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Truth in Travel 2020

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Cheers to a life of travel in 2020. Traveling is to make a journey, typically of some length. This has been an iconic year of travel. Some of us have been able to travel locally, some abroad and almost everyone has travelled somewhere virtually this year.

The new era of travel is full of new adventures, policies, restrictions and mixed feelings. Every country down to each city and county has different viewpoints, rules and regulations in place. Some people live in fear of traveling and others are ready to fly.

I believe in maintaining a healthy work life balance. I believe in living free and flexible. I believe in the opposite of fear. The opposite of fear is curiosity and trust. I believe in living a life of truth and peace AND I believe in going places. I believe in movement.

I was one of those people ready to fly. Thankful I have dual citizenship and Europe was easily accessible for me.

I traveled the month of August 2020 on an empty flight out to Athens, Greece via San Francisco to Amsterdam. San Francisco International Airport was completely quiet and empty. My flight approximately had 40 people. The flight too was quiet and empty. Very pleasurable and wearing a mask for 11 hours surprisingly wasn’t so bad. I somehow always cry on flights over 4 hours or so when I’m watching movies. I seem to get more emotional at higher elevation so the only downside to wearing a mask the entire time is when you start crying and the tears fall into the pocket of your mask. Recommendation is to change your mask every four hours so that helped with some of the tears.

Arriving in Amsterdam, I expected to see a quiet and empty airport and instead it was the complete opposite - loud and full. Full of travelers! I marvelled at where everyone was going and spending their summer vacation. I had a four hour layover so after passing through passport control I proceeded to one of the lounges where I followed up on some work and had a few snacks. Yes, airport lounges were all open. I then went to my gate and was surprised again to see a full flight to Athens. All seats filled, yes middle seats too. Masks were required for all passengers. I am an avid traveler, but coming from the US when there is limited travel and restrictions I have to admit it felt a bit uncomfortable to be on a very full flight. Also, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport makes you fill out a Covid-19 health form that they never once collected at any point upon arrival and /or departure. I threw away the form when I got to Greece.

As for arrival in Greece, each passenger is required to fill out a PLF form otherwise known as a passenger locator form 24 hours before your flight upon which you receive an email with a QR code. No PLF form, no QR code, no flight for you. Upon arrival in Athens, your QR code is scanned and you’re either sent for testing or straight to baggage claim. Guess where yours truly went? That’s right, I went to get tested. Greeks move fast and they like to yell a lot (I am Greek so I know I can admit this) so the testing line moved quickly and my mouth was swabbed in a matter of three seconds. This was the third time I got tested since the pandemic started and all three were very different tests. One test all the way up the nose, the second test was two q-tips in the nostril area and lastly in the mouth. No call from the Greek government in 24 hours means you’re negative otherwise you’re thrown in a quarantine hotel for two weeks.

I spent two nights in Athens to leave all my things there and then I went back to the airport to fly to Croatia for an annual European sailing trip. Same airport experience, loud and busy. Arrival in Split was just as loud and busy. With the exception of airplanes, airports, pharmacies, grocery stores and other retail, I did not wear a mask. Summer in Europe is primarily outside. We do everything outside and well, life felt almost normal. Sailing was a glorious experience with

7 yachts and lots of personalities. After my days at sea, I flew once again back to Athens. Second time back to Athens, I did not get tested at the airport. I decided to hide away for a bit as I was feeling that I had been around too many people in Croatia. Croatia was full of large groups, no social distancing measures, large groups of students and waiters wearing their masks underneath their nose.

While in Athens, I did a lot of self care through getting massages and hypnotherapy sessions. I then went to see my dad. He lives year round at the island of Alonissos. Alonissos, as he calls it, is the Hawaii of Greece. Looks nothing like Hawaii, but it’s a sacred place and a true gem in the Aegean Sea. It’s green, very green, filled with pine trees and large rocks that line up to the sea and it’s famous for a natural marine park. The island was the opposite of loud and busy. It was back to quiet and empty. Such a beautiful week there with my dad at his restaurant. Despite all the travel to get there, it was completely worth spending time with family. Back in Athens, life resumed as normal. Schools opened up, traffic was high and the restaurants were hustling.

All in all, I am so grateful for the travel experience. It was safe, clean and I still managed to visit my family in Greece that I only see once to twice a year. Please don’t be scared of travel, of people, of life. Follow the guidelines in the destination you’re headed. It’s honestly the best time to fly. I’ve been on nine international and domestic flights in 6 weeks and I’m healthy. Wear a mask when necessary, wash your hands, and be respectful wherever you’re at.

Live your life, be free.

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