Saturday, January 22, 2022

I’m thinking about travel again. Does that mean that things are beginning to feel normal?

Regular readers will know that I am an enthusiastic traveller. Trains, planes and automobiles buses are one of my passions although, whilst I’m probably more knowledgeable than most about the machines that convey me, they are the means to an end, rather than the focus of attention. No, it’s about the journey, the idle glance out of the window, the sense of being somewhere new, or interesting or, preferably, both. I’ve been to a lot of places as a result - not as many as some, but enough.
I kind of blame one person for this, a former International Officer of the Young Liberal Democrats, who packed me off to a seminar in Aarhus, Denmark. Internationalism started me off, and the sense of adventure took over. And yes, it helped to have family, at first in India and then, later, across the globe. So, if you’re out there, John, many thanks!

But the pandemic rather put a stop to that, and even had I wanted to travel, the various restrictions would have made it, if not difficult then unpredictable and, frankly, my life is not such that I can afford to be trapped on the wrong side of an international border or in quarantine. And I was reconciled to that - my appetite for risk is not huge or reckless. Leisure travel is just not worth the hassle.

As things eased though, travel resumed. There was the trip to Quebec to see our granddaughter, and Christmas saw us in Maine to spend more quality time with her and her parents. And, whilst travel is not as casual as it was pre-Covid, it is possible if you make sure that you are top of the guidance.

And so, I’m beginning to ponder the possibility of a trip around the Easter break. Nowhere too complex, as I don’t want to be anywhere where the health system is weak, or where the Government is prone to draconian restrictions. I’d like a new country though, as I haven’t been to a new one for a while. That’s a consideration because I have an informal goal of visiting more countries than I have birthdays. For now, I’m ten ahead.

So, what’s left in Europe? Well, a chunk of the Balkans - Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania - Belarus (I think not), Ukraine (probably best avoided for the time being), Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Iceland. But my mind is probably set on the two microstates left on my “outstanding list” - Liechtenstein and San Marino. It’s about nine hours from Vaduz to Rimini, and I haven’t traveled on Italian railways very much.

There’s little point booking anything yet - the news of a possible new variant, and the case numbers across Europe linked to the Omicron variant make everything uncertain at best. But making some provisional plans does offer some gentle amusement in these gloomy winter evenings, and we all need something to look forward to, don’t we?…

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