Friday, August 18, 2017

Beautiful Barcelona scarred in latest result of bigotry, racism, ignorance

A few blocks from Las Ramblas, tourists usually take in Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia.



SINCE I BEGAN traveling internationally, as a young girl, I've been lucky. I travel cautiously -- as much as one can -- but I've been fortunate in my timing.
San Franciscan Jared Tucker was not so lucky. He is among the dead in Thursday's terrorist attack in Barcelona.
Jared Tucker and Heidi Nunes Tucker
on their belated honeymoon in Spain
He was among the Las Ramblas victims.
Tucker was celebrating a belated honeymoon, enjoying Las Ramblas with his wife, Heidi, strolling, toasting, taking in the sunshine of a perfect late summer day.
A visit to Las Ramblas usually includes a stoll,
street buskers, flowers, cafes and music.
Also known as "La Rambla," the street in central Barcelona is among Europe's most beautiful.  I've strolled it dozens of time with tourists from dozens of countries, buying trinkets and flowers, sipping cafe con leche or vino blanco. Just as Tucker and his wife Heidi were doing when he went to use the men's room. They were separated as the van plowed into pedestrians; he died.
THE STREET-- popular with tourists and locals alike --is known as Las Ramblas. Its Catalan pronunciation is "La Rambla" but since the tree-lined pedestrian mall includes many smaller side streets, the plural has become common.
Cookie and a Spanish guide visit, with tourists from Italy
Austria, Australia, Israel and the Netherlands two years ago.
We've had pleasant lunches and dinner along the picturesque 1.2 kilometer-walkway, which connects Pla├ža de Catalunya in town center with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell and the sea where Columbus set off to discover the new world. I've been mugged on Las Ramblas, but, thank the gods, not injured.
I HAVE BEEN so traumatized by this latest attack that I am losing sleep.  While my grief isn't personal, I mourn with the Tucker family for the turn of fate and timing that took their loved one.
I lost my first husband on a Valentine's week trip in 1992.  I know the sorrow and trauma of leaving for a joyous romantic time then returning home with a canister of cremains.  "How could this happen?" Tucker's stunned father asked. "This was my son's first big trip to Europe."
Watch the crowds around you and be aware of suspicious movement. Don't
 hesitate to stop a policeman or make a phone call, here in downtown Barcelona.
The purpose of this departure from our usual travel-arts-nature pieces is to share my thoughts since yesterday, hoping in some small way I can contribute to a more peaceful planet.
FIGHTING TERRORISM is an overwhelming concept, but I'm wondering if we are doing as much as we can to protect ourselves and contribute some measure of good will and brotherhood to our troubled world.
Most of us know that ignorance and fear are responsible for today's terrorism.  Whether the Islamic State, ISIS,  the resurgence of the Nazi symbol, the shameful Virginia and North Carolina incidents with racial epithets and death, we are surrounded by intolerance, fear and ignorance. 
I may be naive in thinking that being more "global" could help.  It gives me a modicum of hope to write a check to a charity that fights global poverty.
MY PERSONAL CREDO -- to do what I can to prevent terrorism -- means fostering better social conditions and banging the drum for inclusion and tolerance.
Beautiful Las Ramblas from a hotel room perch.
When family and friends asked me today if we are still planning our annual Spain trip, I said, "absolutely."  We consider ourselves unofficial ambassadors, traveling proof that Americans are decent, good, people, that we are generous, polite, broad minded, curious, accepting.
As we go, we will be aware of potential threats, and alert to activity around us. 
My late husband, Bruce, and I were at the Athens Airport in 1973 when Arab gunmen opened fire in a nearby lounge, killing three tourists and wounding 55. We heard the shots and hit the ground.
I FLEW OUT of Incheon Airport in Seoul in October of 1979, the day President Park Chung-hee was assassinated. 
I left the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem in 1997 moments before a bombing that killed several people.
Keller and Cookie on a recent Barcelona trip.
Keller and I visited Cairo's Tahrir Square weeks after the uprising in 2011.
We were in Sydney, Australia, during a 2014 terrorist attack at Lindt Cafe.  We'd dined there the day before.
After Spain, we've booked a concert in Paris at the Bataclan, home of the horrific 2015 massacre. It's a gorgeous 1865 building and I've heard several fabulous concerts there.
WE MUST NOT stop traveling, as open-minded, curious citizens of the world.  That's giving in to the terrorists' dearest hopes: to disrupt and frighten. We must be vigilant, too. 

Coos Bay affords beautiful water views, here from a plush jacuzzi
at Mill Casino Hotel, which offers elegance, fine fare and gambling. 

UP NEXT: Oregon's wonders extend to the beaches, dunes and bays.  Coos Bay is on Cookie's list of favorite places, with its mix of scenery, sun, wildlife and a gambling resort, Mill Casino Hotel, to exorcise her demons! Join us for the fun, remembering to explore, learn and live.


  1. Parisienne FolowersAugust 18, 2017 at 6:29 PM

    Wonderfully rendered appeal for tolerance.

  2. Norwegian NeighborsAugust 19, 2017 at 6:33 AM

    We wish you many more years of travel together. You are wonderful ambassadors for peace.