Get me to the Greek (Island)

Last summer I went to Greece for the first time and I loved it. The scenery, the food and the weather all agreed with me and I knew there was so much more that I wanted to see there. I had to go back.

In the fall, as my youngest son and I started to plan our summer 2020 Mom & Me  trip to Spain, I started thinking about how I might be able to add a little time in Greece to the itinerary. After consulting with some travel savvy girlfriends, and a very capable travel agent, I had a plan – 2 weeks in Spain with my boy followed by 2 weeks in Greece solo. Perfect. I could barely wait for July!

As this Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the globe’s population, I’ve been trying keep perspective on my vacation plans. While I initially naively believed my trip was so distant that it would be possible, I’m beginning to realize that the original itinerary just might not happen this year. Spain is a hotspot, like NYC, and it’s likely that travel restrictions will remain in place and curtail our ability to visit Madrid and Seville and Valencia. This year, that is.

Our flights are booked through American Airlines and I was relieved to learn that the airline was offering ticket holders the opportunity to cancel trips and receive credit for future travel. My tickets were relatively inexpensive, which meant they came with little flexibility and I was concerned that I would have to absorb their cost as a loss. I’m waiting for the airline to make the official call, but have reconciled that the loss of my anticipated vacation is a minor one in light of all the real loss experienced by hundreds of thousands of people who have been impacted by this pandemic.

Despite my acceptance of the situation, I continue to read travel websites and communicate with people whom I intended to spend time with while in Europe. A Greek woman I met last year during an awesome food tour in Athens, has shared that the Greek government is planning to reopen travel in July. Greece has escaped much of the wrath of this disease, although there have been outbreaks in areas which received refugees, including in a community which I planned to visit, Nafplio.

After talking with Marina, and Maria whom I’m renting an apartment from again this year on Paros Island, I decided to take a quick look at airfares. While I know that purchasing airline tickets is a genuine roll of the dice, most airlines are offering discount fares with generous conditions. United Airlines had a particularly sweet deal for the same dates I had planned to be in Greece – a nonstop flight from Newark to Athens, with a piece of checked luggage, for a total of $530. Hmmm…

The last couple of Christmases I’ve traveled on United to Palm Springs and have enjoyed the flight. The fare that United was currently offering, which I was interested in, was changeable without penalty or fee and could be rescheduled through April 2021. That means that I could cancel this new reservation, if conditions should demand, and parlay it into a ticket for Christmas in California. It seemed like a fair risk to me and I hit Purchase.

I know that many people will find my impetuousness foolish, but I’m ok with that. Travel is my greatest passion and indulgence and if there’s an opportunity for me to take a (second) chance to get to one of my favorite places on earth, I’m going to give it a shot. Palm Springs for the holidays seems a decent hedge.

How about you? How are you dealing with summer plans and vacation reservations made in advance?

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