Posted: 7/12/21 | July 12th, 2021
Jeg var redd. As I packed my bags, all these worries darted through my mind: would travel be just as fun and carefree as it was pre-COVID? would people still be hosteling? What would that vibe be like? would I even remember how to travel?
Sure, I was excited. I was going to Greece, a destination I hadn’t checked out in ten years!
But, as the world got back into traveling — as I got back into traveling — would it be so different I wouldn’t recognize the experience?
And what about Greece itself? how different would it be after so long, not only because of the flourish in influencer-driven selfies from the islands but also a year without tourism?
Before every trip, my afraid inner self worries about all the things that could go wrong. It screams my lingering fears and anxieties about, well, everything. I don’t let these fears stop me from traveling, but, even after all these years on the road, the old me is still there in the back of my mind, fretting about everything.
It turns out travel is just like riding a bike. As soon as I touched down in the Athens airport, my brain went on autopilot and, before I knew it, I was reading a book on the subway into town as if I had done it a million times before.
Because I had. Subways work essentially the same anywhere in the world.
And all those worries? They were for nothing. traveling in the age of COVID just indicates a lot more paperwork and a mask now and then. before my flight, I had to show my vaccination card and proof I had submitted Greece’s health screening form, as well as answer a barrage of additional questions. Masks were required on the plane, and there were paper checks when you landed. and there are health forms to be submitted before taking any ferries.
But beyond that, everything else is (mostly) the same. traveling through Greece ideal now, you don’t see lots of people wearing masks. It’s too hot, and a lot of people (at least on the islands) are vaccinated. Servers, bus drivers, some hotel staff, and taxi motorists wear them about 50% of the time. If you go into a museum or public building, you are required to wear them but it’s not common to see people in public walking around with masks.
Greece is as magical as I remember it. It’s still the land of blazing suns, picturesque landscapes, olive groves, azure water that beckons to you, jovial locals who talk with such rapidity and vigor that you think Greeks only communicate by yelling, refreshing wines, and out-of-this-world food with a variety that never seems to end. (And, ten years later, Greece is still exceptionally affordable.*)
I’m now in my third week here. I started off in Athens before swiftly heading off to Naxos, Ios, and Santorini, then arriving in Crete, where I am now.
Naxos, my favorite island in the Cyclades, is still as quiet as it has always been, but there are a lot more shops, beach bars, and boutique hotels catering to a richer clientele. Thankfully, the island is so big that it’s easy for people to spread out; there’s hardly ever a crowd.
Santorini is way a lot more developed, with a lot more boutique hotels, fancy eateries, and bougie wineries. and the prices and crowds are just as crazy as I remember them to be (though not as much as Mykonos). As I said on my Instagram, I’m not a substantial fan of this island. There are just too lots of people concentrated in a space that can’t accommodate them.
But the crowds that descend on the island are still fairly muted compared to pre-COVID standards. There are fewer cruise ships each day and not as lots of regular travelers. If I’m finding it crowded now, I can’t even begin to think of how crowded it need to have been pre-COVID.
And the hostel scene I was so anxious about? Well, all over Greece, it’s still raging. Hostels are still the bustle of energy they used to be. Sure, they aren’t as crowded as before but I can say that hostel life has not been destroyed by COVID. While some hostels are limiting the number of people in dorms, hostels have been fairly crowded with plenty of backpackers seeking to meet other travelers.
Overall, I don’t feel like Greece has changed that much. Sure, credit scores cards are widely accepted now, prices are a bit higher, and there’s a lot more luxury stuff for tourists, but its essence hasn’t changed. It’s still got the same character.
(And Crete? Wow. What an extraordinary place. I am thankful I finally made it here. but a lot more on that later in a longer post just about this island.)
Being back in Greece has reminded me of the happiness of travel. sitting on the water’s edge, diving into a fish with a glass of white wine, I felt just so dang happy. I was feeding my body, but a lot more importantly, I was feeding my soul. Greece has been the antidote to the malaise I’ve felt considering that the pandemic began.
That year-plus of drifting denied me my passion in life: travel. What does one do when they can’t do what they love anymore? It wasn’t like I had made a decision to retire. I was forced to take a break.
Now, I am back at it and already have found that there is simply not enough time to do everything I want to. My month in Greece looks like it will turn into five weeks, and as I stare at a map of Europe and think, “Where to next?” my mind creates a million itineraries and possibilities.
But that is a Future Matt problem. present Matt has observed that it’s dinnertime here in Crete, and as the sun sets, another seaside restaurant in Chania, with its freshly caught fish and chilled glass of white wine, is calling me.
And that’s a call I simply can’t resist.
*Note: I’ll have a post on costs soon.
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Book Your Flight
Bruk Skyscanner eller Momondo for å finne en rimelig flytur. They are my two favorite search engines because they search web sites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. start with Skyscanner first though because they have the greatest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the greatest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the least expensive rates for guesthouses and low-cost hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
Paraga beach Hostel (Mykonos)
Don’t forget travel Insurance
Reiseforsikring vil sikre deg mot sykdom, skade, tyveri og kanselleringer. Det er detaljert beskyttelse i tilfelle noe går galt. Jeg drar aldri på tur uten det, da jeg har måttet bruke det mange ganger i det siste. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Sikkerhetsving (for alle under 70)
Insure My trip (for those over 70)
MedJet (for ekstra hjemsendelsesdekning)
Looking for the best companies to save money With?
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