The latest Concierge.com has an interesting slide show accompanied by text that covers various travel habits and destinations of American presidents through history. For example, Abraham Lincoln never left the United States, and Teddy Roosevelt is the first president to have traveled overseas while in office. Air travel had nothing to do with the amount, it seems. For example, check out Thomas Jefferson. He was an international traveling man for sure.
Browsing through the slides and texts is a bit of a history lesson, along with a glance at how presidents are tourists like the rest of us–except for the Secret Service. If you’ve ever seen a U.S. president in person, you’ve noticed the folks in suits.
The folks in suits is what tipped me of that I was about to get a presidential sighting when I was in Poland years ago. The first Bush–George Herbert Walker was in Warsaw at the same time. I was initially tipped off to some important happening by the American flags festooning the light posts of the street where we happened to be walking.
“Look at all those flags,” we said. “What’s that about?” The large parked cars with American diplomat license plates were another clue. “Hmmm, that’s interesting.”
“Isn’t President Bush on a world tour?” someone in my group asked. The dark suited men carrying walkie talkies and wearing sunglasses cinched it. We’d hang out with the rest of the commoners to see what came next.
Regardless of ones politics, there is something exciting about the hoopla that surrounds a presidential visit, particularly if you happen to be at a place where you didn’t expect a sighting. We might have been heading off for a bite to eat or to a museum. I can’t remember. As the years pass, the experience I remember most about the visit to Warsaw was that slice of time.
Before the motorcade approached, minutes after we stopped, the energy in the air crackled. People in the crowd craned their necks and stood on tip-toes, stretching for a glimpse. As the car road by and turned into the fortress of some official goverment type building, there was a flurry of waves and shouts in Polish.
My view of President George Bush, the elder, version and his wife Barbara was from a distance, but I could see both of them waving through the car window’s glass for a few seconds before they disappeared behind a gate and we continued on to wherever we were heading.
The photo is of President Dwight Eisenhower’s motorcade in Kabul. [Flickr/ Library of Congress via pingnews.]