“If this was a normal year,” Ernie said to me, “my wife and I would be planning our international trip about now”. But it’s not a normal year and we’re all getting weary of restriction. When I see a photo of a crowded beach in, say, Florida, my main reaction is sympathetic understanding. I feel sorry for authorities trying, and often failing, to maintain social distancing this summer. “Aren’t you having trouble finding subjects to write about and itching to travel?” Ernie correctly surmised. Yes and yes. That’s why I ‘m thinking today of cities far away that I love and am longing to see again.
Like Toronto. Hollywood movie production is stalled, but TIFF, the Toronto Film Festival, has not been cancelled. Yet. The international fest that usually attracts half a million people to this Canadian capital and that normally exhibits movies that go on to win awards in the USA and elsewhere is still scheduled for September 10 to 20, 2020. However, the Canadian border is still shut, and many festivals around the world have been cancelled so we’ll see. Toronto was at the top of my list of cities to return to when coronavirus struck. We have not been to the film fest, but Ruth & I used to visit this dynamic Canadian city at least once a year when we lived in the Midwest. This became an annual event when a restaurant we loved called Toby’s Jug, relocated there. Toronto might be the first city we visit when restrictions are lifted.
The trouble with favored cities is their considerable distance away. Helsinki used to be one of our two favorite cities in Europe, but Ruth & I haven’t been there in several years and are itching to return. Design crazy Helsinki, Finland, is the 2nd European capital I visited without Ruth and a city I fell in love with within hours of arrival. There is always something new to see, but will we have an opportunity to find out what that is in 2020? Doubtful, but hope exists.
Galway. This Irish city is our favorite in Ireland. We have not been there since we began the Christmas holidays in Galway almost 10 years ago. Since then, I have found others who love traveling in Ireland who highly recommend staying at the Connemara Coast Hotel 6 miles west of Galway. This 4-star hotel on Galway Bay 6 miles west of this 4-star city was recently purchased by an Austrian investor who has a reputation for recognizing and buying the best. Because of the pandemic, this hotel is offering unusually low rates right now after reopening on July 1. Wish we were there. Big sigh!
Riga. This Art Nouveau city in Latvia has a well-preserved old town for wandering around in with a Hesburger in its middle. It has 2 of the most unique museums in the world, the Riga Motormuseum that owns the Kremlin collection and the eerie Pauls Stradins Medicine History Museum in addition to many other excellent attractions. This city has buzz! The state of emergency in Latvia due to the pandemic ended on June 9, 2020, and restrictions are still in effect but eased. Ruth and I traveled by bus to Riga from Vilnius, Lithuania, and loved our experience.