My experience traveling to Greece during the COVID-19 Pandemic

5:37 AM

 

Hi guys, it might sound weird but I never thought that I will ever miss the planes, because I hate them a lot. Every time when we took a flight, I had a bit of stress just because I am not a fan of crowded areas and packed planes and the idea of germs everywhere. Haha, I guess I am a germophobe in certain ways. 

Anyway despite of Covid situation, Europe opened borders and started welcoming tourists. But as a resposible citizens, we went to do a Covid test before we left for our vacation to make sure that we are healthy even we had no symptoms. 

I was also quite curious to experince myself this "horrible" test that everyone talking and sharing on social media and to be honest, it wasn't bad. So if in your city, they offer a free testing, I would incourage you to do it before you go anywhere and even if you came back from your vacation. Don't be selfish, think about others!

We picked Greece for our vacation destination because it looked like the safest place to go right now. They had a low rate of infections, plus, it was cheap since demand has been down. I've always dreamed to visit the Cyclades islands in Greece. Of course, I wanted to see Mykonos and Santorini, but this time we got to see Athens, Mykonos and two other islands of Naxos and Paros. Oh, also, the goverment of Greece required us to register on their website to get a special QR code. Without this QR code, you will be fined 500 euro. The Greek government is also doing random COVID testing at the airport, but since we had our results with us that we did 72 hours prior the flight, we felt super confident that we will not need to repeat the test. We were luckily not selected upon arrival. 

After our results came back negative in Germany, we packed our bags and left to the airport. When we arrived at the airport in Frankfurt, we were quite shocked at how empty the airport was, but at same time, it felt very safe because less people meant less possibility to get infected. Like any closed area, you are required to wear a face mask and maintain distances. During entire flight you have to wear masks too, which I didn't mind because I have flown before in a face mask since you never know who is sick. Every time we got on a plane we received sanitizing wipes to wipe our seats and hands. The staff would keep announcing that you are required to wear mask and you can get fined if you don't listen. They gave us small snacks that I found silly because people who are infected might cough during eating time. Anyway, I skipped my meal and waited until we landed. 

The first stop was in Athens. Taxi drivers were all wearing masks during our drive. As soon we arrived to hotel we got greeted by staff who also were in masks. After when we checked into our glamorous hotel right in the heart of the city, it was explained that they serve breakfast in the room due COVID. I love having breakfast in bed! 

I will write a different a blog post about what you can visit in Greece and our itinerary. Here, I just want to share how different our traveling experience was this time. Basically, any places like museums, stores and hotels staff were wearing masks. We were wearing masks too, but noticed that many tourist would sometimes not wear any mask. It was understandable at times, since the temperature was very hot, and sometimes, you just forget for a momemt. Of course, a mask might not protect you 100%, but I felt safer when everyone around you was wearing one and respecting the rules. 

I completely forgot to mention, when you travel between islands on the boat, you are required to wear masks too and complete the form on where are you staying on the island. When we left to Mykonos, they were even checking the temperature of travelers. I think this is because they had a spike of infections in Mykonos. I will tell you why. Compared to other islands, Mykonos was definitely less cautious overall. Firstly, it was the most crowded island. The beaches were packed with partiers. It was impossible to distance. People were getting drunk and carelessly walking around without masks. The staff didn't wear masks too. But the other islands were quite careful, which is perhaps why they had no COVID cases while we were there. Overall, the Greek authorities are taking COVID very seriously. They understand their entire economy relies on tourism, so they have to keep people healthy!























Home products review at canvaschamp.com

8:08 AM

Hi, guys! I hope you are having a wonderful time while quarantined at home. Cooking, reading, creating, or even just watching TV. As long as you feel safe at home, this is the most important thing today. 

I have done many searches online on how to update and redecorate our home. It's actually the perfect time right now since we aren't traveling anywhere. I ended up on canvaschamp.com and came up with a few ideas about what I would like to order. If you are not familiar with canvaschamp.com, they offer a nice selection of printing options from canvas to different photo products like mugs, pillows, coasters, and of course photobooks. 

I know my mother-in-law was looking to order some photo pillows for their country house because we already have a few printed canvas. I thought that I would like to order a wall calendar for this year. Having a calendar is actually useful especially if you can write down all your appointments and important dates. Since I am against plastic bags, you can also get your own tote bag that will be a future option too. I also would love to print my own magnets from our travels that I can share with my relatives. Plenty of options for cute personalized flair to add to your home or give away gifts to bring a smile to someone's face during this weird time.  

What I like about this store is that it was easy to register, low prices, easy to manage and you can find their monthly offers here. Let me know what you think or what would you like to order!










Budget friendly destination - Northern Portugal

11:25 AM

I know it is not the best time to inspire you to travel while COVID-19 is still spreading around the world. Many of us are locked in our homes and can't even cross into neighboring countries. But I am pretty sure that many of us are hungry for travel destinations once things are back to normal. So here is my travel itinerary when we went to Northern Portugal last year.

First, we flew to Porto from Germany. Since my husband had been already to Porto many years ago, we decided to make this trip worth the money by getting out to the hinterlands.  After a late-night arrival, we stayed near the airport, rented a car, and hit the road the next morning for our first destination.

Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal and because we arrived very early in the morning, we were able to see Braga Cathedral. The guide who barely spoke English was so excited for foreign tourists. I truly was mesmerized by the decoration and elements of the church.  What I truly love about Portugal was seeing a ton of tiles that burst with uniqueness and charm. We walked around the town, checked the Gardens of Santa Barbara as well. The gardens weren't in great shape at this time, but if you visit in summer, definitely check it out. Also, we walked through Arco da Porta Nova and stopped at St Vincent's Church and found it quite amazing. After a few hours in Braga, we decided to drive and see Bom Jesus do Monte.

Bom Jesus do Monte is an amazing hidden gem. This Portuguese sanctuary is quite spectacular and you can not only enjoy the beautiful view from the top, but also walk the Baroque stairway that goes up to 116 meters. If not so motivated, you can take a cable car while enjoying the view too. We spent a few hours here before we drove to Guimaraes.

Guimaraes is another small town that you shouldn't miss. It is located near Braga and many tourists visit Guimaraes 10th century medieval Castle. But before we went to the castle, we were absolutely starving and stopped at a local restaurant where we got the best and cheapest lunch. Just at 10 euro per person, we got a bottle of water, veggie soup with bread and a big fish that we couldn't even finish. The locals packed this place. Despite the rainy weather, we decided we should stop at Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira church located in the old part of the city. As soon we were done with the city, we walked to the Castle. To be honest, I truly love it. I wished that the weather was nicer so we could have enjoyed a walk around the fortress.

As for our stay, we picked quite the charming and (a bit) spooky place - Bussaco Palace Hotel. Who knew how magnificent this place would turn out? It would have been nice if we could have stayed longer to truly enjoy the stay. We got so lucky that this regal hotel was almost empty. We had a quiet romantic dinner in their restaurant that I would definitely advise everyone to try who would stay there. The only thing that I regret is that I didn't bring a beautiful dress because this location is a perfect spot for editorial photoshoots. Make sure to order their 5-course dinner because it was among the best dinners we've ever had.

After enjoying our lovely stay, we drove to Aveiro. It was a cute town, but since the weather wasn't nice, we ended up spending some time at a local restaurant to enjoy octopus (unfortunately, it wasn't as tasty as our previous trip to Lisbon).  We then drove to the Costa Nova beach, popular for colorful beach houses. As soon it started to get darker, we drove to our hotel that was located in Porto.

I actually loved our stay at Intercontinental Porto Hotel (disclosed: our stay wasn't paid by the hotel). Since my husband has some membership status, they upgraded our room to a duplex suit, which had two-floors and 2 full bathrooms. We couldn't be happier that the hotel was located right in the center of Porto on Liberdade Square. We walked to Igreja dos Clerigos, and I would say that it is a must-visit. Afterward, we went to Igreja do Carmo that was quite amazing also. As for Livraria Lello, I found it overrated. It is a book store with beautiful stairs that aren't made from the wood as we found out later. Plus, it was overcrowded. You also had to pay to even go inside. If you want to buy some fun souvenirs, I would advise you to stop at Fernandesm Mattos & Ca. store.

The next morning, we started our journey by visiting the most beautiful church, I ever have seen - Santo Ildefonso. There are so many things you can see in Porto like the Chapel of Soul, Bolsa Palace, Episcopal Palace, Monument Church of St Francis, and Porto Cathedral. Don't forget to enjoy the riverfront at Ribeira Square and make sure to walk over the bridge to get a beautiful view of the city.


Braga



Bom Jesus do Monte

Guimaraes



Bussaco Palace Hotel







Aveiro




Porto












 
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