The recent bombings in Paris shook many of us to the core – and rightly so. We live in scary times, in a world full of scary people who’d sooner kill (or be killed) than compromise their beliefs.
Terrorist attacks, civil wars and refugee struggles are part of the new reality, and they’re topics that also get lots of people rethinking their travel plans. Should we strike Paris from our destination bucket list now? Maybe cancel vacation plans to other countries where similar unrest may be brewing?
Those questions hit me particularly hard during this latest incident for two reasons:
One, after an unforgettable anniversary trip to Paris several years ago, the “City of Light” still remains my favorite place in the world. My wife and I walked its famed streets and neighborhoods, visited its shops and cafés, toured its museums and cathedrals, enjoyed lunch (and jaw-dropping views) atop the iconic Eiffel Tower and savored an embarrassing amount of fresh breads, decadent pastries, exquisite meals and fine wines. It’s one of the few places I’d actually move to tomorrow if the opportunity arose.
But more importantly, my 12-year-old son and I will soon be taking a much-anticipated school trip to Greece, a country that’s been in the news with its own share of problems this past year. Adam is obsessed with ancient mythology and Greece has been #1 on my travel “wish list” for as long as I can remember. So when the opportunity to travel there presented itself, I didn’t bat an eye. (Well, except at the price tag.)
During our two weeks there, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of Athens (including stops at Olympic Stadium, Acropolis, the Parthenon and several museums, temples and plazas) and have plenty of free time to explore the city on our own. Walk its streets, taste its food, meet its people. Then we’ll set sail for a cruise of the Greek Isles, stopping in Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini and the Turkish port of Kusadasi.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip, no doubt. And isn’t that one of the primary reasons we travel – to soak up experiences that both enlighten and enrich us? But ongoing safety concerns are not lost on me. I would never intentionally put my son in harm’s way, yet I’d also never dream of holding him back from seeing the world as it is. Wonders, warts and all.
Will we cancel our trip to Greece? Not a chance. We’ll walk off that plane in Athens with our eyes wide open to our surroundings – and our hearts and minds equally open to let them transform us.