Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Travel Destinations

A November trip to Turkey is no longer on the table.

That idea did not last long.

The Ankara bombing yesterday put an end to that notion, especially after my parents read the travel warnings subsequently issued by the foreign offices of Australia and Britain. The U.S. Department Of State has not yet commented, at least insofar as I can ascertain, upon the most recent terrorist bombing in Turkey.

Today my middle brother sent me--as well as my parents and Joshua--a news story from one of the London newspapers. The story enumerated the many different terrorist bombings in Turkey since 2003. There has been a startling number of such bombings, many more than I had realized. The bombings are now increasing in frequency, and the bombings are now clearly targeting tourist areas, including those in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Antalya, all of which we had planned to visit. I see from the London newpaper article that many British visitors to Turkey have already been killed or injured in these bombings.

This is the third time that terrorist bombings have prevented my parents from traveling.

My parents had planned a trip to Turkey between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2003, and the November 2003 bombing in Istanbul--the massive one, which destroyed the British Consulate--caused them to cancel that trip.

Their substitute trip for the cancelled 2003 Turkey trip was to be a trip to Spain in March 2004. Two days before my parents were scheduled to depart on that trip, the Madrid bombings occurred. My parents cancelled that trip, too.

I can understand my parents' concerns. They do not want to have to worry about safety during a vacation.

In this day and age, it almost seems that every conceivable destination carries undue risks. Myself, I believe that the most dangerous city for visitors, for the last several years, has been London. All major European cities have large unassimilated immigrant populations, but London has the largest number of unassimilated immigrants, both in absolute terms and in terms of the percentage of the city's population. It is inevitable that there will be more terrorist attacks in London.

My middle brother and I were in London--staying in the King's Cross area!--on July 7, 2005, the day of the London bombings. We generally left our hotel at 8:00 a.m. every morning, but that particular morning we left the hotel at 9:00 a.m., since we were going to spend the day at the Imperial War Museum, which does not open until 10:00 a.m. When we approached the King's Cross station, we noticed that there were mobs of persons standing outside. We learned about the terrorist attacks from persons on the street, who informed us that the station had been evacuated as soon as bombs had exploded on two trains shortly after those trains had departed from the station. My brother and I immediately returned to our hotel in order to watch the news on television. The first thing we did back at the hotel was to send our parents an email message, letting them know that we were safe. We stayed at the hotel for the remainder of the day, watching television, because everything in London--businesses, offices, museums, churches, historic sites, restaurants--closed shortly after the attacks.

My brother and I had been in London in the summers of 2003 and 2004, too, and long before July 7, 2005, we had always been uncomfortable riding the London Tube. We did so anyway, daily, as there really is no satisfactory alternative mode of transport to get around the city. I am sure that we will ride the London Tube countless times in future, too, but it will nevertheless continue to make us extremely uncomfortable.

Now that Turkey is off the table, at least for now, Joshua and my brother and my parents are considering some other travel destinations (London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Venice and Lisbon), and they are trying to figure out which city or cities to select. They are looking at the months of September, October and November. I told Josh that it did not matter to me where we went, or when.

One thing is clear to me, however--it seems that my parents and my brother and Josh have all worked out among themselves that we will all go together, whatever the destination, and whatever the dates of the journey. This is perfectly fine with me, as long as it makes everyone else happy.

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