Oh the places we’ll go: My first trip after Covid

This pandemic will pass and we will travel again. But where will we go?

‘I hear the laughs of my biggest little girl barrelling down the slides at the campsite where I’ve taken my family to every year – apart from last year – since 2014.’Photograph: Getty Images

‘I hear the laughs of my biggest little girl barrelling down the slides at the campsite where I’ve taken my family to every year – apart from last year – since 2014.’Photograph: Getty Images

 

‘I remember the little mobile home a sun-kissed stroll away from the pool’ 
When the Covid dread threatens to overwhelm me in the dead of these dark nights I go camping in my mind. I think of four short slides leading to a small saltwater swimming pool on a campsite in northern Spain. I hear the laughs of my biggest little girl barrelling down the slides, oblivious to the roars of lifeguards made grumpy by days policing unruly children and their shoulda-known-better dads. My littlest big girl meanwhile, too small yet to take the plunge herself, waits in her mama’s arms for her sisters to splash down, shrieking with delight when they do.

I remember the little mobile home a sun-kissed stroll away from the pool and the barbecue where I spend mellow evenings flipping hot burgers and sipping cold beers enveloped by the sounds of laughing children. I remember warm Mediterranean waves slapping the sandy beach running along one side of the site. I even recall wistfully the Esclat supermarket nearby where the Popes pile trolleys – yes, we need two – high with supplies at the start of every holiday, black-eyed prawns giving ice creams filthy looks as we shop. The campsite I take myself to when the dread strikes is where I’ve taken my family every year since 2014, every year except last year. Covid robbed us of our holiday in 2020 but it robbed us of more than that, it robbed us of memories. I plan to reclaim them when my turn on those slides next comes. Conor Pope, Consumer Affairs Correspondent for The Irish Times

‘I want to sit by the pool in the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.’ Photograph: Lisa Romerein/Fairmont Hotel
‘I want to sit by the pool in the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.’ Photograph: Lisa Romerein/Fairmont Hotel

‘I want to go back to California’ 
I want to visit friends in Dublin and my mother in Italy, but mostly I want to go back to California. It seems so abstract and faraway now but at some point the possibility of a bigger life will once more present itself and I’ll be reminded that the world is every bit as astounding as it was before these dreary days of constant confinements.

I want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles and spend a few days in the pine forests around Big Sur. I want to join in early-morning meditation in Ojai, visit San Simeon and watch the sun set over Venice Beach. I want to sit by the pool in the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica and imagine what it was like when Greta Garbo lived there. I want to suggest to management that they change their “do not disturb” signs so they read, “I want to be alone”.

I want to eat in restaurants where waiters offer me toast with urban-beehive honey and feel quietly smug that Californians get so giddy about tomatoes that have half the flavour of the ones I buy in Aldi. I want to bathe in California’s maximum dazzle. First, though, I have to wait. Fionn Davenport (editor, Irish Travel News Network)

‘It would be nice to . . . sample the beauty and delight of the west of Ireland’ 
Lockdown has made us all appreciate simple and modest things, so I am content to roll with that. When we can travel again, I hanker after a trip around the Irish coastline, particularly the western seaboard. My brother and his wife have a campervan and my hope is that I can sneak aboard as they strike out again on their adventures.

They tell me there’s a lovely eco-friendly caravan park in Clifden so it would be nice to start there and go on to sample the beauty and delight of the west of Ireland. I was born in Sligo and brought up in Galway, so mountains and the sea “do it” for me. As long as I am dressed for the weather I don’t care what it’s like – I love walking and looking and talking to myself, and there’s no better place to do all that than on the, quite immodestly beautiful, Irish coast. – Pauline McLynn, actor

‘Me and my family are heading to Miami once it is safe’ 
Once it is safe, me and my family are going to the sun and heading to Miami. But not until we have all been vaccinated. I can’t wait to travel again, and have missed it, but like everyone else, I just want it to be a safe world first and that will be very soon. Light is at the end of the tunnel. – Mary McKenna, MD Tour America

‘My love affair with Italy started the moment I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain in 2009.’ Photograph: Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
‘My love affair with Italy started the moment I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain in 2009.’ Photograph: Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

‘For now I’ll continue to stare out at Connemara mist and daydream but I need to go back to Italy’ 
My love affair with Italy started the moment I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain in 2009. As the legend goes, it means a return to the Eternal City. As much as I was wowed by the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, the cultural history, the architecture and the gelato, life’s road has not led me back. I have adventured to different parts of this Mediterranean paradise though.

In Sicily, I sat on the deck of a boat bobbing up and down in the Tyrrhenian Sea drinking wine, watching as lava spewed and lit up the night sky. I sipped bellinis in Caffe Wunderbar and stood in Bar Vitelli, close to the church of San Nicolo, high in the Sicilian hills where Michael Corleone married Apollonia.

In Venice, I had the most expensive coffee of my life. In fair Verona, where I lay this scene, under the 14th-century building billed as the home of Shakespeare’s Juliet, I touched the right breast of a bronze statue of the lovelorn fictional teenager for good luck. An Italian tour guide set her heart on me meeting her son Roberto. She assured me he would collect me on his Vespa but I never did meet him. For now I’ll continue to stare out at Connemara mist and daydream but I need to go back to Italy, I’ve thrown a coin in the Trevi fountain and who knows, maybe I’ll see what Roberto and his Vespa are up to these days. Ciara King, 2FM DJ

‘I want to take my partner home, to see where I was made’ 
When Australia opens her borders I will go home for a holiday. My dad will pick me up but will not meet me in the arrivals terminal. “Bloody airport parking is a rip off, that’s how they get you.” We will argue over whether our meeting spot is the “blue” or the “turquoise” car park then my dad will turn up and say over the V8 engine “Anybloodyway ow you garn’ dahlin’ we missed ya dint we Lozza?” And it will instantly feel like home.

I will lie in my parents’ backyard drinking their beer in a bikini top and a pair of denim hot pants that my mum banned from family gatherings when I was 17. I will sit and talk with my grandmothers and put ice in white wine to keep it cold. I don’t care if this sounds crass. This is the land of “it’s too hot to give a s**t”. We go to the supermarket with no shoes and no shirt. No problem. Overweight retirees in Speedos sit on the beach next to the topless Instagram models, both safe from stares or comments.

Most of all I want to take my partner home, to see where I was made. So that he understands I’m not mental. Just a Sydneysider. But until the border reopens I will join the other 40,000 Aussies in the long queue to get back, all of us waiting for the day we hear familiar footsteps in flip flops hitting concrete, a voice we know calling our names across the carpark. ‘Oi this way!’ Brianna Parkins, Broadcaster

Budapest train station: ‘Budapest and Berlin are two of my favourite cities.’ Photograph: Getty Images
Budapest train station: ‘Budapest and Berlin are two of my favourite cities.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘The first thing I’d like to do is take a sleeper train through Europe’ 
I’ve not left my small town in months so the idea of going anywhere beyond my own postcode feels on a par with rollerskating around the rings of Saturn. I won’t be in the market for any new destinations or experiences. My immediate travel priorities will require familiarity and reassurance that all is as it should be so the first thing I’d like to do is take a sleeper train through Europe, ideally between Berlin and Budapest, two of my favourite cities.

There’s something thrillingly romantic about taking night trains across Europe. No form of travel beats being lulled to sleep in a bunk by the swaying of the carriage and having your dreams underpinned by a gentle, rhythmic clanking from the tracks beneath. Occasionally you’ll stir in the dead of night, realising the train has stopped. There are slamming doors farther up the train, distant voices in foreign tongues and for a brief moment you could be in a John le Carré novel.

In the morning you’re woken by a knock on the door from a bleary attendant in a waistcoat bearing coffee and a croissant, then the train is pulling into the heart of a city just as it’s waking up. I hope it happens. Not least because driving the Christmas tree to the dump is currently in the running to be this year’s holiday. – Charlie Connelly, author

‘Tramore gave us great memories.’ Photograph: Getty Images
‘Tramore gave us great memories.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘As soon as we can travel again we’re going to Tramore’ 
My family will recreate a summer holiday from the 1990s in Tramore. For 10 years we went to the sunny southeast, first to a caravan, then to Sheila Brennan’s B&B and eventually to a hotel called the Majestic. Over Christmas, we talked about the amusements in Tramore and about being in Splashworld – a swimming pool with two slides – and the beach and the promenade we walked while munching on fish and chips from Dooleys. We haven’t been there in 20 years but could still name check places!

The plan is as soon as we can travel again we’re going to Tramore, the five of us and our dog Arlow. Maybe we’ll be too big for the amusements, maybe some shops are different but one thing is for sure, Tramore gave us great memories. Please God that chipper is still open, 13-year-old me can still taste the chips! Thomas Crosse, FM104 DJ

We also posed the question “Where is the first place you’ll go” on Twitter. Here are just a handful of the responses.

Uganda to see family, friends, soak up equatorial sunshine, eat the best pineapples and bananas in the world, dance, drink waragi and find a swimming pool by the river Nile. – Muireann Kyeyune

Road trip in a camper van from Calgary to Vancouver and then by ferry to Alaska. – Vivienne Clarke

New York City baby! The thought of it is keeping the fires lit! – Liam Murphy

I aim to ski by Easter maybe, driving to Lake Garda and Austria in July and Krakow later in year! – Aileen Eglington

Wee trip to Gaoth Dobhair would be just lovely, and to sit in a pub watching the world go by. – Nuala Connolly

Hope to go to Spain mid June just for the sun and relaxation. – Sheila Kelly Reilly

Have a baby now so nothing too crazy, but I can see myself sitting outside of Tigh Neachtains in Galway on a sunny Friday afternoon having a couple of pints of Guinness. – Ciaran McGrenera

I would love to travel the Wild Atlantic Way. Unfortunately I don’t drive, 2nd choice Lanzarote bliss. I live in hope. – Pauline Killion

Paris, where I will spend the entire time in busy restaurants and cafes. – Karen Maye

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