Subject: Re: Travelling during religious festivals & holidays

This is a fun topic because some of my favorite travel memories occurred during religious festivals and holidays in the country I was visiting. I think the most vivid experience was Sanja Matsuri in Tokyo. It is the biggest of Tokyo's traditional three "Grand Festivals." It annually draws over two million people to the Sensoji Shrine in Asakusa in Tokyo. Teams of pilgrims carry portable shrines or mikoshi to the Temple, chanting as they push aside the crowd. If you were not hyperaware of a mikoshi coming from behind you, the crowd definitely could pin you against a building or a post as it tried to make room. Even so, people were very happy, polite and good natured. It was a very festive festival! The sounds, sights and smells are a wonderful memory. Here are some photos to give you an idea of the crowds:

I have also had the good fortune to enjoy Guy Fawkes Day in London and Fete Nationale (Bastille Day), Labor Day and Veterans Day in Paris with their colorful parades down the Champs Elysses. The only really bad experience I had was during spring bank holiday in England. We could not get to where we wanted to go because the trains were full! In doing my travel planning, I won't hesitate to travel during just about holiday in a foreign city or country but I will always try to avoid bank holidays.

Mark in Los Angeles