Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stay aware and keep on traveling

Christmas tree ornament from earlier trip to the City of Light
My wife and I visited Paris about 15 years ago as tourists.

The late October weather was mild to cool. Halloween, a really strong celebration in the US, was picking up steam there. The Latin Quarter was abuzz with people with all types of ghoulish costumes.

There was hardly any rain during our week-long stay until the day we had to leave.

The "City of Light" was truly amazing. The Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, the Musee du Louvre, Sacre-Coeur, the outlying palace of Versaille, even the Metro was interesting.

Of the European cities I have visited, Paris would probably be on the top of the list if we were to make another trip over what is called “the pond.”

It is sad, what happened last Friday as terrorists killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds more in Paris.

But Paris will be Paris. The beauty of the city remains, although residents’ nerves are on edge.

Will the tourists continue visiting the city? Of course. Will I return?

I sure hope so.

How will I feel upon a return visit?

I just have to remember two trips to San Francisco. One was within a few years after the 9/11 attacks in New York. The other was a few years later.

The first trip included being there on July 4.  My wife and I joined thousands of others on that holiday taking the trek across the Golden Gate Bridge and returning.

We also did the same on the subsequent trip.

It is a beautiful walk. But my mind was not only on the scenery.  I was always scanning my surroundings. I had also thought about what I would do if a vehicle stopped on the bridge and someone tossed out a backpack or something similar.

My first thought, since I would have believed it to be a terrorist attack, was to run, pick up the item and toss it over the side of the bridge so that if it were explosives, it would go off close to the water and not injure anyone.

Both of our walks were uneventful.

But whether one is in San Francisco, Paris or any other metropolitan area, it is wise to be aware of one’s surroundings. I don’t know if I would take immediate action against someone if I observed something unusual such as the beginning of a terrorist attack.

Most of us probably wouldn’t do what Harrison Ford did playing the character of Jack Ryan in the “Patriot Games.” As one can recall, he helped subvert a terrorist attack on a British official and was subsequently hunted by the terrorist survivors.

I don’t know, if at my age, I would have that kind of chutzpah, but hopefully I would do something beneficial rather than just running away.

The world has always been dangerous. And it seems to become moreso. But that shouldn’t stop us from experiencing new adventures.

As well-known traveler Rick Steves says, “Keep on traveling!”

We can’t stop traveling. We just have to be more aware of our surroundings and keep ourselves as safe as possible  and not give in to "what might happen."

Next post: Nov. 24, 2015

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