Archive: Anti-Americanism: Reports from Recent Travelers, April-May 2003
In the wake of the disagreement between some European countries and the US over the war in Iraq, the media has led many Americans to believe they will be treated with hostility when traveling. If you are in Europe now or have recently returned, how were you treated?
Here's what you thought April-May 2003:
We just returned from Paris and had no problems at all. We spoke to American expatriates and they have no idea what this 'anti-american' stuff is all about. The French have far more class to behave so childishly (unlike a small group of Americans who think that the world owes them special treatment). If you want to avoid the issue of 'anti-americanism' its easy. Stop watching Fox news.
Livingston, NJ USA 05/31/03
Travel to France 5/03
I just returned from my first solo trip to France this past week and I was treated royally. From my hotels and restaurants (many recommended by Rick Steves) to people on the street, I was made to feel welcomed. Not once did I feel uncomfortable about being a woman traveling alone.
Delanson, NY USA 05/31/03
We went to Europe for the first time 5/2-5/16. We did not experience any anti-Americanism. The French were especially fun and helpful. We encourage other first-timers to go. We followed Rick Steves' guides and did well.
Kenn & Kathy Boelte
Grand Junction, CO USA 05/31/03
Vive la Francoise!
We just returned from 3 weeks in the south of France, driving from Geneva all the way to Carcassonne & in between. The French are lovely people, charming, friendly, and gracious, even in dealing with our horribly inadequate attempts to speak French. They asked us where we were from and seemed pleased that we would travel all that way to visit them. Waiters were kind and patient with our attempts to order. Absolutely not one word about anything political or any resentment toward us. The closest we came to current events was a delightful conversation we had at dinner in our favorite B&B, La Sauzette, (near Carcassonne) about the contest for the summer Olympics site for 2012. If we had the resources, we would be on the plane to return next week!
Laura & Dave McIntire
Clayton, CA USA 05/31/03
Two week business trip. Be prepared to have to defend every aspect of being an American. I was insulted and challenged by everyone from cab drivers to waiters and nearly denied entry at CDG because I'm from "that part of the US that is pretty racist isn't it?" They hate US.
Columbia, SC USA 05/30/03
I just returned from 2 weeks in Italy and found the Itallian people warm and welcoming. I enjoyed seeing the "pace" flag. Who wouldn't want to see more peace in the world? I purchased pace flags for family, friends, and for my classroom!
Spokane, WA USA 05/30/03
I vacationed in Italy in March during the Iraq war and was in Geneva & Paris in October on business. Everyone was extremely friendly. I think that this anti-Americanism is something drummed up by the US press to a great extent.
Potomac, MD USA 05/30/03
Everyone we came into contact with in Paris and Versailles welcomed us graciously and accomodated our limited French-speaking capabilities. (We had fun trying, even though most people spoke English quite well). Waiters especially made our dining experiences enjoyable. We're looking forward to our return and to visit our French ancestral home.
Charlotte, NC USA 05/30/03
Returned from France on May 6, 2003. My friend and I spent 2 weeks (4/21/03-5/6/03) in France. Most of the trip was spent in Southern France (Provence area)with 1.5 days in Paris. We were treated courteously, politely and I could site experience after experience where the French people assisted us along the way. I did not have one situation where I was not acknowledged in a "good" way. This was my first adventure to France and would go back anytime. The country is beautiful and so are the people of France!!
Milwaukee, WI USA 05/30/03
I love France
I just returned from two weeks in Nice and Cannes. This was my fourth visit in the past five years to France. On my very first visit in 1998 I fell in love with France and vowed that I would return every year from then on. As of this year I have returned each year, stopping in Paris (the most beautiful city on the planet) and then on to the Riviera (where I purchased a timeshare in 2000) after visiting Nice for the first time. I cannot speak more highly of the French people and their culture. I love everything about France, the language, food, people and the overwhelming beauty of the country. I have never in any of my visits had anyone of French ancestry treat me with anything but kindness. Everyone has always been helpful whenever I needed help with the language. I only speak the bare essentials and use them relentlessly.
I encountered an young French couple with their young daughter on this
visit while having lunch one day and we got into a conversation about
the so-called misunderstanding with America and the war with Iraq. They
want to come to visit America this year and was afraid that Americans
would harm them. I told them that true Americans would treat them with
respect and they should come and enjoy themselves. Every negative I have
ever heard about the French has been proven to me time and again that
they are untrue and appear to be based on a few arrogant and ignorant
Americans who have visited France with less than a world view outlook.
As stated previously, I will be visiting France every year until I die
and nothing will stop me. Any American who has not visited France is missing
one of the greatest experiences of life.
Boston, MA USA 05/30/03
Anti-Americanism in Europe?
We spent three weeks in Italy and were treated with cordiality by the Italians, even though at times I thought some of our American fellow travellers seemed "loud," a term that could mean either speaking too loud or drawing too much attention to themselves, whether from merrymaking in a restaurant or in other public places. We saw the typical rainbow colored "Pace" (Peace) banners hanging from balconies in many cities, but that is no worse than some of the anti-war demonstrations we get at home. My advice to Americans who are still uncertain about travelling to Europe is: GO! Sure, the US dollar is falling like a rock against the Euro, but don't let that get in the way of a unique and enriching cultural experience.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 05/29/03
No problem in England
I just returned from a visit to England (5/5-5/23/03) and did not encounter any anti-Americanism while I was there. I did see some anti-Bush/Blair/War graffiti and there were a display of anti-war signs set up in London's Parliament Square. However, on the day I visited the House of Parliament, the only protest taking place was a small one (three or four people and a microphone) against unsafe working conditions. Politics did not come up in conversations — about the closest I came was making small talk with a lady in the Holburne Museum gift shop in Bath and she mentioned that it was good to see more Americans traveling again. Guess numbers had been down about a month earlier. During my stay in England, I was merely one of the large tourist throng which included Brits on holiday, French school kids on a class trips, Aussies, Germans, Japanese, etc.
Fairbanks, AK USA 05/29/03
Anti-Americanism: Real or Media Hype?
Media hype, media hype and more media hype! Left the US on 4/11/03 at the beginning of the war and returned 4/30/03 near the (so called)end. Germany was fine, just the odd Anti-war sign here and there (just like here). Paris was fantastic and I can't wait to go back. In Paris just like here in DC the odd Anit-war sign here and there. Not one sign of Anti-Americanism. Hell, people still stand in line at the neighborhood McDonald's in Paris. If you listen to the media you would have thought that all the US owned business's in France had been run out of the country. The only thing that I saw that could be construed as Anti-American was a sign in Cadiz, Spain (our ally) urging the US out of Spain. But this sign has been hanging in the same place off and on for 20 years. Bottom line, go to Europe! Don't act like the ugly American and enjoy the people. European's on a whole are a lot less stressed then the average American.
Washington, DC USA 05/29/03
We just got back from a 19 day visit to Italy. Not one bit of anti-american
sentiment towards us by the Italians except for one shopkeeper who joked
that Californians don't ever buy anything. PACE flags were everywhere but
it looks to be more of a fashion trend than a political statement. We had
a couple of friendly discussions about Bush policies all ending with, "Tutti
i politici sono uguali" (Politicians are all the same) The only anti-American
comments were from some other tourists who spoke English, claimed to be
Canadian-Swiss, who stated they live in America but refuse to carry an American
passport and would be ashamed to during these times. After hearing other
parts of their dinner conversation we came to the conclusion they were just
general idiots on all accounts. Europeans tend to understand politics well
enough to know you can't blame the common citizen for the actions of their
Pinole, CA USA 05/29/03
None in DK
I live in Denmark. I protested against the war, which the government supported. In general Danish people are critical of the US because it is so different from the US, but it is considered impolite to make any public show of this.
Italy, Austria, Germany
Just returned from 2 week trip. First time to Italy so not much base for comparison, some were quite friendly, but most probably not. I don't feel it had much to do with politics, so much as people working every day with tourists who don't speak Italian. Nonetheless we had a great time and never felt the least bit unsafe (and I mean that). I hate to spread the word, but Vernazza was incredible. Our favorite city was still Salzburg and should not be missed. Our shortest stay was in Germany (one day) and I felt unusually unwelcome but I might be completely wrong here and a couple people went out of their way to say they hoped we had a nice visit (and they were not in the tourism industry). Still "PACE" flags all over the place in Italy, but who cares. The best reason not to go is the EURO, but don't use anti-americanism as an excuse, it's not a difference maker.
Denton, TX USA 05/29/03
Red Carpet Treatment
"Red Carpet"! That is the best way I could describe the way I was treated in Paris! I never even asked for ice in my beverages but always got it! (Wow! That is a first in all my visits there!) And, the Parisians didn't seem snooty because of my lack of speaking their language. I stayed away from talking politics and was careful not to say anything very loudly that might get negative attention. The city was practically desserted-in the middle of May, maybe partly because of Americans boycotting the country, maybe partly because of SARS concerns. Either way, there were virtuallY NO lines at any of the major tourist sights. Except for in the Metros because this was, unfortunately, during one of their recent transportation strikes.
Almere, NL 05/28/03
I just returned from 4 weeks in Europe. I encountered no anti-American feeling, although the peace movement was very evident. In France the people were as friendly as anywhere I have ever been, more so than when I was there 5 years ago. It was a great experience.
Denver, co USA 05/28/03
Be a smart traveler
I live in Germany with my husband who is currently stationed here with the United States Military. We love it. Our experience, even during the war, has been nothing but positive. As a general rule most people will treat you in the manner you treat them. A smile and a thank you can get you places. I do want to add two 'no-brainer' tips on how to avoid getting yourself in an anti-Americanism situation:
Steer away from political conversations. Be considerate of your host
country, and their sentiments and opinions. It does you absolutely no
good to debate loudly, even if just amongst yourself, your views on a
particular countries politics. Dress like the locals. You will be less
of a target for anti-war/anti-America fanatics. (In Germany that means
leave your backpacks and tennis shoes at home.) I encourage you to enjoy
your time in Europe and treat every encounter as a growth experience.
Stuttgart, AE Germany 05/27/03
I just returned from a 2 1/2 week trip to France (Nice, Marseilles, Toulouse, Rocamadour, Limoges, Angers, Normandy areas, and Paris) and found that there is a lot of anti-american feelings throughout the country except for Normandy. I was refused service in some restaurants and totally ignored in others. It will be a while before I travel to France again.
Pasadena, TX USA 05/27/03
Not bad anti-americanism, but...
I just returned from a 2 week trip to western Europe, and I spent 3 days in France. I would say that you will get almost no anti-americanism from the people working in the tourism and hotel industries for 2 reasons: 1) They're paid to be nice and 2) They desperately need American tourists to keep their jobs. (One hotel desk clerk told me about how business is so bad and that they are close to being laid off. He hammered Chirac for about 10 minutes.) Among regular people, it's obviously a mixed bag, just as it is everywhere. (Interestingly, I encountered just as much anti-american sentiment in England and Spain as I did in France.) The bad thing obviously is that you are out of your own country so you do feel less safe. Personally, I would advise against American vacations in Europe for this year, and say go back next year when things (hopefully) calm down. If you do have to go, Ireland and Scotland are great and I found almost no anti-Americanism there.
River Falls, WI USA 05/27/03
I, too, had a bad experience in Italy, and having travelled there many times in the past, I was surprised to encounter it. Face it, folks, the enmity is real among a good number of Europeans, and you have to be lucky to escape it completely. I still plan to go back to Italy (and my second love, Paris), determined that a few bad experiences won't stop me. But advice to novice travellers is, don't be surprised at what you encounter.
Grand Prairie, tx USA 05/26/03
Nice folks in Germany and Prague
Just got back from three weeks in Germany and Czech Republic and really didn't encounter any anti-American feelings at all. I did notice that in 23 days we really only ran into 2 or 3 other Americans, so they really aren't travelling too much in Germany. But the locals couldn't have been nicer.
Seattle, WA USA 05/26/03
No Anti-Americanism in Italy
I was in Italy (Rome, Florence & Venice) in April and encountered no anti-Americanism whatsoever. The Italians were friendly and seemed glad to see us and our euros.
Beaverton, OR USA 05/26/03
Just returned from 2 wonderful weeks in Italy. Only had one person even asked me about politics, and he just wanted to understand us better. No anti-americanism in evidence, just people proud to make polite guests feel welcome.
Minneapolis, MN USA 05/26/03
Anti-Americanism? Completely media.
Two months in Europe. Yeah, there was some anti-americanism. There's always anti-something or other everywhere. But it's NOTHING compared to what the media is making it out to be. In fact, I even joined in a pro-war rally in Bologna, Italy a couple days before the war with Iraq actually started. Instead of burning effigies of Bush, guess who they burned? Musselini hugging Sadaam! After my stay in Italy, there was really nothing about anti or pro-americanism. Everyone was just friendly saying "hello" and "how are you?" and "it's a pleasure to meet you" as well as "I hope you enjoy your stay in ".
As for the topic of these discussions, "Anti-Americanism: Real or Media
Hype?" Completely media hype. In fact, I was talking with a Belgian couple
on vacation in Tours and they said that the BBC broadcasted three American
broadcasts of supposed "different rallies". When the comparisons came
back, it was discovered that it was the AMERICAN media doing the hype.
All "three" rallies were the very same ones shot at different angles and
at different times. Of course, the voices were dubbed over in different
Delaware, OH USA 05/26/03
Just returned from 2 weeks in the Netherlands,Switzerland, and France. Everyone was great, no anti-Americanism did we expirence during the entire trip, everyone if anything was glad to see some Americans traveling (we ran into many) and most Europeans wanted to know where everyone was! Go to Europe and enjoy!
Parker, CO USA 05/26/03
No Anti-American Experiences
We just returned from a 3 week trip to France. We did not have a single anti-American experience. This was our 8th trip to Europe and we found France to be one of the most friendly countries that we have visited.
Lafayette, CA USA 05/25/03
We spent 7 days in France and Switerland the first week of April and then four days in London this past week and never had any trouble with anti-american feelings towards us. We were treated very well and had a great time both times. Plan on going back soon.
Conway, AR USA 05/25/03
Just got back from 2 weeks in Italy. Spent most of it in Florence, but saw Siena, Cinque Terra, San Gimignano, Pistoia, Prato, etc. Experienced no anti-Americanism, and found all Italians to be very cordial and happy people. The most I got was in Germany, on the way to and from Italy. Even then, it was dismissable.
Spokane, WA USA 05/25/03
Arab and American
My husband just got back from a trip to Amsterdam and Beirut. As an naturalized American from Lebanon, he ran into no instances of anti-Americanism OR anti-Arab sentiment in Europe, and found more than a few George Bush fans in Beirut.
Just returned from 2 1/2 weeks in Italy, from Venice to Rome with a week in a villa in Umbria in between. We had a delightful time in general, and no incidents of "Anti-Americanism" what-so-ever. With the exception of one or two clerks in Rome, everyone we talked to was friendly and helpful, especially if you made a stab at speaking Italian. It was a wonderful trip in all ways.
Rising Sun, MD USA 05/25/03
Recently spent a few weeks in Europe, mostly Italy. London was terrific and the right pub discovery can make my whole trip. Spirited talks on all subjects and as everywhere in Europe it seems, Bush is disliked but we're OK. In Italy it goes a little beyond that in my opinion. Very open about their dislike of Bush. Individuals are friendly and helpful but there still seem to be way too many overcharging and shortchanging incidences and each one is unpleasant. Americans are definitely perceived as being rich enough to deserve being taken a little and also stupid enough to let them get away with it. I didn't.
If someone wants to charge me 2euro instead of .77 for a soda I walk. Same with beer, peaches and bread. I won't dicker on the price of a can of beer, so I'd leave and buy it across the street for a realistic price. What really incensed me was the attempt to shortchange me by 30 freaking euros at the main bus terminal in Siena. When I started to get loud she finally feigned forgetfullness and gave me the rest of my change from the 50 I had given her. I had some time before the bus to Rome so I complained to the Carabinieri set up across the street to process pickpockets from the open market area. The cop said I probably didn't understand the ticket gal and then made a Bush-is-better-than-Saddam comment.
I had just returned a scooter that I rented in Siena and used for 4 days in southern Tuscany. I stayed in Pienza and made day trips, the longest one to the coast. Beautiful country and great roads. So many great roads that I could just use the sun to navigate and know I'd end up where I wanted eventually. On long rides, this eliminated countless map stops. There are lots of small hill towns and the country is beautiful.
A tip: use discount European air carriers like easyJet.com and Ryanair and BMI. My flight from London to Munich was $32.
One more tip: don't leave designer black pants hanging on a chair in
your hotel room in Rome. My wife lost hers this way to a conscience-free
maid (Hotel Dei Mellini) and the manager would do nothing. Much as I like
Italy, I am tired of the attitude they have toward the rich and stupid
Denver, Co. USA 05/24/03
16 trouble free days in Italy
We encountered no anti-Americanism in our 16 days in Italy in April and May. This covered the Cinque Terra, Florence, Siena, Acquapendente, and Rome. There were lots of "pace" or "Peace" flags, and a a bit of anti-Bush graffiti, but not one instance of rudeness or animosity.
Tallahassee, FL USA 05/24/03
żAnti-American? ˇNo! żAnti-war? ˇSi!
We three Americans are in the middle of a 10-day trip to Spain. We´ve had *zero* anti-American experiences personally. (I leave aside the two episodes of theft; I´m guessing that's business rather than politics.) On the other hand, anti-war sentiment is *everwhere* in signs, banners, graffiti, etc. I understand that the Spanish government joined in the US war against Iraq in the face of 90% opposition from its citizens, and it shows. However, we're having a great time in Spain, and I'm very glad we came. Come on over!
San Jose, CA USA 05/24/03
Just returned from three week trip
My wife and I just returned from three weeks in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain and Belgium. We saw a lot of places and talked to lots of people and the only time political circumstance ever came up was at the Munich train station when the Iraqi kiosk employee told me, " I love America, I love George Bush, he freed my country". With that he blew kisses my way. No anti-Americanism there. I just told him that I hoped it would all work out. Other than that incident- no problem, no big deal!
Jon & Kathy Wright
Wayzata, MN USA 05/23/03
Italians were wonderful
My husband and I just returned from two weeks in Italy (Venice, Florence, Siena, & Rome). Everyone was so nice and friendly. We did see some anti-american graffiti in Florence - saying "Yankees go home" and "Americans = assassins". However, in person, everyone was wonderful. We were actually stopped frequently by Italians who told us how much they love America. One priest in Florence showed us a pin of the American flag that he keeps on him at all times right next to his pin of the Italian flag. We can't wait to go back.
Richmond, VA USA 05/23/03
Recently travelled in France, (Paris), as well as Austria, Germany and Switzerland. (May 7-21, 2003) Found everyone, including the French, to be most welcoming and friendly. They seemed to love Americans but despise President Bush.
Ormond Beach, FL USA 05/23/03
My husband and I just returned from 11 days in France, 7 of which were spent boating on the Canal du Midi. We had a wonderful time and had no problems at all with anti-Americanism. Quite unlike the rudeness that I witnessed in Long Beach, California in March, when an elderly American woman made a point of walking into a shop that sells goods from Provence simply to tell the proprietress that she was boycotting French goods. But as much as anything I think Americans tend to let their skewed sense of what is dangerous dictate to them where and how they will travel. They won't travel by air to Europe out of fear they'll be hurt or killed by an act of terrorism, but think nothing of driving thousands of miles on a domestic vacation — an incredibly dangerous activity given the prevalence of auto accidents.
St. Paul, MN USA 05/22/03
Just returned from three weeks including France. No anti-Americanism
encountered. We did see two banners in Amsterdam anti-war. We were very
touched by the European remembrances of not only their losses but the sacrifices
of the British, Canadian, and American troops.
Belleair, FL USA 05/22/03
no anti-americanism in France
I recently returned from a week mostly in France with a group of high school juniors and seniors. We had absolutely no scary or rude encounters of any kind - if anything, I thought the French people were remarkably polite and tolerant of our boisterous group. At one point, a small group of us got separated from the rest on a busy street in Paris, when a kind lady speaking perfect English stopped and asked us if we were lost and needed directions. When my friend (whose daughter was a part of the group) remarked that she was allowing her underage child to roam the streets of Paris and wouldn't even think of doing that at home (Columbus, Ohio), I replied, "Well, that's because no one in Paris has guns!" I felt really safe in France for that reason.
Also, learn some French words and use them. I kept track of the words
I learned, it was a surpising 75 words in 5 days. The French really put
a lot of emphasis on doing and saying the right thing, and especially
politeness. I loved it and can't wait to return someday.
Powell, OH USA 05/22/03
Anti-Americanism? I left for a 2 month stint in Europe. I left 10 days after the war began and was here as the war drew to an end. I was in Germany at this time, but have travelled to Austria, Hungary, and Italy thus far. I unfortunately have but a short week remaining.
Of course I never felt threatened by being American and every educated
person I met could understand I cannot be responsible for being born in
America. Many Pace (Peace) flags hang from windows, everywhere from the
metropolitan to rural areas. I've met and talked to quite a few people
and when the subject of where I am from comes up, USA brings a certain
vibe from some people. It is like what you do when someone trumps your
sports team and then rubs it in your face. You feel rather reluctant to
really like that person for the stupidest reason. Some people are like
that but their upbringing makes them very susceptible to change. If you
do not hold up to the image of a demanding, arrogant person as they would
imagine you to be they turn much more enjoyable. Fear is what you make
of it. I would stay longer if it were possible to extend my flight.
New Hope, MN USA 05/20/03
My husband and I toured Germany and a bit of Switzerland a couple weeks ago. Wonderful, friendly people. Only thing one might stretch into protest was an old VW microbus with No War emblazoned on the back — but, hey, that could have been from the 70s. Now is an excellent time to visit Europe — at least Germany.
Portland, OR USA 05/20/03
Anti-Americanism in France
We just returned from two weeks in France and everyone we encountered was very polite. A few wanted to know where we were from and when we said "Texas" they said, "ugh, George Bush".
waco, tx USA 05/20/03
I just returned from an 18-day trip through the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France and didn't run into one bit of anti-Americanism anywhere. The only thing we noticed is that there were barely any American tourists anywhere we went! We ran into mostly German and Italian tourists. In that respect it was really nice to be in Europe when it wasn't overrun with crowds!
San Francisco, CA USA 05/20/03
Germany and Austria
We returned yesterday from another successful trip to Germany, and added some of the less touristy areas of both Germany and Austria. No problems anywhere. We have always been treated with courtesty, perhaps because we have the utmost respect for others and their cultures. As long as we remember that we are dealing with individuals, not their governments, perhaps we can remember why we love to travel in Europe!
St. Louis, MO USA 05/20/03
Wonderful time in Germany & italy
My husband and I just returned from a 2 week stay in Germany and Italy. The people were all very friendly and I felt absolutely no hostility because I was an american. I think most people are simply overreacting and automatically assuming that if they are treated poorly it is because they are American. People need to stop reading into things and simply enjoy!
Saranac, MI USA 05/20/03
25 years of Travel to France
My husband and I have been traveling to France for over 25 years. We will be travelling there this coming September. I sent a fax for our hotel reservation and did not receive a reply. This was unusual — as I have always received a reply within a few days. I thought it was because we are Americans and maybe they didn't want us there anymore. I casually mentioned that I did not receive a reply in a letter to my French friend who lives in the Savoy region. She immediately called the hotel and was told that their fax machine had been down for a few weeks. I received a personal fax from the hotel owner confirming our reservation. If the French were Anti-American, why would we go there for the past 25 years. We have made wonderful friends during this time and years of friendship cannot be undone by a political situation. We were in Nice on September 11, 2001. The people were very warm and sympathetic. This helped us get through the days of waiting to get a flight back to the States. We encourage all to visit France and get to know the French. They are warm and wonderful people.
Chicago, IL USA 05/19/03
Returned Saturday from a week in Paris and Normandy. There was no anti-American sentiment that we encountered. The people couldn't have been friendlier! Especially with the "general strike" going on the last few days we were in Paris, the people were more than willing to assist us in changing our reservations and suggesting more "local" places to visit in our neighborhood. The only rude people we encountered were other tourists (Americans included)! We cannot wait to go back!
Pittsburgh, PA USA 05/19/03
War Travel in Italy
We have returned from a three week trip to Italy, all during the month of April. People were friendly and helpful. It is a trip we'll never forget. The only unfriendliness to us as Americans that we experienced was from businessman who spoke English with a mid-western accent. I think it had more to do with us occupying a parking space he thought, probably correctly, was his. Like everybody else we enjoyed seeing the PACE flags and even tried to buy one. I came away with the clear impression that there was little anti-American sentiment but a great deal of anti-Bush sentiment. Even that was far from unanimous however. I have a clear memory of a older working man asking if we were Americanos and when we said "Si," we got a thumbs up, a broad smile and the single work "Boosh!"
Alexandria, VA USA 05/18/03
Is travel in Europe safe ?
Spent 11 days in Eastern Europe, returning to USA on May 7, '03. When we left home in late April, I had some apprehension over possible anti-American feelings and the SARS threat.Friends kindly asked "why would you want to travel outside the USA right now?" In the cities we toured, Munich, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, we only encountered kindly, friendly treatment. It was a marvelous trip — -even the weather was cooperative and great. I would encourage others to continue w/their travel plans, as long as their destination is a safe country. I called home a bit more during this trip, to reassure our adult children that I was still alive !
Loves Park, IL USA 05/17/03
Helpful French mechanic
Just got back yesterday from a week in Normandy and Paris. We were treated with great warmth and friendliness. In fact, we met with some extraordinary kindness when we had car trouble in Rouen. We pulled into a "Speedy," I explained the problem to the mechanic, and he straightened it out (it seems that Europcar hadn't checked the oil before they gave us the car — the oil was so low, it barely reached the dipstick). Our mechanic poured in liter after liter of oil, revved the engine and rechecked the oil level, and poured in yet more oil. He put the car up on blocks and had another mechanic check it out with him. All in all, he spent a good 20-30 minutes on the car. When it was ready, we asked for the bill. He refused to give us one, and told us to have a good trip!
Everyone we met told us to have a good trip and to enjoy our stay in
France. We did. The only unpleasantness I encountered was in the airport
as I was about to leave. The American in front of me at the coffee bar
was rude and abrasive. He demanded that his change come in American money
(I guess he forgot he was still in France), and then he didn't even have
enough Euros left to pay for his food! He yelled, he pounded the counter,
and was so awful, a lady standing behind me gave him the additional amount
he needed just to get him to shut up and go away. I, standing behind him
in line, was mortified. I meekly asked for my water, and then I told the
man behind the counter, in my best French, that I was ashamed of my fellow
citizen, and that I was sorry. He beamed, and he and the rest of the people
in line all rushed to assure me that there were rude people everywhere,
and that I had nothing to be ashamed of. I could tell that my apology
was appreciated, though. Only thing I would add is that while I do speak
French fairly well, my husband doesn't speak a word. People were just
as nice to him as they were to me.
TX USA 05/17/03
We are in Paris now, after about 2.5 weeks in Provence, Bordeaux, and Normandy. We have yet to witness even a shred of anti-americanism. Even when we solicit opinions of our government, everyone seems way too polite to speak critically. One man dining near our table in Cassis said, "It's good to see Americans in France right now." Also, we're glad we didn't postpone our trip; the crowds are way less than anticipated everywhere we've gone.
Dan & Beth Summerl
Laguna Beach, CA USA 05/17/03
Last year my daughter and I spent 3 weeks in Germany & Austria. We were spoiled by just about everyone — waiters, hotel employees, people in the street. Only my cousin in Austria asked (very tactfully) about George Bush. I wrinkled my nose, made a negative sound, and he just nodded and dropped the subject. On Friday my husband & I are going to the Black Forest. So far, all of our e-mails & faxes with tourist bureaus and hotels have been friendly. Since my husband & I have different views on the current US government and its actions, I've suggested to him (this is his first real trip abroad) that we just don't talk politics at all! Then again, the Germans might find it amusing to hear a husband wife arguing politics! At any rate, I am more concerned with surviving Frankfurt Airport (ugh) than rude Germans.
Old Bridge, NJ USA 05/16/03
April in Paris
I was in Paris from April 21 through April 28 2003. I made the effort to speak French (and did a terrible job), but everyone I met was appreciative and there was nothing but friendliness everywhere. While I was at the Notre Dame cathedral, I did notice an anti-American sticker pasted onto a street sign, but I took a picture of it as a souvenir of the times. The only mention of French-American relations came up when a young Parisian woman looked at me sadly and asked "Why do Americans hate us?" I replied, "Only stupid Americans hate the French." She looked a bit horrified and quickly added, "But, of course, you are not a stupid American."
Rockaway, NJ USA 05/16/03
I once was refused tables at several restaurants in a French city... because all their tables had been BOOKED in advance! I was an early bird and the people with advance bookings hadn't arrived yet. Are you sure this wasn't the case? And why do you assume that waiters treat you the way they do because of your citizenship? Yesterday, I heard somebody whistling the Star-Spangled Banner when waiting for a train in the Paris Austerlitz station - in the middle of a strike. Interesting...
Paris, France 05/15/03
Munich & Paris
Paris is second only to Munich in attidtude toward USA natives. My wife and I were dressed to pass as Europeans, calm and well mannered at three restaurants in the English Garden of Munich. It was early for dinner by European standards, and not a soul was yet having dinner. In each of the three restaurants, we were told that there were no tables available. Neither of us speaks German, but we have tried to pick up the basics and use phrase books to practice. We will NEVER return to Munich.
As for Paris, I had boycotted it for over 30 years until recently, as
my wife loves it(or did). Art and buildings are wonderful. The average
person is disrespectful and out to rip you off. It was apparent that the
Parisians would like nothing better than to hurt the USA economically.
If you must go to France, try Lyon, Burgandy, and Alsace. Lovely people,
the real France. As for us, we are heading for Spain.
T. M. Tapscott
Durham, NC USA 05/15/03
Don't take it personally
I have traveled through Europe often and plan on returning in June with no anxiety. I have been met with some abruptness by workers there in the past, but I never felt it was Anti-American. Sometimes the attitudes even changed or there were apologies. People have bad days. Don't always take it personally, especially if it comes from someone in the service industry. Their jobs are usually exhausting and thankless and they are met with far more rudeness from customers than they return. If you or someone you know was refused service specifically because you are American-you just ran into an ugly person. Move on. Plus you never know how that person was behaving. I wait tables for extra money and just the other day some customers were so NASTY to me for no reason I refused to serve them. My point here is Europeans are human, they have good days and bad days. Treat people as you expect to be treated. Don't let one bad experience or story scare you off. As you can see on this board lots of people are having fantastic times. I always have.
Burr Ridge, IL USA 05/14/03
No problems in Paris
Greetings fellow travel-holics! I just returned from a week in Paris and am glad to report that I experienced no negativity whatsoever from anyone anywhere. I even broke a few rules on a few days: wore my jeans and sneakers because its just more comfortable for long bouts of walking, but received no negative looks. Honestly, because of the declining value of the dollar in recent months, I think that they are glad to have our business. Getting around the Metro and RER was a breeze, even from CDG, and no pickpocketing to be seen anywhere. The museums and monuments were all relatively uncrowded, and lines virtually nonexistant.
The only real hassle was a nationwide transportation strike on the day
that I was set to leave. I simply called a hotel by CDG airport listed
in Rick's book and got a room for the evening before so that I didn't
risk missing my flight home. The hotel did not boost the rates either.
While this was an unexpected expense that I would have rather avoided,
I felt it better to be safe than sorry. I also expected price-gouging
by cab drivers preying on desparate tourists needing to get to the airport
but that didn't happen. The upside of the strike was that CDG was a virtual
ghost town in Terminal 1. I was through check-in, passport control and
security in less than 5 minutes.
Cleveland, OH USA 05/14/03
After reading M. Marmotte's posting, I couldn't agree more with his analogy. I would be mortified to think that Europeans would liken me to Timothy McVeigh and think that he was the norm for Americans. But I digress.
My sister and I are just back from two weeks in Italy and France, and we were in fact treated very well by just about everyone we came in contact with. My sister is disabled with a club foot and there were many men throughout our stay who offered her their assistance negotiating stairs in a kind and thoughtful manner, the likes of which she has never seen in the US.
I would like to point out that a previous poster, Tony, from Illinois, felt that his friend was mistreated in Paris by being "mocked" by a waiter and that he, Tony, wanted to get out of the French leg of his trip. While this seems ludicrous to me, I can only respond that one of the few places my sister has ever been made fun of by museum employees and restaurant help was in Chicago, in Tony's very own state. Has my sister decided to boycott the entire state of Illinois? No, of course not! What a ridiculous notion.
I will say that on our first night in Paris, we were treated a bit brusquely in a restaurant. Nothing we hadn't experienced in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. The waiter, however, did come up to us as we were leaving and apologized for his abruptness, saying that he and his wife had had a big fight earlier in the evening and he was sorry we got the brunt of his anger.
Keep things in perspective and don't take things personally since they
are seldom inteneded as such. Otherwise, there may come a time when some
of us won't want to leave our own homes. And that would be a true shame.
And thank you Rick Steves for your advice and information for disabled
travelers. As a result, my sister has had a great many wonderful trips
and will keep on travelin'!
Madison, WI USA 05/13/03
Americans in Europe
My husband, sister and I just returned May 11 from an 18 day trip driving through Italy, Austria, Germany, France, and England. We were treated wonderfully in every country. We stayed at many places recommened by Rick. My husband jokingly complained about plastic liners on a bed in Bacharach, Germany and the owner said he and Rick Steves are the only ones who have ever complained! We saw a few anti-Bush signs but that was about it. Our college age daughter is there now traveling with a friend on a Eurail pass. The only thing I am worried about is her missing a train. Anyone planning on a trip should not worry. Go and enjoy every minute.
Durham, NC USA 05/13/03
I haven't seen too many posts regarding student groups, so I thought I'd add my comments. I led a group of twelve college students to Greece and Italy in April/May. This is the third year I have led such a trip. I experienced no difference in treatment this year than any other year. I coach my students to be respectful guests (i.e., learn some phrases, dress appropriately, don't be loud, etc.). It takes some time, but they become aware of how their behavior could be perceived as obnoxious and arrogant. This is a valuable component of the study-abroad experience. Soon, they recognize "the ugly-American" attributes in others. I met with some resistance from the administration about taking a trip this year. At one point we were almost cancelled the trip. Some other colleges and universities had cancelled trips. I used this website to convince others about the media hype. I believe it is even more vital now for students to have international exposure. If anyone needs help convincing administrators or others that it is safe to take a group abroad, I'd be happy to testify to my experiences.
IA USA 05/12/03
We were treated so well
We just returned from France and Italy for about 9 days. I found the French to be helpful, witty , and delightful. My Mom was trying to get through the Metro turnstile and had a problem with her ticket so a very nice French gentlemen simply gave her one of his. We had no problem with anti-Americanism. In fact, we took the night train from Florence to Paris and were in a compartment with 3 Frenchmen and one woman. When we admitted to being from Texas, there was no hesitation, no negative looks. They were fun, witty, and very friendly and couldn't have been nicer to us. On a rare occasion we encountered someone short or a little rude but no more than in a big American city. We thought the shop owners in France treat their customers (including tourists) with care and attention. When you travel, if you look around, you realize that these people are just raising their children, working their jobs, and trying to squeeze in a little fun, just like you and me.
Richardson, TX USA 05/12/03
Re: military graves defaced in France
France, like the United States, has some political groups with little grassroots support that engage in illegal actions towards things and symbols they disapprove about. In the United States, Timothy Mc Veigh and his associates decided they wanted to blow up an entire building to show their dislike for the US federal government. In France, some people chose to deface the tombs of some foreign WWII soldiers. They are about as representative of the French people as Timothy Mc Veigh is of the American people.
Paris, France 05/12/03
I have been living just outside Grenoble, France since January and have traveled around France. There is no hostility toward Americans unless you actively generate it.
Meylan, fr 05/12/03
My husband and I just returned from a trip to the UK. We started in York, then drove to Edinburgh, then to London. We loved the trip and each of the cities we stayed in. I would strongly encourgage anyone on the fence to go. At no point did we feel unsafe. That said, when we were in York we were treated very coldly. We made every attempt to be polite and friendly without being pests (we aren't loud people by nature). We were respectful, didn't wear jeans or sneakers, etc. Our gestures were never recriprocated. We experienced this consistently from meals to stores to the B&B we stayed in. It wasn't our imagination because the rest of our trip in the UK was fine. I'm not sure where this came from, as we really did try. Of course, the sights in York were wonderful. It truly is a beautiful city with so much to see and learn. York Minster is a sight to behold. I would definitely go back. I was just sort of surprised by the reception and am wondering what happened.
Chicago, IL USA 05/12/03
My husband and I returned this weekend from an 11 day trip to France and Switzerland. We fell in love with Paris and it's people. They were friendly and not once did we encounter any anti-Americanism during our stay in Paris or Switzerland. Chamonix, on the other hand, was different. The people spoke little or no English and seemed somewhat cold and unfriendly towards us. Chamonix is a beautiful city (surrounded by the French Alps), but because of the people, we will never go back.
VA USA 05/12/03
Our 38 days in Italy & France were delightful, with absolutely no political repercussions. Aside from a Socialist parade in Nice and many police in and around Place de la Concorde in Paris, we encountered nothing but friendliness and welcome wherever we went. Trying to speak the language is a key component. Normal people are normal people everywhere. Things are much less crowded now and timing is great for a visit!
Venice, FL USA 05/11/03
People are People
My family has been enjoying living on the margins of Europe (i.e., the UK) for over a year and a half. We recently (21-23 April) had the opportunity to take my mother-in-law and brother-in-law on a high-speed swing through Bruges, Paris, and Versailles, courtesy of the Chunnel. Folks were fantastic at every location: a hotel clerk in Bruges mentioned the war and noted that most folks in Belgium were against it, but only as a point of conversation. Any political disagreement the Europeans might have certainly doesn't seem to be spilling over into personal animosity towards traveling Americans. We're headed down to Venice, Verona, and Padua with my family in a few more weeks, and I know we'll be treated as well, if not better.
Haslemere, UK 05/10/03
re: France is historically anti American
"The French workers, such as waiters and clerks at train stations, are very, very rude to Americans." They are rude to everyone, including their compatriots. As my Swiss friend, who speaks fluent French says, "You know how the French are..." She has many stories about rudeness in France.
Escondido, ca USA 05/10/03
I just returned from a 9 day trip to Scotland and found the people
delightful! I decided to go to Scotland, not in fear of anti-Americanism
in central Europe, but frankly because I have a bad taste in my mouth for
Germany/France. I was happy to get to know the people of Scotland and am
now planning a trip to Poland! Yes, Poland!
Houston, TX USA 05/10/03
Welcome in France
Just returned from 19 days in France and Spain. Spent a week and a half in Paris and the Provence areas. Were welcomed warmly in Paris, very friendly to us — 3 middle-aged Americans who speak no French. We were even in a minor fender bender and everyone was very helpful. This is our 4th time in Paris and would go again in a minute.
Diane & John
Sacramento, CA USA 05/10/03
France is historically anti-American
I spent two years living in Germany from 1987-1989 and have been back to Europe on vacation in 1990 and 1995. I travelled by train through France and spent four days on the Riviera in St Raphael. The foreign people (non French) who live in France are very friendly. The French workers, such as waiters and clerks at train stations, are very, very rude to Americans. I was even cheated by a lady at the help desk in St Raphael. I always try to speak the language first and I am friendly even to those who are not friendly to me. At the train station I was booking an overnight trip back to Barcelona and I asked for a couchette (sleeper) on the train. The lady showed me on the ticket where it said "couchette". I paid her the extra money for this. The train was leaving late on a Sunday night so she knew the help desk would be closed when I came back to the station. It turned out I was booked in a regular seat and the conductor laughed when I asked about my ticket saying "couchette". I was robbed. I won't even mention the times my friends and I were refused service once they heard us speaking English.
port arthur, tx USA 05/10/03
I spent some time in Paris in Spring 2002, which was my first visit to France. After hearing all of the usual stories, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. But the moment I stepped off the subway I was immediately impressed by two Parisians who, without my asking, offered their assistance while I tried to make sense of the bus schedule. I was treated with as much kindness, and big smiles, wherever I went. I specifically remember stopping by Notre Dame, and chatting with some very charming French girls who were participating in some Ascention Thursday festivities. It is a difficult place to travel alone, as it is indeed very romantic. I would recommend it as a honeymoon location.
Returned from a 10-day stay in Paris on May 5, and were treated with kindness and even affection by all Parisians we encountered. Before going, we were concerned about anti-American attitudes reported in the media, but I kept checking this site and was reassured enough to do the trip. I'm so glad we went!
ca USA 05/09/03
Paris May 1-4
No anti-Americanism in Paris. It was just as nice as it was in the Fall. I really enjoyed it. Do Mike's Bike Tour day/night to start with - then you'll relax. Plan museum trips for rainy days and sightsee in the sun/moonlight (sunset after 9pm). I can't wait to return - Versailles next !
Orlando, FL USA 05/09/03
Our family of 2 middle age + 1 teenager toured the Dordogne and Chateau country in March as the Iraq war started. WITHOUT exception, we were treated with nothing but courtesy and kindness. People wanted to talk but our lack of French made our very limited responses rather dull ("We are not political").
Aurora, In USA 05/08/03
My wife and I rented a car and toured France, Italy and Germany for the month of April covering nearly 7000 km (about 10 days in each country) and were treated very well wherever we went. It was our first time to France and needless to say we heard rumors about rude waiters and arrogant French people but never found one. We tried to master a few basic words and use them. I speak enough German to get by so they often thought we were German until I spoke to my wife in English. The French were gracious and many would speak English. Even those who did not speak English tried to communicate. We tried not to look too American so we did not take any tennis shoes or blue jeans (even though these are becoming more common in Europe now) and wore black pants or slacks. Go and enjoy Europe.
Camas, WA USA 05/08/03
Pro-Americanism in France
Hearing of some of the anti-France jibes classmates in my French class got from American boors before we left for our Paris tour, I wondered if we would encounter any French boors. Nope! We were met with kindness and courtesy throughout the countryside and in the cities. Our attempts at using their language were treated with helpful sympathy and they eventually let us off the hook by demonstrating they knew more English than we did French. Conversations ended with us saying: "Merci!" and them: "Thank you!"
Portland, OR USA 05/08/03
My mother and I just returned from four days in Paris and a week in Provence. We were a little nervous for the same reasons as everyone else, but thanks to all of the information on this site, decided to go ahead with our plans. We experienced not a single anti-American vibe in our entire visit. If anything, I found the French people we encountered even more kind and helpful than on past visits. On two occasions while stopping a moment to thumb through our guidebook, polite strangers approached us and helped us find what we were looking for.
The conflict was only discussed on two occasions. In Provence, a waiter
at a busy restaurant teased us in a friendly way for not being afraid
to travel to "devil France." And at our B&B we had an engaging and thought-provoking
political discussion with an English couple who shared our own views and
concerns. The gentleman expressed approval of our willingness to travel
in Europe and serve as ambassadors with opinions that differ from our
government. My best advice for traveling in France right now: be respectful,
be polite, and treat the French people the same way you want them to treat
you. They are more subdued than we Americans are, but we shared lots of
laughs with them as we both grappled with and stumbled over unfamiliar
Seattle, WA USA 05/07/03
France is great, but don't be a wimp!
Just returned form a week in France. Toured Normandy for 3 days and then Paris for the last 3. Everyone was very nice, we encountered no problems at all. If you want to go there, go. For some reason the media wants us to think that the world hates us... I've seen many posts here saying they had a great time in Europe and that the people there don't like Bush, rather than not liking us. This may be true, however, don't catch "Stockholm Syndrome" and just agree with European views on our government just because you want your trip to go well. In my personal opinion, I strongly disagree with most European governments. I think the French government, in particular, is a total joke and that Chirac is a liar. But that doesn't mean I don't like the French people and their country. France is beautiful. Just remember, it is a two-way street. Nobody is going to kill you if you're wearing a Gap shirt and tell them you are American. Be proud of your own country, while enjoying other's. That is what they do, and what we should do, too.
St. Paul, MN USA 05/07/03
Thanks for adding the "Anti-Americanism" topic to the Graffiti Wall. It helped us decide to go ahead with a trip in spite of what we heard from the media. (We'd had a trip to France planned since last fall with 5 airline tickets & $ for a week's rent on a farmhous in Provence - all non-refundable, of course.) Spent Easter in Carcassonne and came home April 23. We also got good information from "iJet", a travel-intelligence service for a nominal fee. (See Nat.'l Geographic Traveler, April '03 p.14). Merci for the memories, Rick Steves Web Site!
St. Francisville, LA USA 05/07/03
France was great
My recent experiences in Paris, Alsace and Provence, from April 21-May 2, were wonderful. In fact, they were very much in line with what the media reports had indicated: that Europeans share Americans' ability to grasp that foreign policy is made by political leaders, not ordinary citizens. I must say, all this media bashing seems a little misplaced. The news reports were simply meant to address a natural curiousity about whether the protests and opposition to U.S. foreign policy was spilling over into the way American tourists were being treated. The same news coverage showed that it wasn't. And that was my experience, too.
OR USA 05/06/03
This American Loves Europe!!
My wife and I just came home from a 16 day trip of England, France and Germany. What a wonderful time we had. We had no problems with anyone whatsoever. The people of these countries are lovely people. I was so impressed by their willing to be helpful. Don't cancel your trip if you have one planned. You will regret it. Open your eyes and see what Europe has to offer. Never in my life have I seen a more beautiful city than Paris. What a great place. If you go oversees looking for trouble, I'm sure you'll find it. Relax and just enjoy for once. Take the American chip off your shoulder and embrace these countries!!! GO and have fun!! I'm so happy I did!
Springfield, MO USA 05/06/03
We had a great time
My wife and I recently returned from a 9 day trip to London and Paris. Everyone was very friendly and we did not experience any anti-americanism. All the stuff about the French hating us is baloney.
Lexington, KY USA 05/06/03
Folks in Nice are very nice!
My husband, his colleague and I just returned from a two-week stay in Nice, France. I've been to France several times (worked in Paris for a year) and have never been treated as kindly as during this trip. We agree with previous posters that it's important to be polite, and also that Polly Platt's "French or Foe" book is an important read.
To illustrate: We booked several mini-bus tours of surrounding towns. On one trip, we got stuck with a "bubble" of 15 travelers from another state. They were noisy, arrogant, chronically late, and made rude and nasty comments about almost all things French. When it came time for the lunch stop, our guide (noticing our discomfort) took us aside and told us he would try to arrange a separate table for us. There was no table in the main dining room...so the maitre d' opened another room - just for the three of us!
Another example: we were buying a camera in a small shop. During the rather long transaction, a local woman came in. When we offered to wait while the lone shopkeeper waited on her, the shopkeeper praised us and the woman thanked us several times. When we later had a problem with the memory card for the camera, the shopkeeper replaced it without argument. A little bit of politeness goes a long way!
As far as the war in Iraq goes, the French simply didn't discuss it with us. But apparently Ameican tourism is off a bit, since several people seemed surprised to find out we were American (they assumed we were British).
We also can't say enough good things about the hotel we stayed at (Hotel
Beau Rivage in Nice). They happily met our every request, with one near-exception:
Our colleague wanted a washcloth. A call to Housekeeping revealed that
such a thing "did not exist." But ten minutes later, a staff member arrived
with several. We figured it was just their way of saying "this is going
to cause us some effort, so please be thankful". And we were!
Boulder Creek, CA USA 05/06/03
Recent trip to Paris and England
My mother and I just returned from a five day trip in Paris. We were treated kindly by all the locals. We went on to England for another eleven days in a rental car, mostly the central area. We ran into no negative attitudes. The locals there were also very helpful and especially patient with my driving. Thank-you to all those who encouraged us to go.
Everett, WA USA 05/06/03
Parisians like polite Americans
My husband and I just returned from our one-week tour of Paris. We were concerned about the reception we would receive from local Parisians before our trip, and we were pleasantly surprised how friendly and hospitable the French people were to us. I believe two efforts on our part made a big difference:
1) We learned some basic French (Good day, hello, please, thank you, excuse me, pardon, good bye) and used them constantly throughout our conversations.
2) We read Polly Platt's books "French or Foe" and "Savoir-Flair" that
explained French etiquette and culture. Each French person quickly realized
and appreciated our attempts, and usually answered our feeble French in
easy-to-understand English answers. No one asked us about our political
opinions or our government's decisions. If you're having any hesitation
about travelling to Paris, my answer is "GO!" We had a marvelous time
and plan to return as soon as possible.
Augusta, MI USA 05/05/03
UK very pro-American, except London
Our very first night in Bath, England, while eating in a pub, some locals recognized our American accents and came over to tell us they love President Bush, support the war in Iraq (ongoing during our trip), and not to believe what you hear on the news about anti-American sentiment. This sentiment was repeated all over England and Scotland, with the exception of London. The Londoners were much less friendly in general, and there was notable hostility from a few Muslims when they recognized our American accents.
Costa Mesa, CA USA 05/05/03
Southwest France Very Friendly
My wife and I just got back from 9 days in SW France (Bordeaux region, Dordogne and Languedoc). We had a great time and we were treated extremely well. I mean people (including the people in the hotels, the shops, the restaurants and the sites) were really nice. They were inviting, hospitable, friendly and helpful. They were patient with my French and spoke English when they could. OK, 3 examples:
1) The guided tour of the Chateau de Losse was conducted only in French. However, when the tour guide realized that we spoke only English, she made sure to give us the highlights of the tour in English, even though we were given an English language translation of the tour on paper.
2) The owner of the restaurant we went to (twice) in Carcassonne was the ONLY person in our entire trip to mention the France-USA relationship controversy. He let us know that the actions of the French government did not reflect the feelings of the French people and he let us know that he really liked Americans. He and the waiter (who was the only waiter in the busy restaurant and yet still made time to explain the menu in his less than perfect English and to recommend a couple of wonderful - and affordable - wines) provided us with wonderful and amusing service and the waiter is the only European server I have ever tipped in addition to the service charged on the bill.
3) We had just completed visiting a castle and were walking to the car when we stopped outside a small home and admired the flowers that were growing there when the lady of the house came outside. She spoke no English but we continued to admire the flowers and told her that we thought they were beautiful; I pointed to a pink rose and said "c'est parfait." She disappeared into her house and moments later came outside and cut the rose, went back inside and wrapped the rose in some greens and gave it to my wife. We were very touched by her generosity. We kept the rose in our hotel room for the duration of our stay and kept 3 petals for our photo album. It was truly one of the nicest things anyone has done for us in our travels, anywhere.
In short, we were never treated with anything less than friendliness
and a welcoming smile in our travels.
Redwood City, CA USA 05/05/03
I traveled in Italy and Spain from mid March to mid April this year. I saw numerous Pace flags (peace) and 3 peace demonstrations in Italy, but was not treated poorly at all. I cannot say the same for Spain. The pricier tourist hotels and "tourist trap" areas were fine, but other areas were not. I found quite a few people very unfriendly and rude in Barcelona. I did not like it in Barcelona and left after 2 days to return to Italy. Barcelona gave me a very bad first impression of Spain. I encountered some Canadian and Australian English-speaking tourists who had the same kind of experience in Barcelona.
Kirkland, WA USA 05/04/03
France & Italy have different attitudes
We recently returned from a trip to Paris, Normandy, and San Marlo. While we did not experience any overt anti-Americanism, we were shocked to learn (from a French groundskeeper) that numerous headstones in the American military cemetery in Normandy were recently defaced. As the anti-American graffiti was indelible, they are being replaced. This really upsets us as we have a family member buried there and he died in the defense of the French.
We went on to Italy, where we found an entirely pro-American attitude,
particularly among the older generation. As for France, sadly one visit
was one too many!
Sarasota, FL USA 05/04/03
I just returned from Europe April 22nd, having traveled to Spain, Italy and France. My entire family discouraged me from going because the war was in full swing when I left on March 30th. I decided to go anyway and I'm so glad I did because I had a great time! There are anti-war and peace signs in Madrid and especially in Barcelona, where I saw a few peaceful war protests and a lot of anti-Bush grafitti along Las Ramblas. All throughout Italy, from the smallest villages in Cinque Terre to Venice, were PACE rainbow flags. A small McDonald's in Paris was covered with anti-war signs and not serving food. Depite all of this freedom of speech, I didn't experience any rudeness or lack of service, and Iraq never came up in conversation.
Monterey, CA USA 05/03/03
Italy still very friendly
Just returned from 3 weeks in Italy with my 12 yr old son and would happily confirm Rick's most recent report - rainbow "Pace" flags are EVERYWHERE, but the sentiment was not once expressed personally. The Italians seem to draw a very good line between dislike for George Bush and our government, and the people like myself. We had fabulous experiences everywhere, and confirm that crowds are down and hotels are offering deals. Not ONE negative experience. So as far as I am concerned its entirely 100% media hype. Don't let media overhype of current events keep you back - blow up your TV and GO!!!
Juneau, AK USA 05/03/03
Image of Paris and France
I have been to Paris and other parts of France about ten times in the last few years. Never on any of my trips have i found the French people to be rude, unhelpful or arrrogant as some of my colleages contend. I think that some of the problem is the need for some americans to perpetuate the " ugly american" image to feed their own agendas.
Harold E. Halliday
Belfast, ME USA 05/03/03
It doesn't matter what country I've been in, if I needed directions or help of any kind, I was ALWAYS helped with kindness. When my daughter and I arrived by train in Berlin it was early evening and most everything was closed. We went to eat then we asked a cab driver if he could take us to see the Berlin Wall. Not only did he show us the wall, he took us to the Checkpoint Charlie museum, and drove us around for 3 hours, pointing out a lot of interesting things. At the end he didn't want to be paid at all but of course I insisted he let me pay and I gave him a very nice tip. I would move to Europe in a heartbeat, especially to the United Kingdom.
OH USA 05/03/03
Anti-Americanism = Hype (at least in Denmark)
I spent last week with a friend and her family in Denmark and felt incredibly welcomed. We even went to two different homes for dinners and there everyone made me feel welcome as well. They may have some problems with the way our government's running things, but on a personal level, there was nothing but good feelings.
Champaign, IL USA 05/03/03
Anti-Americanism not in Amsterdam
Just came back from 15 days in Amsterdam, traveling solo, and not a single negative incident. My trip was actually one of the highlights of my life to date. A few people even praised Bush for his actions! Mostly, being American, either found me or another American to talk to or invited questions about Southern California, where I live. Go, go, go!
Bell, CA USA 05/03/03
I spent three days in Paris last week, then two days on the island of Capri. Now we are in Rome: not a hint of backlash. People have been extremely friendly and helpful. Our hotel in Paris was Hotel D'Orsay. Great location for walking to all the sights, which is what we did. The biggest problem was taking the underground in the wrong direction, which we fixed quickly.
CA USA 05/03/03
Wonderful Spring Travel
My wife and I have just returned (5/1/03)from two weeks in Bavaria and Austria. It was magnificent. We could not have been treated better. The lovely town of Garmisch turned out to be our favorite. The people were great and the food and beer were terrific. Just perfect. You will be welcomed with open arms.
High Point, NC USA 05/03/03
I just returned from 8 days in Paris and was impressed by the kindness and helpful nature of the people. The only disagreeable portion of the trip was dealing with the people at Chicago's O'Hare airport upon landing back home! Just try getting a smile and help with the language at a sandwich shop in Chicago, both of which I experienced consistently in Paris. The French are lovely people — don't believe anything negative you hear about them!
Bolingbrook, IL USA 05/03/03
Paris and London Trip
Just returned from a wonderful trip to Paris and London. Fanatastic visit with friendly and helpful locals in both Paris and London. Can't wait to plan an extended trip to Paris.
Saint Louis, MO USA 05/03/03
We just returned from a 2 1/2 week trip to France and found that the locals were consistently warm, welcoming, and kind. In fact, some folks even thanked us for traveling to their country, given the anti-French sentiment of many Americans. We found the American Cemetery in Normandy to be in pristine condition and most of the visitors there were French. We only saw two bits of graffiti writing expressing anti-American sentiment. However, we gave that as much credibility as we would give American graffiti - none. (Graffiti writing on Rick Steves' website excluded, of course.)
Janet & Ray
Bethlehem, PA USA 05/02/03
Spring break in Europe
I was in Europe during spring break and I experienced absolutly no anti-americansim. I would move to France in a heartbeat. I envy them for they seem to understand how life is truly supposed to be lived (as does the rest of Europe).
Seattle, WA USA 05/02/03
My husband and I recently returned from two weeks in Europe. What a magical trip! We experienced zero anti-Americanism..although several British tourists commented that we were brave to be touring about Europe. (???) I had never been to Europe so I was a little apprehensive about going at such a tumultuous time, but the people we encountered couldn't have been nicer. There are bad waiters everywhere, not just Paris. The French certainly acknowledge that we have "saved" them in the past. However, many Americans seem to forget that if not for the aid of France during the American Revolution, Tony Blair might be OUR prime minister!
Tallahassee, FL USA 05/02/03
I just returned from Paris, Munich, and Vienna. I would have skipped Paris had plans not have already been made because of their reaction to our war efforts. I was glad that I went though. Politics seem to reflect the government. The plain, ordinary folks do not think the same! I have been to Paris 8 times and feel like I was treated the best this time! The rudeness was absent, the people were friendlier! Maybe they are trying to make up for the government's image? One Frenchman said through a translator, "I Love Americans!" People are people everywhere and even the French have a heart sometimes! I experienced NO negative reactions in the other cities also.
Just outside Amsterdam, NL 05/02/03
Meeting the French
My friend just emailed me from Paris. He was having lunch at a resturaunt and asked the waiter in French for the bill. He asked, "l'addition, s'il vous plait"... The waiter laughed at him and mocked him by saying, "l'addition? ROCK AND ROLL" I'm travelling to Europe in 4 weeks on a guided tour and would do anything to get out of the French leg of it. From defacing of American graves in Normandy, to rude treatment on the streets, to vociferously opposing American military action the French demonstrate their contempt (bred out of pure envy, don't kid yourself) for a nation that has saved them time and time again. You should all keep your distance. Plenty of other countries.
Lemont, IL USA 05/02/03
I chatted with many Italians. They are quick to give their anti-war stance and they want you to explain your stance. Many also said that although they "feel sorry for the dead of sept 11," they think it was expected because of "american intereference in the world." Well, with that attitude I would rather spend my well earned money in the US for my next vacation!
Roslyn, NY USA 05/01/03
No problem traveling in Europe
We just returned from a month in Europe. We visited Germany, Netherlands, Denmark & Sweden. We never experienced any anti-American sentiment. We had a great time.
Ed & Shirley
Buchanan, MI USA 05/01/03
Travel in Germany
My daughter and I spent two weeks in Germany. Our route was Frankfurt-Rhine River-Berlin-Munich-Romantic Road. It was great! No problems with Rick's suggestions on how to travel, or with the locals — pure, enjoyable "gravy". Saddle up, and go!
Vancouver, wa USA 05/01/03
April in Paris
I have just returned from Paris. I found no anti-Americanism. We were treated very well everywhere we went. I can't wait to go back. What a wonderful city. The Marais was so quiet compared to NYC. We had a picnic in the Place des Vosges and it was packed, but quiet. The only music was from a live musician with a guitar. It was also nice to see entire three-generation families enjoying each other's company. France is OK with me.
Nyack, NY USA 05/01/03
"anti-Americanism" in France and Europe
I've been living in Paris for 3 years now: pre-, during, and post-9-11. I've never encountered the anti-Americanism I've read about in news articles, but anti-Bushism is strong as is anti-war sentiment. I travel frequently with my children around France and Europe and enjoy hearing different perspectives. The French are keenly aware of American anti-Frenchism and many are troubled by it. Bush and American unilateralism worry them greatly. People often don't get why "anti-war" translated to "anti-Americanism" and feel entitled to their own opinion on the wisdom of war and resentful of a perceived "get in line, or else" attitude from the US.
This resentment of American power does not, in my experience, translate to poor treatment of individual Americans in France. The average person in the street is just living their life and would not dream of harrassing a tourist just because they're American (any more than I believe the average American would dream of harrassing French travellers).
That said, it is always wise to blend in and avoid certain American cliches that are somewhat offensive and could draw attention if you happened to find yourself with certain types on the Metro: lower your voice (Americans are the loudest of tourists), don't try to lecture the locals about their politics (of which you may be ignorant), dress a step up from yard work (it's always amazing how many Americans come to Paris dressed in sloppy t-shirts, tennies, and fanny packs. It not only seems a tad condescending, but it makes you stand out as an instant target for pickpockets. It's just as easy to be comfortable in a blazer as a sweatshirt or in loafers as tennies and you will blend in much better in Paris.)
In addition to France, we've been in Italy, Malta, Greece, Andorra and
Tunisia in the last two months and had no problems. (Tunisia was pre-war,
though, and I'm glad to have made the trip then.) Likewise, Croatia was
extremely hospitable last fall.
Dallas, TX USA 04/30/03
My husband and I just returned from a week long trip to Paris and Colmar, France. We had an incredible time and didn't encounter ANY anti-American sentiment. The people were kind and helpful. Due to all the media hype regarding relations with France, we thought of cancelling our trip. We are thrilled that we didn't because we would have missed out on such an amazing experience. Go to France! Don't let the media convince you otherwise.
Just returned from London. No anti-american remarks at all. One nice shopkeeper asked us how we felt about the war and one other Londoner made a sarcastic remark regarding Clinton but that was about it.
Benicia, CA USA 04/30/03
My recent trip to Paris coincided with the beginning of the Iraq war. After long days in the Museums and restuarants, I came back to my modest mid-Paris hotel and watched TV news. What a contrast. Paris is glorious...the food splendid...the people friendly and helpful,even though my French is quite limited. At no time did I experience any anti-American rudness. Visiting the museums fulfilled a fantasy of many years. Manet's "Olympia" held me transfixed for several hours. The CNN TV war coverage was depressing with each reporter trying to out do the other with tidbits of horror. I will return to Paris as soon as possible, and I will return to my previous total avoidance of TV.
Cary, NC, NC USA 04/30/03
Relax and GO
My sister and I (47 and 51) left for Paris on March 27 and returned from Milan on April 14. We had planned our trip as a group of three, but one cancelled at the last minute, fearing anti-American sentiment. The two of us who went could not have had a better time. We were a bit apprehensive but determined to go ahead with our long planned trip - a first for both of us.
We arrived in Paris's CDG airport and could not figure out how to get a shuttle into town, so we ended up taking the metro. I asked a young woman if we were on the right train. She spoke not a word of English and we spoke no French, but she figured out we were heading to the Bastille and she shepherded us through several connections, patiently waiting and giggling (kindly) when my sister or I misplaced a needed ticket, or encountered some other small obstacle. I think she actually went out of her way to make sure we got to our destination. She was our first guardian angel, but not the last during our stay.
The 5 days we spent in Paris were fantastic - no anti-American sentiment whatsoever. Italy (Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, Venice, Lake Como and Milan)was also wonderful. A few people brought up the war, but in a sort of "isn't it sad and let's hope it ends soon and with little bloodshed" way. Who can argue with that sentiment?
Go - have a wonderful time. There were NO LINES anywhere. We walked by
a few sights where the guidebooks warned of long lines and there were
Concord, CA USA 04/28/03
Anti-Americanism: Media Hype.
I was in the French alps at the end of March and had a fantastic time! The French were very warm and welcoming, and many would go out of their way to help me communicate or find things I needed. It was a wonderful experience and I am returning to France in May at the invitation of some of the French (Parisian) people I met on that trip. This time I will be in Paris and Brittany. I hope it will be just as delightful. I'll keep you posted. They will treat you just as nice and courteous as you treat them. This was my experience. I'm sure there may be some exceptions, but I did not run into any of them.
Miami, Fl USA 04/28/03
Trip to Paris
Just returned to the U. S. from a trip to England and France. France was wonderful - I felt welcome everywhere. People went out of their way to help when we were lost (many times!). A waiter shook my hand and said "thank you for coming" - it couldn't have been better. Don't hesitate to go!
Linda A. Spencer
fort lauderdale, fl USA 04/28/03
Recent Visit to Paris
Our seven day Paris vacation during late March of this year was fabulous. We felt very secure in seeing the police in cars, groups of two or more, in the subway and at times with polce dogs. With the exception of a disgruntled woman employee at a wine store and an overbearing waiter, overall the French were very cogenial. No one harrassed us when we spoke in English. Go to Paris and enjoy its culture. But still use common sense.
Alexandria, va USA 04/27/03
Viva la Francois Leyrat!
I have been fortunate enough to travel in Europe several times recently and have never experienced widespread "anti-American" feelings. Mr. Leyrat's view is right on point!
I experience rudeness in the heartland of America, in Los Angeles, San Diego, New Orleans, New York (often), Colorado and most other places. Some people just have no manners or people skills. I find that if I try to understand what those around me are doing, and don't "demand" instant respect, that those around me will respond in kind. Even in Paris.
Generalizing to a city of 6 or 3 or 1 million people is rather absurd. When I go to a social gathering in my hometown (Bonsall, CA), I do not expect anyone to treat me as if I were special. I don't begin by mouthing political slogans (pro or anti war) and I don't immediately try to determine whether the person speaking to me is a Republican, Democrat, neo-con, liberal or whatever. Why shold I be different on the Champs Elysee?
Thanks, Mr. Leyrat for your insight. I will continue to travel and leave
my over-sensitivities to my sessions with therapists and counselours.
Bonsall, CA, CA USA 04/27/03
Anti American Feelings
We have been in Europe since March 3 2003. We have experienced no hostility at all. And we have met no Americans as yet who have experienced hostility. We just returned from Turkey. Everyone there was very friendly. Get on those planes and travel. Especially to Turkey. It was wonderful.
Tony and Paula Oppermann
Seattle , Wa. USA 04/27/03
Family travel in France
We (a family of four, 2 children ages 15 and 13) just got back from 2 weeks in France (we returned on April 22nd). It was a great trip; we did not have any problems. We spent: 1 night in London and then 3 nights in Paris, then traveled on by car to small towns thru Normandy and on to the French Alps, and on to Nice. It was a great trip and I'm very glad that we went, since it would have been a shame to miss this experience with our kids. It is definitely good to expose your children to traveling overseas. It could not be a better time for them to broaden their American view of the world.
Our highlights from the trip were spending the night on St Mont Michel and our stay in Annecy (going up the tram up to the summit of Mt Blanc was awesome!). Actually we also loved Monaco and Nice. But I feel like it was a very good educational experience visting the American cemetry and just traveling in France for my children. I did NOT feel and did NOT experience any negative attitude by the French and it could not be better time for my children to experience and broaden their perspective.
When I plan a trip, I always try to look back and refect on what was the best..Do Not Miss Experience: that would be spending the night at Mont St Michel. That is definitely the best way to experience this landmark. And I reflect on what I would do differently: although we enjoyed traveling through small towns in France by car, I think the kids would have enjoyed the adventure more by train, so I would have only traveled by car through Normany and taken a train for our other travel destinations.
I am very glad that we did not change any of our travel plans to France
as it would have been a loss for my family not to have experienced this
wonderful trip together.
RI USA 04/27/03
My wife and I wandered thru Paris, Germany, Czech Rep., and Vienna for 3 weeks. Saw one silent protester in Paris, a few antiwar signs in Hamburg, many "NO NAZI" signs in Germany, but that was it. Everyone was friendly and helpful, except the two pickpocket attempts.
Bob & Ingrid Krajicek
New Paltz, NY USA 04/26/03
We just returned from France on 16 April where we had gone for 2 weeks. Neither my wife nor I had ever been to France even though we have been to other places in Europe in the past (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and Russia) We had no expectations and were totally surprised in a very pleasant way with our experience.
We spent one week in Paris visiting a lot of the typical Paris sites and found that not only is the Metro a vast improvement over our own mass transit system but that Paris is a fabulous city for walking endlessly. The ease with which we could go from our hotel in the Marais to even Versaille helped make our visit. Also, all of the people we encountered in Paris were more than willing to help us even though we speak no French (our apologies).
We also spent another week in Provence in the small town of Cassis, east of Marseille, which proved to be nearly equal to our time in Paris (the bullet train "TGV" is a great way to get around). Originally we had planned to day trip along the Riviera using Cassis as a base but when we arrived we fell so in love with the community that we never left the town all week but used our time for walking tours of the nearby countryside and vineyards. What a truly beautiful experience! Here again, everyone we encountered proved to be a real treat - we were able to stay in an apartment and got to know some of the local merchants, as well as folks at the many excellent restaurants.
Fortunately, the weather during our entire stay was perfect springtime
weather: slightly cool and sunny days both in Paris and Cassis, so that
added to the overall experience. We want to say that not only did we enjoy
many of the treasures from Versaille to Notre Dame & from the Calanques
to the vineyards, but we also enjoyed the hospitality of virtually every
French person we encountered. Thanks for a wonderful time!
Dick & Georgette
St. Paul, MN USA 04/26/03
Tourist dollars welcome in Europe.
Having just returned from nearly four weeks in France and Italy, I can tell you that airline workers, restaurant workers, gift shop workers, museum workers, hotel workers, metro and rail workers, and all other service groups depending heavily on tourist dollars showed no signs of un-dollar, un-Americanism. These people are smart!
Richmond, VA USA 04/26/03
Run, don't walk, to Paris!
I was in Paris with my sister and a friend the week prior to the invasion of Iraq. We could not have been treated better by the people! This was my second visit to Paris and I experienced NO anti-American hostility either time. A smile, positive attitude, and an honest attempt to observe common courtesies that may be different then one's own...these are the things that people respond to in kind. I can't wait to go back!!
San Francisco, CA USA 04/26/03
Barcelona and the Costa Brava are wonderful
My husband and I have been in Barcelona and the Costa Brava for the past two weeks, and have encountered no hostility towards us whatsoever. On the contrary, we have been received very warmly both in the city and in the many small villages we have visited in both Northeastern Spain and the French Pyranees. However, there is a lot of anti-Bush and anti-war activity in Barcelona, with "Aturem La Guerra" signs hanging from balconies all over the city. As we are solidly behind the peace movement, we find such demonstrations very welcome and affirming of the need for multilateralism and membership in a global community. We encourage our fellow americans to experience the vibrancy of Europe today.
denise and kenny
seattle, wa USA 04/26/03
Recent Paris Travel
My sister, two nieces and I just returned from a one week stay in Paris. The French people were very friendly and always helpful. April was a good time to visit Paris. At this time of year there are less crowds, pleasant weather and the spring flowers everywhere are a delight. We did not experience any anti-American sentiments. I highly recommend travel to Paris. Thank-you
Shaftsbury, VT USA 04/26/03
My husband and I returned on 22 April from two weeks in Burgundy and Paris. We encountered no anti-American sentiment, and no one even attempted to talk to us about the war (a welcome relief, since we felt like we got more than our share of war news each day from CNN). This is the time to go to France, especially the countryside. There were days when we were the ONLY people tasting the wonderful wines of Burgundy — we absolutely had the towns of Chablis and Montrachet to ourselves! We encountered almost no Americans until we arrived in Paris for Easter weekend (we should have done Paris first — it was extremely crowded Easter weekend). The French were hospitable, helpful and tolerant of our attempts at speaking French. It was a fabulous trip!
Orinda, CA USA 04/25/03
Anti-Americanism is not for real
It is appalling that the French are taking such heat for their unwillingness to participate with the Bush administration's actions. I am proud to say that I have many French friends. This is about people, not politics. I just returned from Paris where I had, as usual, a splendid time. I think the French are a refreshing break from the American bandwagon.
Long Beach, CA USA 04/25/03
Last month I went to Paris for a week, along with my two daughters and two young grandchildren. The morning we arrived, our French tour guide broke the news that America had just bombed Iraq. We worried about our reception, but there was no need. Without exception, the French were friendly, courteous and extremely helpful. One man even missed two of his own trains trying to put us on the correct one. (Oh, how we loved their Metro system!) Also, several times when we were lost, standing on the street consulting our map, people stopped to see if they could help. What happened to all the rude, arrogant and unfriendly people we were told to expect? I don't know, but they sure weren't in Paris.
Youngstown, OH USA 04/25/03
My teen-age daughter and I just returned from 11 days in France. If you want to have a sublime time around the French and not gaggles of American tourists, this is definitely the time to go. Saw very few Americans. The Parisians couldn't have been nicer to us. Very helpful, very kind in the face of our fractured French and frequent bewilderment. Saw some anti-war graffiti (some of it very funny), but no one made us feel unwelcome or put us on the political hot seat. Au contraire, I felt we were welcomed. One caution for those who go: 2 Euro coins look just like a now-worthless Italian lira coin. We got several in change in Paris (although not in the South of France). Check your change carefully!
Seattle, WA USA 04/25/03
It's Anti-war & Anti-Bush, not ANTI-Americaism
Most of the French have ANTI-war & ANTI-Bush feelings, not ANTI-America feelings! My Paris friends were more than open in asking questions on America's political stance. In general, I think debate is common in France and the rest of Europe. In the US, one is more likely to refrain from expressing one's political views. In Europe, not having an opinion on political/economic/business/world/cultural events would be considered extremely uneducated. I was asked my opinion several times, and asked to explain America's actions. It was common to be rudely interrupted during a private conversation. One can only fall upon the fact that the French EXPECT one to have an opinion on all subjects, and believe me, they will tell you theirs, no matter what!
san francisco, ca USA 04/25/03
Just returned from Paris
My husband and I just returned last week from Paris, and we were treated very well. I can only hope that the French who visit our country are treated as well. We were a little concerned, but our fears were unfounded. Paris was wonderful, and the French couldn't have been nicer.
Peoria, IL USA 04/25/03
Travel in France
My wife and i just returned from a 10 day vacation in Paris. We go to Paris frequently and our friends were concerned on our trip because of perceived problems that we might encounter. We were in Paris 8 days and the city of Tours for two days and had an absolutely wonderful time. We were asked a time or two what we thought of the war and said that we, as a nation, are never in favor of war but our troops are there with many other nations' troops and we support them to the limit. This answer was accepted and never became an issue. I feel that if we, as Americans, act in a civil manner and behave with dignity and respect, we will be treated in the same manner. I would encourage people not to cancel their travel plans to France.
Munster, IN USA 04/25/03
I just returned from a trip to London and Paris. I did not experience any difficulties or issues at all. If you are pleasant and polite it will come back to you. By all means go and enjoy yourself.
Austin, TX USA 04/25/03
Just returned from a 14 day trip to Paris, London, Dublin, Amsterdam & Germany. No real trouble, only a dispute over the cab fare with a taxi driver in Paris. We didn't know if taxi companies start the meter when you call for the cab or when you get in the cab. The taxi driver was very vocal and talked very fast in French and said the word "Americans" a few times in his heated statement to the hotel desk clerk who interpreted. Evidently, the taxi driver said the only people he has trouble with are Americans. The hotel clerk told me "Bottom line, he's not ripping you off, that's just how it's done here." Having heard that I paid the driver and to my disappointment, my traveling partner (my friend) turned around and make a big scene in the hotel lobby, yelling at him saying she thought he was ripping us off. She was an "Ugly American" that day. I was embarrassed to be traveling with her and embarrassed to be an American. Other than that no problems, I am already planning my return to Paris (without my friend).
No Anti-Americanism in Paris
My wife and I just spent 8 lovely days in Paris, 4 days near Gare Austerlitz and 4 in the Contrescarpe area. Everyone was friendly and nice. In general, Paris was a gentle and user-friendly city. The few political type discussions we had with French people were clearly focused on goverment policies and not targeted at individuals. We were often mis-identified by locals as German or English. By all means vacation in France. Be polite and it will come back to you. (Try not to wear baseball caps or sports team clothing!)
Chicago, IL USA 04/25/03
Paris, March, 2003
Myself and my two daughters (ages 11 and 7) spent 8 days in Paris last month over spring break. We stayed in an apartment in the 16th arron. and everyone we came in contact with was friendly and helpful to us. Our landlord just couldn't have been nicer or more helpful and all the neighbors, shopowners, etc. were all wonderful. The only rude behavior I encountered was from some American Airlines personnel at CDG on the day we returned home.
Chicago, IL USA 04/25/03
15 Days in France - a Wonderful Trip
My husband, daughter (age 19), and her friend (age 22) and I just returned from a 15-day trip to France. We spent one week in Paris and the second week near Tours. Our trip was wonderful. The hotel staff in Paris was friendly and helpful and the B&B we stayed at the second week proved to be even better. No one was rude or offensive. We formed some great friendships along the way and plan to return to visit as soon as possible. Common sense dictates that if you are warm and friendly to others, they most likely will return in kind. That applies all over the world. Go to Europe - take in the sights, sounds, and wonderful flavors it has to offer.
Dayton, OH USA 04/25/03
I am an ordinary French citizen (with no interest in the tourism industry!). The term "Anti-Americanism" has long been used to describe my fellow citizens'attitude. I understand that there has been US media coverage about how resentful Europeans, in particular the French, are behaving toward Americans. Hence, many prospective visitors expect the worst. In my view, "Anti-Americanism" is a commonly used, maybe convenient, but vague term which mixes up the various levels of perception which an European can have of an American.
An American visitor in Europe can encounter individuals who are simultaneously and without contradiction (1) courteous and even genuinely cordial; (2) appreciative (or not) of the values of US democracy and of your country's contribution to world culture in general; and (3) worried about the current course of US foreign policy. In my view, sound individuals will keep these levels separate.
Kindness to the individual citizen doesn't mean adhesion to the global role of the US in general, or approval of its present policy. Support of the US as a nation does not imply approval of its current international behaviour. Conversely, "Anti-Americanism" sounds slightly paranoid when describing occasional rudeness. European and French idiots confuse these different levels, but idiots of all sides rarely have a clear world view. If these idiots are in the travel industry, they are simply hurting their business.
I experience rudeness from my fellow citizens in my daily life in Paris (government clerks, waiters, shop assistants, etc). I can't imagine they will behave differently with foreigners. Unfortunately, they are simply rude, but they won't be extra-rude to you, and they are not necessarily "Anti-American." The French tend to treat foreigners or locals alike, for better or for worse. I can understand that this type of experience is stressful, especially in the current tense climate, when one doesn't know the culture, language and above all the social codes.
As a Frenchman who has been to the US several times, even studied there, I believe that there are (maybe increasing) differences in the way US society and the various European societies react to world events. I also think that courtesy, regardless of political views and nationality, is the normal way of dealing between individuals. Being a foreigner always makes you feel a little more "vulnerable." That kind of vulnerability deserves more attention from the "host" people. At least that's my personal conduct.
For a change in perspective I'll mention that the anti-French campaign
in US media has been widely reported here. It appears there is more negativity
towards France in the US press than negativity for the US in the French
media. So is it "safe" for a French person to travel to the US today?
Paris, France USA 04/25/03
As a European (German in my case) I would say that there is no rampant anti-Americanism in Europe. People have a problem with the comments made by Rumsfeld and Bush but American people are always welcome. I would be ashamed if that is not the case! I hope that goes for French or Germans visiting the US. I would be sad if it were not the case as I have always been made to feel welcome in the US.
Munich, USA 04/25/03
Just bring your money
My wife and I just returned from Poland and Bulgaria with a day trip into Macedonia. One day in Sofia my wife thought a kid may have tried to trip her while walking through a tight spot but there was no way they could have known we were American at that point. Otherwise no problems. Just like anywhere else, they don't care who you are as long as you bring money.
Seattle, WA USA 04/24/03
My wife and I spent the majority of the war in Europe. We left the US on March 29th and were in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany until the 15th of April. Sure, we were rather concerned before we left, but our experience was amazing. I can honestly say that we never experienced a single instance of Anti-Americanism the entire time we were gone. We found the people to be very kind. No problems, just wonderful memories of the trip of our lives!
Charlotte, NC USA 04/24/03
Great time to Go!
My wife, son, a friend and I went to paris for 10 days right before the war. This was my 10th trip to France, and better than many trips because of the lack of tourists (Americans in particular.) My French friends, as well as people we met were actually more ambivalant about Chirac than we are about Bush (My son and I met him at the White House last year, and at this point are very unhappy with him and his policies.) Parisians in general seemed nicer than usual. We had such a good time that my wife and I are returning to France in May. As soon as our sons are in college and we can afford it, we are going to get a place in Paris. I think that fears of Anti-Americanism in Europe today are projection: misplaced guilt for the shameful abundance of "French-bashing" in the States.
conway, ma USA 04/24/03
Don't cancel your plans! Go to Europe!
I just returned from a great time in Amsterdam and London. Ok, granted I was not in Paris, or visiting Germany, but at least in Holland and England I had NO PROBLEMS of any kind. I found everyone to be helpful and friendly, from strangers to store clerks. I've experienced far more rudeness just shopping for groceries in my own neighborhood here in the USA then I feel I was exposed to in Europe. So if you've been planning a trip and our having second thoughts, hopefully this message board will convince you otherwise!!
P.S. - If you find yourself in Amsterdam this summer, go see the American
comedy group "Boom Chicago". The best improv I've seen in years. The shows
are geared towards a Euro audience, which makes it great fun to sit in
on the performance as they poke fun at both the Americans and the Dutch.
Look for their theater on Leidse Square in south central Amsterdam.
Denver, Co USA 04/24/03
Go to Rome!!!
My husband and I just returned from Rome. We spent 8 fabulous days exploring this wonderful city. We had an amazing trip! As usual the Italians were warm and welcoming. We did not encounter any hostility at all. All those people who are thinking about cancelling their trips: don't do it. Go to Europe and have fun!
San Francisco, CA USA 04/24/03
Just returned from Amsterdam on Saturday, 4/20. I heard just one comment, which I PRESUME to have been an attempt at a joke, by a tour guide on one of the out of town bus excursions. Bothered me for a minute, but then I let it pass and enjoyed the trip. All the acres of flowers (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths) were in full bloom and color and absolutely made the trip for me. But too many crowds in town! I figured they were there either for a spring break or were there to see the flowers like me, so I couldn't blame them for coming. Flights to and from were smooth and noncomplicated. Talk of Iraqi situation hardly reached this far north unless you looked for it on TV!
OK USA 04/24/03
Great Time in Germany & Austria
We just returned from two weeks in Germany and Austria today. Everyone we met was very nice and very helpful. We couldn't have been more welcomed. Both countries are so beautiful and not crowded this time of year. We drove and the roads are excellent as are the small towns and countryside you can only see from a car. We used Rick's Tour Guide for these conturies and had excelent stays at every hotel recommended in the guide. His driving directions were a big help too. Get over to Europe!! We flew on the new direct Portland to Frankfurt Lufthansa flight and it was excellent. A little over 10 hours and you are there.
Vancouver, WA USA 04/23/03
One More Great Experience
If you have been reading this board to get a feeling of the atmosphere in Europe, by now you should feel quite confident to go. My husband and I just returned 4/15/03 from 2 weeks in Italy. I absolutely fell in love with the country and the culture. It was my first trip to Europe and I was delighted to find how similar people are wherever you go. Saw more peace graffiti/PACE flags than anti-U.S. Had no negative experiences, just a few random adventures brought on by our own misunderstandings.
Did spend a few days in Switzerland, which didn't seem to be as welcoming. I don't believe it had anything to do with us being American, but more that it is just a different culture than Italy: more formal and quiet and I didn't relate as well.
The 3 most important things I felt helped us were:
(1) Learning to say a few phrases/greetings in Italian (this was VERY much appreciated and everytime I felt I gained a little respect for at least attempting).
(2) Really being aware of how things are done so we could be respectful to the culture.
(3) No matter what happened (getting lost/forgetting our passports in Venice and realizing it after getting half way to Milan/getting sent to secondary interrogation in Naples airport), we made the best of it. For example, if we hadn't had to go all the way back to Venice for our passports, we wouldn't have met the incredible people we spent hours talking to on the train.
If you are looking for negativity, you will find it, if you are looking
for a positive experience, you will find it. Another thing that seemed
to help us was that we didn't make an itinerary. This allowed us to see
what we wanted without feeling obligated to cram everything in. We missed
David in Florence, but spent a wonderful afternoon watching people and
a local marathon by the river-it was nice to see the city's personality
and not just the attractions. Florence was definitely my favorite city
and I cannot wait to go back! Have a wonderful trip!
san diego, ca USA 04/23/03
Great time in the low countries
Just got back from a week in the Netherlands and Belgium. We experienced no problems at all for being from the USA. The worst we ever sensed was an occasional annoyance at our poor linguistic skills, but we deserved it. Make an effort to use even a few words in the local language. The media makes it sound like you'll be the only American tourist there. Definitely not the case! Go, be polite, open your mind, and enjoy!
Grand Rapids, MI USA 04/23/03
Anti-Americanism is Political, not Personal
Just back from London, Paris, Frankfurt. Yes, there is displeasure about the US right now. You see it in the newspapers and the talk shows. But I did not feel any was directed personally at us. Many did ask me how the American public felt. I ended up in the middle of a large (thousands) anti-war demonstration in London by accident. I kept my wits about me, but even then I did not feel personally threatened. BTW, I suspect not all the tourists with Canadian flags & stickers were really from N of the border!
No Anti-Americanism In Paris
We just returned from 4 days in Paris and 2 days in Amsterdam (April 14 - 21). We couldn't have been treated more graciously or welcomed more warmly. While disagreements may exist between our governments, there is nothing but caring and understanding from the people we encountered. We took Rick Steves' "back door" approach literally. I spent two months learning as much French as possible. We avoided tourist areas (we had a wonderful stay at the Hotel Grandes Ecoles - we brought Madam LaFloche a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass translated into French as a thank you gift). We made every effort to be good ambassadors of the good people of America. And it worked. In fact, on a number of occasions, we were mistaken for a French couple and on another, for a German couple. The hotel staff was amazing (they even stored our extra luggage for us during our two-day side trip to Amsterdam), the shopkeepers and waiters were warm and helpful...we couldn't have asked for a better experience. If you follow Rick Steves' recommendations and travel to Europe treating folks as you would hope to be treated, you'll have the experience of a lifetime.
Indianapolis, IN USA 04/23/03
Here's my advice
I went with the Sound of America last year as a flute player. In Europe we were given a nice, warm welcome. I belive that if you go, keep your eyes open, and love and treat everyone as you would like them to treat you back, it should be great! Just be careful, if you go.
Roopville, Ga USA 04/22/03
No problems in Scandinavia
Just returned from Sweden and Denmark, no problems whatsoever. In conversation, Swedes were very supportive — said someone has to do it — thank God the US will. Everyone was very friendly.
Seattle, USA 04/22/03
A wonderful time in Paris!
Four of us "50-ish" ladies just returned from 5 days in Paris and had a fantastic time! We stayed at the Hotel de la Bourdonnais in a Junior suite. Great location and the staff was very friendly. We did not find any anti-americanism at all. I firmly believe it's all media hype. The closest we came was when one of the gals was getting her hair cut at a "locally recommended salon" and "Bernard" asked what she thought of the war...since he had a razor in his hand, she decided to answer very wisely...JUST KIDDING! A bus driver actually called his dispatch office for us when he couldn't answer our question! We found the vast majority of people we met were very kind and helpful. Our suggestion...don't believe everything you read and for heaven sake...don't stop traveling!
Chicago, IL USA 04/22/03
Anti-Americanism in Europe
As an American living in France and traveling throughout France and Italy, I have not experienced any problems. My French friends do not understand the current American regime, but then neither do I. [Some] Americans over here continue to draw attention to themselves by being loud and obnoxious, as well as being inappropriately dressed. But that was no different before. Museums and even Disneyland are quiet and uncrowded, so it's a great time to be over here.
Grenoble, FRANCE 04/22/03
France and Spain
I was in France/Spain April 4-19. Absolutely no problems, not one person was rude or threatening. Except for a few signs hanging off balconies (no war) or buttons on people's jackets, I couldn't even tell a war was going on. GO!
Seattle, WA USA 04/22/03
No negativity in Paris and Denmark
we just returned from 8 days in Paris with a 3-day weekend in Denmark and never experienced any negative attitudes toward us. We think it is all media hype. Just go and enjoy your travels. We are already planning our next trip!
Lynn and Terry
Weeping Water, NE USA 04/21/03
Returned from Germany & Amsterdam
My wife and kids and mother just spent 8 days in Germany and Amsterdam. As usual the Dutch were kind, polite and amazingly hospitable. Germany was beautiful and we felt very safe. In Rothenburg the shop keepers thanked us for coming and practically gave us the city. One shop keeper told us that business was down 60% because of the war. They were glad to see us and very kind. We saw no sign of over the top anti-americanism.
Seattle, WA USA 04/21/03
It's only hype
My boyfriend and I returned from Italy (Cinque Terre, Rome, Florence, Sienna, Milan and the country) on Saturday. Not once did we experience any anti-American sentiment. Everyone we met was wonderfully kind and helpful. The PACE flags were gorgeous and hung from every building. We even witnessed a peaceful and joyful ride of at least a hundred or two bicycle riders around the Duomo in Milan... most were wrapped in PACE flags and singing... a beautiful momment. I strongly suggest traveling, especially now. We enjoyed shorter lines and space on the planes.
Seattle, WA USA 04/21/03
The French are fine
Spent 10 days in mid April in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Not only was EVERYONE amazingly nice, there was no anti-american sentiments directed at me or any other traveler I met; American, Brit, or Aussie. Also no lines at any sites.
Greenwich, ct USA 04/20/03
Negativity free trip
My wife and I were in Paris the first week of April, when the war was still raging. We experienced no anti-american sentiment. I'm definitly left of center, and with the US media's help was prepared to hear an occasional negative comment... but none was heard. Lovely city and a great trip. I would go again in a heartbeat.
Seattle, WA USA 04/20/03
Re: Don't Believe the Hype!!
My husband and I just returned from a three-week trip to London & Italy. Our vacation was all good - we did not experience even one moment of anti-Americanism or even general unpleasantness. Eveyone we met was warm, friendly and helpful. We felt as safe in Italy as we feel in our hometown of Juneau, Alaska. We never even experienced problems with pickpockets or other thieves around the major tourist sites in Rome or Florence. Just lots of happy people soaking up the beauty and wonder of those places. I feel the American media has done us all a huge disservice by fostering the impression that Americans will be harrassed and persecuted if they leave the country. I would encourage anyone who has plans to travel to go. We had misgivings, but swallowed our fears and had a magical and unforgettable adventure. I wouldn't have missed it for the world!
Mary G. Cook
Juneau, AK USA 04/20/03
No Anti-Americanism Encountered
We just returned from an April 10-19 swing through Europe including Germany (Bacharach, Rothenburg, Munich), Switzerland (Murren, Bern), and France (Paris). We encountered absolutely no anti-Americanism although we certainly saw antiwar statements being made here and there. The people we interacted with were wonderful. Touring Europe in April is great. We are very happy that we did not let politics interfere with our vacation decision.
St. Louis, MO USA 04/19/03
We have just returned from two weeks in Amsterdam and Paris (April 1-15). We heard and felt absolutely no hostility, anti-Americanism, or whatever during our vacation. And, Europe was empty of tourists! We had many of the best sites to ourselves! For that we thank GWB! Check out our website at www.onyerown.com to see the empty spaces.
Santa Rosa, Ca USA 04/19/03
Anti-Americanism - media hype
We just spent 9 days (March 31 - April 9) in Italy and had no problems being American. We didn't wave our flags or shout from the rooftops how wonderful it is to be an American, but when asked, we proudly said where we were from and still received hugs and kisses and warm smiles. If you act like a normal, respectful human being, you get treated like one. If you act rude and obnoxious, you can expect to be treated appropriately.
Newark, DE USA 04/18/03
travel in europe during trouble in iraq
We are about to return to the US after several weeks in Italy (Rome, Sorrento, Ravenna, Bologna) and have had a marvelous time, finding the Italians helpful (and expressive!) at every turn. I have not visited Italy for several years and cannot believe it has been so long after this experience. We have been eating, drinking, sleeping and sightseeing with great gusto, with no fears.
Winston Salem, NC USA 04/17/03
It is 0300 and I can't sleep. We returned from Paris/Burgundy last evening and I keep re-living over and over the most wonderful vacation. The French people were so wonderful! We met many new friends. Never did we hear one negative comment and we were all over the city of Paris and out to Burgundy (spectacular - Chateau De Messey near Tournus). Don't cancel your trip! The only sadness I encountered was at Charles De Gaulle Airport. I heard a loud obnoxious chaperone with a group of high school students from San Diego being confrontational with the check in staff with NW Airlines. He threatened to call his lawyer if he couldn't receive boarding passes through Detroit and on to San Diego! Then, he bragged to the students about his assertiveness. I have another name for his behavior. It was so embarrassing. The rest of us in line just shook our heads. I have been to France twice, my husband has been 5 times, and we will go back again and again! I miss it already.
Ann Arbor, MI USA 04/17/03
Denmark is fine
I was in Denmark and I have not experienced any anti-American feelings. The only comment about the war was from a cab driver who seemed to be from the Middle East. On the way to the airport it was quiet until he said "F***ing (a long 5 second pause)...Bin Laden!" Then he told us how it's Bin Laden's fault for the drop in tourism and the war in Iraq.
San Diego, CA USA 04/17/03
No Problem in Germany
We just got back from three weeks in Germany and Poland. While we saw many protest signs, especially in Berlin, we were not treated rudely. I believe the Europeans make a distinction between the American government and the American people.
San Diego, CA USA 04/17/03
Friends are Friends, no matter what
Our experiences were pretty much the same as everyone else on this board. We spent 5 days in Paris and Sweden during Feb (the Sweden part was our employer's idea of how to ruin a romantic getaway); then 10 days in Ireland during March. No problems, but we did find that Europeans everywhere were curious to know what we thought about the war. This was particularly true in February, when talk of war was still heating up.
Having lived in Europe for several years, we can vouch that it is much
more permissable there to have an open and opinionated discussion on any
topic, that in no way affects one's friendships. Likewise, every one of
our friends in France has sent us email this past month asking if (1)
Is it true all Americans now hate the French? and (2) no matter what,
could we please stay friends with them? This in a nutshell illustrates
why we are already scheming how we can move back to Europe.
Dallas, TX USA 04/17/03
No fears in Paris
I live in Paris and work here as a part time tour guide. I visit tourist sights of the city on nearly a daily basis with Americans. I've actually been quite busy over the past few weeks. This was a bit of a surprise with all of the bad press, especially about France.
I can only post very positive incidents when dealing with the often grumpy Parisians. There have been so many nice things that have happened to myself and to the many visiting Americans I've toured with. It's almost as if Parisians are trying harder to be nice. Parisians have actually walked up to us when hearing us speak to ask if we were Americans. The first time this happened we were all very nervous. But the Frenchwoman only praised all things American. Another time a quite elderly woman came up to us to say hello. She ended up telling us of her past love affair with an American man. She was quite a character.
I've personally had only great experiences dealing with Parisians lately. One shocker for me was a wonderful conversation with a taxi driver here in Paris. I've never had much luck finding friendly cabbies here. The driver asked my friend and me if we were Americans. He then gave a very eloquent speech about how much he loves American things, from the music to the TV show "Friends." He thought it was a shame that politics would "interfere with the lives of normal citizens of our countries." We had a lively discussion and he spent time chatting with us even after getting to our destination.
There seems a real separation of big politics from the small. The French
are not going around blaming all Americans for what has happened in Iraq.
Not every French person was actually against the war. There have been
a number of debates on television here. The only attacks are towards Mr.
Bush. Last weekend there was a very small peace march in Paris. I happened
to be in the neighborhood. There were no real anti-American banners except
against, again Mr. Bush. Have no fears you will be very safe as an American
here in Paris.
Paris, France 04/17/03
8 days in France: no problems
We came back from 8 days in France mostly in the country on Sunday. We were concerned before we left but were reassured by this board. We had no "incidents" and several people went out of their way to tell us that any disagreement was with Bush and not Americans. The TV even featured the large demonstrations in New York and San Francisco. One person at Europcar even said Chirac went too far. We had one waiter in a Paris bar who did not seem to like Americans, but he did not seem to like anyone very much.
Don & Lynda
Issaquah, WA USA 04/17/03
Don't worry about anti-Americanism
Don't waste your time worrying about hostility when visiting Paris and northern France. I spent weeks reading this board, talking to recent travelers, etc., when I should have spent my time getting excited about the wonderful trip I had planned with my high school students and their parents. The French people were awesome: kind, courteous, helpful, etc. The only time we ever saw anything remotely anti-American was one day on the subway. There were little yellow stickers stuck to some of the seats that said NO WAR. I swiped one to bring home. If only Americans could be so accomodating to foreign visitors and fellow countrymen. GO! You'll have a blast!
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Al USA 04/16/03
My wife, two teenage children and myself returned from Europe 4/14. We visited Denmark, Brussels, Germany, Italy and France. At no time did we feel threatened or discriminated against. If you are thinking of not traveling to Europe because of what you hear in the press, you would be making a big mistake. We thought about not going and are extremely happy we went and would do it all over again!
Holland, MI USA 04/16/03
Was in Italy for the 1st week of the war. Although there were major anti-war demonstrations while we were there, everyone was quite friendly to us. I get the impression that the Europeans act better toward us than we toward them as they can separate the actions of the government from individual citizens.
MD USA 04/16/03
I had a great trip
My first visit to the Continent bracketed the major military action in Iraq, as I arrived on March 18 and returned April 11. Other than some passive-aggressive behavior by a young woman at the international information desk at the Florence railroad station, I didn't encounter anything that felt even slightly hostile. A few people asked what I felt; I said that while I wasn't really comfortable with the invasion plans, I didn't have the kind of responsibility for my country's security that Messrs. Bush and Blair have. I doubt they agreed with me, but they seemed to accept it.
I will say that media hype is not something unique to this country; there
were some blisteringly inflammatory headlines and magazine covers on the
newsstands in Austria. I also feel that there is a class of people who
deal with tourists daily in their jobs. Some are friendly, some more aloof,
but hostility? If it was there, I didn't see it.
Renton, WA USA 04/15/03
Feedback about France
My boyfriend and I have just returned from eight days in France (five of these were spent in Paris) and I am happy to report that we encountered NO anti-American sentiments. We were there during the days when Baghdad was taken and Saddam's statue came down and no one mentioned anything about it to us. As many people have posted, just go about your business and try to at least say the basics (hello, goodbye, please, thank-you) in French and you'll be fine. I thought my halting, high-school French would be scorned, but I was wrong — -it was appreciated! (A bonus: since a lot of people have cancelled their trips, it's easier to see the sights — crowds were very manageable, and non-existent in some places.)
Norfolk, VA USA 04/15/03
My friend and I left for Paris March 25th, were there 7 days, then went on by train to a week in Vienna (with a 2 night stopover in Munich).
The people in Paris were always friendly, kind, and helpful. I used my very little French as often as I could, always with "please" "thank you" (in French, of course) and a smile. We went about our tourist business, and only discussed politics very briefly on the 5th day with our hotel keeper - and even then, a very civil conversation. We had a wonderful time.
People in Vienna were perhaps not quite as friendly, but I don't think it had anything to do with our being Americans. It was unseasonably cold (well below freezing with a biting wind a good part of the time). On our last day, when the temperature warmed up, so did the people.
We are so glad we never seriously considered cancelling our trip. The
people we encountered seem quite able to understand that ordinary individuals
do not bear responsibility for their government's official policies (perhaps
beyond our choice in the ballot box). So go ahead with your plans, and
enjoy your stay. Just be friendly, and try to learn a few polite words
in the language of each country you plan to visit -those and a smile will
take you far.
Bellingham, WA USA 04/15/03
Random Acts of Kindness/France
I've spent the last two months in Paris. This past weekend I was in the Somme, visiting WWI sites. The French have been gracious and helpful to me. I don't speak French except for saying hello, thank you and good bye. The key is to be humble in your approach. I slipped and had a fall. I went to see a French doctor, who examined me for 5 minutes, and then refused to charge me. He said it was nothing. I couldn't believe this act of kindness. Another time I absentmindedly left a bag of oranges at a bread shop. Two days later, I enquired about them (not expecting anything). The owner reached under the counter, handed them to me, and said, "Here is an overripe pear someone left — go ahead and enjoy it too."
John D. Barksdale
Lynchburg, VA USA 04/15/03
Go to France!
We just returned from two weeks in France. This was our seventh trip to Europe and our third to France. It was by far the best trip we have taken. In spite of all our friends' concerns (to a one they all said "be safe", not "have a good trip"), no one even blinked at us funny. The only demonstration we saw was an anti-war march in Rennes and it was anti-war, not anti-American. In Paris, everyone seemed happy to see us. The only people who brought up the war were fellow Americans we ran into and they just wanted to know if we thought about not going. It was very interesting to see the different perspectives in the newscasts. So take the advice of most of the people in this column: go, have an open mind, relax and have fun. I predict you will have a great time.
Seattle, WA USA 04/14/03
just returned from France & the Netherlands
I returned from a trip to France and the Netherlands a few days ago (we got there a few days after the war started). It was my 2nd trip to France (Paris, Brittany, Normandy), and we experienced no anti-american treatment in France. However, we did feel a marked difference in Amsterdam: we saw more specifically anti-american graffiti there, and felt animosity from several folks (we cannot be sure if they just weren't all having bad days but we'd felt nothing of the kind in France). The graffiti we saw in France was anti-war but not anti-american, so the difference in Amsterdam felt palpable. Just around the corner from our budget hotel in Amsterdam was the graffiti "US rot in hell," so perhaps that flavored things for us there.
I would say that though we enjoyed ourselves very much, and very much want to return at some point, we did feel a certain sense of tension that made things less enjoyable much of the time. It was definitely educational to watch oneself react to being in a Parisian subway car being very obviously stared at by folks (I hadn't experienced this during my last trip to Paris) as if they are trying to figure something out about you.
A valuable result of my travel experience was the changed perspective
I came home with. After seeing only European media reports of the war,
with anchors' faces showing sadness and mourning, even looking sickened,
to come back here and see the news anchors look so very happy/unperturbed
about war, focusing only on the military success and ignoring the civilian
costs being paid, has been a visceral experience.
Seattle, WA USA 04/14/03
Go now, the airfare is cheaper and the lines shorter
I spent a month in France, Italy, and the UK last fall, about the same time in Amsterdam and Brussels the previous March, and an equal amount of time immediately after 9/11 in the French and Swiss Alps. And, I am spending most of this summer on the continent. Throughout all of that I have never experienced anti-Americanism. The closest has been being subjected to a little more curiousity than I cared for while enjoying a pint after a long day of hiking. Sometimes it got a little old being asked to defend American policy. And, I heard the phrase.."we don't really like Americans, but you're cool" in almost every pub. But if you try a few words of the local language (even if you fail miserably), don't walk with your head in a map, and always ask permission before taking a picture of a place or person where it isn't implicitly understood it's OK, everything should be fine. Oh, and about saying you're a Canadian, don't waste your time. Canadians aren't loved any more or worse than Americans are. They are just offended when constantly asked if they are American!.
Nashville, TN USA 04/13/03
Just returned from France
We just returned from France. We were there during much of the war with Iraq. Everyone was *extremely* friendly. No rudeness at all, except for an uptight museum worker who was rude to everyone. A few of the French we talked to about the war were definitely NOT anti-American but just had opinions against going to war. One person we talked to said it made her feel very sad to see the anti-French news from America on T.V. (i.e. the Americans throwing out French wine etc.) She said the French really like the Americans and were very hurt by this. I've been to France 3 times and I'd have to say they were just as gracious and helpful to us - or more so, during this trip as during the other ones. I also think learning some French and using it as much as possible with the locals will help also.
Kirkland, WA USA 04/13/03
I just returned from southern Italy, Lake Como in northern Italy, and Paris (partly with a small group and partly solo). The war began when I was in Naples. Neither before nor after the start of hostilities did I experience anything remotely resembling anti-Americanism. I like to engage people in conversations, the better to practice my French and Italian. The people in those two countries could not have been nicer. I did see rainbow PACE banners drapped from balconies around Naples and in some parts of Rome. However they could hardly be construed as anti-anything. Since my return I have encouraged anyone who will listen that Europe is still the best travel experience I know. I still hold two loves close to my heart: my country and travel in Europe!
Linda L Johnson
Palm Desert, Ca USA 04/12/03
Observations from a recent trip to England and France
I recently returned from a nine-day trip to London, Paris, and Normandy (D-Day beaches area). Overall, I experienced very little anti-American sentiments during the course of my trip, and never felt endangered in any respect. I was a solo traveler with a low-profile, low-budget approach. I am proud of my country and always identified myself as an American, but I consistenly made an effort to be respectful of the English and French cultures, and tried to use my basic knowledge of the French language when I interacted with citizens of that country.
To my surprise the few, isolated incidents of anti-Americanism that I experienced occurred in London rather than in France. On my first morning, I attended the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. After the ceremony was over, I asked a Londoner to take a photograph of me standing near the palace. He asked if I was an American. When I replied that I was, he scowled at me, turned his back, and walked away. I was surprised and angered by what happened, but I chose to put it behind me and not let this minor negative experience affect the rest of my journey.
Later during my stay in London, I observed a smattering of protesters (5-10) who were displaying signs outside the Houses of Parliament. I also saw a minimal amount of anti-war graffiti in certain areas of the city. On two other occasions, I spoke with a taxi driver and a construction worker in pubs, both of whom were strongly opposed to the war, and virulently anti-Bush. This all being said, I never felt threatened or in any danger while in London, and enjoyed a pleasant stay in the city.
In Paris, I didn't experience any instances of anti-American protests or behavior. The French people were very courteous, and no one even brought up the issue of the current conflict.
During the final portion of my trip to tour the D-Day battlefields in Normandy, I was warmly welcomed by the residents. I stayed in Bayeux, about six miles from Omaha Beach, and signs throughout the city proclaimed, "We Welcome Our Liberators." American and British flags were displayed on several buildings, as well. It was a very moving experience, particularly during this time of war, to see the almost 10,000 graves of U.S. servicemen on the bluff above Omaha Beach.
In sum, my recent journey was a very positive one, and I would encourage
everyone to proceed with their travel plans. The very minor instances
of anti-Americanism that I encountered were far outweighed by the many
pleasant experiences that I enjoyed throughout my journey.
Norfolk, VA USA 04/12/03
My husband and I just returned from a ten-day trip to the Tuscany region of Italy. We had been a little concerned about running into negative attitudes. I am happy to report that those concerns were unfounded. We had a lovely trip, and strongly encourage others to travel to Italy. We saw the Pace flags as others have mentioned, as well as anti-war graffiti (only saw two items specifically mentioning Bush). The one demonstration we witnessed was a group of 30 or so cyclists in Pisa, who passed by quietly, waving flags and banners. During our stay, only one person even mentioned the war to us, and that was just to politely ask our opinion. We interacted with many Italians (and not just those who are reliant on tourist dollars), and always told the truth when asked where we were from. We had nothing but pleasant interactions throughout our trip, and in several cases, people went out of their way to be kind and helpful. I heartily recommend learning at least a few basic phrases in Italian. The Italians we met seemed to really appreciate our efforts, and it opened the door for some interaction we wouldn't have had otherwise. My only regret is that when I met a young American girl who said she had been pretending to be French, is that I should have told her that the best way to change the opinions some might hold of Americans is to proudly be a positive representative of our country.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 04/12/03
spain is lovely
we are two female american tourists who speak almost no spanish but smile and say thank you a lot, and we have had no problems in madrid, sevilla, arcos, malaga or granada. truly the people have been very patient and kind to us, and we have not felt any hostility directed towards us. trying to speak the language, even badly, really seems to help. we are both planning to make return trips to spain in the future.
seattle, wa USA 04/12/03
I was in Amsterdam in February. While in a great pub drinking fine Dutch and Belgian beer, the lady next to us at the bar went on an awful diatribe about Americans. Several middle-aged Dutchman at the bar disagreed with her. One guy even looked at me and winked - how cool. We kept silent and had better things to talk about but we did listen to her. Advice: don't let people you don't know irritate you. You will find idiots anywhere. This is why I feel the phrase "ugly-American" is revolting. Ugliness has no borders. This phrase implies that it does, particularly with respect to America.
Pittsburgh, PA USA 04/11/03
Just go, and enjoy!
I spent the last two weeks of March skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland and Chamonix, France, plus at the Italian resorts just across the the border. People couldn't have been friendlier or more welcoming. Folks all got along great - the multinational mix of skiers from Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Britain, etc., as well as the restaurant, hotel, and ski area staff, the shopkeepers, fellow travellers on the trains in southwest Switzerland, and all the tourists from Geneva to Gruyere to Chamonix. Ski lift lines weren't as pushy as I'd been led to expect, either. There was a military presence in Interlaken and Geneva, but it was very low-key security and no problems surfaced of any kind. Where else would you be safer during a war than in Switzerland, of all places? Go, and enjoy!
Wheat Ridge, CO USA 04/10/03
I am back from our latest trip to Europe, as of last night. As to any Anti-Americanism, I saw NONE. The Italians, Germans and Swiss we encountered were as polite and friendly as they always are. Flags proclaiming PACE (Peace) are hanging on many, though not a majority, of balconies. No one spat on us, made impolite remarks, or otherwise indicated they were anything but the wonderful people we have always thought they are.
The only ocassion worth noting was at the Sunday afternoon Changing of the Guard at the Quirinale Palace in Rome. The soldiers marched in their beautiful uniforms, the band gave us their usual 20 minute concert, everyone, including us, sang "Oh, Italia," their national anthem and applauded. The Italians are a proud people, proud of their unique contribution to civilization. Ten or 12 people waving banners declined to sing and sat down in protest. One made a speech. All were polite and, in spite of one angry Italian on the political right, no one was rude or obnoxious. Our group of four included at least four different political opinions of the current troubles but we and the Italians all seemed to enjoy the afternoon, one of my favorite treats in Rome.
If you don't want to travel at this time, then fine, don't (as Rick always
says). But don't blame your decision on European politics or behavior.
By the way, I noticed no slackening in the number of tourists this time.
Although there may have been fewer Americans, the European crowds more
than made up for it. Sorry you weren't there. We had a wonderful time.
Charles M. Luther
Katy, (until next time), TX USA 04/10/03
I could move to France right now!
Just returned from France this afternoon. There's simply no word to describe the magnificent trip I had. The French were really polite and nice to me; and were very encouraging even though I spoke terrible French. For those planning to cancel your trip to Europe, I would say DON'T and just GO! It's springtime, beautiful weather and fascinating scenes are waiting to welcome you. It's the perfect time to go. I'm definitely returning to France sometimes very soon!
Boston, MA USA 04/09/03
Our fourth trip to Paris, and we found the French to be especially accomodating and sympathetic. They seem genuinely eager to dispel the notion that they hate us. To those Americans who think that only the older French remember our efforts in WW II, I was told that over 3 million Frenchmen saw "Saving Private Ryan," a graphic depiction of our war effort there. By all means, GO.
Medford, NJ USA 04/09/03
Travel in Paris
I returned with my boyfriend from Paris yesterday. We almost cancelled the trip because we feared for our safety. However, we found Parisians to be gracious and kind, and we had a magnificent time. We had been many times previously, and both speak a little French, but had seen so much anti-French sentiment in this country that we felt assured there must be a reciprocative sentiment over there. But at no time was anyone other than very cordial and friendly toward us. Parisians and other Europeans were talking about little else than the war in the cafes and parks, and the television shows kept it in focus practically at all times. But all the people we talked to were lovely, polite, and helpful. We did keep a lower profile and managed to avoid getting drunk and rowdy (like the last times – which were fun), and we also listened to some conversational French CDs and always tried to speak their language; which is something I think a lot of tourists don't bother with. In the end, we came away relaxed and full of experiences and a determination to return.
La Jolla, ca USA 04/09/03
Travel in France and London
My husband and I spent time in France and London recently. We returned two weeks ago. I was a little concerned about our reception as Americans. The war began two days after we arrived in London. Much to our relief, we had no difficulties in either London or Paris. My husband was especially worried about Paris as he had a bad experience years ago there. Some relatives even hoped we would cancel our Paris visit.
I am happy to say my husband was converted and we both came away regretting we had not planned a few more days there. We found the Parisians gracious, the hotel lovely, and cafe life and museums a very relaxing break. We did keep a quiet profile, always made an attempt to speak what French we could, avoided large hotels and demonstrations of any kind, and anything blatantly American. What a beautiful and lovely trip we had. Warm weather, sun and no rain our entire visit in both places. Our last day was spent in Regent's Park in London, basking in the sun and sweet smells of spring flowers.
My advice is to mind your manners and behave as you would expect a guest
to in your home. And take Rick's excellent guide books! We discovered
him when we went to Italy 4 years ago and our trip was so much richer
for it. It was fun to see other people carrying the books and reading
the same thing we were this time around at some of the sights - kind of
our own club. Even sparked a conversation at Versailles when another visitor
and myself were struggling to figure out where we were on the printed
tour. If you have plans to travel in Europe, go and enjoy yourself.
Issaquah, WA USA 04/09/03
I live in Switzerland and have only seen one anti-American sign (in a shop window). Other than that, I guess ignorance is bliss. Be glad you are in a beautiful place with a different culture and you will be alright. Don't take it personally if you do encounter rude people. You see them everywhere.
Bern, CH 04/09/03
Having just returned from 10 days in Paris and the Rhine region of Germany, I urge all those who may be reevaluating vacation plans to just GO!! I was seriously considering postponing our trip until I started reading some of these postings. We felt no anti-American sentiment at all. We also witnessed the protest on 3/30 in Paris but walked around it. If you're polite and try to speak some of their language, be respectful of their culture and use common sense, you will be fine. I can't wait to go back next year! A big thanks to Rick Steves for this website and all of his wonderful travel books!
Milwaukee, WI USA 04/09/03
Not Surprised about Madrid
I spent time in Spain a couple of years ago, including a few weeks in Madrid. I can count on one hand the number of people I encountered there who were warm, friendly, or at the very least polite. Most Madrilenos I came across were rude and had nasty attitudes. No doubt that the anti-war stance has amplified it somewhat, but this behavior is nothing new. I definitely plan on going back to Spain one day because I had a blast in Barcelona, Granada and Sevilla...in no small part because of the wonderful people in those places. But you can keep Madrid.
NJ USA 04/09/03
Returned from Spain 4/7/03
I've been reading these posts and I've been thinking to myself, did these people travel in a bubble?!? I just spent 9 days in Spain — 1 day in Segovia, 1 in Toledo, 5 days in Madrid, 2 days in Sevilla. My experience in each city was different and I think I have a particularly unique perspective. I'm an asian american but no one ever guesses that I'm Thai. 99% of the people I've met in my life think I'm Mexican or Spanish. Come to think of it, 99% of the Mexicans or Spaniards that I've met mistake me for one of them! This trip to Spain was no exception.
The first thing I noticed is the "No to the War" signs & anti-american graffiti. It was in every city I visited. I also saw a couple of *somewhat* rowdy war protests and one candlelight vigil while I was in Madrid. Each city had a different feel to it. Segovia & Toledo were not particularly hostile. Sevilla was wonderful — the people were warm & friendly, despite the anti-war sentiment.
Madrid was horrible. I felt ostracized and alienated in that city. People
were warm & friendly to me only when they thought I was one of them. As
soon as my American accent came out, I got an entirely different attitude.
Service was awful; people were either curt or just plain rude. I was loathe
to spend any money in Madrid. There were the rare exceptions; we did manage
to have a total of 3 nice meals while we where there. We have collegues
who live there and they're having similiar experiences. Recently they've
had a few instances of being told point-blank that they wouldn't be helped/please
leave because they were American. Can you imagine what that's like? I
can tell you — it sucks. I'm so glad I'm out of that city. My advice for
anyone who is thinking about visiting Spain — avoid Madrid like the plague.
I just returned from Europe this week (Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, & England). We had absolutly no problems. The Germans were cold, but I think that they are always that way. In Paris especially, people were very polite!
Brookville, IN USA 04/09/03
No Anti-American's in Ireland
My husband and I just returned from Ireland and found absolutely no hostility or resentment toward Americans. There were some anti-war protests organized, but other than that, everyone was very friendly. One elderly gentleman we encountered told me that we should just stay in Ireland "where we would be safe from the war" and a cab driver in Dublin was actually angry about the war protests, as he put it "if it weren't for American's and American business, Ireland wouldn't be in the economic position it is." I would do the trip again in a heartbeat, war or no war.
Jackson Center, PA USA 04/08/03
Austria, Bavaria, and Switzerland
Just returned from chaperoning a high-school group through Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, and Lucerne. We encountered only low-key anti-war protests, no direct anti-American sentiment, but much warmth and hospitality from hotel-keepers to people in the street. The only individual political encounters any of us had were where people went out of their way to express their appreciation for Americans! Neither the news media in the U.S. nor Europe is reporting the whole story, and both are sensationalizing.
Kalamazoo, MI USA 04/08/03
Paris good to Americans
Just returned from a week in Paris (with my young daughter). Like other comments, I saw/felt no anti-American sentiments. I did notice that their anti-war protests are much more civilized than those in my home city.
San Francisco, CA USA 04/08/03
Travel in Europe during the war
My family and I just got back from a whirlwind trip around Germany over the last 10 days visiting relatives and seeing the sights,and we couldn't have been received more warmly. Just a few banners from windows addressed to Pres. Bush, but no hostility, just a great time and very warm and friendly people. We stayed in some of Rick's suggested Zimmer and found others on our own, and they were so kind and so helpful.
The only comment I heard was from an elderly gentleman in a bakery in
Rothenburg who requested a certain pastry but was told they were out of
those but she suggested other pastries including "Amerikaner." "Oh no,"
he said half jokingly, "those aren't popular, I couldn't buy those!" He
didn't see me and my sons behind him, but the baker and I just smiled
at one another and had a good laugh about it later.
Sycamore, IL USA 04/08/03
Paris was no Problem
My wife and I just spent 10 days in Paris and the surrounding area with no problems. We encountered a large protest march on 3.30.03 near the American Embassy but we just kept walking. Everyone we dealt with was nice & respectful. The Hotel Leveque was everything one could hope for. Mont St Michel was windy and cold and incredible, Giverney was just coming into bloom and Chartres was very nice. The walk from the Grand Trianon to the Hamlet and back to the Palace in Versailles is quite a hike!
Gainesville, FL USA 04/07/03
Just returned from two weeks in Italy - Milan, Bologna, Florence and Venice. While there was lots of anti-war and anti-American graffitti in Milan, we never had any problems with the people we encountered. We were there attending a meeting comprised of attendees from thirty countries. Overall, everyone was against the war, but hoped for a positive outcome to the conflict. They were curious to get the "American" point of view. Interesting to see the rainbow peace (PACE) flags flying from many windows around Italy.
portland, or USA 04/07/03
No problems in Spain
We were in Spain when the war started. Despite "NO WAR" banners everywhere and many protests, we were treated very well by everyone we met. Maybe this is to say that they were able to differentiate between individuals and the governments that represent them...
Albuquerque, NM USA 04/07/03
A wonderful trip to Paris in wartime
My husband and I were worried before going to Paris from March 21 to March 29 because of the negative reports in the US media. We are happy to report that everything was absolutely wonderful during our time in Paris. The weather was fabulous; the people were nice and polite and helpful; the museums were fantastic; the food was tasty. It was one of our best trips to Europe ever (#6 since 1998)! Also, Rick's Paris guidebook was really great. My husband tried, believe me he tried, but could not find anything wrong with it (he's not as much a fan of Rick as I am). We also took along the "Streetwise Paris" Map and with the book and the map, we were never lost (although it would have been just fine with me to be lost in Paris). So, if anyone out there is wondering whether to go or not, I say GO! I sure have no regrets about going to Paris the day after the war started and would go back today if I could. [Also I want to thank everyone who posted about this topic because you all helped us make the decision to go.]
New Orleans, LA USA 04/07/03
Italy - Rome & Florence
We just returned from Italy on Friday 4/5. It was wonderful, the people were really nice and friendly. We were polite, quiet and just enjoyed ourselves. The strong police presence in both Rome and Florence made us feel extra safe!
Sarah & Nate
Minneapolis, MN USA 04/07/03
In Italy Now
We are currently in Florence. Last week we were in Rome and Assisi. Everything is fine and the people here are wonderful! Travel in the countryside has been fine as well. There is nothing to worry about except for pickpockets and where to eat your next amazing meal.
Kirstie & Erik
Atlanta, GA USA 04/07/03
Just got back
We just got back after two weeks in Paris, Brugge, and central Germany. Other than some graffiti on some McDonald's ads in the Paris metro, we experienced no anti-American sentiments whatsoever, and had a wonderful time.
We went into a pizza place near our hotel in St. Denis in Paris. It was owned by Arabs, but they couldn't have been nicer, and it was great pizza! So good I went back the next night to get another after a long day of sightseeing. The guy remembered my order, and asked if I wanted it the same. He remarked about it to his friends seated there, and they invited me to sit and have a bit of soda with them. They spoke to each other in their language, but I never felt ill at ease. They never brought up the war, and when my pizza was ready, I thanked for their hospitality and they all smiled and said "salut", to this most obvious American.
My second story is that I was nearly pickpocketed in the Metro. I kept
my wallet in my front pocket, but when I got on with three other guys,
they crowded the front of the entrance of the train around me. I recognized
this ploy and reached down to my pocket in time to grab one of the men's
hand out of it. I had to walk over a baby carriage to get out of the way.
After they got off at the next stop, I apologized to the mother and told
her why I stepped over her baby, and she nodded knowingly. You see, in
many ways Paris has not changed at all! We are already talking about our
next vacation in Europe!
Lincon, NE USA 04/05/03
I recently spent two weeks in Spain at the beginning of the war. Despite this, the Spanish were very friendly to Americans and I never felt threatened. The Spanish people stated that they disagreed with what the American Government was doing but did not feel hostile towards the American people. My sister lives in Spain and as an American she has not had a single problem. Happy Travels.
Menomonee Falls, , WI USA 04/05/03
We were in Berlin when war broke out, Paris soon after, and in neither place did we see the slightest sense of anti-Americanism. It was fascinating to see the different stories covered in the media, frustrating to come home to such widespread propaganda. I wonder if our going on the edge of off-season had anything to do with everyone's hospitality, though, as France has seen no drop in tourism, and crowds make anyone cranky. I read posts from people suggesting travel to Britain, thinking they're pro-war and less likely to be hostile. If you're really worried about that, consider Holland, who also sent troops to the war and where just under 50% are opposed to it, compared to around 80% for France, Germany, and Great Britain alike.
My wife, daughter and myself just returned from a week in Paris. There was no sense of anti-Americanism from any of the people we encountered. The people were friendly and more than willing to help three people without any French language skills. We traveled the metro extensively and never even felt a hint of ill will towards us. In fact, our daughter said on the way to the airport, "I hate to say this but I think I like Paris better than London."
Minnetonka, MN USA 04/05/03
I went to Italy by myself March 26; I'm a 45 year old woman. In Rome, I came across a peace march and decided to "do as the Romans do." I joined the march and spoke with people as we walked. It was very safe and non-violent. They were not anti-American but anti-war.
Elkton, MD USA 04/05/03
France Was Fine
I traveled in France immediately before the war started and had no problems with anti-americanism whatsoever. The French people were surprisingly friendly and did not express any ill-will. The French people are able to distinguish American people from American politics and foreign policy, just as American people should be able to distinguish French people from French politics and foreign policy. I speak no French beyond the very basics. I was afraid this would be a problem, but if you try to speak a little, you can get what you need and the French will appreciate the effort. Moreover, I was traveling by myself and had a terrific time. I would have no reservations about doing the trip again. If it's something you want to do, DO IT!
Spokane, WA USA 04/04/03
Recent Trip to Italy
My husband and I just returned from an amazing honeymoon in Italy. We left a few days after the war broke out and returned on 2 April. We traveled to Rome, Florence, Venice, Pisa and Siena. The country is beautiful and the people are friendly and willing to help. At no time were we approached or did any Italian bring up anything about the war. Yes, we did see many "Pace" peace flags hanging and graffiti that said "No War" or other anti-Bush comments, but NEVER was anything mentioned to us directly. My best advice for anyone traveling to Italy, or anywhere in Europe, is simply to try to blend in as best you can with the local communities. Dress nicely and practically. Try to speak their language as best you can. Be respectful and polite and you will receive the same in return. Italy is fantastico! We are planning our return already.
Fort Walton Beach, FL USA 04/04/03
Had A Blast
We just got back last night from a two week trip to Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy and Switzerland. Now that we have taken a breather, the only regrets we have are that we left our kids at home with my parents, and that we were unable to stay another week. We absolutely LOVED Germany and France and Switzerland. As Rick put it in his latest newsletter, Amsterdam rather "boxed my Puritan ears." But it is a lovely city outside the Red Light District. Everyone was very nice to us and we would not hesitate to go back. We are VERY glad we did not let the war or fear stop us from having the experience of a lifetime. Thanks, Rick, for all your helpful tips. And also the Eurail pass is the best money we have ever spent! Bon Voyage, fellow travelers!
Amarillo, TX USA 04/04/03
travel in Paris
My daughter (age 25) and I returned March 31 after 10 days in Paris. We were treated with respect and kindness by everyone: fellow metro travellers, hotel staff, shopkeepers, restaurant staff, and other travellers from other European countries. We spoke softly, minded our manners (greeting a shopkeeper with a 'Bonjour Madame, Monsieur' goes a long way), and had a wonderful time. We seem to find ourselves travelling during times of international crisis (we were in Mexico when 9/11) happened. It is moving and heartwarming to be with people of different cultures at these times...the world and its people is truly small and worth treasuring.
Sacramento, ca USA 04/04/03
Spain during the Iraq war
We just returned from Spain. Although there were posters everywhere proclaiming "No a la guerra" as well as regular demonstrations in Madrid, everyone was very friendly towards us. In addition, our son, who is currently studying in Madrid, says he has experienced no hostility from Spaniards.
Denver, CO USA 04/03/03
Returned from Paris today
My husband and I, along with another couple, returned today from 7 days in Paris. We experienced no hostility and were treated very warmly. Two of the four are fluent (1 native) in French. We found that even after stating they spoke no English, as soon as we used French they would speak to us in English. The security was very good at airports in US and France. Would not hestiate to go back. The driver of our transfer van commented we were his only trip of the day-generally he would have 6 or 7 trips. He said there is a huge decline in the number of tourists.
Ireland - no anti-Americanism experienced
We just got back from Ireland and everyone was very kind to us. There are demonstrations on Saturday afternoons in Dublin, but i didn't check them out. It seemed to me that the older people were more supportive of the war than the younger people, though no one who was against the war seemed to have animosity towards Americans, just government policies. I wouldn't worry about having any problems if you are headed to Ireland.
Moscow, ID USA 04/03/03
Just returned from Rome & Naples
My wife and I spent nearly a week in Roma and Napoli, and arrived back in the US this past Tuesday. We took local transportation; subways, trains, buses, taxis, and also just walked extensively throughout the city. While we saw the multi-colored 'PACE' flags flying from apartment balconies, street vendor stands and so forth, at no time did we feel 'at risk'. Everyone was cordial, if not very pleasant and warm. Before our trip, we considered whether to cancel or postpone, I am glad we chose to take the trip when we did. Met a lot of wonderful people from many countries. I would recommend that those who have upcoming plans to travel to Europe not to worry about it!
Charlotte, NC USA 04/03/03
PACE in Italy
My 30 year old daughter and I just returned from Italy. We spent a week in the Tuscany area and a few days in both Florence and Venice. I have to say I was somewhat nervous about going over. I gave my daughter an out. I told her she didn't have to go (she's nervous about flying anyway) but that I was going unless the airline cancelled the flight. Bless her heart, she summoned up the courage and came with me. This was her first time to Italy. We left the day the bombing started, March 20.
The ONLY problem we encountered were extremely delayed flights from our respective cities to Chicago. Our plane landed in Frankfurt two hours late so we spent several hours there waiting for the next flight to Florence. The German people couldn't have been nicer! One waitress told us we were the best customers she had had all day.
Then onto Italy. It was almost like they were bending over backwards to be nice to us. But I have to say, we were doing the same thing. Courtesy breeds courtesy. I've heard that Italy and other European countries (and other parts of the world) are experiencing a 40% decline in tourism. We were talking to an English-speaking man on a train and we said how everyone had been extremely nice to us. He said when they hear an American accent, they are grateful that some of us are ignoring the media and still traveling.
So, we are very, very glad we went. If you are headed for Italy, you
will see beautiful rainbow colored PACE (peace) flags hanging from people's
homes. We bought some to bring home. And one of our favorite memories
is a flotilla of gondolas in Venice, moving slowly down the Grand Canal,
each carrying a PACE flag from their stern. Lovely and a lovely sentiment,
Grove, OK USA 04/03/03
Just back from Paris
My sister and I just returned from a week in Paris last night. We had a wonderful time and encountered no problems. I speak enough French to get by, but most people caught on that we were Americans and we didn't try to hide it. The folks at our hotel went out of their way to take care of us. We rode the metro, walked all over the city and ate our meals in different areas of the city. There was one large, but peaceful demonstration while we were there. I don't believe there was even one arrest and supposedly there were more than 250,000 participants. We did learn some enlightening facts though:
1. The French people believe that Americans resent THEM for their government's actions. We hope we helped to dispel that idea.
2. The French suffered through a period of terrorism during the 90s as a result of their participation in the Gulf War. As a result, many fear the same repercussions if they involve themselves in this war.
Please don't let the war stop you from traveling. This is an excellent
time to explore different countries and experience different cultures.
Annapolis, MD USA 04/03/03
In France right now
We are in France right now. We have not experienced any problems at all. Everyone has been very friendly. Please do not put off your trips. Come over and have fun! We have been in Normandy, Loire, and now Paris for several days.
The worst treatment we received was in a Irish Pub in Paris. And it was an Irish woman who insulted us. She had many nasty comments and asked us if we "could be any less American?" Goes to show you, you just never know who or where it might come from, but don't let it stop you from traveling.
Orange County, CA USA 04/02/03
Seems like Media Hype
My husband and I returned from a one week trip to Venice, Florence and Rome on Sunday, March 30. We felt absolutely no Anti-Americanism. In fact, everyone we encountered was friendly and kind. We spent our time equally between the touristy areas and the nontouristy areas. Before we left, we were a bit nervous as it was our first trip to Italy and we had read some bits that made us nervous, but we braved it and we sooo glad we did! We firmly believe that the anti-Americanism is media hype - at least as far as those three cities in Italy are concerned.
Chicago, IL USA 04/02/03