The anticipation of the trip, the excitement of discovering something new, and the wonder of what a new place will be like. Right now, I'm in the midst of planning our first major post-pandemic trip. In addition to the usual flurry of communications with airBnB hosts and Googling maps of neighbourhoods to explore, I also have a list of pandemic requirements we need to meet to get into each country. I wish I could say that this list felt solid, but between the ever-changing requirements and the newness of it all, I'm not feeling as confident as I'd like. "Proof of vaccination" - what does that even mean? Is my little hand-written vaccination card from the BC government enough or do I need a certified passport like the ones being handed out in Europe? And how will I manage a negative Covid test that must be taken within 72 hours of landing, when the test results take 24 hours and my flight takes another 24 hours? So many questions, so few firm answers. But uncertainty is something I love about travel, and flying across the Atlantic during a pandemic certainly gives me that.
I have a romanticized notion of what Greece and Italy will be like. People sitting out on sidewalk patios sipping their coffee under the warm sun. Being in awe of civilization as we walk through the ancient ruins. I can't wait to land in Athens and navigate through the narrow European streets to the apartment we rented in Kolonaki. To spend an entire month in the city, not only visiting the ancient sites and trying new foods, but also to setup a routine. To feel like a local, going to the gym in the morning, then finding a tiny cafe where I become a regular for the month. I want to jog through the National Garden knowing that the Temple of Zeus is just across the street, and watch the sunset over the Athens skyline from Lofos Likavitou. And of course I can't wait to visit the center of both ancient and modern Athens, the Acropolis.
Trip planning takes a lot of balance. Planning just enough of the trip to have direction when we land, but not too much so that we feel like our days are rigid and structured. Learning enough about the city in advance so that I know what I want to see, but not so much that there isn't time to follow a local's last-minute advice on visiting a great restaurant that's a little bit out of the way. The anticipation of the trip is just the beginning of the travel experience. Here we go.