Se a vida é: My “small but lovely” 2021 travel review
Happy New Year to you! I hope you entered the new year being well, healthy , optimistic and full of travel plans! The 2021 travel review is long overdue. As I sit down here at home to write this, I am looking back on one of the most intense, frightening, busy years – work and life-wise, not travel wise! But a bit of travel made it in, despite the general state of Europe, and my small universe. Time for the annual travel review?
The past year was busy – and, being a medic, I expected that. We started the vaccination programme on 27th December 2020, starting with the most vulnerable, people living in assisted care, only to get the vaccine rolled out to the masses by way of large vaccination centres through summer. We dealt with the fallout from millions of cancelled surgeries, the emotional burden of the pandemic, the frustration from people… it was pretty intense. Just as the year came to a close, I saw a very sick child in one of my emergency clinics then spent an hour phoning various hospitals to find a critical care bed, besides looking after the critically ill child, and then it took us another hour to find an emergency doctor who would transfer the child. That’s another fallout from the pandemic -one you don’t hear or read about too often.
And, you may ask, how can I go travelling at these times? Is there material for a 2021 travel review Because, dear friends, travel helps keep me sane. At times like this, it is important to find balance and some rest to process and distract, so travel I did, always within the legal boundaries, and always with plenty of vaccine on board.
A bit late this time, time to reflect how my 2021 travel plans panned out. Well – a lot of it DID happen, which I am very grateful about.
Venice in June
When finally borders opened again without having to quarantine or jump legal hoops, I went to Italy on a whim – with infection numbers really low, open borders and the minimum of legalities for the vaccinated, Italy was open for tourism again. In order to tie it up with work, I flew to bergamo and returned form Milan and spent more time than I wanted on crowded trains. The crowded theme continued on Venice’s waterbuses, where I thought I might put my vaccine on the endurance test.
On the whole, I felt really anxious, travelling solo after more than a year, but the tranquil atmosphere of my convent guesthouse in Venice and taking lots of long walks in Venice helped me get my footing about travel again, and I started to look forward to travelling again.
How to shop useful sustainable and yet beautiful souvenirs in Venice
Where to Eat in Venice: 10 places with moderate prices yet excellent quality
Thessaloniki and Sithonia in September
Somewhat unplanned, a “Plan B” holiday after put plans to tour the Veneto and Croatia fell apart, this was a nice if too brief break after a very stressful summer. I had big plans for travel in autumn after the vaccine got rolled out, but my mom’s husband got sick and declined sharply, so I tried to help my mom look after him. I spent all my free time shuttling the 200km to my mothers house and be on nurse duty.
At some point, I got so stressed I sat in A&E in the middle of my work day with severe chest pains and a fever, expecting the worst. This was the kick in the butt to find a new family doctor and take steps to more moderation – moderation in work, moderation in diet, moderate exercise… it took until the next trip for life to feel normal again, and this trip, as lovely as it was, I was feeling ropey the entire time. We just booked the cheapest trip to a sunny destination, which was Thessaloniki.
With my husband having a penchant for Greece, a great choice although the weather was moody, to say the least – but sunnier than at home. Omly some hardy Russians would bathe off Chalkidiki’s beaches in early October, though!
None yet. Work ramped up big time in autumn and I got an Netflix subscription and lied on the couch after work like a vegetable.
Southeastern Anatolia in November
This continues to feel like a carefree, impromptu trip, even though I had booked the flight back in June when I spotted a cheap offer. I never thought the trip might happen as from early autumn, case numbers crept up again, only to explode some time before Christmas as the Omikron variant started to appear.
As with the Greece trip, none, although I made a half-assed attempt to write one on entry requirements and travel practicalities (which should be easy to write, because Turkey is very easy to travel right now). It’s coming along, at least in thought, because I wish to re-visit Turkey and my research is pretty up to date.
Riga in December
A totally unnecessary trip, one might say, as work was ramping up as the dreaded coronavirus, bringing a new variant, caused a bit of trouble in Germany through late autumn and early winter. Christmas markets cancelled, confusing restrictions for culture, restaurants and shops, demand that all those vaccinated over the beginning of the year should now received a third dose…
My problem of not having visited a “new” country in 2021 turned out to be a true luxury problem, but after a summer marred by illness and worry, this was a problem I did not mind having, and one I would swiftly solve. I found a flight for 25 Euro, shouldered a little backpack Friday after work, and spent a rather cold and drizzly weekend in Riga on the cheap.
Blog posts on Riga
None. I am a busy bee at work and a slow writer. Also, I spent, what, less than 48 hours there, so I can hardly call myself an expert. Found a nice super cheap accommodation, spa, and restaurant so I might write a little review post or something.
This was my 2021 travel review – how about an outlook for 2022 Travel?
Eek, Omicron Surge here as we write. I have a holiday coming up in two weeks and had grand plans, which are falling apart as we speak.
I also feel somewhat bad to gallivant about while our health service is somewhat creaking. No hospitals unable to provide a service like in the UK (yet). On the other hand, some recent study suggest Omikron to require fewer hospital admissions, but that study says its 15% less, so if there is a tenfold increase in infections, potentially knocking out a medical work force ten fold, too, that’s not gonna help us much, is it? On the other hand, I am tired. After my last week-long break, I came back to work with renewed energy and motivation. I am vaccinated as fully as you can be, I am super careful, I test, and if I have not caught it yet is probably largely down to luck. A week of Omikron confinement probably beats a heart attack or burnout.
So, flights going as they should, and my intended destination remaining lockdown-free, I should be somewhere scenic and sunny soon.
Also, I have a big birthday this year, and wanted to travel somewhere “special”. From a cruise on a 1960’s Hurtigruten steamer to a tour of Italy’s finest hotels, I have had plenty of ideas but nothing stuck yet. I have tons and tons and tons of overtime, so perhaps I will take a little more time off, situation allowing, and just go on a few more trips this year and mind the budget a little less – who knows?