Travel Q&A: Budget B&Bs just click away in London and Paris

Q I’m looking for bed-and-breakfast, low-budget accommodations in London and Paris. Can you help?

A One of the best websites for budget-friendly international accommodations is After searching by city, you can sort the results by price, guest rating or those recommended by the website. A recent search showed BBs in London from $48 and Paris from $37 (per person, per night).

When it comes to sites such as these, I always advise playing close attention to guest ratings and comments. A few negative comments are to be expected — especially with budget accommodations, it’s hard to please everyone — but if you see a lot of criticism, then it’s best to steer clear.

Keep in mind that with European lodging, the rates are almost always per person. Europeans don’t have the traditional double occupancy that you find in the United States.

If you want really inexpensive — as in a bed and sometimes a private bath but not much else — take a peek at You can narrow your search to look for BBs only under the advanced search options. Rates in London start at $33 and Paris at $46.

If quality matters more than price, also check out These booking agents have compiled a list of top-notch British bed-and-breakfasts, including 48 from

London. Many are in Victorian houses, but with charm comes a heftier price — the least expensive start at about $85.

Q I’m taking a business trip to London and plan to stay two extra days to see the sights. What do you suggest I see?

A Frommers puts together one-, two- and three-day itineraries to cities such as London for travelers just like you. The itineraries are ambitious, so be prepared to get up early, stay up late and do plenty of walking in between.

Day 1 takes in strolls past Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, No. 10 Downing St. (official residence of the prime minister) and Trafalgar Square; an hour and a half to tour the National Gallery (with works by Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, van Gogh, Cezanne and more), a pass through Covent Garden, dining at Porters English Restaurant, a walk along the Mall to Buckingham Palace, an afternoon visit to the Tower of London, a quick pub dinner and pint at Salisbury, and a night at a London theater. And that’s just Day 1. (See the full itineraries at

If such a whirlwind visit doesn’t sound appealing, I recommend taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour — for about $18 — to snap pictures of the famous sights such as Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. Then take a more leisurely approach to visiting the Tower of London, National Gallery and British Museum (to see the “stolen treasures” — the Parthenon Marbles, taken from Greece, and Rosetta Stone, taken from Egypt). If time permits, spend 30 minutes riding on the London Eye, a giant rotating Ferris wheel that offers panoramic views of London.

Have a question of general interest? Send it to Ann Tatko-Peterson at [email protected]

‘Pan Am’ memories for tough gal – Omaha World

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Boots Hogate, 87, of Papillion, became a stewardess for American Airlines back in 1947. Her collection of airline memorabilia includes her stewardess uniform and her late husband’s pilot uniform.


By Josefina Loza

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Boots was a tyke when she was nicknamed after a TV character.

She’s never used her given name. Most people don’t even know what it is. She wouldn’t let us print it.

She was an American Airlines stewardess with a 21-inch waist in 1947.

Her husband, Earle, was a pilot and her daughter, Debbie, was a stewardess for American Airlines.

All three of their wing pins are framed and mounted on her memorabilia wall.

Even though she retired after a year, Boots was still able to travel the world. She’s been to dozens of locations from Greece to Japan to Hawaii.

She has four children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

She moved from Chicago to the Omaha area five years ago to be closer to Debbie.

She still drives back to Chicago to see friends twice a year. Alone.

When she flies, she books her flights on American.

For the first time in 64 years, Boots Hogate was able to relive the excitement and glamour of serving as an airline flight attendant.

Vicariously, at least.

A new ABC show this fall, “Pan Am,” has rekindled memories for the 87-year-old Papillion great-grandmother.

Boots wasn’t with Pan Am, though. She flew American Airlines. And the scene wasn’t New York City in 1963. For her, it was a booming 1947 Chicagoland, long before the golden age of jet travel.

But the enthusiasm was just the same, she said.

It was a profession that required compassion, devotion and showmanship. Neatly pressed suits, matching heels, handbags, gloves and gentle smiles were all part of the package.

“And the girdle,” Boots joked. “We had frequent checks. At all times, we had better be wearing the girdle.”

” ‘Pan Am’ got it right,” said the petite woman with champagne-colored hair. The show appropriately showcases an era when getting your wings and flying was momentous.

Hogate’s late husband, Earle, was a pilot for American Airlines. It’s how they met. And their daughter, Debbie, was a stewardess for the airline during the 1960s.

As a kid, Boots would gaze at the sky to see propeller planes flying over her small West Virginia home. They were beautiful steel machines that traveled the world. That’s what she wanted to do.

In those days, it was customary for young women to go to school, marry and start families. Boots wanted more than to be a homemaker. She was a spitfire, a real go-getter with a bubbly personality who easily made friends.

Much of her outlook on life changed shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. She was nearing high school graduation and knew the war would place her stewardess career on hold. Regardless, she decided to pursue education that would give her an edge once airlines began hiring air hostesses again. Women who wanted to be stewardesses needed either two years of college or nurses training.

After getting her high school diploma in 1942, Boots became a Red Cross nurse’s aide. She received training at a Charleston, W.Va., hospital and helped in war efforts.

World War II was in full throttle. And nurses were in high demand.

She relieved local nurses and assisted the sick by making beds, readjusting bandages and serving food and water, among many other duties.

Then a bright-eyed, 22-year-old brunette, Boots also worked at Carbon Chemical Corp. in Charleston. It wasn’t quite the lofty position she had once hoped for, but she pressed on for nearly two years.

One day, Boots received an invitation to join a friend in Washington, D.C., to campaign for U.S. Sen. Claude Pepper of Florida. He asked Boots what she wanted to do with her life.

I want to be a stewardess, she said. He called a friend, the president of Capital Airlines, to make introductions.

“Is she material?” the man asked.

“Oh, yes,” Pepper said.

“Material,” she thought. What exactly is expected of a stewardess?

She was offered a place in flight school but didn’t follow through. She had developed some sort of fungus on her right thumb and refused to go. For flight attendants, she had learned, appearance was everything. She was embarrassed about her discolored hand.

She took a train to Minneapolis, where her parents had relocated, to have a doctor look at it.

Boots eventually found a job and moved in with friends. One of her roommate’s friends shared the stewardess dream. She was a tall, buxom blond with angelic features — an ideal goddess of flight. She kept a watchful eye on hiring airlines, in particular American.

When she heard the company was taking applicants in their city, she immediately told Boots.

“She had been waiting for them for so long,” Boots recalled.

Interview day came, and her girlfriend was the first in line. She went through strenuous weight, height, vision, experience, background and personality checks. A typical stewardess stood between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-5 and weighed no less than 100 pounds. Women had to be tall enough to reach overhead compartments and slender enough to slip by in a plane aisle. Many were interviewed, but few were hired.

Boots hadn’t rushed in. She was still at home when her friend called.

“Don’t bother,” the friend told her. “I don’t feel I got to first base with them.”

Boots took that as something of a challenge. She glanced at the clock. What’s there to lose? She reviewed the qualifications checklist and went to the interview.

“Physically, I was a wreck,” she said.

She barely met the height requirement — standing 5-foot-1 and inch — and weighed 90 pounds. The doctor administering the evaluations glanced at the scale, then back at Boots. Her heart sank. She was too distracted to notice that he had plopped his foot on the scale to add a few more pounds.

“See you weigh 100 pounds,” he said, drawing a smile.

“I was the only one they took that day,” Boots said. “(My friend) was well-qualified. Apparently, I wasn’t as uptight as her and spoke with ease.”

A week later, Boots started flight school in Ardmore, Okla. She was a ball of nerves and at times felt way out of her league. She had never flown and still wasn’t sure she was flight attendant material.

“We were all nervous,” she said. “It was a job that so many people were seeking. We were all petrified that we wouldn’t make it.”

Getting accepted to stewardess school was only half the battle. The women had another round of cuts to survive. In each class, several of the students were sent home for not quickly picking up the material. Training was conducted in old Army barracks. The women learned grooming. They were taught how to put on makeup. Hair couldn’t touch the collar. Only one piece of jewelry was allowed. They were taught how to walk in high-heels, how to properly greet passengers and how to serve dinner trays.

One of their duties was to clean the captain’s microphone with rubbing alcohol, Boots said.

Only the most promising graduated.

“We all wanted our wings so badly,” Boots said.

Boots studied flight routes and city codes (such as OMA, for Omaha) in the wee hours of the morning. The women had a 10 p.m. curfew. So Boots would sneak a flashlight under her covers to squeeze in a few more study hours. The women were also trained to be compassionate to first-time fliers and were told to sit next to them.

“You have to remember that back then, flying wasn’t as common as today,” Boots said. “It was expensive. So most people took the train.”

Flight safety was important, especially since she traveled in a small DC-3 aircraft. The tight quarters only allowed for a pilot, co-pilot and stewardess to tend to a dozen or two passengers.

Boots was sent to Chicago for her first assignment. Two weeks later, she met Earle. And, a year later, the couple married.

“I flew from coast to coast. Boston, New York, Dallas and the South,” she said.

“You couldn’t be married and be a stewardess at that time,” Boots said. “So I left.”

She hung up her wings for good to become a housewife. She didn’t regret the decision. Marriage was the goal for many “stews.”

“If you were still flying after five years,” she joked, “then something was wrong with you.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1075, [email protected]

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Samaras responds to pressure against Croatia

Giorgos Samaras had more than one reason to be relieved after ending his international scoring drought with the opening goal in Greece’s 2-0 win against Croatia on Friday.

Having failed to find the target in Greece colours since a 2-1 victory against Austria in November 2010, Samaras put Greece in front in Piraeus with 19 minutes remaining. Fanis Gekas swiftly added a second to wrap up maximum points for the hosts, who are now two points ahead of Slaven Bilić’s side at the Group F summit.

“There was, I would say, some ‘nice’ pressure placed on me by my team-mates during the training sessions leading up to this game,” said Samaras. “They were telling me that this was the match that I have to score. There has been plenty of banter in the build-up and in the end I got the goal I wanted. But I don’t see that as the most important factor, the way I see it is that I scored which helped the team achieve what we wanted to.”

Gekas, meanwhile, struck after being out of the international setup for almost a year. He and the rest of Fernando Santos’ squad now travel to Tbilisi to take on Georgia on Tuesday in the knowledge that a point will guarantee them a place at next summer’s finals.

“It was a great and important victory for us, especially when you consider we were very nervous in the first half,” Samaras told “We managed to settle after a difficult start to the game and showed the best of ourselves in the second half. Now we need to concentrate hard for the match with Georgia so that the celebrations from this result do not go to waste. We are not celebrating qualification to the finals just yet.”

Bilić’s Croatia can still claim top spot should Greece slip up in in their final qualifier, so although striker Eduardo admitted that the team is downbeat, all is not lost. “We are of course very disappointed that we lost such an important game,” he said.

“In the first half we were the better team but in the second half we lost our way and I think Greece played very well. We must now forget about this game and focus on our next match as we do still have the chance to qualify automatically.”

Member associations

  • GreeceHellenic Football Federation
  • CroatiaCroatian Football Federation

How Can Ten People Paralyze a Country? Ask Greece

This was not a good week to be traveling in beleaguered Greece. I know. I was there.

I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to Greece for an upcoming Nightline story (unrelated to the economic mess.) Well, it would have been a whirlwind trip, but for the excruciating airport delays. As the world knows, Greece is facing economic collapse. They’ve been spending vast sums more than they have. Europe is reluctantly bailing them out, but requiring harsh austerity measures.

Much of my trip was spent in airports. Although air traffic controllers can’t legally strike, they were able to grind air travel to a halt with work stoppages and slowdowns.

An exasperated and exhausted manager at the Athens airport – a sparkling legacy of the 2004 Olympics – explained to me that it was all the work of just ten controllers. Under government austerity measures most civil servants will receive just 60% of their normal salaries.

But the air traffic controllers think they deserve better. So, they’ve paralyzed air travel. In a country that depends massively on tourism it is crippling. The domestic airlines are hemorrhaging millions, so are the airports.

What the air traffic controllers are losing amounts to a few thousand dollars a month. What they are doing to the Greek economy is costing millions.

A very weak economy gets worse.

JV with China’s HNA bodes well for NH Hoteles

MADRID—Spain’s NH Hoteles is eagerly looking forward to the benefits of its strategic agreement with Chinese airline and tourism group HNA, which purchased a 20% stake in the Spanish company for €431 million (US$594 million).

Under the agreement, the two groups are to pursue a joint venture for managing hotels in China, complementing NH’s approach of using low-risk strategies, such as management of third-party owned hotels.

The joint venture will benefit from the management, loyalty and booking systems of NH, and use the NH Hotels brand name in China and would be supported by the knowledge and ability to gain local access of HNA Group in identifying the best locations for hotels, local management teams and general logistics of the group in the Chinese market.

Mariano Pérez Claver
NH president

NH, with 400 hotels in 25 countries mostly in Europe, concentrates on urban, 4-star properties. NH president Mariano Pérez Claver sees China’s booming economy, surging middle class and growing demand for reliable, quality hotels serving business travelers as a natural market for his company.

“Although we’re mostly active in Europe, we believe our urban, 4-star model will fit perfectly in this huge market, the growth of which coincides perfectly with our plans,” Claver told a hotel management conference in Madrid.

With 60 cities of more than a million inhabitants in China, NH is confident that with the assistance of its partner, which operates 50 hotels there, the venture will be a success.

“We have a team looking at which of the current HNA hotels are up to our standards and which are not, but it’s not yet clear when the first will open under the NH brand,” a company spokeswoman said.

“But we’re still waiting for final approval of the (partnership) by the Chinese authorities. The deadline is late October, but it could happen tomorrow,” she added.

Development Ad Will Appear Here

Financial help
The spokeswoman denied Spanish press reports citing sources close to the operation that HNA delayed closing the deal to October from the initial date in late August because it was trying to negotiate a cheaper price for the purchase of the NH shares, which was agreed at €7 (US$9.45) a piece.

“In operations like this worth so much money, it’s logical that the authorities want to analyze it very carefully and that’s the reason for the delay. Nothing more,” she said, adding the income will help the Spanish group’s financial position.

NH will use some of the money from the deal to ease its debt of €1.1 billion (US$1.5 billion) borrowed from a syndicate of banks in 2007 when the hotel industry was booming.

Analysts also say that with the cash infusion, the Spanish group can cease selling off its properties, which it began to do in 2009 as the sector’s fortunes went into free fall because of the economic crisis. In two years, the chain unloaded 12 hotels for a total of €273 million (US$373 million).

A market foothold
Announced in May, the NH-HNA equity purchase came just months after another Spanish hotel group, Sol Meliá, said it entered into a strategic alliance with China’s Jin Jiang International Hotel Management Company as the first step in a larger partnership.

“These agreements between Spanish chains and Chinese partners make a lot of sense,” said Juan Gallardo of BRIC Global, a Barcelona-based hotel real-estate and management consultancy. “In NH’s case, it enters into a huge market in a partnership with a strong local player.”

And as visitor traffic from China to Spain grows, NH will benefit from an influx of Chinese visitors familiar with its brand. Under the agreement, HNA’s network of travel agencies and tour operators will channel Chinese travelers bound for Spain and Europe to NH properties.

“Middle-class Chinese are looking to Spain as a cultural destination attracted by the offerings in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville as most Chinese are not great beach goers,” Gallardo says. “And they have a lot of spending capacity.”

Xu Jing, the Asia/Pacific regional director for the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organization, shared a similar sentiment.

“China’s dynamic economic growth means more Chinese are coming to Spain. On their first visit to Europe, the Chinese hit the big three—London, Paris and Rome—but on their second visit they’re increasingly attracted to the Mediterranean countries like Greece, Portugal and, of course, Spain,” he said.

The Spanish government, which for years has been promoting the country’s abundant cultural attractions in a bid to lessen the tourism industry’s reliance on the sea and sun sector, is eagerly pursuing the Chinese yuan.

Hoping to attract 1 million Chinese visitors to the country by 2020, Spanish authorities are easing the visa process and actively promoting the destination through familiarization trips for Chinese travel writers and tour operators.

Several Spanish regions, such as Andalusia, the Canary Islands and Catalonia, also have their own tourism offices in China.

And, Jing noted, China’s biggest vacation season is the New Year’s holiday, which falls in January or February, just when Spanish hotels are virtually empty, “so off-season Chinese tourism is a big plus for the local hospitality industry.”

Greek hunt for missing toddler Ben Needham revived after 20 years

Published on Sat Oct 08 06:00:00 BST 2011

GREEK detectives have told the mother of missing Ben Needham that they plan to officially re-open the case for the first time in two decades.

Kerry Grist has heard that police on the holiday island of Kos had been told to re-examine one of the longest running missing person cases in history.

South Yorkshire police officers have also travelled to the island for the first time since Ben disappeared in 1991, aged 21 months, to discuss the investigation.

The youngster was snatched as he played outside the farmhouse his grandparents were renovating while his mother was at work at a local hotel.

Mrs Grist, 39, and her family have funded their own investigation into Ben’s disappearance, visiting the island dozens of times.

There have been hundreds of sightings of Ben, whose 22nd birthday is later this month, but until now the Greek authorities have ignored the family’s plea for help.

The breakthrough came when Kerry received a call inviting her to travel to Kos for a personal meeting with the senior prosecutor on the island.

Mrs Grist, of Ecclesfield, Sheffield, said: ”I have searched for Ben since the first day he went missing and that is the first time that I have been in that building.

“I feel at last that someone is going to help me and I trust her, It is more than I could ask of her. I went home from Greece for the first time feeling that Ben is not forgotten.

“I know he is out there, not necessarily in Greece but somewhere in the world. There has suddenly been a massive turnaround after being up against the Greek authorities for 20 years.

“Before I have left the island disappointed, heartbroken by the lack of effort that the Greek police have put in.

“Now there is a different attitude and the case is wide open again. To have South Yorkshire police in Greece for the first time working with local police who weren’t around 20 years ago and are new to the case is wonderful news.”

Your view


Joni Balter / Seattle Times editorial columnist Can the European Union be a …

PARIS — You take the No. 4 subway a few blocks from where the City of Light itself began, and within 20 minutes, enter another Paris, at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market. Here among the lively, bustling stalls clustered at the northern edge of the city, one hears the languages of France’s former colonies and protectorates — and then some. The smart set out hunting for bargain antiques mingles with immigrants from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Libya and Egypt, shopping for shirts, shoes and other necessities.

At first, the market scene seems the ideal image of a 21st-century French melting pot.

If only it were so.

These are dark days on the European continent, with the troubles of the euro threatening unity. At the same time, large waves of immigrants, and disagreement about how or whether to welcome them, are roiling relations between various European countries. A tide of newcomers, compounded by fears of record numbers of new arrivals, nettle the European Union in daunting ways.

Indeed, immigration woes have spurred much second-guessing about whether the European megastate can ever be a true multiethnic society.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have declared, “Multiculturalism has failed.”

Multiculturalism is one thing; integration another. A 10-day research swing through France and Belgium revealed a more nuanced picture. Europe is experiencing numerous paroxysms about how much migration to allow and how to blend many different cultures together. Nothing smooth or simple about it.

But holler and squirm, and they do, Europe will have to find new ways to make immigration work better, mostly because it has to.

There is no going back, no way to unwind the union, no need to eliminate popular passport-free travel between most of the countries of the EU.

The free movement of people between most European countries, as captured in the Schengen Agreement, and the euro, are two pillars of today’s Europe. Both have been hugely challenged in recent months.

It is fair to say, and many observers come to the same conclusion, the fragile union of European countries moves along in gradual steps, propelled by crisis and the unique domestic politics of the 27 member states.

If Merkel or Sarkozy get oh-so animated about immigrants, maybe they are worrying more about the political challenge from the far right in their own countries than any inconvenience or expense of accommodating a large group of newcomers. A few weeks ago, Sarkozy’s government banned prayers in the streets outside mosques and sent Muslims to pray in an old fire-brigade barracks.

The French election is seven months away. Center-right Sarkozy jostles for position with far right Marine Le Pen who described the growing phenomenon of praying on the streets and sidewalks as “an invasion.”

Revolution’s movement

The most recent European immigration crisis followed the dramatic exuberance and migration resulting from Arab Spring. Shortly after January’s revolution in Tunisia, thousands of people departed by boat, landing at the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is not far away.

Then Libyans and foreign workers residing in Libya began to move and by late May, 40,000 newcomers or more had arrived. Different experts offer different numbers and time frames for the total amount of migration.

Once inside the Schengen borders, an individual can travel just about anywhere. Migrants tend to travel to countries of colonial or language connection; many headed for France.

That did not sit well in the nation of the Tricolour, one of the most desirable countries for people seeking asylum. France has 5 million Muslims, probably the largest Muslim minority of any European country.

Sarkozy shocked many people when he reinstated temporary border controls with Italy for several hours last spring and began sending some new arrivals back to Italy. Italians are not exactly keen on mass migration either.

Having lived briefly in Italy, I know Italians are edgy about this topic. Many northern Italians have no use for southern Italians and sometimes tensions boil between residents of one region against another, age-old schisms from the history books.

The immigration crisis calmed in recent weeks for several reasons: the long August “vacances,” the ability to send back some new arrivals, the far greater urgency of the crumbling euro, a sense that the EU Commission might provide relief.

A few weeks ago, the EU’s executive branch proposed a new mechanism to deal with immigration woes, “The Greek clause,” allowing the EU to suspend countries like Greece from the Schengen passport-free travel area. That means borders between Greece and other EU countries could be reinstated when external borders prove too leaky. Greece seeps.

The Financial Times reports that of an estimated 104,000 migrants that crossed illegally into the EU in 2010, nearly 88,000 arrived through Greece.

EU proposal

For EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, the best plan is utterly European. Rather than have member states decide when to close borders, she wants the EU Commission and member states to be final arbiters. The strength of the larger union takes precedence.

Whether a proposal like hers has any chance in the EU is anyone’s guess, because other countries — France and Germany in particular — insist on greater ability to control their own internal borders in an emergency.

Some countries in the EU have a tradition of accepting newcomers; some are uncomfortable with so many different people coming in and living off the Welfare Wonderland. Even while awaiting asylum, some countries and humanitarian groups provide a range of benefits.

Europe’s population is still growing but is expected to peak in a few years. Without immigrants, Europe will become the “old continent.”

“We need immigrants,” said Michele Cercone, spokesman for EU’s Malmström. Europe’s aging population, low birthrate and famed pension problems make it necessary, he explained, for Europe to bring in new workers. “We will need immigrants even more in the future.”

The fight in Europe in some ways boils down to one between wealthier northern countries and poorer southern ones.

Too much, too fast

Large waves of immigrants represent change coming at a rate that is too much, too fast, especially with unemployment so high.

“The Belgians are really nice and largely open,” says Mounir Zammouri, age 40, a Belgian and Tunisian citizen living in Brussels, where he plays recreational soccer and works in a restaurant. “But the tight economy spurs fears that immigrants will take European jobs.”

France has a long history of welcoming immigrants, but for many years, and with notable exceptions, the newcomers were Catholic and white, like the rest of France. More recent arrivals are brown or black-skinned and Muslim.

How does a largely secular group of countries mix, mingle and welcome new arrivals who are intensely religious? Don’t forget, like many immigrant groups, the latest newcomers sometimes prefer to live in mono-ethnic communities and present themselves as different and separate by wearing their burqa, niqab and the rest of it.

France, for one, banned full-face veils, and though that sounds radical, once on the ground, you grasp the wisdom of it.

“France is the land of läicité,” explained Stephane Fratacci, secretary-general for immigration and integration for the French Interior Ministry, referring to France’s very sturdy separation of church and state. “This is not a country that is ignoring religion. Religion is a matter of privacy. You have total freedom in being involved in religious practice.”

But a country based on the principle of “French first,” one so nationalistic in focus, does not allow big Catholic crosses or other bold religious symbols in public either.

The U.S. also obviously separates church and state but would never be able to ban the burqa because of the constitutional protection of freedom of religious expression.

Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels directs the master’s program in Migration Studies at the University of Kent, Brussels. She frequently asks her students to analyze this quote: “Immigrants coming over today are of a different race and religion; they’re not integrating the way the older ones did.”

This is a bit of a trick. It was said in 1919 in the U.S. as Bostonians struggled with large waves of Italian immigrants. In other words, attitudes toward immigration can be universal and enduring. Obviously, the Italians mixed in well; it just took a while.

Some Europeans quietly confide that at least white Americans pretend to try to live and work equally with people of a different ethnicity or skin color. In Europe, many don’t even bother to fake it.

In the U.S., you rarely hear people rail against a math whiz from India or Pakistan coming to work in the new bio-or-high tech world. But Mexicans and people without jobs drove some of the worst lawmaking in recent memory. Arizona’s tough immigration law, part of which is on hold, is a good example. It requires police, while enforcing another law, to inquire about a person’s immigration status if officers have good reason to ask. In both the U.S. and Europe, there clearly are good immigrants and bad.


Salem Belgourch is a recent graduate of the prestigious Sciences Po, a school of privilege from which most of France’s recent leaders, save for Sarkozy, graduated. Belgourch was an affirmative-action admit from an immigrant suburb of Paris.

Belgourch serves on the city council of Colombes, a tough place infamous for car burnings a few years back,

Belgourch is first generation French; his parents came from Morocco in the 1960s to work. He is the youngest of 10 children, some of whom struggled mightily but also advised him how to succeed. With his masters in finance, he is clearly going places.

When I met Belgourch, he was dressed in a black corduroy jacket and pants and pink shirt. He oozed success and promise and didn’t flinch when I joked that he will some day be mayor of Paris.

“I don’t see myself as an immigrant. I am French. I study here. When you work, when you respect the rules, you don’t have a problem in France,” he said.

But Belgourch worries about other young people in his neighborhood who are unwilling to make some of the same moves his family did to acculturate and become part of France. As with many immigrants in many countries around the globe, education is the great divider.

“The next generation, I am afraid of that,” he said. “They think they are not French because they have some bad results at school. They are not assimilating and they don’t want to.”

Emmanuel Barbe, the French deputy secretary-general of European affairs, explained that acculturating or assimilating does not mean a new arrival leaves all traditions behind. But newcomers do have to in some way become French.

“It’s not a good idea if you have a piece of another country in your country,” Barbe explained, referring to ghettos of immigrants in places like Germany that led Merkel to proclaim multiculturalism’s failure.

So it goes in Europe where academics and others debate how to make immigration work.

Some left-leaning observers say Europe would be wise to welcome newcomers instead of emphasizing restrictions. Various forces are at play. The far right is gaining traction in many countries, because of so much change in such a short period of time.

Others argue the great migration was mostly hype. Yes, thousands of new people arrived in the last year from other continents but the tidal wave was nowhere as big as anticipated, so lighten up.

As I stood in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels and watched officials from a couple dozen countries scurry to meetings, I thought of the centuries when all these countries could do was fight each another. It was hard not to be impressed by the audaciousness of the European Union, however shaky and crisis-oriented it might be.

In the end, I side with the countries that want reasonable, sensibly controlled borders, temporarily, if need be. Europe needs newcomers and new workers. Of course. They are coming in anyway. But with unemployment so high, everyone needs time to absorb the change. Immigrants also have a duty once they arrive. They need to integrate, learn the new language and try to contribute to society in some way.

The grand experiment of the EU, the imperiled euro and the many challenges of immigration, are being tested like never before. It will all come together somehow because there are too many long-lasting benefits for Europe — peace and prosperity, just for starters.

Joni Balter is the 2011 journalist fellow of the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies. Her columns appear regularly on the editorial pages of The Times. Her email address is [email protected]

Three Amazing Greek Vacations Are Up for Grabs in Fage’s Sweepstakes – About

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Greece beats Croatia at home

Georgios Samaras and Fanis Gekas scored in the second half to give Greece a 2-0 win over Croatia on Friday and put their team top of Group F in Euro 2012 qualifying.

With one game to be played, 2004 champion Greece has 21 points, two ahead of Croatia, and needs a draw against Georgia in Tbilisi on Tuesday to make sure of qualification. Croatia hosts Latvia on Tuesday.

Gekas, who had quit the national team a year ago, citing animosity with teammates, celebrated his goal by running to hug Giorgos Karagounis and Costas Katsouranis, the two veterans he had reportedly clashed with.

Gekas had returned to the team last week after apologizing publicly.

”I knew we would create chances … We defended the Croats’ counterattacks rather easily,” said Greece’s Portuguese coach Fernando Santos, who remains undefeated at Greece’s helm.

The game was less than three minutes old when it was temporarily stopped because of crowd trouble. More than a 100 masked men, many of whom also wearing motorcycle helmets, suddenly attacked the Croat supporters with flares and one petrol bomb. The Croats threw seats at their attackers and briefly scuffled with riot police, who used pepper spray. The match was suspended for six minutes.

The stoppage seemed to throw Greece off its game completely, but Croatia could not take advantage of the hosts’ disarray, even though it controlled play for the remainder of the first half. Croatia could manage only two long-range efforts, by Niko Kranjcar in the 21st minute and Mario Mandzukic in the 27th, none of which bothered goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas. Greece managed only a weak header by defender Avraam Papadopoulos in the 43rd.

The hosts also lost one of their mainstays, Vassilis Torosidis, who hurt his ribs in a midair collision with an opponent.

Greece began the second half with greater purpose and had its first real scoring chance in the 48th. Yiannis Zaradoukas charged down the left flank and sent a perfect cross for Gekas, whose header was blocked by goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.

Greece opened the scoring in the 71st when Karagounis took a corner from the right and Katsouranis had a shot cleared off the line by Ivan Strinic.

Karagounis crossed the ball back in for Dejan Lovren to head the ball on to Samaras, who blasted a shot into the net past the diving Pletikosa.

Greece continued to press forward and scored its second goal eight minutes later when Gekas headed in Karagounis’ corner kick.

A minute before Gekas’ goal, Nikola Kalinic, who had replaced Nikica Jelavic in the 62nd, was injured and, with the Croats having already used their three substitutions, left his team a man short.

”Greece won fairly. I congratulate them … There is still one game left, but qualification is not in our hands now,” said Croat coach Slaven Bilic. ”It is difficult to create chances with Greece, because they defend very well.”


Greece: Alexandros Tzorvas, Yiannis Zaradoukas, Avraam Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torosidis (Loukas Vyntra, 43), Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Alexandros Tziolis (Giorgos Fotakis, 62), Giorgos Karagounis (Grigoris Makos, 88), Costas Katsouranis, Georgios Samaras, Dimitris Salpingidis, Fanis Gekas.

Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Ivan Strinic, Josip Simunic, Dejan Lovren, Vedran Corluka (Domagoj Vida, 75), Ognjen Vukojevic, Nikica Jelavic (Nikola Kalinic, 62), Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Niko Kranjcar, Eduardo (Ivan Perisic, 52).