He was Corfu’s most famous son but how will the Ionian island remember Prince Philip?
Well, probably not at all as ‘Phil the Greek’ as he was rather impertinently referred to by cheeky commoners lived all of 18 months in the island off Albania.
The Turks saw to that sentencing his Dad Andrew to death before he escaped with his son in an orange box.
The Prince of Greece, unsurprisingly, had no longing to return particularly after finding a warmer welcome with the Windsors, of Windsor.
Wares of Greeks
And he was to say when asked: ‘I certainly never felt nostalgic about Greece. A grandfather assassinated and a father condemned to death does not endear me to the perpetrators.’
That was then and this is now and we’re all jolly good friends, ourselves and the Greeks.
Right down to the fact that they have a cricket pitch, the very essence of English culture, in the centre of Corfu Town.
And we’re busy courting the Hellenes, and they us, particularly as a possible green light country under the outline of the Global Travel Task Force.
Global Task Force
On which topic how do we feel about said Global Task Force.
And again I find myself in tune with my friends at the Scottish Passenger Agents Association who are lobbying our politicians north of the border here to get on board.
Joanne Dooey, President of the SPAA, speaks for all of us, travel professionals and travel providers alike when she says: ‘Currently, the advice being given today is for travellers to and from England, and in our meetings next week with the Scottish Aviation Working Group we will be urging that Scotland follows suit.’
While she also raises an issue we have long flagged up.
She said: ‘We have some initial reservations on cost and availability of testing, the traffic light system and how vaccination passes will work operationally.
‘Our chief concern is the requirement for a PCR test and the costs associated with this. PCR testing is currently an expensive option which will place financial strain on families who travel together.
‘We would like to see the cost of this driven down or alternative forms of acceptable testing such as antigen and lateral flow.
‘The traffic light system has to have clarity and we all need to know the data which will place each country in green, amber or red and importantly what will trigger the move from one category to another.
‘This should be an internationally agreed system as currently this is only one side of the equation and travellers also need to know all the regulations for entry to their destination country.
All of which brings us back to what we should be looking out for if we do we want to get out to Corfu.
It is an island we know well from spending our first married days there with highlights including a dab at water skiing (or drinking), doughnuts and a flirtation (on his part) with the hotel keyboardist.
Corfu is surprisingly green and has its quirks such as that cricket pitch and the ubiquitous scary-looking Greek monks, though with the types of beards I’ve been trying to grow for 30 years.
The Scary One is never far away though clicking her scissors just in case.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.