Photo Locale of the Month – April 2016

April is a terrific “shoulder season” month for international travel. Southern Hemisphere destinations like Rio de Janeiro and the Galapagos Islands are at their temperate mildest, while the crowds that hit up such regular European touristic stomping grounds as Paris and Rome are a bit more subdued (if still a bit heavy). The springtime weather here can be hit-or-miss, but while you may want to bring an umbrella, you can usually leave the winter coat behind.

Belgium has been in my mind lately, as you may recall from my recent post that found me reflecting on the Brussels bombings. I passed through Brussels for the briefest of moments in April, 2011, alighting at Brussels Airport before catching the first train out of the city. My destination: medieval Bruges, just 70 minutes away by train.

Bruges canal 19

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Thoughts about Belgium

Palais de Justice and Rue de la Regence

For at least the seventh time in two years, terror has once again reared its ugly head in Europe. A coordinated pair of attacks on Tuesday – one on Brussels Airport, the other on the Brussels metro, left 31 dead and the country in virtual lockdown. I saw a story on the local news about an East Tennessee retired couple whose son and daughter-in-law have been travelling in Brussels, and who the parents haven’t been able to get ahold of since this past Tuesday. Stories such as this one bring the violence closer to home. I hope for the best, but prepare to grieve with them, as not all bodies have been identified yet. (For more information, go to brusselsmissing.com.)

Not even ten days earlier, a suicide bomber detonated himself in the upscale shopping district of Beyoğlu, in the heart of Istanbul. Six days prior, an attack in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, left 37 people dead. Just four months before then, in October, 2015, Ankara was attacked again. Two bombs were detonated outside the central train station, killing 103 Turks. Roughly three months prior to that horrific attack, Suruç, in southern Turkey, was the site of another bombing, which killed 33 locals and is said to be in retaliation for Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War. And we already know of the terror that has besieged Paris more than once, starting with the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January, 2015 and continuing with stadium, café, and concert hall bombings that November.

By my count, that is seven attacks. This number doesn’t even factor in acts of terrorism elsewhere around the globe, such as the December, 2015 office shooting in San Bernardino, California, or the countless atrocities committed almost daily in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, etc. I am speechless. What can one person do in the face of such senseless hate?

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