AirToob Lightning

This was Venice in early September, 2001. It was our first trip, and we loved it. We only had a week, so we saw all the "must see" places like the Ca' Rezzonico...

...and the Piazza San Marco (and many more that you have seen zillions of photos of before).

Only a few hundred yards west of the Rialto Bridge, the crowds magically disappeared...

...and we greatly enjoyed exploring the (much) quieter Western Quarter.

Such a beautiful place - and nobody here but ourselves!

The weather was hot and brassy that week, so we mostly had a siesta in the afternoon and went out for an evening stroll just before sunset. We caught the low sun reflecting on the gold leaf of the Basilica...

...and enjoyed window shopping (much cheaper than the real thing!)...

...while trying to choose a nice place to eat. At one of these places, we learnt the hard way that fish was priced by the 100g, not by the course!

Walking home one night after our meal, we encountered this spooky looking wall of masks in the window of a shop that had closed for the night.

And then we returned to England. It was September 11th, and we were greeted by our daughter running across the drive, telling us what she had just seen on television.

We knew, over the next hours and days, that the world would never be quite the same place again. There were acts of incredible tragedy and heroism. There was a feeling of solidarity across the Atlantic that was quite astonishing, as the e-mails, forums and phone calls went to and fro.

A few days later, in our small town of Epping, England, scenes like this were taking place, similar to those in many, many other places.

At the time, I remember thinking that there were going to be very bad times ahead - and there were - but also that really bad times seem to bring out the best in people - and they did, nowhere more so than in New York. Among the good things that came out of this tragedy, there was New York's "Pay It Forward" programme, described here on my web site.