Dane Young was enjoying the last evening of his European vacation in Paris when he heard a strange sound in the distance.

“We went out that afternoon and took a stroll to the Notre Dame Cathedral to take pictures and walk around,” he told me, “and we were walking over the Pont des Arts bridge later when we heard a very loud boom sound. I thought it might be a gunshot but with the magnitude of it, it very well could have been the first bombing at the stadium.”

Young, a 2014 O&AN Gay Faves hairstylist winner, has also performed as Kameron Michaels at PLAY.

“We didn’t think anything of it,” he said, “so we walked back to district 3 where we were staying. It was a very busy street, lots of restaurants. So we picked one and sat down and started eating. Everything was fine, we didn’t hear any commotion or anything, and then I turned on the data on my phone to look up some directions for another place.”

That’s when he received a surprise phone call from his mother back home in the U.S.

“She sounded very stressed out and panicked,” he told me, “asking where I was and kind of hinted what was going on, that there was a shooting and she was very worried. She begged me to go home and get off the street.”

And then the text messages started rolling in, also from America.

Amanda:

I just saw the news. ‘Several dead in attacks in Paris, France.’ I hope you are home or at least not in Paris!

John:

ARE YOU OK? I just saw something happened in Paris and flipped.

“Then I received messages from friends we had met in Paris,” he said, “asking us where we were and told us to get off the street and find some place safe and stay out of public places. So then I started getting worried. We started hearing police cars in the distance, then it just kind of escalated from there.”

At a neighboring table were more English speakers. “They had received notifications on their phones as well, so there was a little communication with the table next to us,” he said, “but it was still so early then that as far as both tables knew it was some type of shooting. We had no idea the magnitude of what was actually going on while we were sitting there, so we didn’t feel so isolated at that point. We didn’t realize how big it was until we got back to our residence and turned on the news.”

“I realized that we were about three streets and a couple of blocks over from the Bataclan, the theater.”

On schedule, they flew out of Paris the following morning.

“When we left that morning everything was closed,” he said. “All the shutters were down on all the stores, all of the restaurants. Nothing was open. There were still people walking around on the street but no cafés, no grocery stores, everything was silent, everything was closed.

“Other than that boom that we initially heard before we sat down to eat, I don’t have any great eye witness stories or pictures to share about it now,” he said. “It was just very, very frightening, you know, with all the calls and texts from home and then I think it got very frightening once we realized how close we were. We were sitting on the street, on the outermost seat at our restaurant, and to know that we could have very well sat down at that restaurant where one of the attacks happened. It very well could’ve been us. That was the most frightening thing, I believe.”

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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