London, Brussels and Paris — very much to the surprise of the people who call those cities their homes.
The three European capitals may have attracted about 100 million tourists from across the world last year who enjoyed fresh croissants, gigantic English breakfasts and strong Belgian beer, but if he believes his own words then Trump has nothing to look forward to during his European trip this week.
During his campaign and beyond, he has often portrayed the Old Continent as some sort of post-apocalyptic territory only the bravest manage to enter. Most of his negative remarks about Europe were connected to immigration there and to support more restrictive policies in the United States.
A growing number of Western Europeans actually do now favor tougher migration laws, but they still disagree with Trump's broader descriptions of their continent. That’ll make for an awkward trip, as Trump is scheduled to visit or pass by a number of places he has warned against, much to the ire of local leaders.
On Tuesday, Trump will arrive in Brussels for the first part of his journey. It’s a city he has been to before as president, so Belgians have already had some chances for pay back about his 2016 description of parts of the capital as a “hellhole.”
The president will certainly not want to detour via Paris, a city with parts “so vicious ... that the police refuse to go there,” according to his own 2015 remarks. Yet after watching a military parade in the French capital with President Emmanuel Macron last year, Trump decided that not everything was bad in the city of love — especially not the tanks and planes he saw. (It’s still unclear whether a similar military parade he wanted to hold in Washington will ever go ahead.)
Trump might face the toughest part of his trip in the British capital, at least measured by public sentiment. The president repeatedly delayed his trip there and a planned state visit was later downgraded to the working visit that is now about to take place, amid public opposition against hosting Trump, who compared a hospital in the city with a “warzone” as recently as this May.
Western Europe’s most populous capital is a liberal bastion and activists there have been preparing for Trump’s arrival for weeks, which might be one of the reasons why the president will spend little time in areas where he might be confronted by the tens of thousands of expected protesters.
After more than 24 hours in London, Scotland could offer the president a bit of relief from European anger, but past statements will catch up with him as soon as he is on the way to his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the Finnish capital.
Trump will fly past Sweden — a nation he angered last February when he appeared to make up a terror attack that had never happened. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”
To Europeans, it was all hard to believe indeed.