Ulysses S. Grant was a great traveler. After he was President for 2 terms, he left on what turned out to be an around-the-world trip. He was gone for more than 2 years, from May, 1877 until September, 1879. He visited Egypt, India, China, etc. When he was in England near the start of this journey, he visited a shipyard in Liverpool. This lead to a somewhat embarrassing situation.
Grant led Union troops brilliantly in the Civil War. At this shipyard he realized that Confederate raiding ships had been built there 15 years earlier. One of these ships was named the CSS Alabama. For 2 years this sloop-of-war captured or burned 65 Union merchant ships. Four other British-built Confederate raiders and the Alabama sank more than 150 Union ships. England had declared itself neutral at the start of the Civil War. For these seafaring actions, the U.S. Government demanded an apology and compensation. Grant was not happy with the treaty that resulted. He thought it was weak. I read about this in the brilliant new book American Ulysses by Ronald C. White.
I’ve been in awkward situations in foreign countries too. One time in Budapest Ruth and I were looking at an American photo exhibit. One of the featured photographs was of the World Trade Center with a plane flying into it. Ruth & I don’t speak much in public places in foreign countries. No one at this exhibit knew that Americans were present. As we stared at the catastrophe, someone in the crowd said that America deserved 9/11. Other in the crowd agreed with him. I didn’t know whether or not to say something. When we were in Turkey 2 years ago, we became hopelessly lost. It was rush hour. We got into a cab and asked the driver to take us to a tram stop. The price the driver announced was ridiculous. We got out of the cab.
We’re glad we went to Turkey, a sensational destination, when we did. The U.S. State Department recently issued a travel warning. It said that U.S. citizens should carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout Turkey. This resulted from the October 29, 2016, decision to order the departure of family members of employees posted to the consulate in Istanbul. The State Department based its warning on security info that indicated extremist groups are continuing efforts to attack U.S. citizens in this city.
Shortly after I read this I was looking at a year end National Geographic Traveler. In it was a full-page ad that invited readers to “Discover Istanbul”. It raved about its natural beauty, history, and food. It suggested that readers get more information by checking hometurkey.com. I realize that issues are planned and set months before I receive and read them. But, like Grant in Liverpool, I was nevertheless shocked.
The world is rapidly changing.