Best Of Travel

Stephen Bailey
Here's a great destination for your 2021 summer trip
Here's a great destination for your 2021 summer trip
Stephen Bailey

It’s great to have a long travel bucketlist. Mine is so long I split it in two. There’s the “bucketlist of bucketlists”, that of the dream destinations, of Patagonia and Antarctica, of those exotic places that I just know eventually I’ve got to make it there, because I won’t be fully content as a traveller until I have.

Then there’s the realistic bucketlist. The bucketlist of “what can I do in the next six, nine, 12 months?” And at the top of that bucketlist right now is Greece.

Greece looks like it’s going to be open to visitors, especially those who’ve been vaccinated. It looks like it’s going to be safe and restriction-free. So, it seems this year could be a great time to go to Greece, because though it’s usually a very popular destination, not a lot of people are travelling there now.

Exploring Greece from afar

I travelled in Greece when I was a kid, but I don’t really remember it. I’ve not seen much of the country. But over the last couple of weeks I have been researching where to go and what to do, and I’m amazed at the variety on offer.

Of course I’ve heard of Athens, the Acropolis, the Agora, and the different Athenian neighborhoods. I’ve heard of Santorini — who’s not seen photos of Santorini on Instagram? — of Crete, of Mykonos.

But now I know there are many other islands where you can find great ruins, great history — small islands that haven’t developed for tourism in the same way as Santorini.

I found out that Athens is not the only place on the mainland with incredible history. For instance, I can’t stop looking at photos of Meteora, a place where monasteries are perched on top of cliffs that just seem to rise out of nowhere. It looks spectacular.

I’m reading about the golden city of Mycenae, which looks stunning. I’m discovering the Saronic Islands, finding out about Tyros. I’m interested in an island called Diros, that is just fascinating — I would love to get a boat and go around it, stopping at different places.

And as I start researching a destination, I go from the broad ideas to the practicalities. Maybe this is how you do it too. You’ve got an idea that is high on your travel bucketlist and you start researching — where can I go? What things do I want to do? What are the destinations? And little by little, it gets more practical — where am I going to stay?

And in this respect, Greece stands out. It has had tourism for a long time, and one of the good things about touristic places is that they have an established infrastructure. This means there’s a network of quality accommodation — whether it’s high-end or on a more affordable level — so you know you’re going to be comfortable with style.

Enjoying the travel planning

As I research Greece, I’m finding that I’ve got to expand my bucketlist. Because it’s not just “Greece” — it’s actually different parts of Greece.

Do you have that as well? You want to go to a destination, you start researching it — and you realize you don’t have the time. You’ve only got two weeks, and there’s no way you can do everything. So you have to prioritize.

But this process of planning a trip is so exciting, so joyful. It’s part of the fun. Travel is not just the time when you’re there. Part of the excitement is having the bucketlist and dreaming about being in a destination, then taking that and making it practical, planning it out.

In my case, I don’t just plan it out on my own. I talk to people in the destination, get help from the locals. That too is part of the fun — connecting with people and finding out about things you never knew existed.

That process in which an idea, a destination, a name, becomes a two-week trip — it takes time. But I love doing it. I love the conversations I have with my girlfriend, when we start talking about a destination we just found, looking at photos, feeling we have to go everywhere — then deciding on our priorities.

It’s such a joyful experience. And if travel planning is not joyful, the whole experience just isn’t going to be as fun. That’s what has made it even harder with Covid — there was all the anticipation, then the trip was cancelled.

Like all lovers of travel, I’m looking forward to the time when that’s over, and the joyful planning can take place with our being confident of reaching that destination.

And right now, I’m putting my bets on Greece. With all the different islands, if you must change our itinerary to visit one island and not another, that’s not too much of a bad thing.

I really see Greece as the destination for this summer.

By Stephen Bailey. Edited by Beatrice Becker.

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