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Five ways we travelled in 2020

As locations reopened and routes were re-established in the summer of 2020, among those cautiously venturing further afield were A&K’s travel-loving staff. For us, travel is in our DNA – more than simple wanderlust, we crave the escape, seeking the unknown, meeting new people, enjoying different experiences. As T.S. Eliot puts it, we will “not cease from exploration” and below are some stories of how we experienced travelling in 2020

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James Treacy, A&K’s PR Manager, travelled to Greece

“After months of being at home, I was longing for a holiday. A quick look at the Foreign Office’s exemption list and an internet search which returned temptingly low-cost flights to Thessaloniki decided it, and my brother and I booked a holiday to the gorgeous-looking Danai Beach Resort and Villas in Sithonia, Halkidiki. Wearing a mask is normal now, so wearing it on the flight wasn’t an issue. The resort’s private-transfer service made our arrival in Greece a straightforward process. Once we arrived at Danai, we happily discovered that guests weren’t required to wear masks, as the resort had very stringent Covid measures in place. Face coverings off; our holiday could begin. 

Overall, I was very impressed with the hotel’s thorough yet subtle procedures. I was happy to feel safe enough to forget about the pandemic for a while. Danai Beach Resort is a small boutique property (just 60 rooms) and ultra-smart. We stayed in a Pool Suite (as clients of A&K, we were upgraded), and between our private pool and the resort’s beautiful stretch of sandy beach, our grand plans to explore the local region fell slightly by the wayside. However, the resort’s appeal never waned – family-run for two generations; it never felt like we were staying in a hotel. Instead, it was as though we were at a long-lost Greek aunt’s villa – Maria, who told us all about the local area and had worked there for 25 years, became the embodiment of that aunt. What a family holiday, we were sad to leave!”

Harriet Stewart, A&K’s Manager of DMC Support, travelled around France

“We crossed the channel by Eurostar and then travelled by train from Paris to Marseilles and Nice, stopping at Cassis, La Ciotat and Antibes along the way, before returning to Paris for a few days. We had a wonderful holiday and everywhere we went, people were pleased to see tourists. In general, I think that people in France are more conscientiousness about wearing masks than we are in the UK. The laws on face coverings in open spaces varied from city to city. During our journey, it became law to wear a mask while walking around on certain streets in Nice and Paris. Again, everyone was very good at adhering to these rules. In terms of travelling on public transport, while it was busy, it also felt safe and socially distanced. 

Accommodation, France, A&K

In Nice, we stayed at Hotel La Pérouse where it was evident how much care and attention staff had taken with regards to stopping the spread of the virus. I must make a special mention of La Dona Tigana in Cassis where we enjoyed a fabulous vineyard tour, which I would recommend. Our trip’s other highlight was a visit to the top of Sacré-Coeur in Paris. We were there at sunset with only two other people. It felt as though we had the place to ourselves, and the view was amazing.”

Camille Drevillon, A&K’s SVP for Strategic Planning and Business Development, travelled to Norway

“At the beginning of August, I travelled to Oslo, where I stayed in a rental property for the month. I flew with British Airways and found the safety measures at Heathrow and the Oslo airport to be very good, with excellent procedures in place (including boarding and disembarking people based on where they sit) and lots of hand sanitiser available. Everyone was wearing a mask, plus many people wearing face shields as well. 

In Oslo, there haven’t been many cases of COVID-19, thanks in part to Norway closing it borders quite early and reopening them in mid-July. The result is that being in the city feels almost ‘normal’, with most shops, restaurants, and museums open. All have limitations on the number of people, markings to ensure physical distancing, antibacterial liquids and gels available at entrances. Some places and situations require you to wear a mask (e.g. travelling on public transport), but everything is indicated in English as well as Norwegian. 

It was fantastic to take a break from London (after many months of lockdown), and it was an experience that I’d recommend to anyone.” 

Note: Norway reintroduced restrictions for travellers from the UK on Friday 21 August; all travellers from the UK are required to quarantine for ten days on arrival.

Gabriella Radford, an A&K Senior Accounts Assistant, travelled to Ibiza

“Like so many, I had big travel plans for 2020, which were cancelled. I was supposed to have travelled to Vietnam in May with a group of five friends. Desperate to get away and to see each other, my group of pals instead decided to book a last-minute holiday to Ibiza, where we stayed in a small village in Ibiza’s gorgeous north. 

From our base, we visited the smallest Balearic island, Formentera. It’s a 40-minute ferry ride and is described as Ibiza’s chilled-out little sister. It’s famed for its beaches including Illetes, to which we went. It’s usually incredibly busy during the summer, but it was blissfully quiet. We also loved roaming around a relatively tourist-free Ibiza town. 

Everywhere we went, including on the ferry, we had to wear masks. We only took them off when it was permitted – while sunbathing, swimming and sitting in a restaurant. There were hand sanitiser stations at entrances to hotels, shops and restaurants, and signs to remind you to be socially distant. The end of our time in Ibiza was a little stressful as the travel advice changed just as we were about to leave, but everyone, especially the pilot of our plane, was extremely helpful and informative, and it didn’t affect how much we enjoyed our holiday.”

Tiggy Willett, an A&K Travel Sales Specialist, travelled to Italy

“I hot-footed it to the stunning Grand Tremezzo Hotel on the shores of Lake Como. It’s an utterly palatial hotel and it’s a haven for travellers even in the best of times. Staff have worked tirelessly to put peace-of-mind procedures in place, but also to make sure these measures blend as far into the background as possible. From staff smiling at you from behind personalised masks to floors which can be reserved for a bubble and private spa slots, spending time at this hotel is as memorable as always – and be sure to try the fresh tagliolini with truffle.”

Accommodation, Italy, A&K