So, I am off again—finally. I have counted my blessings during COVID. I have stayed healthy and active. I have never been bored. I have had food in my belly and a warm place to sleep every night. (Well except those late October nights when daughter Rebecca and I were camping in Utah—but that was by choice.)
I am writing this in the Athens airport waiting to take a short flight to Istanbul. I have never been to Turkey and now I will have over a month to get a taste of this country. It I there that I will celebrate my 68th birthday.
To catch you up on my goings-on…During COVID I planned several trips that never took. But for me, travel planning is like a solving a puzzle, so I never felt it was time wasted. I did get to travel a bit. Daughter Rebecca (an out-of-work chef) and I bought a Suburu Forester in Seattle in August 2020 and joined the thousands of people road tripping across the USA. We were outfitted for camping and I put my lifetime senior Park Service Card to good use (free entry to all National Parks and monuments and and half-price camping on government land!). If are 62 or over and don’t have yours, check out the program here.
Highlight Photos of the Road Trip
Six Months in Mexico
We traveled and hiked for three months, until the weather turned too cold to make sleeping in a tent fun. Becca stayed in Arizona for a while and I went to Mexico to continue to wait out Covid. I was not really traveling—I lived for 5 months in Guanajuato and spent most of my time knitting and revamping my website and blog.
Serious Travel Planning Begins Again
Then after Becca relocated to New Orleans, I decided to join her there in August 2021 to continue to wait until the world opened up again. One interesting trip I planned during that time (but did not pull off because Omicron raised its ugly head) was my own version of the Orient Express—a train journey from London to Tbilisi, Georgia—stopping in Paris, Annecy, Venice, Bled, Belgrade, Sofia, (a side trip to Greece), Istanbul, and on to Tbilisi. You can make that entire journey by train. Here is my map:
I wrote about my planning and research methods in a series of blog posts, called “Look Over My Shoulder,” showing fellow independent travelers how I go from dreaming to ready to buy tickets. You can read the series here.
Needless to say, my plans changed and changed again. Finally, it looked like things would clear up. BUT taking trains across borders in Europe is still a bit dicey. So, I decided to truncate my “Orient Express” trip down to Greece (short visit), Turkey, three or four Balkan countries, and Georgia. I don’t dare plan anything past that point!
Here is a fairly accurate itinerary. BUT remember, independent travelers are nothing if not flexible.