Friday the 13th is a strange enough day as it is, with black cats, evil and ominous warnings etc hanging over the meaning of this otherwise meaningless day. With the recent events of this year, however, in Paris, we found it unsettling that our normally quaint and safe city of lights was attacked in such a brutal way.
This fear was reflected in tour bookings, we could see people decided to cancel their bookings for walking tours and , and avoid going out in the usually vibrant city streets of Paris.
Then sadly, only a week later, we discovered the identities of the terrorist and found that they planned to do the same in Brussels. I have to admit, even our staff was panicked a bit and hesitated to continue giving tours in Amstedam, Paris and Brussels during this time as it creates a lot of stress fear and panic
Stress, Fear, and Panic. I can’t even imagine that I’m using these words to describe my adopted home here in Western Europe.
After watching the news reports, and finding out about ISIS, I discovered this is exactly what they want us to feel. Shock , pain, terror, and moreover avoid living our lives in these magnificent places. If you are like me and you’ve visited these cities before, you know they are normally safe and sound when it comes down to terrorist attacks, and believe it or not, but Paris and Brussels are coming back to normal, and coming back to life.
In the last two weeks I took a group through Amsterdam and Brussels on the way to Luxembourg, and had several friends stay in Paris from the United States over the weekend, and they gave me their opinion, and I will tell you what I could see with my own eyes.
Amsterdam was completely normal, was able to give a walking tour with groups to coffeeshops and various places like the Royal Palace on the Dam with light military presence
Luxembourg was fine, as if there was more life in the city streets and Christmas markets , with of course military presence carrying machine guns on the streets. The residents weren’t bothered, and it made me as a tourist feel alot more comfortable. I will add an entry detailing my experience in Luxembourg and also we will start taking tours there!
Brussels was a ghost town, with the exception of some brave people and tour guides strolling around. I saw police men carrying machine guns ( which to be honest I’ve seen this before) and shop owners at various pastry shops, and restaurants with empty terraces , were telling me to tell the people who come on our tours and follow our website the following statements,
“Brussels is safe, and We miss our tourists”
Paris ( see below)
After a few days in Luxembourg, I drove back through Brussels and saw the city was slowly yet surely coming back to life. Like a flower budding cautiously towards the sun, people sure enough were returning to the streets, eating in cafes, and even going to bars and drinking. I added some pictures for proof, however, Paris ( from my American friends point of view) already was starting to get back to normal. The streets of Paris were hustled and bustled with again a heavy military presence, and it hit me, THIS is the key.
The longer we hide in the shadows, the longer we allow Isis to scare us, the quicker they reach their agenda. I spent a wonderful time in Brussels, and Luxembourg and will make my way back to Paris in the coming weeks. We are still giving tours with group sales starting to rebound, and we are still telling Isis or any other group that hates our freedom and way of life that we are NOT afraid.
President Holland said
With all events come learning, and Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, and Amsterdam have now taken the necessary precautions to make their cities safe again in the coming months, so Isis (DAESH) will never be able to attack us in such a surprising way again. Just the same way the United States increased security measures after 9/11, the same way the United States reached new levels of solidarity, we are reaching for a new way to safe guard our happiness and ensure your freedom. So have a look, at some previous pictures of me visiting Brussels and current Brussels through our eyes and friends. We have life, and we will continue to have life in the face of all those who hate it.
Come on a walking tour, safe guarded by our tour guides, and also the French, Belgium and Luxembourgeois military and experience a safer, and still enjoyable time in our four cities Sending love and solidarity to France, Belgium Luxembourg, and the Netherlands
Brussels November 2015
Back to Normal!