The U.S. State Department has issued a warning to Americans contemplating a visit to Europe. “In light of the increased concern about the potential for terrorist (Al Qaeda) attacks,” exercise caution, avoid crowds, be careful, be very careful. The warning statement covered a large geographic area, but was scant on specifics. We offer clarification:

Bon voyage to Paris, but don’t go near the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysee, the Etoile, the Opera and the Louvre. And ladies, the crowds in Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are murder.

Be sure to cross the channel to London, but be very cautious about visiting Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Kensington Palace, particularly at Changing of the Guard time.Want to avoid crowds, a real temptation for terrorists, stay away from Harrods. And incidentally, the Underground is a favorite bombing target.To be absolutely secure, it might be a good idea to avoid London altogether. A nice motor tour around the Cotswolds is extremely pleasant–– and relatively safe.

Rome is lovely at this time of year. There are always crowds around the Trevi Fountain, so tossing a coin into the fountain may accompany your last wish. The Spanish Steps is another great gathering place. And don’t think that the Vatican is safe holy ground. Since terrorists blow up Mosques and Synagogues, don’t for a moment think that fear of Allah makes the Vatican sacrosanct.

So, what about Germany? You’ve heard that Berlin is not safe, so you might want to try Cologne or Dusseldorf. Cologne has many beautiful cathedrals. The best known and most frequently visited by tourists is the Dom, if you don’t mind crowds. One should never visit this city without hoisting a stein of beer at one or more of its famous brauhauses. Trying to find a small, uncrowded one, however, is not easy. Ladies like to visit Dusseldorf to wander around Konigsalle, one of the most spectacular high fashion shopping streets in Europe. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most crowded. You pays your money, and you takes your chances.

Fellow American travellers, the Government’s warning can be summed up with an old folk song from the Ozarks:
“Mother, may I go out to swim?
Yes, my darling daughter,
Hang your clothes on a hickory limb,
But don’t go near the water.”

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