KingMidget's Ramblings

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Feeling Safe

One of the primary reasons we headed to Berlin, Prague and Vienna this month was that our friend’s daughter was doing a study abroad semester in Berlin. We met up with the daughter at the end of her semester and she showed us the sites in Berlin before we departed for Prague.

One evening we met her host mother for a drink. At one point, I asked her about travel and whether she had been to the United States. “No, no. Germans don’t travel. It’s too unsafe out there,” she said. Or something like that. The sense I got was that she (and maybe other Germans) look at the United States as still being the Wild West. And, why shouldn’t they? There have been occasional stories over the years of German tourists being killed in this great country of ours. And all of the guns. And … it’s not hard to understand.

I can’t imagine a major city in the United States where I would feel comfortable walking around, through unfamiliar neighborhoods or in downtown centers. But, while we were in Europe, in those three major cities, I never felt unsafe or threatened.

It’s a weird thing. European airports don’t have as much security as American airports. The only time we experienced the body scanners was when I was selected for random extra security measures for the flight from Munich to San Francisco. I then had to go through the entire “shoes off, belt off, completely empty pockets, separate all electronics” rigamarole. Other than that, though flying into and out of European airports was like the old days.

If you read the right-wing blogs or watch the right-wing news, you would believe that Europe is overcome by teeming hordes of immigrants who are criminals, rapists, and terrorist. Or not. I saw none of this. What I saw instead was a multicultural environment in which people were trying to work and live their lives. The server at our dinner our very first night in Berlin was Middle Eastern. He apologized for his English not being as good as he would like it to be.

Every evening we were in Europe, we walked the streets, used various forms of public transportation (buses, trams, subways, taxis). Never did we feel unsafe or threatened. It’s a shame that America does not have the same feeling in its cities. There is something fundamental that we have not gotten right.



15 responses to “Feeling Safe

  1. Audrey Driscoll December 29, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Interesting about the idea that North America is perceived as unsafe by some Germans. A few months ago, a German tourist was shot in the head while travelling along a highway in Alberta. He survived, but possibly with permanent damage. It was determined the shooter was actually going after someone else. I’m sure that story was all over German media at the time. But of course incidents like this are usually exceptions in most places.

    • kingmidget December 30, 2018 at 7:02 am

      It really doesn’t have to be specifically German tourists who are attacked or killed. When you think about all of the crime that exists in the United States and the guns and everything else that goes on with the mass shootings … I don’t blame people for not wanting to come here.

  2. Kira December 29, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    It is a sad commentary that our negative reputation preceds us 😦 i hope you all had a fabulous trip! Was it nice having Christmas in a different country?

    • kingmidget December 30, 2018 at 7:01 am

      We were in Vienna Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We had a nice dinner Christmas Eve at Fromme Helene, a traditional Viennese restaurant. But I was sick — got a bad chest cold while in Prague, so I didn’t do much the second half of the trip.

      • Kira December 31, 2018 at 9:37 am

        Ugh…that is no fun! I know you were a bit hesitant about the trip beforehand, are you glad you went? Traveling overseas is soooo out of my comfort zone. I am always so impressed when people juat jump on a plane and go!

      • kingmidget December 31, 2018 at 9:43 am

        Eh, not sure what I think. The days flying were very long and difficult days. I’m not cut out for that. And I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the need to pack up and take the train to another city every few days. Train travel in Europe is pretty incredible, but … if I go back again, I want a week in one city. Too unsettled to have to go somewhere else every few days.

        Prague was beautiful, I liked the history of Berlin. Didn’t seen enough of Vienna to form an impression.

      • Kira January 6, 2019 at 2:24 pm

        I agree with you at least a week in each city would be the way i would want to travel.

  3. 1WriteWay December 31, 2018 at 10:03 am

    I’m not surprised Europeans would not feel safe over here. Guns are everywhere, and gun violence a daily occurrence. Sure there’s been terrorist attacks in Berlin (the Christmas Market a couple of years ago) and elsewhere, but we have consistent but random gun violence here. In Florida we have a “Stand Your Ground” law that basically allows anyone to shoot another person dead and claim self-defense, regardless of whether the other person had a weapon. My husband will no longer go to movie theaters at night or if it might be crowded, not just because of Aurora CO but always because of an altercation in a movie theater in Florida where one person wound up dead and another injured. And when we go we always sit in the back row. I could go on … But I’m glad you had a good time in spite of the cold. That’s also very interesting about the airport security.

    • kingmidget December 31, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      It feels like every day since we got back there is another shooting in Sacramento. Two dead here, one dead there. Every single day. And one of our bigger shopping malls has had to shut down early a couple of nights because packs of teens have gone on rampages and got into fights with each other.

      I, too, am reluctant to go to movie theaters. I have a very vivid imagination and always imagine a catastrophe happening while there.

  4. S.K. Nicholls December 31, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    There was a fight at a local mall and some chairs got turned over in the scuffle. It started a panic coz people thought it was sounds of gunshots. Four people ended up trampled on and taken to the hospital. Even when there are no guns there is fear.

  5. michellestodden December 31, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Not once did I feel unsafe while out and about during our travel overseas. I probably wouldn’t walk very far after dark here, though.

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