Monday, June 15, 2020

In Greece ~ A Long Awaited Holibob

Refreshed and Renewed we are!

It is amazing what the shortest of holibobs will do for a traveler's soul after weeks of being COVID19-prevention-confined in the Greek Peloponnese.

Picturesque Spetses Island

Holibob
is my new word of the week.  As I've written before, being an American expat in Greece and living among expats largely from Europe has expanded our vocabulary immensely. Case in point: holibob.


Greek ferry travel is one of our favorite means of transport
When discussing our travel plans with Julia, a British friend in the village, she exclaimed, 'You are taking a holibob!' Such is the word they use to describe a trip in which one 'bobs' from one place to another.

Saronic islands - a not to miss experience

Now, doesn't that put a new spin on our phrase 'road trip'?!?

Our holibob was planned to be a four-night getaway to two islands in the Saronic Gulf.  But as we've learned in the last few months, life's travel 'plans' are probably better referred to as travel 'hopes'.

Pine trees Greek style on this mountain pass
It is a four-hour drive from our Stone House on the Hill to the tip of the 'thumb' of the Peloponnese from which the ferry to Spetses in the Saronic Island chain sets forth.  The route includes divided four-lane toll roads and tiny winding roads through orange groves and forested mountainsides. The ferry crossing is 25 minutes each way.




After two nights on Spetses we would head to nearby Hydra (Idra). That was the plan, anyway.

Travel within Greece has been allowed for a couple of weeks with hotels, eateries, tavernas and bars  getting the go-ahead to open about the same time as travel restrictions were lifted. Tourists from outside Greece begin arriving this week so we wanted to get in a 'bob' before those from elsewhere begin arriving. Greece is moving from mandatory COVID19 testing of all arrivals to random.



Hydra island in the distance 

However, relaxing the airport testing -- along with a small  spike in cases last week -- has resulted in the national COVID prevention team (scientists and doctors advising the government) being brought back together. The government has begun imposing regional and local lockdowns  and will continue to do so, as necessary as Greece continues to reopen.

Much like I wrote in our last post about Gythio, it felt so good. . .so normal. . .to be traveling again. But there is no ignoring the fact that travel is a different animal these days. Packing a packet of disposable surface cleaners, liquid hand sanitizer, sanitizer wipes and face masks -- and using them -- does put a different feel on a getaway.

All passengers must wear masks on the ferry pictured behind me


Face masks are required to be worn by all staff who serve food and beverages. Far more places we ate and sipped at than not, were complying with the rule. Many servers wore gloves as well. Face masks are required on public transportation like trains, buses and ferries with interior seating. Our open air ferry didn't require masks. . .I might add there were about a dozen walk on passengers on each of our sailings. Self distancing wasn't a problem.

Hotel Klimis (on the left) walking distance from the ferry dock

I felt silly wiping down door handles and light switch covers at The Klimis Hotel where we stayed because our room had been sanitized and cleaned before our arrival (we were told our getting into the room could be delayed for sanitizing). Whew! The smell of disinfectant was so strong we opened the doors to the deck to air it out a bit, but felt safe in knowing that the place sparkled. And yes, I still wiped down table surfaces and other such places.

Our self-distanced deck and views from it

Hand sanitizer bottles were strategically placed in common areas of the hotel, retail stores and restaurants. It is amazing how many times you touch things with little notice to the act until you've become germophobic as I seem to be these days.


A sign of the times in Spetses

There were few tourists about the town - another plus of taking a mid-week jaunt.  It had been busy the prior three-day holiday weekend, we were told.


Serious about prevention in Greece

Tavernas, bars, restaurants and shops with the exception of a few were open.  Rules about entry were new additions to the shop windows.

Distanced and ready for diners on Spetses

It wasn't until we attempted to make reservations for two nights on nearby Hydra island that we realized how 'shut down' Greece remains.  Hotels there weren't open so we cut the holibob short and headed back to the mainland, with a new plan to spend the night in an old favorite, Nafplio.   It is another like Gythio - such a favorite that I really must tell you about it next time!

Until then we hope this finds you and yours safe and well.  Add a comment or send an email and let us know how things are in your part of the world.

Linking sometime with:

Mosaic Monday
Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

5 comments:

  1. I'm not sure when I will be travelling again. I would like to be able to see my new granddaughter, born in early May, but she lives over 2,000 km away from me in another province and it's likely to be at least another month or two before travel there will be feasible, although things are starting to open up somewhat. It sounds as if hotels and restaurants took good precautions where you travelled, but I would be like you and still wipe things down. Were you still able to enjoy yourself even with all the changes and extra precautions?

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    1. As I have written in blog posts this spring, spending the pandemic in Greece was probably one of the best decisions we ever made because even when locked down life went on much as it always does. We have been in a bubble. So not only were we able to enjoy this trip, we've enjoyed every day and quite often forget there is a pandemic out there. All of that said, we know it could change in a moment so are also appreciating travel and daily routines with a renewed enthusiasm! Fingers crossed you get to see that new granddaughter soon!

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  2. I'm glad you got to travel. That seems less likely here for me this summer...

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  3. It's nice that you got to take a holibob!

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We have been having problems in recent weeks with our comment section and I am not quite sure how to fix it. Thanks for letting us know. Some comments have been coming in as emails, so I will respond to those as I get them.

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