Yes I was in a dangerous riot along with a member of our group. Here is what happened and what we learned.  We decided to follow pedestrians all walking in one direction. Perhaps there was market? festival? parade? We ended up facing a large square, empty except for a line of men and women. Was this a parade?  We quickly noticed another line moving forward; it was one of armed police. It took a moment to realize there was going to be a confrontation. The crowd started moving, then running. We grabbed each other while pushed along by the crowd. We instinctively hugged so as not to fall. People were scared and aggressive. We stood against the facade of a building; we were still being dangerously crushed. 3 young men said: go into the building with them. We had no choice; we were being battered by people so we went. They turned out to be nice teenagers who then suggested we move up to the second floor landing. We did.

Others then took shelter in the building; we now knew we were safe. After 20 minutes, the boys said it was safe to leave; they would direct us to our hotel which they did. We tried to give them some money. They refused.  We were both shaken but safe. 

WHAT WE LEARNED

Crowds moving in one direction without music or happy faces might be NOT going somewhere you should  go.

Always have a map showing your hotel and its phone number in your phone.

Know how to use your phone overseas to access the internet and/or make calls even if it costs you $$. Many women think their phone will work, but do not ask their carrier.  Many do not know how to dial when overseas once the phone is active.   

Always have the US Consulate/Embassy phone number in your telephone. The Embassy suggests you register in their STEP Program (https://step.state.gov/step/) when you travel;  we suggest you leave your itinerary/ contact numbers and phone number for texting with a friend/family/work partner.

Twitter: learn it and have it on your phone. Many cities now use twitter to spread critical information quickly: ordinary like traffic jams/ dangerous like demonstrations.

ONCE YOU ARE STUCK IN DANGER, HERE IS WHAT TO DO

Start walking away; do not be curious- just go. Hold each other tightly even if you are new friends.  Find a store or hotel that will let you in. Stay away from windows or if possible, go up the stairs. Why? Rioters might take shelter in the same place with police behind. Do not try to get back to your hotel right away; rioting or running crowds can easily crush you. Do not take photos and avoid windows as you might get hit by a stone or bullet. Stay put until locals emerge.

Use your paper or phone map so you know where you are vis a vis the hotel.  In our case, young boys asked to help us. We were very leery but they since walked us in the direction of our hotel we trusted them.

Avoid the following:

1— visits during elections or right after

2—  visits during major festivals that are known for unruly drunk crowds 

3— visits during planned political demonstrations like May Day

Finally, check out any English language local newsletter or newspaper if you are unsure. Here is what the English paper in Paris said today: future protests will be announced on Facebook and in other social media. That information from The Local in Paris might save you. Here is the local English language paper in Paris as an example: https://www.thelocal.fr/

These are important travel tips from The Women’s Travel Group,   

 

Available space on trips coming up: We can take 2 more on our Greatest Italy Trip and 1-2 on our Albania ‘new destination’ adventure.

Other trips with space or early birds are on our site on this page: https://www.thewomenstravelgroup.com/tours/.

Information: Phyllis@thewomenstravelgroup.com  

646 309 5607