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Spain's Anti-tourism Riots

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by BROWNCOUNTYBOB, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Hope none of this spreads to the Camino Frances ! Bob

    Spain's tourism riots: Protests by anti-tourism activists hit Brits on holiday in Majorca

    BRITISH holidaymakers in Majorca are being swept up in angry anti-tourism demonstrations.
    By Belinda Robinson
    PUBLISHED: 10:41, Sun, Aug 6, 2017 | UPDATED: 16:46, Sun, Aug 6, 2017

    [​IMG]
    48
    [​IMG]Twitter

    Holidaymakers in Majorca are being swept up in angry anti-tourism demonstrations
    Radicals carrying flare guns and yelling “go home” targeted diners at a Marina restaurant in Palma.

    Video emerged of the incident in which masked activists set off flares outside the restaurant full of tourists on the island of Palma de Majorca.


    They also set off smoke flares over luxury yachts before running through the restaurant throwing confetti over diners.
    The attack was condemned by the Spanish prime minister.

    Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy intervened this week after the anti-tourist anger turned physical.

    Mr Rajoy described the activists as "extremists going against common sense".

    The campaign group behind the attack, Arran Països Catalans, have carried out similar protests throughout Spain, in Barcelona, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands over the past two weeks.

    [​IMG]Solarpix

    Activists targeted tourists on a bus in Barcelona
    Arran, the youth wing of the CUP - an anti-Capitalist party - is the junior coalition partner in the Catalan government.

    They first descended on frightened tourists in Barcelona and now the protests are spreading to Majorca.

    However, the Spanish authorities are worried that the protests are increasingly targeting hotspots popular with British tourists.

    Spain has had more than 36 million international visitors so far this year. And tourism represents 11 percent of GDP for the Spanish economy.

    [​IMG]Solarpix

    Protesters daubed grafitti on a bus in Barcelona
    Visitors to Spain jumped 12 percent in the first half of 2017 to 36.4 million.

    Britain is the biggest source of overseas tourists in Spain. The most visited region is Catalonia.

    Eyewitnesses to the violence in Barcelona said that five star hotels in the city had their windows broken and rental bikes had their tyres slashed.

    One incident left tourists on a bus in Barcelona, particularly scared after they surrounded them carrying flares and daubed grafitti on the bus.
     
  2. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    This would be terrible news for Pilgrims walking one of The Cami San Juan Routes as these both start at Montserrat which is just outside Barcelona – And there does appear to have been quite a lot of disruption at Barcelona Airport :-(

    But – Once on “The Way” I don’t think that these strikes will adversely affect anyone’s pilgrimages as Spaniards don’t consider pilgrims as tourists – Well not in the normal sense of the word.

    But – Getting to the trailheads and then getting back home again at the end of a Camino could well become problematic while these strikes are still taking place.

    Best Regards

    Rob
     
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  3. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    Damn, just when I thought that all was nice in Spain.
     
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  4. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Bob

    I think you have to read these reports in the current context. The newspaper reporting on these "riots" is a very right wing and anti-European paper. In the context of Brexit there is a narrative developing amongst the right wing British press that "Europe hates us" and everything European is chaotic. These papers pander to a particular readership (have a look at the BTL comments).

    There was quite a bit of coverage in such papers over the last couple of weeks of chaos at European airports and their security checks when it was just the usual summer rush. Many people were posting that they had encountered little or no queues contrary to what was being reported. I myself encountered significant security queuing at Manchester airport earlier this year but I just accepted it as normal for air-travel these days.

    With regard to the strikes and the claim that staff were "deliberately causing queues", I would expect that anyone undertaking such action would hope for it to have an impact. We might not like that impacting on us personally but to suggest it is some great conspiracy is utter rubbish.

    I'm not saying there haven't been some isolated incidents and I acknowledge that the exploitation of tourism has caused some environmental damage in certain areas of the Spanish coast (and we already hear complaints on this forum about how overcrowded the CF is) but these reports are being written with a particular slant in mind.

    The fact is I'm sure some locals are not happy with the thousands of tourists or peregrinos who clog up their beaches or local roads each year but I'm sure the vast majority of Spanish people recognise the value to the local economy and will continue to welcome them.

    I would not let these reports worry me in the least or change any of my plans.

    Buen Camino

    Greg

    PS Here is a far more balanced report on the same story from the BBC
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40826257
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
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  5. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    One further thought, I've seen on this and other forums, and to some extent have experienced it myself, discussions around the less welcome behaviour of certain peregrinos. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we are guests in another country and that for much of the Camino we are walking close to or indeed on private land. I have seen some "pilgrims" behaving inappropriately (entering onto private land and leaving behind detritus and rubbish that shouldn't be left behind etc).

    We know that there are several thousand people walking the Camino each year. This already has an environmental impact even if everyone behaves appropriately. As numbers increase year on year, if pilgrims or walkers decide to disregard their duty to take care of the environment in which they walk the risk to the Camino will increase.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
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  6. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Greg - An excellent point! Whether we are walking a Camino or traveling in some other part of the world, we do need to remember that we are guests in the country that we are visiting. I live in a part of the States that depends on tourism. It's a bit of a two edged sword. We depend on tourism for the quality of life this community has and the great services it is able to offer those visiting the area. However, folks spending time here need to remember that this is our home and with that offer the people and property the same respect that they would expect from someone visiting where they live. It's a simple idea, but unfortunately, it's not always remembered. Buen Camino!
     
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  7. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Greg, thanks for offering your insight regarding this matter. At no point did my wife or I experience any harsh words or behaviors during our last camino. Both of us studied Spanish in college, so we tried to speak with locals whenever we could in their language and this was always returned with kindness. We were a bit surprised at all the graffiti we saw along the camino, but some of this was quite artful.

    Before I retired, I travelled extensively to foreign countries - some of which are known for crime and violence, such as Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Russia, etc. None of us know when a violent event will take place. We just keep our eyes open and stay away from any large crowds or protests. I'm more concerned about the potential for accidents walking on roads or very close to motorways.

    Bob
     
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  8. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the clarification about newspapers and their orientation in other lands. Here in the US I get almost no information as to the political leaning of non-US papers. Here I have a chance.
     
  9. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Bob

    We had exactly the same experience on our Caminos with locals going out of their way to be helpful.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
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  10. Galloglaigh

    Galloglaigh Member

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    I'll second Greg's comments about papers have their own slant. My Galician relatives would be shocked at the thought of insulting tourists and having travelled through the Basque country only a few months ago, it appears to be an isolated incident.

    There were some incidents in the UK a few years ago where holiday cottages were set on fire but never came to anything. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/8408447.stm

    Just book your Camino and enjoy Spain - which has a lot to offer.
     
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  11. Paul McGranaghan

    Paul McGranaghan Member

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    Well said.
    I think that as the Camino grows in popularity tourist operators will begin to see its potential as a cheap 'package holiday' for those wishing to have a hiking holiday. That might even be happening already, but as numbers grow I think the problems you mention will get worse and the cynical onlooker will just draw the conclusion that there are no pilgrims, only 'tourigrinos' [as I saw written over a billboard advertising a plush hostel]. It will be a sad day if that happens, but the only ones who can stop it are those genuine pilgrims who seek to create a good impression.
    As for the 'riots' - I have seen a lot of anti-tourist graffiti in Barcelona in the past, and Venice seems to be another place that is getting fed up with masses of selfie-taking people - but their ire is hardly directed against the Camino. The important thing is exactly as you say: to remember that being a guest in another's country comes with responsibilities.
    I hope these demos don't discourage would-be pilgrims, but every cloud has a silver lining and I hope these demos serve to remind us about the kind of impact we can have if we don't think about what we are doing.
     
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  12. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Paul - Unfortunately, I believe the day of the "tourigrino" is already upon us. It's easy enough to Google the Camino de Santiago and find any number of tour operators offering all types of tours some with pretty steep price tags. But alas, isn't it the same everywhere when an event or activity gains in such popularity? One can no longer walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu without being part of an organized tour group booked months in advance. Fortunately, the CF hasn't become that commercialized, but the number of hikers seems to be growing even in non-Holy years. There were times last year on the CF that I though I was on a pilgrim expressway at rush hour due to the number of people.

    I know it's been suggested here before, but perhaps the answer is to walk a different, less well-known Camino. Walking the Portugués this past spring was no less a Camino experience than what I experienced on the CF. In fact, and this is partly because we walked it early in the season, we often had the trail to ourselves and were able to enjoy the serenity and grace not always available on more popular routes. My wife was so impressed by the quality of our experience that we'll be taking on the Inglés next spring hopefully with a similar positive outcome. As much as I enjoyed walking the CF, I'll be looking for other routes to walk before returning to SJPP. Buen Camino!
     
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  13. Paul McGranaghan

    Paul McGranaghan Member

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    I know what you mean - here in Ireland there is a holy site called Skellig Michael, where ancient contemplative monks used to live [a bit like the Desert Fathers but on an island]. It had always been revered for its place, not only in Irish history, but in Christianity in general. Recently though, a 'Star Wars' movie was filmed there and now there are droves of tourists coming to take selfies at 'Luke Skywalker's house'. I was talking about this with a friend the other day and actually used the phrase "it's heart-breaking" because it is really so sad to see the tradition of such places being thrown out the window to make room for tourist money :( I know there are still people going there because of its original importance but they are now the minority and their experience of being out on the island must be so different in the company of all those tourists than it would have been in the past when it would only have been them, a few like-minded others, and the sea-birds. Now there are constant [and expensive] ferries going back and forth.
    I don't really know if there is a 'cure' for this. It would be different if they WERE all going owing to an interest in the heritage of the place - that is why I can appreciate the high numbers of pilgrims on the Camino last [Jubilee] year, and the high numbers arriving off the Portuguese Camino to Fátima this year [the Centenary]. It might be crowded, but I think the reason is understandable. But, like you mention, numbers seem to be growing anyway - a boon, no doubt to enterprising cafe owners and hostel owners - but will there be new problems with litter, graffiti, 'ersatz toilets', grape-stealing [all of which already exist in small doses]?
    It would be a crying shame if the Camino wound up like your description of Machu Picchu. In my mind I have already decided that my next Camino will be something like the Del Salvador or Mozárabe, partly because I would like to walk another Camino but also, as snooty as it might sound, to avoid the crowds.
    I just want to add that, as posted above, I hope all this talk of crowds and tourists does not put people off - conscientious pilgrims will always find a warm welcome on the Camino, I'm sure!
     
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  14. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Paul

    Couldn't agree more. I understand completely that people would want to visit a place made famous in a movie but you have to fear for places like Skellig Michael particularly when you read of the damage being done on the island in such a short time. There is a growing debate around tourism in remote areas and the fact that so many once inaccessible places are becoming accessible and the potential for environmental damage. I have to say I don't know what the answer is.

    For my small part I try to be conscious that in walking my Camino I don't damage the environment by littering etc and by respecting the boundaries of the Camino. I think I remember a really good thread on here which discussed such things and the "pack it in - pack it out" philosophy. Someone also posted a piece on the need to avoid walking on the margins of the road to avoid damage to the grass verge.

    One of the things I had previously remarked on was the lack of public bins along the Camino. This year on holiday in North Florida I had a chance to discuss the same topic with the chief of the forest service for the state parks around Destin. I had remarked that while walking along the beaches around Grayton State Park Reserve we had picked up quite a bit of litter but found no bins to put it in. His view was that he wanted visitors to the park to take whatever they brought with them home with them again (pack it in and pack it out). The funny thing was we saw more litter around those areas outside the park which had bins than on the beach in the park where there were none so it so it looks like he is right, at least in that instance.

    I too will look to walk other Caminos but for now I want to complete the CF first.

    Buen Camino all

    Greg
     
  15. Paul McGranaghan

    Paul McGranaghan Member

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  16. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Yes Paul

    I had seen this report too but I think it's a bit tongue in cheek. Although as I said above I do have some sympathy for their point of view given what I've seen along the way. There is a real danger that some will see the Camino as a cheap holiday and some may forget we are guests in a beautiful and civilised part of the world of which the local people are rightly proud and who do not want to see it ruined.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  17. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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  18. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Just reported on Fox News:

    Spanish police said several people were injured after a vehicle rammed into a crowd in a tourist area of Barcelona.
     
  19. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Posted this morning on a travel advisory:

    Spain: Barcelona: Continue to stand fast in secure locations following fatal van-ramming attack (Revised)

    Level: Special Advisory

    Location: Barcelona - Spain

    Category: Police security operation, Terror attack, Shooting, Road disruption, Rail disruption

    Last Updated: 17 Aug 2017 21:17 GMT

    Members in Barcelona (Catalonia autonomous community) should continue to stand fast in secure locations following a van-ramming incident that took place at Placa de Catalunya on Las Ramblas at around 17.05 (local time) on 17 August. At least 13 people were killed and around 100 others injured in the incident, which the authorities have confirmed a terrorist attack. The attack occurred as an unidentified individual drove a van into a crowd in the area and subsequently ran away from the scene. The police arrested the driver and another suspect around two and a half hours after the attack. Separately, the police shot and killed a man who attempted to drive his vehicle into a checkpoint on Avenida Diagonal. At least two officers were injured in the ramming incident, and it is unclear whether this incident was connected to the attack at Placa de Catalunya.

    ADVICE

    Continue to stand fast in secure locations until the situation stabilises.
    • If you are in the vicinity of Placa de Catalunya, La Ramblas, Avenue Diagonal and the adjoining areas, stay away from street-facing windows and remain in secure spaces.
    • Expect a heightened security force presence and associated disruption across Barcelona in the coming hours. Follow all directives issued by the authorities
    • Liaise with the authorities for information on injured parties. A dedicated line has been set up by authorities: +34932142124 and for relative of those that could be affected: +34900400012.
    • Monitor our alerts on Spain for further updates
    MORE DETAIL

    Reports of a hostage situation that emerged shortly after the van-ramming attack on Placa de Catalunya have now been confirmed to be false.

    Las Ramblas and nearby areas remain cordoned off, while metro and train stations, including Paral-lel, Drassanes, Liceu, Catalunya and Passeig de Gracia, have also reportedly been closed. Security operations are ongoing in the city. The extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the van-ramming attack. A second van believed to be linked to the one used in the attack in Barcelona was found abandoned in Vic (Catalonia), approximately 43 miles (70km) north of Barcelona.
     
  20. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Bob

    It's very sad and my prayers go out to all those who died or were injured and their families. As Barcelona is such a tourist magnet this attack and the other in Cambrils will impact across the world.

    It was wonderful this morning to hear the people in Barcelona chant "we are not afraid". That's the message that must go out to all terrorists whether in Barcelona, London, Manchester, Paris or Charlottesville. We will continue to live our lives, to love and respect others and embrace our differences.

    This year I will make my Camino a prayer for peace and reconciliation.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  21. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Greg, thanks for your thoughtful posting. Yes, very sad. How many people got up yesterday morning to take a simple stroll on Las Ramblas, then this frightful act of terrorism took place? I've visited Barcelona several times and walked Las Ramblas. This tragedy could happen to any of us. The camino allows us to leave the hate, stress and fear behind us and to engage in developing new friendships and positive thoughts and conversations - something I will strive to do very soon. Bob
     
  22. Paul McGranaghan

    Paul McGranaghan Member

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    Awful news and, as with many others, my thoughts and prayers have been with the victims of this and the other similar atrocities that have happened. It would appear that there was a bomb plot too. Horrifying.
     
  23. Paul177

    Paul177 New Member

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    These protests along with the terrorism in Barcelona have put a real damper on our plan to do the Camino this fall. In fact, my wife is so worried that I believe we will have to cancel the trip. We had planned to go to Barcelona then take train/bus to join the Camino Frances but we have no intention of mixing it up with people who don't want us there. Too bad....I always liked Spain, and was looking forward to our first Camino. I believe we will stay away from Europe for the foreseeable future.
     
  24. Paul McGranaghan

    Paul McGranaghan Member

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    That's sad to hear - but understandable. I think the protests are more about things like Air B&B hiking up rents rather than the Camino, and even the 'protest' in logrono was nonsense. Besides, that has always been a feature of Barcelona. Some of the anti-tourist graffiti up around Park Guell has been there forever. I genuinely don't think the 'tourist protests' are going to impact upon the Camino.

    I don't think the terrorist atrocities will either, but it's certainly worrying. Personally I have been to many of the places that have been struck [Manchester Arena, Las Ramblas, the market in Berlin, Bourough Market], but these have all been city centre places and not the more rural by-ways of the Camino. Things like the Barcelona atrocity are not totally new to Spain considering the long ETA campaign that has only recently ended, but the Camino carried on regardless.

    Your concerns are natural. I found that when I was on the Camino - through Spain and through Portugal - the 'real world' never made its presence felt at all. That is actually one of the best things about, it in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
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  25. Paul177

    Paul177 New Member

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    I think you are right, Paul McGranaghan, and I forwarded your comments to my wife (she is out of town :)). I, too, have been at the very spot of terrorist activity (most recently in Bangkok) and while I feel it is more likely I would be hit by lightning, my wife sees it differently. I know that is exactly what the terrorists want, and unfortunately they are succeeding with people like my wife. While I would never deliberately put her in harms way, the thought of demonstrations unnerves her and consequently would make the trip unpleasant.
     
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  26. Paul McGranaghan

    Paul McGranaghan Member

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    I grew up in Northern Ireland with the constant threat of car-bombings and mass shootings, but people stayed here and made the best of it. Terrorism really is all about intimidation.
    The demonstrations are really just a local thing, and involve a lot of shouting - but I cannot see it being repeated on the Camino. After all, pilgrim hostels are not likely to affect house rents in the towns and cities of the Camino!
    Also, you don't have to begin your Camino in Barcelona if you don't want to. I flew into Biarritz and took the bus from the airport to Bayonne. There is a train from there to Saint Jean Pied Port, where the walking starts [over the mountains :) ].
     
  27. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Paul

    I would like to fully agree with Paul McG. I really think you have to distinguish the two things, i.e the terrorist threat and the anti-tourist demonstrations.

    On the demonstrations you really have to understand a couple of things. The demonstrations themselves are taking place in the main in cities and areas which are under considerable pressure from mass tourism. The cities of Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik have become overwhelmed with visitors. This coupled with the advent of AirB&B has meant that natives of these cities can no longer afford to live in them. They have hundreds of thousands of tourists clogging up their cities and they have no hope of ever having a home in the town where they were born. Of course there is going to be resentment, I don't agree with their approach but cities and governments are going to have to address the problem or it will get worse.

    The second thing with regard to the protests is that they are in general small and have very little impact on tourists themselves. You have to understand that it suits particular parts of the British press to hype up these still isolated incidents because they want to sell a particularly negative view of Europe during this period prior to Brexit.

    I have walked almost 400kms of the Camino Frances from St Jean and to date I have met nothing but nice welcoming Basque and Spanish people who were more than happy to see us and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. The Basque and Spanish people who live along the Camino are fiercely proud of their country and it's reputation for civility and civilisation. I guarantee you if you decide to walk the Camino you will not only not regret it you will have the experience of a lifetime.

    As to the terrorism, I agree it is terrifying and there is no guarantee that it would not happen anywhere. However there are a number of things I would say to your wife. I grew up in Dublin during the "Troubles" as they are euphemistically called. We were only two hours drive from Belfast, there were bombings in Dublin, I visited Newry and Belfast regularly. I have lived in Brussels for seven years. Like Paul, I've visited many of the cities in Europe which have been the subject of terror attacks, I took my children to Paris and Euro-disney frequently. And to be honest I've always felt safer in those cities than I have when visiting New Orleans or even New York. I think it comes down to being less fearful of what you know.

    I do hope that the recent events will not dissuade you and your wife from your Camino. It is as I said above one of the most wonderful experiences.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  28. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    On my most recent attempt on the Camino, the only "problem" person I met was in Denver at the lost luggage area. Everyone else was very helpful.
     
  29. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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  30. Patt!

    Patt! Member

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    Me too...and I am here right now.
     
    RJS and Greg Canning like this.
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