(Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
It’s now been three years since I visited Peru and journeyed to the famous abandoned city of Machu Picchu. In order to do this, our group had to take a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. This all went very smoothly and I couldn’t imagine anybody having difficulty with it. This week, however, thousands of tourists were stranded because the rail line to Aguas Calientes was shut down.
Two major protests coalesced in the Cusco area: one was about the cancellation of a promised airport in the region, while the other was by 20,000 teachers seeking higher wages. As a result, the railway operator elected to close down for two days. This reminded me of my own overseas encounter with local unrest: a rotating local bus driver strike in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, that prevented us from skiing at an outlying ski area for a day. There was nothing we could do about that: it was far too small to be covered by the international news media and we were not reading the morning Italian papers. In any case, we still had a nice day of skiing at the local area and simply took the bus the following day.
However, there are cases where you can do your due diligence. Just prior to leaving for Bosnia & Herzegovina, I read about some protests in Sarajevo that seemed to be getting a little out of hand. As I was traveling independently, my only “fixed” plan was my hotel. I e-mailed my hotel and immediately received a response: these were anti-corruption protests at a local government building and it would not affect anything in the “tourist” areas of the city.
While I suppose that the hotel had a vested interest in ensuring my visit, I also felt better confirming the situation. I figured that, having received their reassurance, the hotel might be more inclined to help me out if things did turn out ugly and I was exposed to a dangerous situation. As it turned out, everything calmed down and I completely forgot about the protests when I was there. I also found the hotels in both Sarajevo and Mostar to be very accommodating and concerned about their customers.
Returning to the present: I’ve been quiet about this summer’s travel plans. There is a reason for this: we decided to change our initial road trip destination because it was becoming too popular! After reading one too many stories about the extreme tourist deluge hitting Cape Breton Island this summer, we decided to bail out. For various reasons, including Canada’s 150th birthday, many Canadians are choosing to vacation in their own country this summer…and Cape Breton seems to be especially trendy.
We are still going to do a road trip: it just won’t be as far as Cape Breton. It will focus on a unique part of our country and one that we haven’t visited enough during the warmer months. In the meantime, I’m including a couple of pictures from Carleton Place, Ontario. We stopped there recently on our way to Ottawa and enjoyed a seemingly authentic Irish lunch. You never know what you will find, once you venture off the beaten path!