June 22 2012 by Sam Lowe
It is not my intention to dissuade anyone our age from going to any particular travel destination, but my time on the road has left me with several impressions that might serve to alert others to possible danger. Well, not so much danger itself, but situations that might prove uncomfortable for some.
The Astronomical Clock in Prague, Czech Republic, is a magnificent attraction. Originally installed in 1410, it is the oldest working clock of its kind anywhere in the world. It was placed on the south side of the Old Town City Hall and has suffered repeated damage due to war, time and the elements but it keeps on marking the hours as it has done for more than 600 years. Every hour on the hour, wooden figures of the twelve Apostles march past windows on the face, while other figures flanking the clock are also set in motion.
But here's the problem: The clock draws a multitude every hour, and most of them are entranced by the movements so they forget that the site is a favorite hangout for pickpockets. So be aware that while you're looking at the clock, someone may be looking into your back pocket or purse.
Several years ago, maybe even longer ago than that, I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Arizona's premier tourist attraction. Filled with youthful enthusiasm, I didn't prepare myself physically for the trek and it was costly. The trip down took a mere four hours. The trip back to the top took a total of 14 hours, and I hurt for days afterward. I shudder to think of how long it would take me now, all these years later.
So the caveat here is: Get in shape before undertaking such an endeavor. Many our age make the trip, but they have trained for it. It's folly to do otherwise.
The Acropolis in Athens, Greece, is so well worth visiting that those who don't go see it are cheating themselves. It is everything you have ever seen described in travel shows; it is a walk back into ancient history. The Parthenon is spectacular; so are all the other ruins. But here's a bit of a downside: The stones on the walkways in the area have been there since the Acropolis was erected and they have been trod upon by millions and millions, both worshipers and sightseers. As a result, they're worn smooth so they're very slippery, even when it doesn't rain.
A wise move, therefore, is be sure you're wearing durable, non-slip footwear, the kind that can handle the slips and slides. If you go in sandals or flip-flops, dress shoes or high heels, you'll spend most of your time trying to stay erect and will miss out on the magnificence of it all.