Stockholm and Alexandria were on my mind and in my travel plans this year.
By now, you must already know what happened lately to these two cities: a truck being driven into a crowded shopping street in Stockholm and there was a church bombing in Alexandria during a Palm Sunday mass at a Coptic Christian Church just a few days ago.
Stockholm was an easy choice for my first visit to the Scandinavian region – and not just because I am a huge ABBA or IKEA fan. It is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, where lakes meets the sea, where beautiful island towns stitched together by bridges and ferries creates an irresistible allure.
Alexandria on the other hand is home to my daughter Pristine’s best friend, Laila. Laila and Pristine had been friends since kindergarten. They love each other like crazy that summer vacations became agonizing and unlike most kids who enjoy no school days, they count days till they meet again. It’s very difficult to peel them off from each other on the first day they’re back to school.
Laila’s family migrated to Canada five years ago and at the tender age of 9, my daughter felt the hardest part of being an expat – losing a friend through relocation.
Laila transferred to a school in Canada while maintaining contact with her best friend in Dubai, however, due to the huge time difference, the girls rarely sync their time for Skype but when they do, they are both grinning from ear to ear.
Now, after five years, Laila’s family with their resident status in Canada all settled, they are going back to their home in Alexandria for vacation! Isn’t it just a 3 hour flight from Dubai? Laila’s mom buzzed me last week to share the good news and asked if we could surprise the girls to meet and spend a few days with them in their Alexandria home. I’ve made arrangements for the kids to spend summer at my parent’s home in the Philippines for the entire months of July-August BUT I couldn’t pass up on this opportunity to go to Egypt and for my daughter to see her bosom friend again so a couple of days ago, I called up the travel agent and asked to reschedule our flights out of Manila so we can come back to Dubai earlier and fly to Alexandria for the remainder of summer.
Cue my mother’s voice: “Wait, what? You’re going to Alexandria where there was a bombing incident? And you’re taking the kids, too?!”
I will not lie. I am anxious.
And you ask, well, if you are that anxious, then why go? Why not just stay at the comfort and safety of home?
I guess that the problem with me is that, even if I sometimes get scared of travel, that doesn’t stop me. I always have this familiar mix of excitement and apprehension that comes before every excursion, especially to places I would visit for the first time.
Especially, if I am travelling with the kids.
Especially travelling to vulnerable areas this time (Egypt).
Then I do extensive research and preparation, be brave and walk out the door proudly but then, as I sit on the plane looking out the window as the carrier pulls away from the tarmac, I ask, “what am I doing? Am I making a right decision?” It’s a crazy mind game inside my head.
It’s unfortunate that there is so much hate and violence in this world right now that makes travelling to some places difficult, scary or even impossible. I feel lucky to have visited Istanbul and Jordan (I was shaken though as only 2 days after we left Jordan, there had been a terrorist attack at one of the popular tourist spots) during more stable times.
I wish I had seen Damascus (Syria), one of the oldest cities in the Middle East before the war.
It’s sad to know that many people might never see these places for a while due to fear of safety. (And those are very legit fears.) However, I found some tips how to stay safe while travelling to risky countries which was informative and logical.