Terrorist attacks while I'm visiting Paris
Waking up in a shaken-up yet resilient Paris on November 13, 2015. My personal story with so many mixed feelings from that dark day in the City of Lights.
It’s not often that travel plans are affected by a disaster, unfortunately, this time I’m in Paris for the Airbnb Open conference with other 5,000+ hosts while six terrorists attacks were perpetrated on a Friday night.
Last night, November 13th around 9.35pm (Paris time) I ventured myself out to Rue de Martyrs, my new favorite spot in Paris, to find a restaurant for dinner, maybe a bar and get to meet locals. I walked on the 10th arrondissement (district) from Gare du Nord station and it’s probably about twenty-minute walk. Bars were buzzing, restaurants were busy, the Parisians were doing what they do best: enjoying life. You could tell it was a Friday night, bars were busy and the patrons were getting drinks, taking them outside to light a cigarette and chat with friends on the sidewalks of Paris.
It was a regular night, I was a little tired from being at the conference all day but I had to go out and see the Paris at night, I was excited to be here. For some reason this time I couldn’t find a restaurant that I liked, eventually went back to my new favorite restaurant at Hotel Amour at 8 Rue de Bavarian in the 9th Quarter, but it was packed and I didn’t have a reservation so I left.
There was a soccer match happening, France playing Germany on a friendly match, I walked into a pub and watched it for two minutes before I decided to leave as I was getting hungry and tired. Finally walking back to my Airbnb apartment I spotted a street baguette-and-crepes little shop so I decided to get a baguette, a bottle of Pellegrino and head back.
Before I reached my apartment I noticed police cars flying down the streets and even a girl talking in French to another guy saying there had been a shooting. After living in Mexico and Bay Area a shooting is not as shocking as it should probably be, so I just ignored the comment and kept walking back home. More police movement, one street closed and I started thinking more if this was normal routine for a Friday night. Finally, as I reached my apartment’s front steps around 11.05pm my friend Rick from California texted me: “Are you okay? Hostages, shootings and explosions in Paris” which I reluctantly believed and thought it was just another exaggeration by the media in the U.S.
As I tuned into the T.V and online news I realized something big had just happened. All uncertain, but there were bombs, explosions, shootings all over Paris, started with two and finally got the number of six events. You can imagine how shocked I was, I was thinking inside of myself “I’m in Paris, the City of Lights, this is not possible”
The next few hours were dedicated to learn more about the situation, getting informed and more importantly let family and friends know that I was ok. I was still denying the fact that this was big news and I was going to be ok. Finally, I got a hold of my husband a couple hours later as he had forgotten his cell phone at work and I think it was then when it all sinked in, I got chocked up and some tears rolled down my face.” I’m safe, I’m home. I’m ok”. What’s next, what’s going on?
Today, on a cloudy cold day, Paris wakes up to figure things out and re-emerge from the curfew ordered by President Francois Hollande. All my activities for the day have been cancelled, not sure what’s open and closed in Paris but I do see through my window the resilience of Parisians as they start walking the streets, running their vespas and even an older guy sweeping the street. I’m not sure what’s next, they are after the terrorists behind this military-planned attack.
As I wrap up this blog, in the early Saturday morning, some airports and all borders are closed, I hope I get to fly back to San Francisco tomorrow. I keep thinking of the 123 (and growing) fatalities that happened last night, loved ones that will be missed. We will never forget, Paris will stand strong again #ParisStrong