I woke up to another saddening story of violence yesterday, this time in Istanbul:
The blast occurred at around 10:15 a.m. in the heart of Sultanahmet, one of the most heavily trafficked districts in the historic city, steps from monuments commemorating the three empires — Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman — of which the former Constantinople, now Istanbul, was the capital.
Sultanahmet, the district where the attack occurred, is home to some of Istanbul’s most visited monuments, including a Byzantine-era former hippodrome, or racetrack; the Hagia Sophia, a sixth-century Greek Orthodox basilica and now a museum; the Blue Mosque; and the Topkapi Palace, built by the Ottoman sultans.
Sultanahmet is one of the main areas I was planning to visit. In fact, a good friend of mine suggested on his podcast recently that I visit the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
I have a trip planned in a few weeks there, albeit a short one. It’s just me and for only a bit longer than a day. And, I’ll be 100% honest. Here was my reaction yesterday morning:
“Wow. I really don’t want to put my wife and kids through worrying about me while I’m there. And, at least a small part of me is scared.”
That was followed immediately by, “Well, now that there’s been an attack there, it’s probably a very safe time to be there given heightened security. And, by not going, I’m letting terrorism win. I don’t want that.”
Followed shortly by, “My wife puts up with a lot. Do I really want her to put up with that stress?”
These are questions that adventurous travelers confront on a daily basis. And, most of us confront intellectual debates similar to these in other fashions.
It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with conflict amidst travel. We went to Greece this summer during the peak of the financial crisis, walking past the Parliament building hours before rioting and violence surrounding the final bailout vote by the government.
I asked my wife and learned something interesting, though I may have known it deep down. I asked if she worried when I travel somewhere benign, like Denver. She said, “Absolutely. I worry as soon as you leave the house.”
I’m really curious to hear all of your opinions.
Should I go?