinating.

Still, history was easy for me then. It was easy to see the American revolutionaries as the good guys, and the red-coated British as the bad guys. Over the years, and particularly during the election of 2016, my ideas about America have grown more nuanced. Where better to wrestle with that then the place close to where some of the most powerful ideas about America began?

Walk Colonial Williamsburg and you’ll walk on streets paved with crushed white oyster shells as you stroll beside neat wooden houses and shops, many of them with tidy gardens. It is quiet. It is orderly. It lends itself, if such is your inclination, to reflection. Williamsburg’s streets offer not the indulgence of a beachfront resort, or the pampering of a luxury hotel, but serenity of a different kind.

There is movement, too. There are blacksmiths, printers, gardeners, gunsmiths, carpenters, and coachmen. Shopkeepers sell wares that would have made life in the 18th century more comfortable as well as souvenirs for today’s tourists. A step inside any of the workshops for the skilled trades reveals a technical knowledge and dexterity difficult to conceive of now that so few of us are called to make anything for ourselves, or for anyone else. I look at the roof of a building with new appreciation and think of how in a pre-industrial world, every wooden shingle had to be made by hand. Every turn of the stairway, every pane of glass in the window, every brick in the fireplace.  I begin to calculate the labor hours that must have gone into constructing even a modest home and quickly admit defeat.

Food preparation as well was no small feat. Over a period dinner at the Shields Tavern I’m served hot rolls and curried chicken and a bowl of wine punch that bears more than a passing resemblance to sangria. The other guests and I are entertained by a woman who sings popular tunes of the era, including a funny women’s drinking song, and it takes me a moment to realize why the atmosphere of the room has a stillness to it despite the activity. There are no electric lights. We have daylight, and candles, and I find that they are more than enough.

Beyond the main thoroughfares lie secluded paths, such as those behind the governor’s mansion. A dirt trail circles a pond where a solitary heron fishes, and turtles bask in the sun. The trees are a mix of native species: oak, holly, beech, hemlock, interspersed with a few glossy-leaved magnolias. Here the air smells like a Southern pine forest, of soil and needles and resin. The sulphur of the blacksmith’s forge and the brown scent of manure are only a few streets away, but they have disappeared.

Yet despite the manure on the streets and the stocks in plain view and other less-than-pleasant reminders of the realities of the past, Williamsburg is still a selective slice of history. The narrative is still mainly white, mainly male. And though this was an age when slaves were shipped in chains across the Atlantic, when married women’s property and income belonged to their husbands, when people of different political beliefs could be tarred and feathered, sometimes fatally, such things are rarely visible in Williamsburg. They are indirectly acknowledged; as one interpreter put it, when describing the fact that over half of the colonial city’s population was made up of slaves, “Our history isn’t all positive.”

Sometimes how we choose to remember the past is just as telling as the facts themselves. What gets commemorated? What is left out of the story, and why? Whose stories are being told, and whose are not?

I came to Williamsburg searching for answers to questions about what America was, and what it wasn’t. I found none. But I was reminded that the flawed and visionary people who founded this nation had no answers either, only ideas. From where we stand more than two centuries later, we are left with the same.


© 2017 TORO Media, LLC

Christmas in Quebec City


Traveler’s Spotlight


 

Where to Stay

Hotel Cap Diamant

 

Hotel Cap Diamond is located on 39, Avenue Sainte-Genevieve, Quebec QC G1R 4B3.  This intimate boutique style hotel is perfect for travelers seeking privacy and amazing customer service.  I felt welcomed the minute I arrived and the other guest I spoke with felt exactly the same.  The hotel is in the oldest building on the street and has a rich history.

cap-diamant-room

The rooms were spacious, clean, and well lit.  Walking into my room, I felt as if I was taken back to the Victorian era.

 

Chateau Frontenac

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It is no surprise that Chateau Frontenac is the most photographed hotel in the world.  The hotel was built by Cornelius Van Horne, a railroad tycoon.  Check out Sam’s bar inside the hotel for some amazing drinks and bar food.  This is a high end hotel, but well worth your money.

 

Where to Eat

Aux Anciens Canadiens

Aux Anciens Canadiens is located in the upper town of Quebec City.  I ate here twice and was ready to go back a third if I had more time.  The first night I arrived, I sat at the bar and ordered Poutine, which was first created in Quebec City.  I highly recommend you make reservations to avoid a long wait before you are seated.

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L’Echaude

Situated in the lower part of Old Town, you will definitely want to eat here.  Try their amazing appetizers, mouth watering breakfast, or their delicious steaks.

lechaude

73 Rue Sault-au-Matelot/Quebec City, Canada  Phone: (418) 692-1299

 

Cafe du Monde

While in Quebec City, find your way to this modern restaurant with views of the St. Laurent river.  Well, I saw nothing but ice, but I am sure it is a more pleasant view during the Spring or Summer.

84 Rue Dalhousie/ Quebec City, Canada Phone:  (418) 692-4455

Other Things to Experience 
  1. La Citadelle
  2. Musee de la Civilisation de Quebec
  3. Place Royale
  4. Place de l’Hotel de Ville
  5. Sanctuaire Notre-Dame du Sacre-Coeur

If you have other recommendations or would like to discuss your Quebec City experience, please share below.

Safe travels!


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©2017 TORO Media, LLC


Travel Security


Jim Sutton

 

 

 

 

 

By Jim Sutton

 

Thinking about the intersection between travel and security is nothing new. A 2011 column (http://www.tourismandmore.com/tidbits/tourism-in-a-world-of-technology/ ) on the topic asked:

“How does it draw the line between technology and personal service? There is no doubt that technology plays an important role in tourism and travel. Most of us are now used to booking our airline reservations on line, dealing with telephone trees and other cost saving devices. These technological advances have allowed corporations to save on manpower while at the same time empowering customers to make their own decisions.”

Since those comments, where are we now and what can we anticipate for the foreseeable future? Five technological trends are already evident:

1.Volume

As enterprises become more data-driven, it’s not the hardware or the infrastructure that’s at issue. Instead, technology professionals with the skills to organize, analyze, and secure data are increasingly hard to find. Furthermore, the volume of data is growing significantly.

The Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that the annual global IP traffic will reach 2.3 ZB per year by 2020. For travelers, this means potential data saturation and the inability to process all that information. Most of the connectivity will be carried by smartphones and other portable devices.

2. Velocity

The traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for two thirds of total IP traffic by 2020. Likewise, global fixed broadband speeds are anticipated to increase. Travelers and other users can find out about violent incidents within minutes of their occurrence, nearly anywhere in the world. This trend can only accelerate in the future, unless there is some sort of global technological catastrophe that degrades the system worldwide.

3. Veracity

Coupled with the preceding trends, the issue of veracity and reliance on electronic media for reliable information becomes increasingly tenuous. The recent furor over false news reveals immediate and future challenges that face cybersecurity and digital governance. Damaging attacks are simpler to imagine and execute, using commonplace tweets, emails, and domains. Stolen identities and socially engineered data can also pose risks. Trustworthiness of information remains paramount, and travelers must remain vigilant about fake news and the potential for criminal imposters.

The Canadian firm Brand Protect provides clients with relevant, actionable information about cyber threats that can affect an enterprise’s customers, business, and reputation. Their weekly publication, Cyber Threat News Digest, keeps clients informed about macro-level cyber threats and related issues.

4. Validation

Individuals, whether traveler, government officials, or corporate executives, are responsible for validating the information they encounter. Remember to carefully consider the potential results of any decision or action that you take based on the information you’re given.

5. Internal Threats and Sabotage

No one knows our weaknesses and vulnerabilities better than our intimate companions, including family, friends, and close colleagues.

Complex systems such as social media are vulnerable to sabotage and may be used by individuals to cause harm to others, be it their families, colleagues, innocent people, or even the organizations they are working for. While social media has great utility as the source of useful information, recent events highlight the importance of trusting curated content over unproven or unverified data. Ill-intentioned individuals increasingly use social media to create, distribute, or perpetuate false information, exaggerating or distorting actual events.

Intel Security’s Eric Peterson cites CEO fraud (the FBI calls it business email compromise) – where individuals in companies are targeted through social engineering, and manipulated to fraudulently transfer money to criminal-controlled bank accounts. There have been instances where the attacks have coincided with business travel dates for executives, since this increases the chances of the attack’s success.

“Looking to 2017 and beyond, we might even see purveyors of data theft offering ‘target acquisition as a service,’ built on machine learning algorithms,” Peterson says. “We expect that the accessibility of machine learning will accelerate and sharpen social engineering attacks in 2017.” 

Social media platforms enable two-way interaction between all sorts of people and have become a game changer in personal, social, and political communication. Conventional media has arguably become less influential.

Don Peppers observation that most people don’t fully realize how social networks actually operate, and the important implications this has for how we use (or abuse), noted in a 2012 article on LinkedIn, remains true today. We are often surprised by social media functionalities and vulnerabilities that few outside industrial, technical, or academic environments fully anticipated. For example, one of the most influential members of Reddit in its early days was a man named Adam Fuhrer – who turned out to be a 12- year-old-boy living with his parents in Toronto.

“Multiply this by the hundreds of millions of social media participants’ around the world and we get an idea of the challenge faced by travelers relying on non-curated sources of travel security information.”

Staying Safer While Traveling

As the number of airport-related criminal and terrorist events proliferate, security precautions at airports are likely to undergo substantial changes in terms of configurations, operations, and procedures. Staying current on these changes wherever you travel and planning ahead to meet these changes is highly recommended.

Make back-up plans in case your mobile devices are lost or stolen. Many of us rely on smartphones for managing air travel, car rental, and even checking into and out of hotels. This increases our level of exposure and leaves us open to having emerging vulnerabilities exploited. Manual approaches might be less convenient, but they are also safer and more reliable.

Developing a degree of redundancy – a back-up plan – in the event portable devices are lost, stolen or quit working, is prudent practice and common sense. On a recent visit to the traffic-jammed metropolis of Mexico City, my host proudly mentioned he had a GPS device in his car. Everything went according to plan until the GPS device failed! The map function on my smart phone proved to be of little value as I had failed to buy the Mexico travel package. After visiting multiple gas stations in search of a map, I ended up purchasing the rather costly “Mexico City Travel Guide” (Guia Roji, Spanish Edition) which included far more information needed for our immediate needs, but proved to be invaluable for subsequent local travel.

Whether making trips for personal or business travel, or a blend of the two, we need to plan ahead to ensure our personal safety. Contingency plans should include how to safeguard information and maintaining reliable access to our portable devices.

The future has arrived. Smart travelers need to not only watch out for current threats, but anticipate a future where pressures will evolve faster than we are capable of adjusting to them. Situational awareness, technological flexibility, and personal adaptability will be key for security.


©2017 TORO Media, LLC

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Traveler’s Spotlight


 

AmyArden

 

By Amy Arden

 

 

Describing Pittsburgh, PA as magical would likely be a stretch of the imagination for most people. But I grew up in western Pennsylvania, often within sight of cows and cornfields, and whenever I left the farmland behind and entered the bustle and busyness of Pittsburgh, it did feel like stepping into a different world.

I recently revisited that world for a weekend. It had been over 15 years since I last spent time in the Steel City. I was curious to see if the old places were as I remembered them. I wondered if my former neighborhood had changed, if I would still know my way around. If the pancakes at Pamela’s Diner were still the guilty pleasure that I longed for even from 300 miles away, if the 61C Café in Squirrel Hill still had sunflowers blooming beside its patio, if the Strip District was still an eclectic mix of street vendors and shops.

I started in Squirrel Hill on Pittsburgh’s East Side. The neighborhood boasts a thriving business district as well as residential areas, and I eagerly picked my way along Forbes Avenue searching for landmarks I recognized. The Squirrel Hill Café still stood in neon glory on the corner (last time I was in the ‘burgh, I’d been too young to drink there) but many other business had disappeared. In their place were fusion restaurants, boutique bike shops, and artisanal bakeries. The used record shop where I purchased Rush’s Greatest Hits now served craft beers and a chef-curated menu.

I was unanchored, adrift. I struggled to navigate a world I could not recognize. Hungry and tired, my husband Vince and I plopped down at Sukhothai Bistro for a restorative lunch of steamed dumplings, beef and broccoli, and spicy eggplant on their sidewalk patio. From there, I continued my quest to find the neighborhood I remembered.

beer

I’d forgotten Pittsburgh’s hills. They are everywhere, even in the streets I’d walked with ease all those years ago. At Independent Brewing Company, we stopped to take advantage of their afternoon specials for some liquid refreshment. I tried a pumpkin stout that was smooth, creamy, and entirely without bitterness, while Vince’s Belgian-style beer had a light, mildly hoppy and pleasant flavor reminiscent of citrus.

After turning the corner onto Murray Avenue, I at last came to something I recognized: the 61C Café. Named for a local bus route, the café has been a neighborhood staple and anchor for decades. I stepped inside and was immediately awash in memories – the white mugs of coffee, glass jars of cookies and biscotti on the countertop, the paintings and photographs on the walls, me sitting at one of those tables with a spiral-ring notebook, writing. The 61C was a cool coffee shop before coffee shops tried to be cool. I smiled and walked to the counter, half-expecting my frequent customer card to be waiting inside one of the tiny wooden boxes.

Outside on the patio, I sipped my latte and slowly, slowly, began to feel at home. Tall sunflowers bloomed in wooden boxes alongside the patio, just as I had remembered. The afternoon sun was warm, the patio quiet, and for a moment, I could step inside my much younger self.

But places don’t stay the same, much as we may wish them to, and nowhere in Pittsburgh did that truth become clearer than downtown. Pittsburgh has always been a great city for food, mostly of the uncomplicated and unpretentious kind. There is a special love for fries – the overflowing baskets of fries plunked unceremoniously onto trays at the O, fries stuffed into sandwiches at Primanti Brothers, fries sprinkled on salads pretty much anywhere in Pittsburgh that served salad. So naturally, when we ate dinner that night, it included fries, but of a rarified kind in a setting that seemed at once both industrial and chic.

salad_the_commoner

The Commoner is popular and trendy, exactly the kind of place I would have avoided in my cheeky youth. But it proved the perfect spot for dinner – prompt and friendly service, throwback cocktails, and well-executed and generous dishes. Everything from my Pink Lady (yes, a Pink Lady…something I could imagine Joan Holloway drinking) to butter lettuce salad to fish and chips was amazing, but there is a special place in my heart for the Brussels sprouts and bacon, which may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

From there, no visit to Pittsburgh is complete without a trip up Mt. Washington to take in stunning city views. My original plan was to take the Duquesne Incline up the slope so we could enjoy the ascent and ride back down. But our GPS took us under the incline instead of its Carson Street terminus, and we ended up with a classic “Pittsburgh experience” of finding ourselves on a one-way road, on the wrong side of the river, going in the wrong direction, and unable to turn around. Eventually we got to the top of Mt. Washington, found that the parking gods smiled upon us by providing a spot almost immediately, and joined dozens of other pedestrians strolling between observation platforms on the unseasonably warm autumn night. The moon was nearly full, and the views were both otherworldly and glorious.

The following morning we walked to the Strip District. I’d loved shopping these stores as a kid, experimenting with imported foods and buying up sweets from a wholesale candy store. With disappointment I discovered that many of the old wholesalers were gone. Even the Starbucks – the Starbucks where I had my very first encounter with the now ubiquitous brand – had closed and been out-gentrified. Upscale restaurants now tipped the balance of the Strip from commerce to leisure.

I had to admit that I’ve changed too. Catching my reflection in the hotel lobby that morning, I saw that I looked exactly like the person that my college-age self would have mocked. Outfitted in technical gear although I was going no farther than a local market, Starbucks in hand, and tiny dog in tow, I’d become the spitting image of the stereotype I feared.

pamelas

One glimmer remained – Pamela’s Diner. The pancakes were still huge, the coffee still bad (though now diners can spring for a French press), and I loved it. President Obama had eaten here while in Pittsburgh for the G20 summit in 2009. There’s a saying at Pamela’s that “There has never been a sadness that cannot be cured by breakfast food” and after a few bites of their classic crepe-style pancakes, I was ready to believe it.

pancakes

In Pittsburgh, the old and the new are co-existing, for now, and that gives me hope. At Phipps Conservatory, a spectacular series of greenhouses gifted to the city by industrialist Henry Phipps in the 1890s, several of those Victorian-era buildings remain. Visitors can sign up to take Tai chi classes in the conservatory, and then drink a homegrown Iron City beer in the café. Pittsburgh has one of the strongest senses of place that I have ever encountered, and I hope that never goes away.


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©2017 TORO Media, LLC

Photos by:  Amy Arden

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