Back in January, just before COVID hit, Nick and I were discussing and negotiating our vacation plans for the year.
“I want to go somewhere and see something this year,” he said.
Yes, yes. I thought to myself.
We had gone on a Caribbean cruise for our vacation last year, which, in my opinion, was time well spent at the buffet and the beach. However, this was Nick’s year to pick out travel plans (I gave him a “vacation coupon” allowing him to decide), and he wanted something a little more adventurous.
We casually talked about the possibility of going to China.
My last visit to China was over seven years ago, and Nick has never been before. China is a vast, diverse, and densely populated place. Different regions can have very distinct geography, culture, language, and customs (somewhat like the EU). For better or for worse, the landscape of the country is ever changing, and definitely worthy of a repeat visit. However, the stars did not align for us to pull the trigger on this trip, and at the time, it was not because of COVID.
A couple of weeks later, we started to entertain the idea of going to Italy.
Italy has been on my bucket list for a long time. Ranked amongst the top five most visited countries in the world, Italy is a hub for history, art, culture, and food. We had dinner with friends who had just visited and raved about their amazing experience there. Unfortunately, my excitement for pasta, gelato, and wine were tempered by the unsettling coronavirus stories that were starting to come out of the region.
I was reassured that Italy had a solid healthcare system, plus, the industry had learned valuable lessons from battling other infectious diseases in the recent past. Armed with this knowledge and Nick’s growing exasperation, I agreed to book our flights.
“We’ll wait a week before booking to see how things go,” Nick compromised.
“Well I’m really glad that we hit pause on the booking,” I told my friend Kate. “Because things really hit the fan there.” By this time, June was rolling around, and I was working on a deadline to finalize my vacation for the year. Some areas of the EU were starting to ease restrictions and come out of lockdown.
“You and Nick should come visit me in Luxemburg,” Kate said. “We could probably do some short road trips nearby.”
“Kate, that is such a great idea and generous offer!” I exclaimed. Luxemburg was no Italy, but France and Germany were next-door.
“Do you know anyone who had travelled recently?” I asked.
“Not internationally,” Kate responded.
The travel advisory was still in effect, and I wasn’t sure if we could reliably get there.
But beyond that, most insurance companies were refusing to cover COVID related travel claims, and there was still the issue of quarantine upon return…
Luckily, Ontario decided to move into stage two of reopening and we ended up going to a cottage in the district of Parry Sound. Cottage country was magical in its own way – swimming in the lake, canoeing in the mist, seeing the stars, and Kawartha ice cream. It was a great reprieve and contrast from the city.
However, our “adventures” on this vacation consisted of a spontaneous day trip to North Bay, take-out from a couple of craft breweries, and an impromptu stop at the Candy Shoppe.
I know that Nick felt cheated.
“Don’t worry honey,” I told Nick. “We’ll go on a real adventure next year!”
“But what if things aren’t back to normal by then?” he asked.
“Well that’s a little bit beyond my control,” I reasoned. “However, what I can do is extend your vacation coupon to 2021!”