Countries, Culture, Europe

Greek vaccine passports

The lyrically named Haris Theoharis brings good news to us lockdown travellers… the carrot of summer holidays to Greece.

The Greek Tourism minister spoke to our public rather than at them like our politicians do when he spoke on British radio this week.

And Haris echoed what I’ve been saying for weeks…

“We don’t want to limit travel to those who have been vaccinated of course, but since we are mandating that before travelling someone has to have a negative test result, this is a waste of resources if people are vaccinated, to be tested every time they travel, the need for this testing could be limited by the vaccination certificate,” he said.

All of which makes perfect sense.

Dip your toe into Kythera in Greece

All arrivals into Greece have to present a negative Covid test taken within a 72-hour window, while arrivals from the UK have to undergo a rapid test on arrival as well.

Having bought and then undergone a home test before travelling to the European Covid gateway of Bergamo in the Autumn I can verify that this is best practice.

And guess what, I wore my masks, cleaned my hands, kept my social distance just like all the other Bergamaschi and returned with barely a germ.

Greek leaders

Of course, I’m not holding my breath that we will be allowed what is our right, not a privilege, to be able to travel.

The cats don’t know about Covid

But when we do, and if initially it is only Greece, then I’m mighty glad it is as I could travel this ancient country all my days. Just like Odysseus.

The year 2021 is a very special one too for the Greeks as it is the bicentennial of the 1821 Revolution which saw them extricate themselves from the Ottoman Empire.

Out of their tree but I love them

It is just the Greeks’ bad luck, and they have had plenty of that in recent years, that the bicentennial should fall during a pandemic.

But these stoical (it is a Greek root and concept) people of ancient stock have been ploughing on regardless and will mark March 25 with pride and as much ceremony as they can.

Pick your venue

When we do get up and travelling again you’ll find me somewhere on Greece.

Be it Athens, one of its islands, Kythera, the second city Thessaloniki, or any of the other islands (Corfu was our honeymoon island).

I’ll keep the Greek flag flyng high

And when I do, of course, I will be contacting one my go-to providers, my old faithfuls TUI who are promoting holidays there from £188pp.

You  know the story by now of me starting off my scribblinh career with the old Thomson Regional Newspapers which was an arm of their travel business.

No training or skill goes to waste. But I still have to master my Zorba dancing and I know where to go to to practise.

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

WTM Holiday Snaps – An ancient Greek modern tale

We’re going to have fun in 2021, and high up on the list is Greece’s bicentenary..

And a good day to talk about it though, in truth, every day is a good one to wax lyrical about Hellas.

As the Greeks today set up their committee for the year which marks 200 years since the end of the Greek War of Independence which saw the rebirth of the nation.

It turns out that I’m a Philhellene, which is a lover of Greece.

Which all of us know from our schooldays comes from the Greek word philos meaning love.

Corfu corker

I love Corfu obviously as the island where I honeymooned and made Herself the Happiest Woman Alive.

A Greek God: On Kythera

While I caught up with friends from the Attica region where this old relic had an odyssey of my own before eventually getting to the Parthenon.

Kythera idyll

And bagging an Attica island of my own in Kythera.

The good news is that there are plenty to go around, 6,000 (count them!)

Greece has been held up this year as an example to the rest of us about how to deal with Covid and hence were kept off the UK exempt list.

While other countries fell like dominoes.

Thessaloniki in the distance

And so many tourists discovered the joys of Greece for the first time after switching holidays at the last minute.

Thessaloniki OK

And to the mainland as well as the islands with Greece’s Second City, Thessaloniki, served by Ryanair, EasyJet and Jet2.

As a son of a second city myself, Glasgow, I know why citizens of Second Cities work harder and live harder.

And Thessaloniki is known for its friendliness, music festival scene and as the culinary capital of Greece.

Parthenon for the course

Greek cities and prefectures all will celebrate the Bicentenary next year though some like Thessaloniki arrived late to the party.

In their case 1912 as the Ottomans held onto them longer and that’s a recommendation in itself.

Greek uplift

And the world will be there to celebrate with them.

Though maybe at a more social distance than when an international group of us got stuck in an Athens restaurant lift for half an hour.

The philos was all around us.

Countries, Deals, Europe, Sport, UK

Fun on the water in Corfu and Lake Geneva

I know you think I walk on water but I really don’t.

I’ve swallowed more sea… in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea doing water sports than a puffer fish, who incidentally I never did get deep enough to see.

But I do persist and got to see me my turtles and rainbow fish in the Caribbean,

Let’s walk on that… Corfu

All of which messing around on the water brings me around to Corfu where Ryanair will fly you for €24.99 single which is 30% off.

And where my waterskiing career dived just as it began on honeymoon though thankfully the marriage bit has lasted,

Because I learned early where the Scary One is concerned that ‘when she wants my opinion she’ll give it to me.’

Window to the world: Ryanair

Ryanair has a range of offers which end midnight tomorrow, August 6.

But we’re zeroing in on this sample on Greece with Chania (€31.87) and Thessaloniki (€29.99).

And Greece’s Second City my Hellenophile pals assure me from my Greek Odyssey is the real jewel of Greece.

Or surfing in Switzerland

Pictures of Switzerland

And yes you know it, you can surf in the most surprising places as I did on that cruise ship in Barcelona.

With my old friends Royal Caribbean and my new pal, Irish surfer Gearoid McDaid, on Odyssey of the Seas.

All you need is a board, a body of water for a swell which you can get too in landlocked countries.

Zurich-West is one of the places to see and be seen with its urban surf centre, flowing drinks, sumptuous food and rocking music.

Professional instructors are on hand and I do hope they have more to work with than Gearoid had with me on FlowRider.

Watery playground

Zurich, of course, has its own natural watery playground, Lake Zurich where you can learn to sail or be sailed.

As well as the public outdoor pools where you can enjoy your pool experience.

Switzerland we all know from skiing but those mountains are transformed in the summer into hiking heaven.

Jump in: Lake Geneva

Stay at the grand dame Baur au Lac Hotel overnight stay including breakfast and two-hour vintage boat trip on Lake Zurich.

The real deal

With driver and Baur au Lac pucnic basket for two from 990CHF (€906/£819) and each additional night 450CHF (€411/£371.71) for two.

Baur au Lac has rooms from 695CHF (€634/£573) per night based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Double on room-only basis.

MEET YOU ON THE SWELL