Linda Tate and her friend Catherine Hetzel were enjoying their first dinner in Paris on Friday night when they began getting odd messages on their Facebook pages.
“I hope you guys are okay” friends were asking. Tate, 28, of West Palm Beach, and Hetzel, 29, of Metuchen, New Jersey, checked Twitter and learned of the terrorist attacks by ISIS.
“Every time you’d refresh you’d hear of another attack,” Tate said. Other diners checked their phones but continued eating. Tate, Hetzel and other friends who had joined them for dinner asked if they could eat in a dining room in the basement near the kitchen.
“Each of us was getting a little more panicked,” Tate said. Still, the other diners kept eating and so they did, too. “It was definitely very calm.”
But the attacks became more real when they left the restaurant and began walking back to the studio where they were staying, which is closer to one of the sites the terrorists attacked.
“We weren’t feeling to well about going back,” Tate said. Instead, they stopped at a hotel that had its own security. They tried to get a room but they were full. As they walked back to their studio, police with assault rifles patrolled the streets.
Tate and Hetzel had arrived in Paris on Friday morning. The quick vacation was a girls’ trip to celebrate Hetzel’s upcoming wedding in February. The plan was to meet up with other friends, shop and hop a tourist bus to see the city’s sites. Instead, they contacted the U.S. Embassy and reported they were safe.
“We were going to do some wedding shopping and get some awesome stuff,” said Tate. “Maybe by Monday things will calm down a little.”
The women are still considering what to do for the remaining three days of their stay in Paris, said Tate, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley in West Palm Beach. They considered leaving and visiting a friend in Amsterdam but then learned the airport is closed.
They intend to avoid crowded, confined sites, like the Metro, Paris’ subway. Walking seems to be the safest option, Tate said.
“We’re going to find out if you have to be on lock-down of you can venture,” Tate said. “You almost feel weird having a good time because they killed a bunch of people.”