travel

Summer Holiday – Booked

Today, I have been quite the ballsy one. Chock full of bravado and daring-do. Spunky, even. Brave as a Rolex dealer strolling in full bling bling mode through a favela in Rio. Adventurous. No, not adventurous. The word just isn’t strong enough. Basically, today I strode onto the internet packing a pair of cojones the size of jet engines falling out of the Colorado sky and booked some flights to Bergerac for late June. A summer holiday!

I know, what an utterly ridiculous notion. A summer holiday indeed. Lockdown must have gotten me all a little delusional. But it’s too late now, I’ve gone and done it. I’m committed. Ryanair sure won’t be giving me my money back when I come to my senses and realise I’ve been an utter buffoon. I’m going to have to see this one through. But…don’t think I rushed into this without giving the pros and cons of such a risky endeavour at least a fleeting moment of thought.

The Pros

  • If some of us don’t start booking holidays sometime soon, there won’t be much in the way of holidays left.
  • These flights were dirt cheap. Less than fifty quid each, return. And paid for from the ‘Refunds 2020’ fund that we have set aside.
  • Ryanair will allow us to change the flights without penalty twice before the end of October, if necessary.
  • Mrs P and I, by my reckoning, will likely have had our first jab more than a month before take off.
  • We really, really want to go someone warm that is not England. A soggy beach hut on the south coast just won’t cut the mustard.
  • Infection rates are plummeting. And If the virus is seasonal, then June is surely out of season for it…?
  • We’re currently cold and bored and locked down, and now we have a holiday to look forward to and dream about.
  • We can hotel shop. Fun times! And they will be free to cancel right up to (or very close to) date of travel. No risk, which is how I like it.

The Cons

  • A new variant appears, one that laughs in the face of vaccines and eats our existing anti-bodies for breakfast. It’ll probably be the El Chapo variant.
  • A lack of take up on our flights leads to it being cancelled. Perhaps I should give the airline some free advertising…
  • Boris decides that all travelers who have been silly enough to try and keep the industry alive must have tests on the way there and back at a cost of £100 each way, per person. That, I’m afraid, is holiday over. You can’t add £400 to a four night Euro break.
  • Or worse, that he decides that everyone returning to the UK must quarantine at the sort of expense that has the bailiff and bankruptcy industries rubbing their hands together with glee.
  • Someone decides that vaccine passports are needed to travel (a perfectly good idea) but that a holder is only considered inoculated – and therefore permitted to travel – after the second dose. Which would be a ridiculous idea given the current data on effectiveness. At least permit travel for one dosers within 12 weeks of that jab.
  • The FCO decides that the time won’t be quite right at any point in 2021 to ease the don’t travel anywhere advisory.
  • Macron gets in a big huff about something and decides to say ‘Non’ to visitors who’ve had the AstaZeneca jab. Oh the absolute scenes that would cause.
  • The vaccine rollout is delayed and Mrs P and I are left hanging on for a dose of AZ’s finest corona juice.

I am, as I have tried to be throughout the pandemic, pragmatic. I’ve no intention of taking foolhardy risks. I’ve suffered at the hands of a virus quite enough in the last couple of years thank you very much and have no desire for a repeat performance. But one wants to enjoy life too. And I fully accept that life will never be a zero risk event.

The bottom line is this. The cost of our flights was low enough that we could walk away and lose the cash without feeling too devastated. Indeed, the disappointment of not having our holiday would hurt more. There’s plenty that could go wrong between now and June. Heck, there’s plenty that could go wrong between now and dinner time – this is still 2021. Mrs P and I will just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

But I feel a growing confidence that normal is on its way back. Ultimately, the decisions that need to be made to reopen travel corridors are not ours to make. We are at the mercy of the powers that be. Some experts see May 1st as the date things get going. Others believe August is more likely. Boris will give us a clue tomorrow evening as he reveals his roadmap out of lockdown.

Stay tuned.

Standard
travel

Holiday 2021

The photo is a throw back to the good old days, when it was possible to fly off to exotic locations and explore, eat and photograph everything to your hearts content. It Marrakesh, 2013. A lifetime ago. Before the plague. Simple times. You booked a flight and some accommodation, and off you went.

My initial optimism for travel in 2021 is diminishing. Maybe, just maybe, we can get a short Mediterranean break in sometime in June. Maybe. But it’s September that I’m looking at with greater interest. But even that will likely be a last minute decision according to the state of the world.

Some countries largely have the virus under control, but likely won’t have a vaccination program under way. So the likes of Cambodia and Thailand may not be as welcoming as we’d like them to be. The Foreign Office, and therefore travel insurance companies, may well declare much of Africa off limits for some time to come.

But what’s that I see out there in the east? Might Japan be a candidate? Mrs P has always wanted to go. As have I, although I’ve been put off by the expense. But perhaps this is the year to grab a bargain. Especially if the Olympics are indeed, as rumoured, cancelled. So we have a new, incredibly tenuous and likely-to-change-at-a-drop of a hat type of plan.

I’ve pre-ordered to 2021 edition of the Eyewitness Japan guide book. And I’m looking how far round the country we’ll get with a seven day rail pass to ride this bullet trains. Stay tuned, as they say.

Standard
health, travel

Coronaggedon

It felt good to be travelling again. I like airports. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m definitely in the Love Actually camp on this subject. It was nice to see a steady stream of jets roaring into the blue skies above Luton Airport. It was good to see bustling shops, Prets and restaurants inside the airport. It was lovely to hear the excited chatter of people off on foreign adventures.

Best of all, it was wonderful to be setting off on my own trip overseas once again. It had been far too long. Had another month passed, it would have been a year since I’d last left the country. A whole calendar year. That hadn’t happened thus far this century. And it didn’t come to pass. We made it to Portugal in good time to prevent such a horror.

We have another trip booked this year. Malta in the middle of October. I say booked, but in truth it is a rebooked holiday. The original booking, for March 26th, was cancelled when the U.K. went into lockdown three days before we were due to fly. It seems at present that this is once again unlikely to occur.

There is currently a quarantine requirement in place for persons coming into the U.K. from Malta, and the current trend in infections suggests that this is unlikely to change between now and then. But I have my fingers crossed anyway. Optimism costs nothing, beyond entirely expected disappointment. And I plan further adventures for next year, with hope in my heart. But in truth, I largely despair at the world.

The people rail and wail against the political classes. They have cause to do so, particularly in populist run states such the US and U.K., where the pandemic has had to compete with comparatively unimportant ideologies, in a world of personality cults. Hence we approach autumn with a collapsing test and trace system. That was the one real job of the government over the last six months, and they have failed.

Only so much blame can be placed on governments. Our societies and the people within them have a lot of freedom to make choices and perform actions based on evidence, common sense and shared knowledge. Sadly, an unfortunately high percentage of the population that I can observe seems set on a course of action that will likely wreak long term damage -economic, social and health – on our communities.

Sadly, the opportunity to choose stupid has proven too tempting, for too many. Ludicrous claims by demonstrably dim witted Youtubers, Tweeters and Facebookers have been elevated above factual statements of genuine experts. And whilst it’s true to say that the hardcore conspiracy theorists are still a tiny minority, they have succeeded in sowing seeds of self destruction in a wider population.

A second wave was always inevitable. Perhaps the inability of a free western democracy to countenance that was also always inevitable. I have largely lost faith with our societies. I have a friend who would now interject in this doom laden essay to say that it will all end well, and I agree with him. I just think it’s worth mentioning that millions will likely die between now and then. So I shall treasure my memories of Portugal. Who knows when next we will fly.

Standard