“At twilight, I roamed a honey-colored labyrinth of brick houses in Segovia’s medieval Jewish quarter, walking a cobblestone path in the footsteps of my distant ancestor from 16 generations ago. …
After a long, sobering day of touring Budapest, there was one more stop that needed to be made. After everything, finally, the shoes.
It is raining. I am near Steindl Imre utca, on the Pest side of the Danube. It is a little bit hard to find the way. The path along the river is muddy. I look into the distance and I cannot see them. I check the map from the hotel, and the note I had scribbled. The ink is running in the rain. I look again. Suddenly, there they are.
Dozens gather, some by design and many by happenstance. Some are hushed and a few — yeah, they were Americans — are noisily making dinner plans. They are about to witness a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe that has taken place every night for nearly nine decades, including during the World War II years when the Nazis occupied Paris. The relighting of the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a constant.
The siege had left the citizens of Sarajevo with little but their survival instincts. One man attempted to dodge rifle fire in order to obtain bread from the bakery where he worked. Another sought water from the clean underground spring that fed the brewery. Then there was the woman whose mission was to kill the snipers who were killing her city. She, too, was a sniper. Her name was Arrow.
When I first started traveling, I had a theory about sightseeing: you don’t know something sucks until you’ve seen it suck for yourself. That is, you don’t know it’s a waste of time until you’ve wasted the time. Which means, pretty much, that I tried to see everything there was to see, especially the stuff that you were supposed to see.
- Page 2 of 2