the world's smartest travel social network
With much of Europe about to open up their borders in July to visitors from various other countries, the message is clear. Yes, it may take some spunk to leave the safety and comfort of your home, but during these past three-plus months of stay-at-home life, much of the world has adapted to a “new normal” and the principles of how to stay healthy even during an an ongoing pandemic - including traveling in as safe a manner as possible.
Those eligible should consult the new European Union website ReopenEuropa.eu, which offers detailed country-by-country information on reopening plans and still existing travel restrictions in Europe, while the rest of us while waiting for our own invitations (including those of us in the USA) can regularly check out the most helpful IATA World Travel Regulations Interactive Map, which details Covid-19 travel restrictions for every country in the world.
Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, beloved around the world for his fairy tales, once wrote that “to travel is to live”. We at BonVoyageurs share this philosophy and believe that travel creates memories and establish relationships that last a lifetime. So on that note and mindful of how well the countries we have selected have handled the pandemic, here are some suggestions for travel in Europe this summer.
A trip to Greece offers a living, breathing step back into the cultural golden age of antiquity like no other place in the world. Plus Greece always delights on a multitude of levels - island-hopping from one fascinating, charming, step-back-in-time isle (like Symi, top) to another. The beauty of the white-washed villages framed in bougainvillea against the azure background of the Aegean and Ionian seas is stunning. The charming slow pace of life sets the ideal vacation mode. The culinary offerings, from the delicious street food to the divine gastronomy, paired with a bottle of Greek wine, or not, excite and satisfy! Greek food is a worldwide favorite, but it truly tastes better in Greece! And how about the fabulous Greek music that inspires you to clap your hands and even get up and dance? The ancient splendor of Athens is of course unparalleled, but if the capital has too many tourists for you, or you simply prefer a quieter pace of life, then head out of town and visit the culturally vibrant city of Thessaloniki, situated on the Aegean coast in northern Greece. Asfali taxidia!
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik.” The medieval old quarter of this Croatian city has especially become a travel hotspot in recent years thanks to its leading role as one of the filming sites for the blockbuster HBO series Game of Thr.... And rightly so. One of the most perfectly preserved medieval cities in the world, Dubrovnik’s Old Town fortifications were among the most impressive in the medieval world, and they still impress today. But expect to be wowed not only by the awesome views from the ramparts around the city, but also by the preservation of the “medieval” town and the many fine seafood restaurants in this stunning port city along the Adriatic coast of Croatia.
Whether you are traveling by sea or car, try also to spend several days in both the coastal cities of Zadar and Split. Here’s an incentive: in 305 AD the Roman emperor Diocletian chose Split as the site in which to build a magnificent palace for himself to live out his final days. If you have the time to go inland, don’t miss a visit to this country's lively capital Zagreb. Sigurna putovanja!
Sweet & Savory Switzerland
I first traveled to Switzerland when I was 19. Instant coup de foudre, especially with the goose-down duvets and Swiss watches! So, this is what chocolate - and cheese, yogurt, wine, and the list goes on - is supposed to taste like! Plus, most everywhere I went, the scene was worthy of a picture postcard. Whether I was in the Alps looking down or in the charming villages and cities looking up, the views were unforgettable as was the Alpine hiking. Switzerland is certainly an ideal getaway with the emphasis these days on social distancing and spending time outdoors. In the meantime, its major cities, from Geneva to Zurich and capital Bern to enchanting Basel, all offer elegant restaurants, beautiful shops, interesting museums, and a safe and clean visit.
If you go to Geneva, be sure to take out a paddleboat on Lac Leman. In Zurich, don’t miss the truly gorgeous five stained glass windows by Chagall in the 11th century Fraumünster Church, and be sure to make a visit to the Swiss National Museum. Lastly, one of our favorite visits in Switzerland was to Basel, a very scenic university town on the border with France and Germany with the Rhine river meandering through it. We spent close to a full day walking the city to enjoy and admire the Art in the City tour that features stunning original works of art situated on the walkways of the city, each with its own plaque containing an explanation of the creation and a brief bio of the artist. Also worthy of a visit is an outing to Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, approximately a 20-minute tram ride into the suburbs. Enjoy the art collection, including 23 Picassos and an impressive impressionist collection. Bon voyage en toute sécurité, sichere Reisen and buon viaggio!
Our first trip around France was the summer of our first year living there. We departed our home in Besançon near the Swiss border and headed for the Loire Valley. Beautiful countryside, charming little hotels with croissants & café au lait served to us in bed, picnic lunches of cheese, paté & wine with our French cat, outdoor candlelight dinners with exquisite food, and fairytale castles to visit during the day. And that was just the beginning of our five-week trip around France. I was enchanted the entire time. Enough to alter my career path once I was back home in the States and set up a business taking me to Paris at least twice a year. Plus we took a month-long visit in the French Alps with our daughters every summer. France was nourishment for our souls — all four of us. It provided us with the perfect environment to learn the technique of slowing down and pursuing the French art of joie de vivre. With so much beauty, art, divine food, historical places to visit, and awesome shopping opportunities… there was simply never a dull moment and yet … there was always plenty of opportunity and the perfect environment to unwind.
In France, Especially the South & the Alps
While France is full of fabulous places to vacation, here are some of our favorites: rent an air-conditioned apartment (so you can close the windows and sleep comfortably and peacefully at night) around the Marché aux Fleurs across from the beach in Nice and mix day-trip outings to places like Chateau Eza in Eze, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul de Vence, the Musée Picasso in Antibes, Café de Paris in Monaco, La Mere Germaine in Villefranche-sur-Mer (and so much more!) with days of total relaxation at our favorite beach club in Nice, Plage Beau Rivage. Rent a vacation home at in the Provençal paradise of Saint-Remy de Provence and use this as your base to travel around the region (where you'll also want to walk in the footsteps of Van Gogh and other artists who sojourned there). Do a wine tour of Bordeaux, and add on Cognac and Armagnac while you are in the neighborhood. Go mountain biking and hiking and enjoy Alpine summer sports at Les Arcs (a favorite of ours when the kids were young) which offers trails and sightseeing itineraries, and make sure to visit Chamonix for French Alpine charm (ask for a room with a view of Mont Blanc!). Most importantly, pace yourself, take time to savor each experience, each meal, each view, and enjoy every day. Bon voyage en toute sécurité!
Americans and others beyond the borders of Europe still waiting for an invitation to visit, start dreaming - hopefully it's coming soon!
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for our writings about other countries of the world as we share our joie de vivre from across the globe. Luxury escapes, cruises, and city breaks to Québec City, New York, Washington DC, Buenos Aires. In Europe and the Mediterranean, places like Paris and Nice, Florence, Rome, Napoli, the Amalfi Coast, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Asian countries like China, India, Nepal, and so much more!