Dream big or stay home - Balkan Dreams - CycleBlaze

August 2, 2020

Dream big or stay home

Shall we stay or shall we go?

[Yes, I know we’re plagiarizing the title of your journal, Kevin.  It’s the right question though.]  

We’re sure that those of you that have been following along with us for awhile will be well sick of this question.  On the off chance that we’ve lured in someone new though, we should give a bit of background.

We will, but just a bit.  Very briefly, we’ve decided to go to Croatia later this month for about a ten week stay, and then hopefully move on to Greece afterwards for another two months.  There’s been nothing easy about our coming to this decision, and we won’t go into the thinking that got us here. If you really want to know some of the history, you could back up and look here and  here

We have a plan, we feel committed to it, but we’re not really committed yet.  We’ve bought our flight and we’ve booked our accommodations in Croatia, but everything is still cancellable without financial penalty so we’ve still got options.  Events could transpire that could cause us to back out - Covid incidents may start spiking in Croatia, they might close their doors to US citizens, we might get sick, we might just lose our nerve - but with departure just 18 days away now, we’re running out of time.

And after all, we ARE technically homeless.  We have to go somewhere in a few weeks anyway so why not go where we really want to be and where we appear to be wanted, we rationalize to ourselves.

It feels to us like we’re going.  If we start the blog for this tour, that will make it feel even more like we’re going, so let’s just keep painting ourselves into an ever smaller corner.  And besides, I need a place to track the completion of the Portland Heritage Tree Quest.  I’ve already closed the last journal and need a new platform.

So what’s the plan?

Croatia

Why Croatia?  Croatia is currently the only country in the EU that permits American tourists to visit.  Even at that, they’re justifiably being very cautious about us.  We’re only allowed in if we can demonstrate a negative PCR test for Covid that was taken within 48 hours of our arrival in Croatia.  Otherwise, we are subject to up to a 14 day self-isolation upon arrival or until a negative test result comes through.  Also we have to show proof of prepaid accommodation at our initial lodging, but that’s a minor point.  Demonstrating our health is the thing.

We doubt that we can get test results back within 48 hours (although many other parts of the world can - just one more enraging fact about the state of our nation at present).  In fact, we’re not certain we can even get a PCR test at all right now.  Our intent though is to take a test right before we depart and then plan to self-isolate in Zagreb until our hopefully negative results come through.  In all probability we’re looking at several days or even two weeks of quarantine after arrival; but we’ve decided it’s worth it to us.  Time will tell how wise or foolish this is, but that’s our position now.

We plan on spending about 10 weeks in Croatia.  We’ve booked most of our accommodation, and we’re planning for a slow, leisurely trip with many multi-day stays - a week in Varazdin, another in Karlovac, and multi-day stays at most of the island destinations we’ll be visiting.  We’ll spend the first month in the northeast interior near Zabreb and along the Slovenian and Hungarian borders, and then move on to the coast for a month of island-hopping.  We’ll finish up in Split in late October, when everything on the coast starts shutting down for the winter; and then take the train or rent  a car to get back to Zagreb. 

From Zagreb, we plan to fly to Greece; but we haven’t booked that flight yet because we’re not sure of just how long we want to stay in Croatia (we could stay a few weeks more than we’re planning to without overstaying our 90 day visa).  

And, we’re not sure yet just where we want to go in Greece.  That late in the season we’ll want to stay pretty far south, but we have options.  We want to keep them open until we know more.

And one more knotty detail: Greece won’t actually let us visit yet.  As I said earlier, Croatia is the only EU country that will let Americans visit at the moment.

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Greece

But Greece wants to let us in.  Greece, like Croatia, has managed to keep their COVID incidence very low, is intensely dependent on tourism, and has been aggressively opening up this summer.  Just not for Americans yet, although there was a suggestion two weeks ago that they might have by this time.

Since our flight is cancellable anyway, we’ve decided to be optimistic and plan on being able to enter Greece by mid-Autumn.  Maybe by then they’ll have changed their policy and started admitting Americans; or maybe they’ll allow us in because we won’t have even been in our country for over two months by then.  If it works, awesome!  If it doesn’t, we’ll look around for any other possibilities and as a last resort we’ll stay in Croatia until after the election and then fly home early.

By booking the return flight now, we were able to get a cheaper fare while still being able to cancel it if our plans change.  So, the idea is to fly to Greece toward the end of October, stay there through the end of the year, and then fly home from Athens on January 11th.

And, since we’re dreaming anyway, we’ve dreamt up a trip that begins in Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese.  After a few weeks along the southern coast we’ll catch a ferry to Crete by way of Kythera (if the ferry is running that late in the year), bike Crete for a few weeks or a month, and then island hop back to Athens at the end of the year.  It sounds totally amazing to imagine spending early winter in southern Greece, seeing it in such a different season after the tourists have gone home.  

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Jeanna & Kerry SmithI so hope that you two are able to make this trip. I'm going to need your journal to read every day when we're back home dealing with whatever Florida is doing - or failing to do - about the coronavirus crisis. Have a wonderful, inspiring, life affirming, safe and healthy journey!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jeanna & Kerry SmithThanks for the encouragement! We’re feeling guardedly optimistic at this point, but things change so quickly that we’ll believe it when we land in Zagreb and get cleared for travel.

Florida! I’d forgotten that you’re headed back there. Take your time getting there, and be safe.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyThis all sounds great. All appendages crossed that the stars will align.

It's been a long time since I voted while out of the country .. how will that work when you're moving around quite a bit?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyWell, we’ve decided we’re going to risk being the ones to destroy the country and not vote this year. It’s an infinitesimally slight risk though, with our downtown Portland address. If Earl Blumenauer or Jeff Merkley or Joe Biden loses in Oregon, all hope is lost anyway. In the primary this year, Blumenhauer got 140,000 votes and his republican received 21,000. And Merkley is running against an avowed QAnon supporter. I think our fellow Oregonians can handle this one this year.
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1 month ago