I Stand With Paris

Note:  This post originally appeared on The World According to Luke’s Facebook page on 14 November 2015. 


As many of you know, Paris is one of my favorite cities. It’s where I first fell in love with Europe four years ago, solidifying a desire for a lifetime of travel. She is a beautiful city with friendly and welcoming people, and has seen much worse in her history.

Today, my heart weeps for the people of Paris and of France, and for everyone who has felt a special connection with this city, which now includes much of the world. Cowardly terrorists chose not to attack tourist locations, but places where these people have fun and find enjoyment on a beautiful French Friday night. The solidarity and unity of the French people was overwhelming and swift, as will be the response of bringing those responsible to justice. The world is not safe anywhere – including here in America – where dangerous and violent people, hell-bent on killing the innocent, exist.

As many of you also know, I have travel booked to France in just over nine months, where I will help take student and adult travelers to this city that means so much to me. I could not feel more confident in traveling to one of the world’s greatest cities. We are not truly safe anywhere we breathe (we’re at risk now even going to the store or movie theater in our own hometowns), and I know Paris and the rest of the world will rebound from this. I’m also encouraged by our tour operator’s network of offices and swift actions in ensuring its travelers may do so safely, as they did last evening in Paris.

I choose to continue to travel, and to be an advocate for travel, because we cannot allow the terrorists to win or for fear to dictate how we live our lives. I refuse to live a life rooted at my home because of a fear exacerbated by a small number of radicals and promoted by ratings-driven media outlets.

Please join me in standing with the people of Paris as the rest of the world stood with us on 9/11. The world is filled mainly with good people, and together we will show that terrorism will not win and we will prevail. As travelers, I feel we have a particular obligation to show the world that we are willing to stand with one of our most shining examples of what a great city can be when loving and kind people unite against darkness.

“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” – Shirley MacLaine

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury

31-Day Blog Challenge: 10 Favorite Foods

Day 21/31

Awwwww, foooooooood!  As excited as I’ve been for another post about food, I find myself at a loss to pick just ten favorite foods.  Seriously, that’s like making a parent pick their favorite child!!  Doable, but not altogether easy…

OMG, the creamy, the cheesy...  America's favorite comfort food gets the coveted #1 spot on my "Favorite Foods" list.

OMG, the creamy, the cheesy… America’s favorite comfort food gets the coveted #1 spot on my “Favorite Foods” list.

Macaroni & Cheese…  But, mostly, the “adult” variation with quality cheeses, CREAM, bacon, CREAM and truffle oil.  But, really, pasta of any variety will do just fine.

Coming in at the top three, this steak from Oliva Verde in Prague was so beautiful I just had to take a photo of it.

Coming in at the top three, this steak from Oliva Verde in Prague was so beautiful I just had to take a photo of it.

Steak…  There’s something about a filet or ribeye that’s just, well, right.  Having been born and raised in “The Cowboy Capital of the World,” where beef is big industry and a part of everyday life, I suppose it makes sense.  The two best steaks I have ever had were at Ruth’s Chris at the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis and, #1, at ALC Steaks in Austin.  Beef:  it’s what’s for dinner.

potato soup

Is wine a food? Let’s go ahead and slip it in, right here…

Potatoes…  Again, pretty much any form is fine, but potato soup and loaded baked potatoes really take the cake, or rather, “the potato,” here.  I’m part Irish and German, so every time I eat potatoes, I am coming home.

Crêpes...  I pretty much refuse to eat them anywhere but Paris.  I guess you could say I was spoiled at first taste.

Crêpes… I pretty much refuse to eat them anywhere but Paris. I guess you could say I was spoiled “at first taste.”

Crêpes…  Pancakes, Nutella, strawberries/bananas/whatever…  How on earth could you go wrong?  They’re great everywhere in Paris, but my favorite is at Le Tire Bouchon in Montmartre – thanks to Chris Morrison for bringing us to this awesome piano bar!


Chocolate. Need I say more?? (Fassbender & Rausch in Berlin – YUM; Godiva is my fave chain/brand)

Chocolate…  If you need an explanation for this, we can’t be friends.

Chipotle Burrito Bowls (with Guac, naturally).

Chipotle Burrito Bowls (with Guac, naturally).

Chipotle Burrito Bowls…  Just look at that picture.  Isn’t it beautiful?  My brother introduced me to the shrine-to-all-that-is-holy-that-is-Chipotle in December 2010.  I remember this introduction vividly…

Pretty much any Mexican food...  That being said, gringas have a special place in my heart.

Pretty much any Mexican food… That being said, gringas have a special place in my heart.

Mexican Food…  In particular, tacos, burritos, gringas, refried beans, posole…  Well, anyway.  Mexican food is my go-to comfort food.

This Frozen Jitter from The Good Egg in Wichita, Kansas...  It puts me in that Happy Place.

This Frozen Jitter from The Good Egg in Wichita, Kansas… It puts me in that Happy Place.

Frozen Coffee Drinks…  Frappuccinos, ice-creamy-coffee drinks.  There’s so much to love here that I can’t start to get into it for fear that I won’t be able to stop.  There’s probably a post on BuzzFeed about it, anyway.

Enstrom's Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Enstrom’s Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Enstrom’s Toffee.  Our good friends out in Colorado send us a tin of this toffee for Christmas every year, and it always fills us with joy (and, in the pursuit of honesty, calories).  The crunch, the richness, the flaky almond dust…  It all just works.  OH SO WELL.

Without further ado...

Without further ado…

The best thing I have ever eaten, ever…  I really don’t know how to describe this dish…  There were fried potatoes, there was a smattering of ham, a spattering of cheese, a dose of salad…  Whatever it was, it made La Marmite in Paris the location of, to this date and of my best recollection, the best dish I have ever eaten.  I have eaten a lot (look at pictures of me for proof), but I can still taste this dish.  It was sooooo good.  My friends and I still talk about it.

What are your favorite foods?  Please share in the comments below – I love hearing people talk about food!!!

31-Day Blog Challenge: Best Physical Feature

Day 10/31

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower back in 2012 - I look so happy because I was!  Photo by Alexandria Mueller or Jay Woofter.

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower (Paris) back in 2012 – I look so happy because I  most absolutely was! Photo by Alexandria Mueller or Jay Woofter.

I am not particularly vain when it comes to my looks because, quite frankly, there ain’t a whole lot to be vain about there!  However, the whole point of this challenge is to answer the prompts.  Accordingly, if I were to pick my *favorite* physical features, I would have to pick my smile or my eyes.  Both express my feelings and emotions.  My favorite photos show me with a genuine smile and where you can see life, vibrance, happiness and energy in my eyes.  Consequently, this most often happens on those perfect days (perfect doesn’t mean things go right but that it’s an experience!) while traveling, such as in the above photo.  Being surrounded by good friends, beautiful sights, historic places and amazing food does wonders to a person’s soul.

“What do you see, Luke Bunker?”

Day 6/31

Today’s prompt was supposed to be “My five senses right now,” but I really didn’t care for that as I’m only sitting here at my dining room table, having just finished a Harry & David Royal Riviera Pear, listening to Rascal Flatts & the GoT Soundtrack (weird combo, I know – see previous post), smelling nothing and writing at my laptop off my iPhone’s portable hotspot because the Internet is down (= grumpy, GRUMPY Luke) and, as such, my normal writing space is not usable right now.  Whew!  So, anyway…  I didn’t care for the prompt (which I guess I sort of just answered), so I decided to reshare a poem I wrote in a creative writing class at college, inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem, “Salut au Monde!” and answer one of the following prompts – “What do you hear?” or “What do you see?”

Sacre Coeur Bell Tower

Sacre Coeur Bell Tower

“What do you see, Luke Bunker?”

What do you see, Luke Bunker?
I see the proud displays of chocolate-makers throughout the city.
I smell the dank and dirt of a place where being clean seems to be an afterthought.
I feel the intensity of sun rays beating on my weary body.
I hear the chatter of men and women going on about their daily lives.
I taste the world’s worst and most expensive coffee in a place where it feels just right.
I am alive in this moment.