Friday, May 15, 2020
Last December I wrote a piece called, “When Travel Plans Go Awry.” I had planned to see the Christmas markets and visit friends in France with my son and granddaughter, but because of widespread transportation strikes in France at that time, we changed to London with two days notice and no plans. We had a wonderful time.
That seems a lifetime ago. Today making last minute travel plans–or ANY travel plans–seem remote indeed. The State Department’s Global Level 4 Health Advisory (the first I’ve ever seen) still stands. It’s blunt: “Do Not Travel.” But that won’t last forever.
Right now other countries doing the same things we are–some are in the stay-at-home phase, some are opening a few businesses with modifications for social distancing and masks, most are working toward mass testing, contact tracing, and containment. But tourism is a major economic sector, so they are also planning ahead, working toward the day when they can put out that sanitized welcome mat. But not yet. Even if you’re thinking of domestic travel. Both Alaska and Hawaii requires a 14-day quarantine.
Travel sites such as TripAdvisor, Rick Steves, Expedia, and Trivago, as well as airline, tour companies, and hotel web sites all display prominent COVID-19 updates and I’m sure that any site where you can make a reservation will strive to keep you in the loop as possibilities open up. For now, feel free to dream while you browse the tourism sites that each country has set up to tempt you. Here are a few to get you started:
Greece: http://www.visitgreece.gr/ . Greece, like many countries, is opening up slowly with strict rules about masks and social distancing. They would like to begin some tourism in the fall with am emphasis on activities which allow for distancing. In the meantime, they invite you to watch a video called “Greece from Home” linked from their web site.
Italy: http://www.italia.it/en/home.html offers suggestions on ten movies about Italy and seven Italian museums for virtual visits from home while you wait for the real thing.
Germany: https://www.tourism.de/ offers picture tours of various cities and tempting articles on breads, salads, cakes, and main dishes (showing a crisp schnitzel).
Japan: https://www.japan.travel/en/ displays beautiful pictures and articles on cities, scenery, and culture. Who can resist “Bathing Tips and Tricks,” “Off the Beaten Path in Japan,” or “Art and Design in Japan.”
Spain https://www.spain.info/en_us/ offer photos and information, starting with a cautious but welcoming statement: “Spain is giving everything it’s got in a united, responsible fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We will soon be able to welcome you again with open arms.”
I would love to take you around the world, but for now I’ll end with Portugal https://www.visitportugal.com/en which like Greece, offers an “Explore Portugal #FromHome” section where you can find everything Portugal has to offer by selecting your area of interest, such as nature, arts and culture, romance. . . who can resist?
You can find more wonderful travel experiences without pop-up booking ads by just searching on “(name of country) tourism” and look for the simplest listing. For example, search on “Prague tourism” and select Prague.eu for https://www.prague.eu/en and you find beautiful places to explore. Make plans, mark up maps, make a dream scrapbook, start a bucket list . . . My guess is you have a year or two to decide.
Today’s Notable Headlines
“From mecca to ‘ghost town’, Mykonos awaits tourism relief,” AFP, May 14, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/mecca-ghost-town-mykonos-awaits-tourism-relief-005413429.html
“Norway Likely to Keep Coronavirus Travel Curbs Until August 20,” U.S. News and World Report. May 15,2020. https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2020-05-15/norway-likely-to-keep-travel-restrictions-until-august-20-pm
“Only slim chance tourists can visit Spain this year, suggests country’s foreign minister,” The Independent, May 15, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/slim-chance-tourists-visit-spain-144155154.html
“The First Signs of Travel’s Return?” The New York Times, May 12, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/first-signs-travels-return-122905112.html
Why am I doing this?
The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.
You are on History’s Edge.