News: Speaka da football?; Landslide strands hundreds

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Speaka da football? Euro fans get help

Speaka da football? Euro fans get help

Some British travellers pride themselves on speaking only one or two phrases in foreign languages: the local equivalent for "Two beers, please", plus "My friend is paying". But in advance of this summer's Euro 2004 football tournament in Portugal, the Foreign Office is providing England fans with cards that could dramatically enhance their vocabulary.

The pocket guide is the centrepiece of the "On the ball in Portugal" campaign, launched in London yesterday by Sir Bobby Charlton and footballing legend Eusebio. It includes the Portuguese translations of such invaluable phrases as "I'm lost - please help" and "May I pitch my tent in your back garden?".

The card also warns fans about the range of hazards that await them in Portugal during the tournament, which runs from 12 June to 4 July. Hundreds of thousands of soccer fans from competing nations are likely to converge on the country by car, possibly adding to the already "very high" road accident rate.

Football fans who buy tickets from touts are breaking the law, as is any visitor who fails to carry ID at all times. And anyone who turns up at the stadium with a video camera, or even a stills camera with a zoom, will have it confiscated before being allowed into the ground.

Crime is expected to rise during the tournament, and the pocket guide contains contact numbers for credit card companies. The Foreign Office advises fans not to take cash, recommending travellers' cheques, credit cards or an ATM card instead.

The "local lingo" section of the card makes a modest assumption about England fans' drinking habits: it gives only the translation for "Can I have a beer please". If you prefer to order two at a time, and want your pal to pay, try "Duas cervayas, por favor" and "Meu amigo pode pagar".

Simon Calder

Landslide strands hundreds

A large landslide near the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru last week stranded around 400 tourists who had just completed the Inca Trail leading to the citadel. Sections of the railway line linking the city of Cuzco with the ruins were buried in mud. The station of Aguas Calientes, which lies in the valley below Machu Picchu, was cut off, and in the town itself seven houses were destroyed. Thirteen local people are reported dead or missing.

Many tourists and locals were evacuated by helicopter last weekend to the village of Ollantaytambo, halfway between Aguas Calientes and Cuzco, from where buses took them to Cuzco. The rail service, which is run by the same company as the Venice-Simplon Orient Express and GNER trains, began a limited operation on Monday.

A spokeswoman for tour operator Journey Latin America says the company is confident that services will return to normal over the next few weeks, and that travel to Machu Picchu is both possible and safe.

Landslides are not uncommon during the rainy season, which runs from November to April.

Sophie Lam

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