Archive: Reports from Travelers in Europe
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door has kept in close touch with traveling Americansthrough numerous phone calls, faxes and e-mail messages. Here are some thoughts on traveling that have been coming in from those currently in Europe or recently returned. We welcome your experiences on what it's like in Europe right now.
Report from Travellers in Eurpoe
I just returned from 2 days in Amsterdam and 7 days in Paris. I am a single woman and travelled alone. I felt safe the entire trip. Passers by would ask if I need help in finding something if I was reading my map. People were very helpful. I got the security once-over in Seattle (bag searched, shoes 'searched', et.) but not after that. I carried 2 money belts -- one inside the pants and one outside with my daily stash. The zippers on my backpack were all opened sometime near the Arc de Triomphe. They didn't get anything. And there was a perfectly good breakfast roll in there!! Saw pick pockets working the crowd at the Tour Eiffel. I had a wonderful time and will go back at earliest opportunity.
I am traveling to Europe in June with my girlfriend. We've been planning for this trip for a while, but concerns have been mounted compounded by advice given to us by friends in the military. Anyone want to take a crack at these concerns?
1. Arabs in Europe. I'm told Europeans make a distinction between American politics and American people. But what about the large population of Arabs in Europe? Will they make any distinction? A co-worker of my father was arrested recently for funneling money to the Islamic Jihad movement. Any reason to believe we can trust foreign Arabs if we can't trust American ones?
2. Loyalty. Most European countries oppose American policy. How do I
justify spending money in a foreign country whose government and people
protest our policies as our soldiers are fighting abroad?
Lemont, IL USA 03/17/03
A Week in Nimes, France
I returned last week from a Winter Break week spent in Nimes, France with my son's in-laws. It was a whole perspective-changing experience. I was astonished and embarrassed by how little history I knew (I'm an English teacher) and intrigued by the challenges of communicating with charming, warm, delightful people in another language...their language after all. It seems rude to speak English. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and I just wish all cranky Americans could spend some quiet time in the French countryside and study the history, geography and traditions of the French (or German, or Irish, or British, etc.) Travel really is a broadening experience.
Seattle, WA USA 03/12/03
Re: Travel during War
We just returned last night from two weeks in Austria and Germany, travelling with our 8 year old son. On many occasions, people we met would raise the issue of politics and the possibility of war. But if you remember that they are not blaming you, they are just talking to you, then you won't have the slightest problem. Encourage your teens to recognize that both at home and abroad, different people have different opinions, and to respect other people's opinions, even if they don't agree. I think your teens might have some great conversations, and gain some international perspective that their friends at home don't have. I wouldn't worry about going.
Chicago, IL USA 03/10/03
travel during war
My family (parents and 2 teen agers, 17 & 15) is set to travel to Italy at the end of March. I'm especially concerned about having an unpleasant experience with our teens; I've told them how warm and friendly Italians are. I will not pretend to be a Canadian.
Hudson, OH USA 03/09/03
Budapest Trip Advice
Re: Scams, see the eastern european tips section. Safety, well if you can survive in The City, you'll have no problem with Budapest. If you're wearing money belts, you won't have to worry about pickpockets on public transport. We got subways (metro), graffiti, beggars, Russian mafia, and taxi drivers who can't speak english. You'll feel right at home. (Also got inexpensive food and wine, thermal baths, cool architecture, castles, world-class classical music, and the Danube.)
Budapest, Hungary 03/06/03
John B-- Myself and my family are travelling to Budapest for the first time this upcoming week. Any safety tips-- besides not venturing much farther south?
New York, NY USA 03/05/03
My husband, our 4 year old daughter, and I just returned from a much planned trip to Paris. We were there 2 weeks. I found the Parisians to be overly friendly and kind. We rode the Metro everywhere, and felt safe to room the streets at night. The Parisians went out of their way to be helpful to us. It was a fabulous trip.
WI USA 03/04/03
Americans in Paris
I am a dual Canadian/American who has been in Paris for about a year. I'm not sure what sort of reports you all are getting in the States, but being American here is *not* at all a problem. People here are pretty upset about what Bush & Co. are doing, make no mistake about that; but, most people make a clear distinction between the American government's actions and the American people. Plus, there's such a large American ex-pat community and tourist influx that people are quite accustomed to hearing American accents/English. It's not like you're going to Yemen. Also, I was at the anti-war demonstration here and it was very, very peaceful and not at all threatening for an American. So, it's safe, you'll be fine; there is *absolutely* nothing to worry about (and no need for an American to pretend to be Canadian). You're just as safe being an American in New York or DC. Don't believe the hype.
Paris, France 03/03/03
About the point of not being 'among friends' in Germany, I have a few comments. First, most Europeans are pretty civilized about these things. Go with the flow, don't bring politics up, fib a bit if you have to. It won't be a problem in Germany or anywhere else. Avoid student bars if you don't want to argue. Little or no physical danger, I think, German security is better than in the US.
London, UK 02/09/03
With things heating up, I'd like to offer my thoughts. I'm living in Budapest, about 100km north of Taszad, the air base where Iraqi Opposition "helpers" are being trained. I'm wondering about a quick escape from here, lease or no lease. I'm not so sure about eastern europe anymore, security-wise. It's a lot closer to the mideast than US or western europe, and its borders are more porous. Cross into Germany from Czech Republic, and you get a reassuring "your-papers-please" routine. I'd feel safer in Germany than here. I feel safer in continental Europe than either the States or UK right now. I'm going to Wien next weekend, if I can get to the F15 anti-war protests, I'll post some more observations. Good luck to us all.
Budapest, Hungary 02/08/03
>>What are you frightened of? If the US attacks Iraq, it will be US airports and buildings that will be most at risk from revenge or defensive attacks...<<
Precisely. Since I live in America, I have to fly out of and back into
a US airport, don't I? Regarding your questions: Hopefully, he'll be safe
in LA. I can't speak for Canada
Orange County, CA USA 01/29/03
Reports from Travelers in Europe
What are you frightened of? If the US attacks Iraq, it will be US airports and buildings that will be most at risk from revenge or defensive attacks, so it may be more dangerous to stay at home. Few Europeans would want to harm you because of your political beliefs, or because of the actions of your leaders. It's not difficult to avoid political discussions, and if you discuss with friends there should be no problem. To minimise risk, it might be wise to avoid the major attractions where tourists, especially US tourists, gather. You should also avoid overt displays of nationality and agressive behaviour. Don't forget that most tourists in Europe are from other European countries, and you have to get close to them to know where they are from. Americans are in a minority, but sometimes they can be a little more - ahem - conspicuous. Now help me with my problem. My son and his wife are travelling to LA in the next few weeks, and my wife and I are going to Canada in May. Will it be dangerous?
Bristol, U.K. 01/29/03
Gonna be a long hot summer....
A few months ago I went on a residential training thing with my company (I live and work in the UK). It was all very pleasant until one evening when we stopped for some beers. One fellow got a snootful and I learned exactly what he thought of the US. Which was not much. The problem was the death penalty, which was simply 'not on'. Only barbarians do things like that. After being pinned to the bar and lectured for 30 minutes I thankfully escaped to my room. It occurs to me that if President GeeDub pulls the lanyard that everything could be that way this year.
London, UK 01/22/03
You Have to GO!!!!
Just finished a month in Europe. Travelled to six different countries, and every place was amazing. The people everywhere were very kind and friendly. I did meet a few people who were anti-U.S. but wasn't anything hostile. Just have more of anti-war attitudes than anything. I'd have to say who can blame them. Anywho, don't let 9/11 stop you on any trip, It WILL be the time of your life.
Travelling Post 9/11
I spent 2 months after college in over 20 cities, from Paris to Copenhagen to Budapest to Rome to Pamplona and everywhere in between. Had no problems and plan on going back to Rome, Paris, and London in April with some friends. No fear.
Milwaukee, WI USA 01/12/03
We have been living in Germany for over four years. The people have been wonderful to us since 9/11. We have not encountered one problem.
We finally got to Paris in December of 2002. After arrival by train at Gare Est we attemped to get Metro tickets. There was no one in the booths at the time and the machines won't take Euro bills. Make sure you have lots of change. I suggest you get Euro before arriving in Europe and have more than one bankcard, some aren't accepted by the machines.
After getting tickets, by pooling klein geld (small change), we got on
the Metro. Minutes after exiting at St. Germain, my aunt fell and broke
her wrist! Thanks to the kindness of a French woman who helped us to our
hotel just blocks away, called a taxi, and had the hotel call the hospital.
We were at a French public hospital within a half hour. The hospital was
wonderful, but it helps to know some French, which luckily my husband
did. My aunt was admitted, had surgery on her wrist and was released the
next day. The bill was only 960 Euros for the whole thing! She was treated
very nicely and we continued our visit. We think the Parisians were so
wonderful from the stranger on the street, to the hospital staff, to the
hotel staff who asked about her constantly.
Oberaichen, Germany 01/05/03
Pickpocketing in the Paris Metro
My husband and I were in Paris this October (my 3rd time) and had a fantastic time, as always. Every experience we had was memorable thanks to the French people. All except one experience that I want to share with fellow travelers. When Rick advises purchasing his travel belt, DO IT!! We didn't and my husbands wallet was nearly stolen on the Metro. We had our suitcases with us heading towards the train station and we let down our guard. My husband had his wallet in his back pocket (he knows that's a no-no) thinking his jacket would cover it. Two guys tried to distract him by pulling his pant leg, making him think something was wrong and that they were doing him a favor. While my husband was being thrown off-balance, the accomplice did the pickpocketing. Luckily, we foiled the attempt and they did not get the wallet. But they could have. It left us shook up but we certainly learned our lesson. So, while Paris is a great city and safe for the most part (as with other cities), DO take the proper precautions. Especially in the Metro. Don't let your trip be spoiled.
Austin, Tx USA 11/13/02
Travel after 9/11
I arrived in Paris on 9/11/02 for a month tour to France and England. Yes I had qualms, but I wasn't going to let them ruin my trip. Waundered all over and never felt safer. Yes security was tight, but the only place I had trouble was Heathrow on the way home. Had my bag searched at a few places and not always where I expected. Still it was always quick painless and polite. Most of the people I met were very kind and helpful. I even had a Parisian stop me and express condolences on the 9/11 events and thank me for having the "courage" to come. In a London pub I met a stockbroker who was actually on the phone to a friend in the trade center when the first plane hit. He lost a lot of friends and co-workers. As we talked I suddenly realized he was crying. Silently we hugged and he whispered to me "Don't let the ---- win. Thanks for coming." Amen to that! Don't let them win-GO!
Milwaukee, WI USA 11/10/02
Securtiy/Hotel/Airport Van Service
Just returned from Paris - no problems at all. Stayed at Hotel Beaugency on Duvivier - one block from Rue Cler. Lovely hotel and the friendliest receptionist. She was most helpful. We felt very safe and used the subway and walked day and night. Everyone was very helpful and friendly - and almost everyone spoke English, especially when we tried our French! Rue Cler is a delightful area - a real neighborhood with lovely shops and markets. A tip - a cheap and good way to get from the airport to your hotel is the Blue Van. $14.oo per person with at least two people. We saw it on the internet. Half the price of the other vans! Airport security was just like here except we were frisked as we boarded the plane in Paris. Don't know why.
Atlanta, Ga USA 11/06/02
Go to Spain and Italy
The Spanish seem to be very sympathetic towards the American tragedy. Go and enjoy. We found no anti-American sentiments in Italy either.
Verona, NJ USA 11/05/02
Go to Spain!
Great trip to spain!!! Very, very easy going country.We have been to Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Cazorla, Seville without any problem whatsoever. But take basic precautions as you will notice some people eyeing tourists in some areas, ie: train stations and some very touristy areas. Nothing to get alarmed about, just don't walk aroud with any valuable items within easy reach. Take care and enjoy!
Ottawa, ON CAN 11/03/02
Travel Post 9/11
During three months of studying abroad in London, I haven't experienced any trouble, despite living in a predominantly Arab neighborhood. Of course there are some anti-Bush posters, TV commercials, and occasional demonstrations, but to me these are signs of healthy debates that exist in any democracy, even in ours.
Davis, CA USA 10/25/02
money exchanging in Southern France
My family and I just returned on 10-20-2002 from 2 weeks in France and Switzerland. You should know it was impossible to exchange US bills in Southern France because of an apparent countefeit ring, particularly with 50 and 100 $ US bills in the 1996 series. Every "Change Office" had a closed sign. Bring a check card for cash machines.
seattle, WA USA 10/21/02
I did not sense or see a greater security presence during a recent 10-day Paris visit. My impression, however, is that petty crime is higher than in previous visits. Twice within a four-day period thieves working the Metro attempted to lift my wallet (which was secure in a neck pouch under clothing).
Rocky River, OH USA 10/19/02
Traveling in Europe post 9/11
My husband and I recently returned from a three week trip to France. We spent a total of eight days in Paris, and had a rental car and toured the country from Normandy to Lourdes for two weeks. We found the majority of people warm and helpful - had no problems whatsoever - even though we speak very little French and found ourselves many times in situations where absolutely no one spoke English. Ran into a couple of snotty clerks in Paris, but as one waiter in a small town advised "don't judge France by the people in Paris". Rode the metro everywhere - never had any problems there, either, although did run into one unlucky tourist who had lost his wallet in a text-book operation - getting on the metro somebody claimed to have dropped a credit card and asked him to move his foot because he was probably standing on it. In the meantime, Larry Lightfingers lifted the guy's wallet out of his front pocket (baggy trousers). Although nobody voiced it, we believe the French are grateful that tourism is starting to pick up. Security was a little tighter - but not distressingly so. Go and have a great time - just be gracious and you will get it right back.
Seattle, WA USA 10/18/02
Traveling post 9/11
I traveled to Scotland in May, 2002 and experienced increased security. I was searched several times, both in Glasgow airport and the U.S. airports, but when I accidently packed a gift pen set with an "illegal" letter opener into a carry-on bag, the Glasgow security guards were very nice. They allowed the package to be sent separately with the luggage, so I did not lose my gift. I picked it up on the other side of the ocean upon landing. Planning a return in the spring of 2003 for a family event. Do not let the hatred of others keep you from seeing the world.
PA USA 10/10/02
Guards in Malpensa airport
Evidently, you're not supposed to take a picture of the military guard standing on top of the ticket counters in the international section of Malpensa airport (Milano). My first picture didn't turn out well, so I deleted it and tried again. I was interupted by a guard who said "no photo". Then he wanted me to delete my previous one, so I had to show him all the photos on the memory card to convince him I had already deleted it.
Princeton, NJ USA 10/10/02
On September 11, 2002 we landed in Amsterdam for a three week vacation through Western Germany, Eastern France and Switzerland and guess what? It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
Chandler, AZ USA 09/28/02
Europe in September
We were in Europe from Sep. 4 - 18, 2002. We went to Rome, Varenna, Bruges, and Amsterdam. We felt very safe everywhere, and more safe in Rome than Amsterdam. We used public transportation the whole time and had no negative experiences at all. Sept. 11 came and went and no one mentioned a thing. As long as we were polite and courteous, everyone was polite and courteous back. We never felt threatened or singled out, I'm sure everyone knew we were tourists with our camcorder and digital camera.
Don't let terrorism win, Europe is still warm and inviting. And once
they stop smoking cigarettes everywhere...we'll move there :-)
Austin, TX USA 09/25/02
Had a great time in Ireland
I've been to most countries in Europe, and some in North Africa, but had never to Ireland. So, we went in March/April and had a great time. People were the friendliest of all Europeans I have met. It seemed that everyone I met had visited the US, or had a relative working there. Shows the strong connection the Irish feel with our country.
Albuquerque, NM USA 09/11/02
France was wonderful!
Just came back from Paris in late August and had an outstanding time! I felt safe everywhere--the Arab Quarters are worth exploring and are just as friendly as anywhere else in Paris. I understood Paris's anti-imperialist stance, since they had learned from their mistakes in the past. They seem to have a deeper and broader understanding of the Middle East than the U.S. The only thing I would say though is be careful in the metro. I have had children come up to me and ask me to interpret a piece of paper with English scribble on it--only to get ready to steal my backpack. Fortunately I figured out their trick in advance and kept going.
Chicago, IL USA 09/09/02
In a month, we saw two signs asking George W not to bomb. We stayed in Rick Steves' recommended accomodations and found everyone we came in contact with to be friendly and helpful. Many said that they relied heavily on American tourism and are financially hurting due to the fact that Americans are not travelling any more. One place said they were down 85% over the previous year, They expressed condolences and warm wishes.
I must say that while in Rome, CNN announced GW plans re: attack on
Iraq. It felt scary to be so close to the center of things. We must remember
that Europeans are much closer to trouble spots than we are and understand
why they are concerned.
glendora, ca USA 09/07/02
Travel after 9/11
I just spent 2 months backpacking Europe. It was the trip of a lifetime! Was in 20 cities. Only had a few problems with the locals. In Pamplona, a guy said to me "Yankee, go home." In Copenhagen there was grafitti on the wall that said "Yankee Go Home." In Milan I was more aware of being American than any other city because my friend there told me that Milan has a high concentration of Al-Qaeda. Other than that, I had no problems whatsoever. Most of the Europeans I met were very friendly.
Milwaukee, WI USA 08/27/02
travel after 9/11
I traveled throughout western Europe with a friend for three months last year (Jul '01-Oct'01) and for the most part had a pleasant experience. When 9/11 took place we were in Austria and the countries left on our itinerary were Switzerland, Italy, Southern France and Spain. Many people were quite sympathetic about the ordeal and expressed a lot of grief for us.
Our hostel in Switzerland gave us all free internet access and had the news on 24 hours (in English). When October approached and we went farther south in Europe we had some unpleasant anti-American experiences. At an internet cafe in Rome I had a man from Iran basically verbally attack me and said some horrible things that really scared me. We saw a fair amount of anti-American graffiti. We saw some small demonstrations and speakers opposing the actions of our government, which I expected. We tried our best not to let the situation get us down and we happily finished our trip although I must admit we were more upbeat before 9/11.
I would not discourage travel to Europe because of 9/11 - traveling
there is a wonderful experience and most would probably not have any sort
of trouble. Just be aware and prepared. As for security, it got really
tight and we found it difficult to find train stations and airports that
were allowing locker storage.
Bellingham, WA USA 08/05/02
My last visit to Europe
I returned 3 months ago from the continent. I meant to spend a month travelling away from tourist areas, for a change. After two weeks I changed my itinerary. The hate, the anti-semitism, the crime, reminded me of my travel to East Germany before the wall fell.
I knew that the major cities of Europe now have a higher violent crime rate than NYC, and this is where you find it. These socialist-democratic states are eating themselves from within. You want to see what lies in the heart of Europe, just go to a soccer match-- but I don't recommend it.
Watch yourself in London: that beautiful city that I lived in for two years is getting so rough and violent-- it breaks my heart. Watch yourself in Marseilles and Strasbourg-- don't stray into the Arab sections. Most sickening of all, leave your yamulke at home. Arabs are safer in the USA than Jews in Europe.
Rick can wax endlessly about the superiority of Europe; if he would
drop his ideological blinders and get away from the tourist sections,
he might rethink his politics. I have. So after spending six years of
my life living and travelling in Europe, I have taken my last trip. My
fascination with it is dead. What makes me sick is that a grandfather
was killed in France in 1918. He died for nothing. Next trip: island hopping
through the South Pacific.
seattle, wa USA 08/03/02
Traveled to Sweden
I traveled to Sweden in November after Sept. 11th. Although the weather was extremely cold and nasty, by and large the Swedes are as friendly as ever. I was also with some Swedish friends in Stockholm which helped.
I ran into really only two situations that made me somewhat uncomfortable. The first was not serious, but a Dane at a bar started to get into a pretty heated argument with me about the war in Afghanistan ("You're killing babies".this kinda thing). I talked to him for awhile though and after a few pints, everything was fine and we parted ways shaking hands.
The other situation was a little more frightening. I was walking back to my hotel fairly late after dinner one night. There were people on the street, but it obviously wasn't as crowded as normal. Anyway, a group of young men (they seemed to be either Arab or Turkish) started heckling me when they overheard me ask someone for directions. They were yelling in Swedish, but they would also yell, "Osama, Osama" every once in awhile. I just gave them a nasty look and left, but being out of my element, it was disturbing.
Of course, either of these two things could happen right here in the
US.so go over there. I'm going back this September!
Washington, DC, USA 07/11/02
Traveling in Europe after 9/11
I went to Switzerland, Austria, and Germany two weeks after 9/11. Europeans were fabulous! I had always heard that Europeans held Americans in contempt, but not after 9/11. They were kind, helpful, sympathetic, and, mainly, thrilled that Americans were traveling to Europe after the terrorist attacks.
Austrians were the best: there were huge black banners still hanging
from public buildings in Salzburg in mourning for us. I felt safe traveling
in Europe as well. US airports were still trying to come up with security
plans, but European airports had a very high level of security that was
detailed and thorough. I enjoyed that trip so much that I'm heading back
to Europe (Norway) next week for another vacation.
Plano, TX USA 07/02/02
Italy exactly one month after 9/11
We arrived in Italy 10/11/01 for a 2.5 week trip. 6 friends tried to talk me out of going as I was leaving for the airport. I told them, "then they win & they get me to be afraid & stay home." Very surprised & warmly amazed at the reception we received - people very warm & friendly, so sorry for the losses, signs posted everywhere re: Our Sympathies are with America, Italians wearing American flag insignias & clothing. Of course, no crowds & no waits. We also felt very safe there. The only rude people we met were Americans. We flew back from Florence & then Munich. Security was very tight - they told us it was due to USA imposed restrictions. All of our bags were x-rayed, about every 3rd person had All their bags searched, all carry on bags were searched thoroughly, everyone was patted down by wand and by hand, and me & my companion had our shoes x-rayed. It took a long time but we were already one day behind due to plane mechanical problems. It does make one feel safer. We're traveling again to Ireland and London in September and October 2002. Already planning a return to Italy for Fall 2003.
Sunnyvale, CA USA 06/17/02
Just back from Paris
Paris was wonderful! But we did see ugly Americans but also ugly Germans. Beware of pick-pocketers esp at Eiffel Tower and Louvre. Versailles was way over-rated, over-run by tourists thus pick-pocketers. I was ready for those pick-pocketers this time! I was not going to be a victim. Stay away from groups and wear the moneybelt. We felt 6 days was not long enough to see it all. We enjoyed just walking the tiny side streets in the neighborhoods and sitting in the beautiful parks, like Jardin du Luxembourg.
Vestal, NY USA 06/16/02
The Queen's Jubilee Celebration
I've just returned from a two week trip to England and France with emphasis on the celebration of the Queen's Golden Jublilee Celebration. We stood just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace during the Pop Concert and watched the activities on large television screens. The next morning we stood on the mall and watched the procession from the palace to St. Pauls Cathedral. On both occasions the crowds were estimated at one million people. We walked back to the hotel being carried along with the crowd. The people were wonderful and I never felt safer. The news reported that there were only THREE arrests made. What a great party! What a great country!
Lindale, TX USA 06/14/02
Checked Baggage Dilemma
We had traveled to and from Spain and the US and UK without any problems to our checked bags before 9/11. This time, with more scrutiny of checked bags for dangerous objects inside, the small locks with keys that we used to keep baggage thieves from looking through our luggage (Rick's Travel Bags) were forcibly removed by the airlines security staff resulting in damage to the zippers. Since the airlines do NOT mention that they might do this, be aware that this could happen to your bags. We hope you're better able to resolve this dilemma than we were.
Dennis & Lila
Springfield, VA USA 06/10/02
We just returned from a two week trip to France, Italy and Greece. Although we now realize that we scheduled too much for the alloted time, it was a wonderful trip. Our only bad experience was on the Metro in Paris, but because I had read Rick's "Best of Europe", we were prepared. Just before getting on the Metro, I noticed a group of six girls, ages 14 - 15. As we entered, they pushed and shoved, separating me and my friend. Then the one in front of me pointed to her wrist as if to ask for the time. Right away it hit me what was going on. I turned to tell my friend to watch her bag and had to speak a little loudly for her to hear me because there were a couple of the girls between us. They then all hopped off before the doors closed.
Later the same day, we were again on the metro and four girls got on. Two of them stood in front of us and I know they were assessing us, but I guess our look let them know we were on to them. So they approached a woman a few feet away from us. As the woman lifted her arm to look at her watch, my friend reached over and pushed her arm down, saying 'thieves'. In that short time they did manage to unzip her bag, but she was warned before they had a chance to take anything. She thanked us several times.
All in all, the people in Paris, in Arles, Avignon and St. Remy, the
people in the Cinque Terre, Rome, and in Corfu, Greece couldn't have been
nicer. This was our first trip abroad, we made all of our own arrangements,
and I have to say that it was a most wonderful experience. I plan to return
to the Cinque Terre next year so I can live my dream of sitting at an
outdoor cafe, drinking the local wine, watching the sun go down over the
Bay City, MI USA 06/05/02
Austria-Germany During 911
My wife and I were checking into the Hotel Ibis in Vienna when the planes hit the WTC. The people in the hotel were extremely sympathetic and friendly and expressed their horror. We found the Viennese to be very nice over all. In Salzburg shortly thereafter, we checked into the Goldener Ente Hotel recommended by Rick, and were told in no uncertain terms by a woman there that we had no reservation, although we had phoned it in from the USA a month before and received confirmation. She was extremely rude and seemed to hate us. She finally gave us a very small dingy room on the top floor that must have been used in an emergency. The next morning she yelled at us for showing up in the latter part of the breakfast hours. However, the hotel was in the best central location.
We had a good time in Munich, especially the Hofbrauhaus, and found most everyone friendly, I do not recommend driving in Munich, Vienna or Salzburg. It is too easy to get lost. We are very nice friendly people, so do not understand the hostility of some people over there. We have never seen such discourtesy in the USA. Other than that, most Europeans were very nice.
Port St. Lucie , FL USA 05/31/02
We just returned from 30 days in Italy and felt remarkably safe everywhere we went. True, security seemed to be high -- which we appreciated! Lots of Army and police guards and bag checks -- But people were great! And more than one person told us they loved America. It did seem to us that we ran into fewer Americans traveling than we have before -- it seemed to us that they might be staying home because of fear. We did hear English only it was Aussie, Brits etc. I hope people don't miss experiences of their lifetime by deciding not to travel to Europe!
Dundee, OR USA 05/28/02
The paranoia I sense towards Arabs in Europe in previous posts is utterly strange. Just came back from Paris, and was treated with the utmost hospitality, whether buying produce from an Algerian in Rue Cler or eating falafel next to a group of Palestinians. Having traveled to the Middle East countless times as well, I have seen how hospitality is just a part of their culture. Just relax, and don't let the color of people's skin or the language they speak put you on the edge!
San Francisco, USA USA 05/20/02
My hubby & I just returned from an 11-day trip to Paris & Provence (May 5-17). We found the French to be very warm and welcoming! We never experienced any anti-American or anti-Semitic sentiments. It is so liberating to get back out there and travel again. It puts life back in perspective and helps us feel united with other cultures. Have a great time on YOUR trip!
Pembroke Pines, FL USA 05/19/02
Just got back from a 9- day (May 2-11) vacation in Italy. Just a warning to those planning to travel. Please do not lock your checked-in luggage. We locked all of our luggages with padlocks and unfortunately one of them was randomly checked. Airport security forcibly opened the luggage destroying the zipper. We did not find out until we claimed our luggages. Fortunately, it happened coming back home, so we did not have to worry about replacing the luggage while in Italy.
Bowie, MD USA 05/14/02
European Airport Security
I have had very different experiences traveling from Europe. In March, I flew from Zurich to the States on American Airlines. At Zurich, I went through a security briefing (5-min) with a ticket agent even before I could even check in. The agent asked me questions like why I was in Zurich, who was I visiting, was I carrying any items which could be considered weapons. After the interrogation, I went to another ticket agent who checked me in and also asked me some security questions. At the gate, I was required to remove my shoes and place them on the X-ray machine conveyer belt. Some of the passengers on my flight were also searched again right before boarding the plane.
I just returned home from Italy and France and airport security was not
as heightened as I expected. For instance, when I was flying from Milan
to Paris, via London, I arrived at the airport 3 hours early for my 11:55
am British Airways flight. When I was checking in, the BA agent did not
ask me any security questions. Further, she informed me that she couldn't
check my luggage in yet because I was too early and my luggage would get
lost. She did check me in on the flight. She advised me to return in 30
minutes and she would check my luggage in. I brought my luggage back after
30 minutes and she put the bags on the conveyer belt. My bags were never
searched and she never asked any other questions when I returned. When
I was flying from Paris to the States, via London, check-in was very similar.
I was not asked any security questions at check-in. However, when we were
connecting in London for the flight to the States, many of the passengers,
as well as their carry-on bags, were searched. I'm curious to know if
the heightened security is only for flights going directly into the States.
I noticed at CDG Airport, the American airlines, like United and American
and USAir, had armed guards around the ticket counters, agents opening
up and checking checked luggage. The same could not be said for the European
Italy after 9/11
I spent 3 months in Italy in 1993 and went again in October of 2001 with my 4 year old daughter and my 56 year old mother. We all felt very safe in the air and in Italy. While in Italy in 1993 I came across some people who were les than happy to have an American there. I did not experience that on my 2001 trip. People were very happy to have us, they were helpful, and just a little overprotective at times. Which was fine by me. I even got scolded by the hotel clerk when I mentioned that I was going to park my car in the free lot at night. He said he would garage it for me for free instead. There were no crowds. The American flag was flying high everywhere; shirts, pins, hats, windows, buildings. The world has united against what has happened and we are in there prayers.
Woodstock, GA USA 05/04/02
We were scheduled to depart for Spain on Sept.16, but United planes did not fly out of Omaha, NE on that weekend. We then rescheduled out flight on Sept. 24, thus losing a week of our trip. This trip was prepaid. We had travel insurance that refused to pay for our lost week. Why should you buy trip insurance? We treated very well by the people in Spain. We did not see a lot of Americans.
Lincoln, NE USA 04/30/02
Airport Security - Paris
In Paris, we went through three separate screenings before being allowed on the plane. Some people were singled out for a random fourth screening. The moral seems to be, pack light, adopt a co-operative attitude, and be patient. Surprisingly, the screenings did not take much time. They were thorough, efficient, and fast. Don't let the security screening stop you from travelling.
San Francisco, CA USA 04/27/02
Airport Security SF and Paris
In San Francisco, I got the full unpack-and-off-with-the-shoes search. I smiled, and took the attitude that I wanted to help the screener do his job. I slipped off my shoes and they went through the X-ray. The screener quickly went through my bag. Fortunately I'd packed small items in clear plastic ziplock bags, so it was easy for the screener to sort through my things quickly. In 10 minutes I was through, and on my way to the plane.
San Francisco, CA USA 04/27/02
Late night in Pigalle
After a late dinner we went walking in Pigalle area. Realizing it was getting late we headed for the Metro. We were accosted by two young arab men at the Metro entrance. They pointed up a dark street and said, "Metro is closed! You go that way!" Fortunately I knew the Metro was still open. So I just smiled and walked past. They yelled, "You live in country that is free? Not like Palestine!" It was an ugly moment. Other than that isolated incident, we spent 10 days in Paris without a single unpleasant moment.
San Francisco, CA USA 04/27/02
Zurich Airport Security
We just got back from 2 weeks in Switzerland, Austria & Italy. Our flights were to & from Zurich. Be aware that the security in the Zurich airport was very tight - give yourself the 2 hours that they recommend for international flights. They not only ask you the standard "have your bags been out of your possession" stuff, but a list of about 25 other questions. Before boarding the plane, everyone had to have their carry-ons re-scaned, then each piece was searched. They also made everyone take off their shoes, which they didn't do when leaving the States. In short, give yourself an extra "cushion" of time when departing from Zurich. Either the Swiss are extremely orderly, or there was some kind of security alert that we weren't aware of this week.
Sacramento, CA USA 04/27/02
Traveling to Europe
On 11 September I was visiting my family in Ireland. We sat and watched the horrible events unfold before our eyes. Like any American out of his homeland, I began to feel nervous and uneasy, paranoid and worried. Thinking all Americans were targets. Then I realized that we are all in this together. Americans and Europeans alike lost their lives. The next morning The Irish Standard was down and American flags were flying. Europeans are on our side, and let us know it. Don't be afraid to come to Europe, they are waiting with open arms
Washington D.C., USA 04/16/02
Arles Arab Alert
Be a little careful in Arles, France. Late (past midnight) one night in October 2001 I decided to walk and stop somewhere for a beer. I walked into a seemingly nondescript bar (I should have noticed the disco/Arab music playing..."Salon something") on Boulevard des Lices just West of Jardin D'ete (2 "blocks" due south from Hotel Calendal) I was accosted by young, smartly-dressed Arabs asking me "am I Taliban?.." etc. They were threatening and hostile. They obviously knew I was American (I was not dressed like an American) and wanted trouble. I said to him: "Phew... sil vous plait...., Canadienne!... avous?" which threw him temporarily. He hesitated long enough for me to pay for my beer and leave. Trust me.. there is possible danger here, yet if you stay cool and handle it right, it is safe. Just a warning for yanks in South France. They are out there and looking for trouble. Be prepared, keep wits about you, and be alert & prepared. Au revoir daveq
CO USA 04/06/02
In Rome on 9/11
My boyfriend and I were in Rome on 9/11. We went to a phone store and tried to call home but none of the lines were working. The kind woman running the store tried dialing our numbers for the next hour for us. On the 12th we went to see the Pope at the Vatican. He gave a moving speech in English showing his support for all Americans. We found the Italians to be supportive, kind, and helpful during that next week. All flags were at half mast and in almost every shop window there were signs expressing support for American tourists. A hotel let us sit in their dining room for hours to watch British CNN. However, over the next few weeks we saw a little anti-American sentiment. In Pisa, there was anti-American graffiti everywhere. The city is not too far from where the G8 conference was held, however, so a lot of it was related to that. In Amsterdam there were demonstrations, but you expect things like that in such a liberal city. I really didn't feel that Anti-Americanism was worse after 9/11 than it was before it. For our entire trip we got the feeling that people liked us personally but didn't feel that way about most Americans. Or maybe they just didn't like "tourists" ...
Boston, MA USA 03/29/02
Europe during and after 9/11
I was in Malaga, Spain on 9/11 and scheduled to fly home the next day. Naturally I was delayed 'till the following Sunday. Everyone was kind and sympathetic. The Hotel staff at the Sol Don Pablo were great and when I went to check out Sunday fully expecting to pay for the extra days and meals, the balance was ZERO. Then on top of that suprise they said that if my flight did not depart to call them and they would save me a room or find me another Sol Melia room. I felt like family. If you go to the Costa Del Sol...STAY here. Also, last month I was in Athens, the new airport is wonderful & state of the art. I love Greece and it's people, have never had a problem there. If you're planning on seeing the Olympics in 2004, book NOW, many hotels are already sold out.
Bridgeport, CT USA 03/28/02
Charles de Gaulle
Planning for the worst, I arrived at Charles de Gaulle about 2-1/2 hours early for my Wednesday afternoon Paris to Detroit Northwest Airlines flight. I did not experience ANY delays either at the NWA desk or general gate security. I was, however, subjected to every form of security including wanding, carryon bag searches both at the NWA desk and at the gate. Word of warning for CDG passengers - get a good meal before you get to the gate otherwise you'll have nibble crackers until your in-flight meal!
Grand Rapids, MI USA 03/23/02
My husband and I just returned 3/02 from a wonderful 3 weeks in Venice,Florence,5Terre and Paris. Everyone was so kind and helpful, airports ran very smoothly including Charles DeGaulle (very short lines!) We did all our air travel on weekdays which does help. My biggest tip: Hip-Replacement Surgery travellers...get an official card from your Doctor!! I set off alarms in Paris and Milan and with my card (they recognized it right away) I sailed right through. Also the Euro is great and we travelled using only ATMS (they are everywhere and so are internet cafes now). Oh, and how many times do you think we heard (from the top of the Campanile to the Eiffel Tower).."well,Rick says"...Thank you Rick!
Boston, Ma USA 03/22/02
paris no worse than any where else, but allow the full two hours--we were in line close to two hours before flight*** got to gate after plane 1/2 boarded and only because agent told us shortest security line to go through ( american) security not worse, only amount of people flying-- crowds are back even in off season--also, your arrival will be speeded up if you learn french for car return or the international symbol for same
dallas, tx USA 03/20/02
My husband and I just returned from France last week. We managed to get pulled out of every line for random checking - wanding, looking through our bags, etc. The one thing I did find odd was an older gentleman flying from France with us got stopped in Houston for having a pocket knife in his bag. I'd have to say that France is a little more lenient than the US if he managed to get it on the plane.
Phoenix, AZ USA 03/13/02
My last trip to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia in December 2001/January 2002 met with few security checks other than the ones between Austria and Hungary/Slovakia. The only holdups I had were getting back to the USA at Washington Dulles, when I had to take off my shoes to put into the xray machine. San Jose, California and Albuquerque were a bit more stringent about security, so international travel should be much less stressful in terms of security checkpoints.
Foster City, CA USA 03/09/02
post 9-11 Europe
Since September 11th, I've been in Spain, France, Gibraltar, London and Switzerland. On 9/11 I was in Algeciras Spain where that evening at an Internet cafe, I met up with an American couple in shock. Everyone we met in Algeciras, Gibraltar and Barcelona was kind and accomidating. We didn't receive any special treatment, but kind smiles from the Spanish and Gibraltar natives went a long way. The same was true months after for London and Zurich. The dearth of openly hostile anti-American graffiti everywhere was a bit troubling. In late January 2002, the people of Zurich were most helpful and welcomed us warmly. The only place I felt slightly threatened was in Paris, which in late September was at the very highest state of alert. As for airports, Zurich flughafen is a dream and Charles de Gaulle is a nightmare. Be prepared for incredible waits at CDG.
Brooklyn, NY USA 02/13/02
My family and I just came back from a 3 1/2 week trip to Europe. We traveled to London, Wales, Paris, Monte Carlo, Rome, Venice, and Florence. Not once were we treated unkindly, and the one time we were stopped, they had to check my dad (he has a metal brace on his knee). It was a very pleasant experience overall; I really don't think there is any need to have a fear of flying, if anything they should feel more safe due to all of the security they've added!
Toledo, Ohio USA 02/10/02
Being in EUROPE on 9/11
I just got back from living in Europe for 4 and a half months, since 9/3/01. it was strange to not be in the US and hear about it, as far as safety was concerned i traveled everywhere from london, amsterdam, germany, czech rep, slovakia, italy, hungary, croatia, even through bosnia and i didnt feel unsafe ONCE! i think the people of europe are just like poeple anywhere...people. point being, keep an open mind, you never know till you get there.
boulder, USA 02/09/02
travelling after 9/11
Travelling in Italy was a breeze. The biggest delays we had were in the USA. We got pegged to have our bags searched in Milwaukee, then had to check them. They got lost for 4 days! We had planned to carry them on, but since the computer flagged us, they would not allow us to carry them on the plane. When we got to Detroit, we got searched again and our 3 hour layover turned into a 9 hour layover as they tried to find a plane to take us to Amsterdam. We got searched again in Amsterdam and then when we finally arrived in Rome, no bags! We were travelling with kids. Luckily, I had packed a change of clothes for the kids in a ziplock bag that I had tossed into their backpacks. Saved us a disaster when one of them had an accident on the plane and needed to change his clothes.
On the return flights, we decided to check the bags--no more hassles.
But in Amsterdam, we got searched again and my tweezers were taken. I
had checked numerous lists of allowable take-ons and tweezers were not
excluded. We got questioned extensively about our 2 different last names--mine
and my children's is the same, but my husband's is different. But overall,
the security is okay. We found that it was somewhat bothersome and time
consuming--even overbearing. If you are polite, they are pleasant to you
in return. Being cranky does not help. We never felt unsafe in Rome.
Milwaukee, WI USA 01/27/02
Rick "cannot understand for the life" of him why people would be concerned about getting stranded in Europe.
The thought never crossed my mind until 9/11 while waiting to push off from the gate at Gatwick.
I was stranded for one week - on my own dime.
I'm not going to curtail my travels...but the idea of being stranded will be in the back of my mind - and I will be prepared for such a rare event.
Leo Schieffelin, Saratoga Springs, NY
My husband and I just returned from a three week trip to Europe.
If anyone has a specific question about the trip, I can be found at email@example.com (please no spam!)
A few things: Germans were amazingly thoughtful, caring and sympathetic about our tragedy in the U.S. More friendly than usual. There were daily pro-American rallies in Marienplatz.
Vienna is a little less friendly, but not at all scary. We were warned to vary our route and to use the alternate entrances to the hotel. We had some jeering from the paper sellers and were denied a cab there when we were trying to get back to our hotel late at night from the other side of the ring. We ended up walking which is just as well because the city is beautiful!
Venice - Our first time there. Saw NO negative American sentiment except for the usual "yankee go home" spray paint signs. Americans seemed to seek us out especially if they heard us talking on the Vaparetto. Venice is empty.
Paris - There is a lot of plain-clothed security there right now, in addition to the machine gun toting fellows.
There are quite a few problems in Paris right now... Museum workers strike, very angry Algerian protests, angry-at-American-Arab population....
One more thing... about airline travel. Do not solely rely on FAA recommendations when deciding what to pack. It seems that different airports have different rules and they are changing daily. Also, listen carefully and comply without complaint to the instructions the airport personnel give you as you stand in line for security check. Think how it is for your safety. Get to the airport early and leave plenty of time between flights if making connections.
Some things to leave at home or pack in the checked luggage:
Gas canisters for your portable curling iron, any sharp objects including nail clippers and tweezers, cork skrew, razors (any kind) and knives...
This is particularly true if you will be taking a smaller plane to connect to your overseas flight. Any plane with solely a curtain between you and the pilot equals confiscation of tweezers.
Some things we have encountered: If flying home involved a FIRST stop through Philly you will be really frustrated. After you pass through immigration you will have to collect checked baggage and the RECHECK it to your final destination AND go back through security again. They are also veeerrryyy slow. They want everything out of all pockets and watches and necklaces off. (remember the admonition not to get huffy). The bright side is that they have extremely good humor and patience with snotty passengers.
Shannan, Keys, FL
We left from Newark, N.J. airport on 09/27/01, as planned for two weeks of travel in Italy, our first trip there ever. My wife Barb, our friend Teresa, and I felt that we were safe, and we were. The trip was all that we expected, and so much more. We traveled on Italy's excellent rail system, and stayed in the hotels and guesthouses that Rick recommended. We experienced Italy from the ground up, with only the guidance of Rick's books to show us the way and our own commonsense to make the trip safe and memorable. The cities and countryside of Italy are more beautiful and alive than any book or video can describe or show. The food and wines were excellent. The people of Italy were genuinely friendly, and supportive hosts to we three first time visitors to their country. All the while the world went on its way around us, as it always will. The reports on CNN and BBC World kept us up to date on the news at home and abroad. Yes, when we landed back in Newark, N.J. airport on 10/13/01, we were happy to be back home safely in the USA with family and friends. We were glad we did travel to Italy as we had planned, and would encourage others go on with your life's plans.
Tony, Chester, Pa.
I just returned from Europe (Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Zurich) - was gone from 9-29 to 10-20. I felt safer there than in the States. Security in Paris was amazing - lesser in Italy but I never felt unsafe. If in Paris, be prepared to have your bags and backpacks searched and x-rayed at the museums. There was also tight security - armed guards, bag searches and "wands" at American Express offices in Paris and Venice. The people were extremely friendly. I am so glad I didn't postpone or cancel the trip, I would have missed out on the vacation of a lifetime!
Laura Sweet, Huntington Beach, CA
Just returned from France and italy....I must say that I did not notice that anything was going on in the US at all! I can't compare crowds as I we were there in the off season and this was my first time going...we decided to go in spite of the problems here in the US and were really glad that we did.
Wendy Weller, Saline, MI
I am an American that is currently living in France. I encourage everyone who has travel plans to Europe to go ahead with them. My father visited us last week and he was determined to make the trip. Many Americans do not realize that Europeans have lived with terrorism attacks and threats for many years. In recent years terrorist bombs have gone off in London and Paris, just to name two cities. Security in Europe tends to be better than in the U.S. The key to safe travel is to be aware and use your common sense. Americans were criticized for their foreign policy long before September 11 and will likely continue to face criticism in the future. However, you are now likely to find a shared concern among Europeans about the state of the world.
Our experience living here has been heartening -- our French neighbors who have generally kept to themselves in the past now have an interest in getting to know us. One lent us her cell phone to make free calls to the States after September 11. Travel aides our understanding of other cultures, something that is sorely needed right now. So, please, take that trip and make your visit to Europe special.
We have just returned from a two week trip to Italy. While we tried very hard to go through the "Back Door", we found that this is not the best time to do so in every city. Florence and Fiesole, for example, seem highly charged politically, with much anti-American sentiment evident. We were snubbed in local stores and restaurants in the most alarming way, until we decided to try the more standard, even touristy, establishments this time, which operated more professionally. We advise people to still go, but to be careful where they go. This hostility was new to us in all our travelling experience, and very, very alarming.
Leora Brodnick, Toluca Lake, Ca
My friend and I had just arrived in Rome on 9/11 and our first response was to return home, being the mothers we are. We couldn't, so, we were determined to make the best of this situation. Did we ever! The Italians were absolutely wonderful and we never felt safer. We e-mailed our families and told them we were fine and went on with our journey. It was the best decision and we have never regretted it and would return tomorrow in a minute!
Charlene and Betsy
I wrote previously when I was trying to decide whether to go ahead with our planned trip to Italy. I am now reporting that we took the plunge and loved being in Italy. We went on a guided tour for 10 days, then stayed in Tuscany for nearly a week on our own. More than one-fourth of those who signed up for the tour cancelled, but we who came enjoyed exceptional camraderie.
Instead of using the traditional umbrella to lead us in crowded places, our tour director, Ingrid, an Italian-German woman, used an American flag. Italians we did business with expressed sympathy for the tragedies the U.S.A. has faced, and many Canadians and Australians came up to us in public places to make a point of supporting us. It was quite moving.
When folks asked me if I was afraid to be in Italy once the U.S.A. began bombing Afghanistan, I replied that because I work a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol building, I felt safer being in Europe at that time than I would have felt sitting in my office at "ground zero."
The only down side to my travels was learning that airport security still is a joke. One of the doctors in our tour group accidentally left a scalpel in her purse, which was never detected in NYC or Frankfurt before her arrival in Rome. None of us in the tour group had our carry-on luggage inspected by hand.
For our trip, my husband and I arrived at Dulles more than three hours early, but underwent no more scrutiny than we would have received two months ago. I think that all of us who love travel should complain vigorously to our elected officials about inadequate airport security. I have yet to speak to an airline passenger who would object to more thorough searches. I feel very sorry for the persons whose incomes have been harmed by the drop in tourism, and I don't regret doing my part to help them out, but I can't unreservedly recommend traveling by air until security is improved.
Cathy of D.C.
I was glad to be on a Best of Ireland Tour Sept. 11. I have family who live near Dulles Airport and the situation around the entire Washington DC area was chaotic to say the least.
I believe sitting at home, living in fear, does more damage than any terrorist could ever hope to accomplish. If I had the money, I'd skip off to London in a second, to take advantage of the current low advertised airfares.
B.Collier, Lusby, MD
We were in Antwerp, Belgium on Sept. 11, and heard the news from an Middle Eastern shopkeeper, who was just devastated with grief for us. Everywhere we went on the rest of our cruise, once people knew we were Americans, they would come up to us, crying and would hug us. As to impact, security to return aboard the ship was tighter, and none of the crew, even British or Dutch, were allowed off for about a week.
Returning thru Seattle, I have never seen so many U.S. Customs officers. We had to show our passports four times inside the airport to get from the south satellite terminal to the north satellite terminal. While the SAS flight from Seattle to Copenhagen, pre-Sept.11 was full, the return was only 60% loaded. Same with the United Shuttle, full from LAX to SEA, maybe 45% full on the return.
As for us, this will not stop us from traveling. This country put a man on the moon, conquered polio and smallpox, and has the most open, successful society in the world. This band of irritants, like Fascism and Communism, shall pass.
Dennis Davis, Cerritos, CA
I have been in Italy since January working as a nanny. Like the rest of the world I spent 9/11 glued to the TV, and my Italian "family" was there to support me. A month later, the only people who say anything to me about 9/11 are the other Americans I run into around Rome.
It's hard being away from my family during this time, but emails and
phone calls keep me right there with them. I continue to travel around
Rome and see the sights (the Sistine Chapel was beautiful today!!), and
I don't feel that I am in any danger at all being here... that's probably
due to the increased security all around town!
Come to Europe--it's beautiful!
Nancy Pernarelli, Mammoth Lakes, CA
My husband and have lived in Mainz, Germany for 2 years now. My sister and family arrived the day of the attacks. We decided to go ahead with our plans to visit Switzerland, Italy and Austria In Staufen, Germany we stayed at a place recommended by Rick. The owner was so sad about what happened. She knew of 4 Germans on one of the planes. She would only accept 50DM for the rooms instead of the normal 80. In Italy, the owner of a resturant talked with us and expressed such sorrow.
Everyone we met, when learning we were Americans, apologized and said how sorry they were. We feel much safer here in Germany than we would at home. We traveled to Strasbourg last weekend and had no concerns.
Friday we are going to Prague. We decided we will not let THEM keep us from enjoying our lives and experiencing as much of Europe as possible. Living here has changed our views on many things. We feel we grow in a more positive direction with each trip we take. I think Europe is too wonderful to miss!
Kim, Mainz, Germany
We were scheduled to fly on September 14th but were rescheduled to September 26th. I was relieved to have that breathing space and to concentrate on monitoring the strength and fortitude of the people in New York. We did not for a moment think of cancelling. Travelling to Indonesia, we were aware that the gentle Island of Bali with its 95% Hindu population would not pose a threat. The bombing began the day we left. The local news was full of concern for Americans who lived in Indonesia but we felt safe.
Just before we left Canada I heard a succinct quote from a psychologist. "They want to change who we are,They want to change what we do, they want to gradually change how we are inside" I have had 2 emails from people in Europe who are putting their travel lives on hold until they know "where the next strike will be". I agree with Rick, that it is a big world out there and that we should be aware of safe travel at all times. We also know that there is some work to do to make air travel safer. I trust that all of this is being addressed.
The next time someone asks me if we still intend to travel I will refer them to this very web site so they can read an expert opinion (Rick) and also a cross section of how other travellers feel. My heart goes out to the victims of this new battle.
Angie Darling, Calgary, AB
I purchased my London RT ticket six months ago, so there was no way I was going to give it up when September 24 rolled around. Lots of security in London, EVERYWHERE. Brits are so kind and all on our side. Deals everywhere, restaurants, theatres, across the channel.
But I found my OHare-StLouis-London-StLouis-Chicago legs very lax in security. Not once was any of my two bags opened. Passengers left their bags to trot down to the snack-bar, while personnel around the gate continued to be nonchalant. Gatwick was still the most thorough in security.
Frank, LaSalle, IL
I am in Italy as I write this. For a few days after the terrorism I was afraid to procede with my travel plans; THANK GOD I DIDN'T!!
It is wonderful here. I am so happy I came. I don't think I've ever felt as safe flying (how strange). At the end of September I had my high school reunion (I am from Las Vegas, a tourism driven town). When I got there it was a ghost town, no tourists and more than 10,000 people had been laid off from their jobs. In the case of Las Vegas the terrorists have won, they have terrorized the average person and have caused people to lose their means of income. It is a horrible thing. Each person has to make his or her own decision whether or not to travel at this time. I encourage everyone to continue with their travel plans, don't let them win!!
After telling friends that I would not let the events of September 11th stop my travel plans, I set out for the airport 3 hours early on 9/22. I arrived at DFW at 7 in the morning and was checked in and at my gate by 7:30! Our plane was early getting into Atlanta and we had to wait for someone to come open the door. To be honest, other than airports that had a more obvious security presence, this trip wasn't any different than any others I have taken.
The people in the UK were so supportive and horrified by the terrorists acts and sitting around pubs in the evenings was a great way to talk through the events. Attending the Evensong at York Minster took on an added significance.
I always travel as a single woman and even though I accidentally ended up in Liverpool, England, rather than London Liverpool Street station one evening (I won't even try to explain that mistake), I had a wonderful adventure that ended with a weekend in Paris.
I flew home the day after the US started bombing the Taliban, and found the security at CDG to be tighter than normal, but we still left on time. Maybe I was just lucky, but I had a great and relaxing time!
Laura Battles, Oklahoma City, OK
My husband and I had a trip planned to Spain for September 21 and we decided not to let terrorists ruin our vacation. They didn't. We had a truly fabulous trip. Everything went smoothly, from planes to trains to automobiles, and the country was fascinating. We never felt unsafe, and our trip was barely affected by the events of September 11. One way in which it was affected, however, was that there were very few Americans in Spain. While this was sad, some of the effects were positive: sites and museums were not crowded, and Spanish people seemed so happy to see us - they didn't realize they'd miss the Americans until they were gone. Another way we were affected was airport security on the way home (October 8, the day after the US began airstrikes.) We were given a police escort through the airport to a special security room where every inch of our luggage was searched. We had to check anything glass or ceramic, which could be broken to produce a sharp edge. (I understood this measure at first, but it seemed silly later in light of the fact that we were served wine in glass bottles on the plane.) Finally, we made a special effort to keep up with the news and to check in regularly with our families at home to allay their concerns.
It's a personal decision whether or not you feel comfortable traveling now, and I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to take a trip they would be unable to enjoy because of their anxiety. However, for those who can manage their fear, European travel is just as enjoyable now as ever.
Amanda Goehring, New York, NY
I was just landing in Rome when the attack hit. The warmth and consolations of all the people I met made this last trip even more special. People came together and opened their hearts in many meaningful conversations. It was odd to be away from the states when this happened. But it brought a wonderful dimension of "one heart and mind" with many of the Europeans I met. I felt completely safe in Europe. The security checks coming back were fine. No one complained. The Rosa Croche (Red Cross) in Rome was helpful in helping me reach my brother who worked in the Pentagon and family members in NYC. All were safe. My strength and confidence come from the Lord. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Scriptures tell us of the times ahead, but this should give us encouragement. God is real. His Word is true and He has made a way of escape for those who put their trust in Him.
Barbara Seglie, Napa, CA
My friend, Judy, and I had just finished a wonderful lunch in Greve, Chianti Region, Italy, and were tucking into a delicious chocolate gelato, when we were stopped on the street by a fellow American and told the news of the September 11 horrors. Our informant was naturally very upset and we were anxious to get back to our apartment in Tuscany to hear what had happened. When we did, we were frustrated because we could only get CNN in Italian. However, the pictures spoke louder than words. An Irish couple staying in the next apartment came in to help us find the English channel. Our first thoughts were of home and our families, although we live on the West Coast. The Irish couple watched in amazement and were so concerned for us and sympathetic.
Each morning afterwards, as we continued our trip, it was like waking up to the reality that a terrible nightmare was true. The next day we went to Florence, where there were signs in many shop windows commiserating with our country.
It was also a time when I felt incredibly proud to be an American. Everyone expressed sympathy and concern and also shock that our powerful nation would be challenged in such a way. The eyes of the world were truly upon us, and I saw an incredible respect for our country in every face.
We didn't have reservations for the last few days of our trip, and when our Italian host in Lucca called a hotel at our next destination and asked if there was room for "two American ladies" receiving the answer, "Si, si", we felt grateful and welcome in that wonderful country.
If you are planning a European trip, my advice would be "Go!"
Sharys Wheeler, San Jose, CA
If you are going to London, I can say that my experience there was that people feel a strong support for the US (perhaps not every single policy), and that memories of US support after the Blitz in WWII are still vivid. For me the mood there was summed up in the image of a London fire engine screaming past me on a busy street, flying the British and American flags side by side on its roof. I have to admit that although I fly somewhat regularly I was quite anxious about getting on a plane as well as during the flight, which had a stopover in JFK (very somber). Once I set foot in the hotel room in London, any anxiety about being abroad vanished. Services and communications in Western Europe are at par with the US and the people are generally very friendly.
Rex, Palo Alto, CA
I was travelling in England at the time of the terrorist attacks. All
my life I will remember the overwhelming sympathy and support from the
British people. I flew home a week later, and while I was somewhat nervous
about flying, security was tighter and everything went fine. I plan on
continuing to travel. I refuse to put my life on hold. Life is full of
risks and rewards. I choose to reap the rewards rather than let the risks
scare me away.
C. Pedersen, MN
I'm a pilot for a major American airline flying routes between the New York area and Europe. Last week, while flying three-day back-to-back Brussells trips, I took my girlfriend and my 81-year old mother with me on the first trip and left them there while I returned to New York. They had a wonderful time, travelling around Brussels and Brugge and when I returned on the second trip I accompanied them back to Brugge for a wonderful day of sightseeing.
I'm glad I still have the opportunity to travel and to give my mother this gift of time in Europe, her first. If you have plans to travel, do so. Europe is as marvelous as ever.
Keith Thompson, North Yarmouth, ME
I was in Cinque Terre, Italy at the time of the attack on Sept. 11th. I went into a bar and noticed everyone staring at the TV which had CNN news reporting from New York minutes after the 1st attack. I couldn't tell the difference between the locals and the Americans since they both had the same, dazed expression on their faces. I felt comforted by the locals from seeing their sympathetic expressions and how they treated me so kindly. Although many locals didn't speak a lot of English, they didn't need to for me to understand how much they care for Americans. It was like that all over Europe(Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy) in the proceeding 3 weeks that I travelled there. It was heart warming to also see a big line at a square in Munich, Germany where the locals were waiting to sign a sympathy card for New York and send their gift of a cross of roses along with money. I'm not sure if Europeans are always that friendly, but I can tell you that every European was very nice to me and treated me like a friend.
I felt very safe in Europe the entire time I was there from Sept. 1st to Oct. 1st. I walked the streets late at night by myself and had no problems. Even though I had never been to Europe prior to this trip, I could sense that security was beefed up. It seemed as if there was a police officer on every corner of a block in Rome! If you are doubting whether or not to go to Europe, I would definitely say, 'GO NOW!'.
Brian Casey, Vancouver, WA
We had a 3 week trip planned for Spain and France in September. Leaving on the 14th. After the 11th we weren't sure what we were going to do. The day before we decided to cancel, but then went this web site and read Rick's comments on still going on with your travel plans. I am so glad we did. We went to the airport 7 hours early and got to Barcelona a little late but happy. We spent 3 wonderful weeks traveling around. Everyone was very sympathetic and supportive. We had many French stop and ask if we were American and tell us how sorry they were. The trip was great, not as many tourist as normal. We never had to wait in lines to get in museums or castles. And it made you realize how little you had paid attention to other terrorist attacks around the world, and to remember to not just think about how sorry you are for them, but acctually stop them and tell them when you see or hear them. It made us feel good and humbled that so many people cared and wanted to tell us so. All I can say is TRAVEL! Don't stay home, we had the best time.
Dawn Carpenter, Bellingham, WA
We were with other Americans on a river boat on the Danube on September 11, and continued on to Vienna for a four day stay. Flags there were flown at half staff, Austrian government buildings flew black banners, and there were a few minutes of silence everywhere on that memorial Friday. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra played a long-scheduled concert in the Musikverein that Saturday night.
An Austrian official addressed the audience in German, and then turned to the orchestra and, in English, expressed sympathy and thanked them for appearing as scheduled.
We never felt ourselves to be in any danger, although there was a great deal of uncertainty about our flights home.
We reacted differently than most of your readers. It was a terrible feeling to be so far from home during this crisis, even though our own family was safe. It was difficult to let loose and enjoy ourselves, knowing of the terrible loss of life in the U.S., and the suffering that the families of those killed were enduring.
Perhaps because we are seniors and have travelled in Europe many times, we will not mind postponing future travel until times are more settled. Believe me - we felt very sad and unhappy being so far away. It was an emotional response, made more so because the events of the 11th were so shocking and unexpected.
So much really does depend on your own individual reactions. Not everyone can say, damn the torpedos - full speed ahead!
Rita Weinberg, Santa Barbara, CA
My wife and I were just arriving into Venice from the Cinque Terre when we saw the news in our hotel lobby. The look on the face of our concierge was one I'll never forget. Quite unreal. My first thought as I saw the TV out of the corner of my eye was that there was another Israeli or Palestinian bombing...boy was I wrong.
It was strange being away from home during that time. We felt very removed from it all, which made it almost more unreal and unimagineable. The perspective of the Europeans was very interesting. While they were completely with us and supportive, they defintely came from a different point of view. Our concierge noted that we should not jump to conclusions like we had in the past on who was responsible (Oklahoma City - American, and the TWA flight in NY was a malfunction). We also met a couple from London that noted that they have had so many and such regular terrorist attacks, they almost are numb to it.
We had a wonderful time on the rest of our trip as we were able to be at Notre Dame in Paris on Friday at noon for the moment of silence. Very powerful. And, amazingly, we were able to make our scheduled flight home! We actually got into Seattle 15 minutes early.
Kory Smith, Kirkland, WA
I had been planning my trip with Rick Steves tour group since February and then the events of September 11 happened. I was stunned at what happened and immediately thought I should cancel the trip. I contacted the tour desk and they gave me my options and I sat back and thought about it.
I spoke to individuals that traveled Europe and one person that was in Italy during the Gulf War. The consensus was the same. "Go" they all told me. My gut feeling was the same but, of course, my family was trying to talk me out of going. I didn't want terrorists to take away the freedom we had.
I did go on the 21 day tour and I have to say it was the best experience of my life. The heartfelt sympathy of those in Holland, Italy and Germany were strong. If I would have let my fear lead my life, I wouldn't have met the wonderful friends that I made on the trip.
If you are thinking about canceling, don't. You won't regret it, but you'll be talking about the wonderful experiences that took place during your European adventure.
Tricia, Tempe, AZ
My husband and I were halfway through a trip in Greece on September 11. We were waiting for a ferry to Santorini when the images of the first WTC tower fire was broadcast on Greek TV. It took a day or so before we located an English paper and were able to log onto email at an Internet cafe to really understand the full-scope of the tragic events. But once we were able to check in with loved ones, we were determined to make the best of the remaining vacation. The images of the WTC towers crumbling were never far from our thoughts, and in a way, evoked a commitment to make the most of the remaining trip. We felt that we needed to continue with the trip and enjoy it, in a way for the victims that will never have the opportunity to see Greece for themselves. The events of September 11 have thought us to make the most of every day we have and the life we were given, and for us, traveling in a big part of it. And as many have said before, we felt safer than ever on the return flight home on September 18.
Michele Cos, San Francisco, CA
I made the decision to go ahead with my travel plans, in spite of my family's concern for my safety, to the UK to visit my fiancé. I felt selfish for worrying my family and friends, but also felt it was a "safe" time to fly.
Now that I am safely home, I can say it was well worth it, but my experiences were not "business as usual" and I would caution any fearful or first time European travelers that they will see some things we Americans are not used to seeing in airports. Which some travelers are finding disconcerting. Heavily armed guards and bomb squads roaming European airports are nothing new, but their numbers have doubled (or more) so be prepared to see very heavy artillery at the airport.
Expect delays and deal with them graciously. Airline personnel are understandably tired and stressed, their patience is wearing thin, and we passengers, especially Americans, should be understanding and flexible should our travel plans be changed on us without warning. My return flight was not only cancelled, but the carrier stopped servicing my airport entirely, indefinitely. Two stand-by waits and 8 hours later, I was on a flight back to O'Hare. If you are impatient with lines at airports, security agents looking through your bags, your Palm Pilot, your cell phone, etc., or if these experiences raise your temper, PLEASE STAY HOME!!
I will also caution anyone traveling to the Scottish highlands: The area is used as training ground for British and American fighter planes. You will be reminded of the war by F15's and F16's searing through the air.
In spite of all this, I am very glad I continued on with my travel plans, though I do regret the worry I put my family through. Though now that I am home "safe" my family is glad I went. I would love to tell everyone: GO! TRAVEL! But I realize traveling now might not be for everyone.
lrc, Chicago, IL
After September 11th, I didn´t believe it would be possible for me to travel to Europe and participate in a study abroad program. Boy, was I wrong! I am in Seville, Spain right now, and have been since September 27th. The country is beautiful, and the people patient and friendly. Any fears I had have been dispelled by the understanding people here. What Rick Steves said was right - traveling is the best way to gain understanding of the world we live in. I whole-heartedly agree. I am going to enjoy my time here in Spain, and look forward to traveling later on to Paris, Rome, and London. We live in a beautiful world, and we must appreciate it as much as possible.
John Manwaring, Littleton, CO
My new wife and I were celebrating our honeymoon in Villefranche-sur-mer, on September 11th. Around 4pm on the 11th, we were actually trying to call our travel agent to find out if we could extend our trip a day or two more.
We could not get through to the US and asked the front desk if they could call for us. They told us that there was a hijacking and that we should turn on CNN. It was surreal - we were in this beautiful fishing village in the south of France and while watching the destruction that was happening in NY. It was hard to enjoy the next couple of days, but the French people were very supportive and sympathetic.
We got our extra two days, plus five more. With all the extra time we visited St Paul Vence and then decided to spend a week in St Tropez (which I couldn't recommend more)! In all, we had three weeks of great food; cities and people that really made us feel good.
Jim, Chicago, Il
I have just come back from 2 months in Europe. My husband has been in Germany since July. While I was over there we planned to go on a two week whirlwind tour of Europe. Just 4 days before we were scheduled to leave the attack happened. Yes it was shocking and I couldn't believe our country was under attack.
I, like many others, felt helpless. I tried to call home, but there were no lines available. Thank goodness for CNN. That and the BBC were the only English speaking stations we received at the hotel. I think what effected me more was the outpouring of kindness we received from all the German people. The hotel immediately posted the phone number of the American Embassy in Berlin along with a note of condolence. A church close to the hotel which was closed for renovations opened up its doors for all to enter. They set up a memorial and had their organ player there for several days afterwards.
My husband came back from work a couple of days later and said he was impressed with all his German co-workers responses. They had a ten minute silence for the tragedy. When it came out that some of the terrorists had German ties, they felt horrible. There were so many little things that happened that made me realize that there are more good people in this world than bad.
We took our tour of Europe with no problems.
My husband and I debated whether or not we would go to Europe as planned on September 21st. We decided to go after all and found Europeans (we went to Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and France) to be extremely supportive and caring towards Americans.
My husband purchased two ice axes (for mountain climbing) in Chamonix and was personally escorted through Charles DeGaulle airport - security was tight but very efficient! I would recommend anyone planning a trip to Europe to go ahead and take the trip - just be smart, maintain a low profile and be aware of what is going on around you.
Joni and Rob, Bellevue, WA
I am just back from a great tour of Europe. No problems at all! Rick you are so right that the people in the European tourist industry want us to have a safe trip!
Expect LONG delays, not in Europe, but in the US! The Europeans know how to handle security and make sure to have enough people on duty to make the process efficient. It was only in the US that I experienced long lines waiting for processing because there were not enough people working!
Travelers should also expect to see heavily armed soldiers throughout Europe in airports and train stations.
My wife, 9 month old baby, and I live in Brussels, Belgium. We are Americans who have been living here for over a year now. During the past year we have travelled all over Europe for both business and pleasure. Two days after the September 11th tragedy, I flew to Stockholm and since then we have travelled to the Loire valley in France, The Rhine valley in Germany, Rome, and we leave tomorrow for Prague.
Immediately following the tragedies, we felt very helpless being in Europe during such trying times for America. We also felt fear of being targeted because we are Americans. However, that fear quickly subsided and we continued our travelling. It would have been easy to have cancelled all of our trips and hidden inside of our home for fear, but that would be doing exactly what these cowardly terrorists want for us to do. Instead, we have embraced our freedom of mobility. All of the Europeans that we have contacted have expressed their sorrow about the tragedies and their resolve to stand against terrorism. If you travel here, you will be welcomed.
If you are considering travelling to Europe, please do not hesitate. There are so many wonderful people and places to see. The diversity is incredible! Do not let the terrorist win by controlling your life. Instead be free and experience life! Show the terrorists that we are loving and caring people who will not give in to thier actions. Enjoy!
Ben and Michelle, Belgium
My husband, myself and our two children are Americans living in Frankfurt, Germany on a three year assignment with my husband's employer. Obviously the most intriguing aspect of living abroad, in addition to learning about a different culture, was knowing that we would have so many wonderful opportunities to travel throughout Europe during our stay. Having just arrived this past June, we'd made many travel plans for this fall. When the terrorist attacks occured on September 11th, I admit, we were concerned about travelling. However, since that time we've decided that we will continue to travel and have been throughout Germany, to Salzburg, Austria and Rome. Yes, security measures are more visible on the streets and in the airports and yes, there are fewer Americans in the crowds. We use common sense and attempt to maintain a level of "alertness" that we probably never did before, but everything else seems normal and very enjoyable. Our European "friends" are quick to offer their sympathy and condolences re: the attacks and the support we feel as Americans is amazing. I just wanted to share this in hopes that it will alleviate some of the concerns anyone may be having. Thanks.
Gail M. Steih, Frankfurt, Germany
My wife and I just returned from two weeks in Spain and Portugal (Sept. 21-Oct. 6). We made three flights within Iberia and also traveled by train and rental car. We felt safe during the entire trip and found airport security very tight, much to our delight.
You do need to plan for additional time at airports. The Lisbon airport would not allow anyone into the terminal without a ticket and this created a huge crowd and a delay at the entrance. When leaving Madrid for our return to the U.S., we were directed to a specific security area and asked to empty our bags for a detailed check. After boarding our plane, we were all asked to return to the terminal and go through security again.
There is no reason to cancel your trip to Europe. Enjoy!
Mark Potter, Lenexa, KS
Well, I am already here! I am currently in Ronda, Spain and have just heard about the American attacks on Afghanistan.
While this is a little bit unsettling, the people here go on about their lives as you or I would. Most everyone has been friendly and helpful, which is a comfort since I am travelling solo.
My advice to any of you who are travelling or thinking of travelling: Go and enjoy yourself!
Matt Fangman, Austin, TX
My girfriend and I left for Europe on September 6. After arrival in Zurich we drove to Croatia for a week long journey down the Dalmatian Coast. We arrived in Split at 7:00 PM on September 11. We proceeded to the tourist bureau to book a hotel room. The man behind the counter asked if we were Americans. With his limited English he told us about the attacks. He was kind enough to get us a room that recieved CNN. We sat in front of the TV in thinking we were watching a bad Bruce Willis movie. My first thought was to cancel the remainder of the trip but soon learned that we could not get home. We then felt it was best to continue. Everyone in Croatia was wonderful to us. People from several countries told us how sorry they were. On Friday, September 14 all Croatian flags were at half staff. In Montenegro a waiter wasn almost in tears when he offered his condolences. After taking the ferry from Bar, Montenegro to Bari, Italy we spent most of the next week on the Amalfi Coast. While photographing people leaving a wedding in Ravello a woman came up to me, took my hand and offered her support. We arrived at the Zurich airport 3 1/2 hours prior to departure. Security was definitely tight but not too different then what we have experienced on previous trips. By all means take that trip that you are planning. Show the terrorists that they can't win.
Gary Miller, Frisco, TX
My husband and I returned from a 25 day trip to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Chamonix, France. We were in Salzburg on the day of the attack and the next few days were very difficult. We had two teenagers at home and there was an overwhelming desire to be with them. Of course, that was not even an option since all airports were closed. We made the decision to finish the last 2 1/2 weeks of our trip, and we are very glad we did.
Fear is a strong emotion, but it should not dominate when making decisions. The airports have many security measures in place and I believe air travel is still the safest transportation available.
You did need to be prepared. Flying is work. Allow plenty of time and bring your patience and understanding. Towards the end of our trip, we started meeting up with Americans (including a Rick Steves Tour group) who had flown over since the attack. We all agreed that not allowing terrorism and fear control our actions was a wise decision. We should not feel guilty for continuing to live our lives. Returning to normal (or as close to it as we can get) is the best thing we can do right now, spiritually, emotionally, and financially. Travel is a huge part of our country's economy.
We would like to encourage everyone to continue with their plans to travel. Just remember to be a good ambassador for our country. Staying home will change nothing-going could help a laid off worker return to their job and add wonderful memories to your life. Although we were traveling during the most difficult days of September, we still came home with wonderful memories and a desire to get back over there as soon as we can afford it.
Connie A., Bothell, WA
Having been in Paris during the attacks, and realizing that if we didn't continue on with our vacation that terrorism would take one more thing from me, I can only say:"GO ON YOUR VACATION!!!" The Europeans have 1) Excellent security; 2) They are our allies, therefore if a major war breaks out you are safe; 3) The people are wonderful and want nothing but to see our American spirit continue- (We had a family from Ireland beg us not to change, that they looked to America for hope for their own freedom and peace); and lastly 4) Travel brings people together, and what more effective tool against terrorism than to learn about our differences and become friends anyway.
Cara Alferness, Olalla, WA
I was in Paris when the attacks happened. At first we were scared of what this would mean for Americans who were overseas. Then realized that we were safer there than at home. We flew to Dublin the next day. In Dublin we saw an outpouring of love for our country by these people. The Irish have experienced terrorism so many times and there were many Irish lost in the attacks in the USA. I was so impressed that on the day the world remembered those lost, Friday, September 14th, that the Irish closed the entire country. Schools, shopping areas, resturants and all other things were closed that day. I was amazed that another country had this much respect for us.
I encourage anyone to travel. If we do not we are letting them win by putting that terror in us. In my opinion, Europe loves us more than ever.
Christi Scherer, Spartanburg, SC