It was supposed to be so different. After two difficult summers where the once simple concept of vacationing abroad was thwarted by Covid, PCR testing, border restrictions, lockdowns of varying severities, “red lists” and quarantine hotels, 2022 has come. on the horizon hailed as the year that would mark a return to normality. Voyages would fall back into the relatively mild currents they had sailed in 2019, the many obstacles of the pandemic would be removed, and beaches all over Europe would beckon. Everyone back to the airport.
It didn’t quite work out that way. If it would be grossly inaccurate to state that the sunspots of France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Croatia and Turkey and others will be inaccessible during peak season months July and August are fast approaching, you may already be wondering if you have the patience and courage to reach them.
You will have read the headlines. They were impossible to ignore. Major airlines are canceling flights at short notice. Biblical length queues for security – long enough, in some cases, for planes to be missed. Mountains of undelivered bags pile up in front of the terminals. The industrial action even makes the first part of the journey an obstacle to overcome.
Some of these problems are the inevitable consequence of a planet – and a travel industry – struggling to regain momentum after so long in a waiting pattern. But while the situation is likely to improve as the clock ticks on and staffing levels recover at check-in counters, security scanners and baggage-handling facilities, it may be tempting to watch the whole turmoil and decide it’s best to stay at home shores.
There is no sense of defeatism there. One of the lessons learned during the pandemic is that the UK can be as wonderful a destination as anywhere – and if you’re planning to keep it British in the weeks to come, you’ll find plenty of options to soothe your desire to travel. In fact, you don’t even have to give up the continental vacation you’ve been dreaming of in January. Kind of. With a little lateral thinking, you can still have that Greek island getaway, that wine tasting tour, that mountain getaway, without having to go through customs. Here are 15 substitutes for classic European breaks. You will need your sunscreen, your camera and your most floaty dress. But not your passport…
Instead of Nice, try the Hayle Estuary
It can never be an exact replica. On the one hand, the southern coast of France revels in average temperatures of around 26°C in July; the north Cornish coast about five degrees lower. But the trick to a glorious beach break is a beautiful stretch of shoreline and a place to stay that pushes all your right buttons. Take in the Hayle River where it joins the sea – the great arch of Carbis Bay to the west, the epic sandy beaches of Hayle Beach and Mexico Towans Beach to the east – and you won’t think you’re in Cannes. But you won’t care either.
How to do: A seven-night stay for two at the five-star Carbis Bay Hotel, arriving August 6, costs from £3,080 in total (£3,850 with breakfast; 01736 795 311; carbisbayhotel.co.uk).
Instead of the Colosseum, try Hadrian’s Wall
There is, of course, endless historical glory in the Eternal City – and it is needless to argue that, if you dream of Roman history in giant buildings, Britain has something to echo at most. largest amphitheater ever built. And yet, in terms of travels in the Europe of two millennia ago, the formidable dividing line between conquered Brittany and unruly Caledonia offers so much more to savor – 73 miles of solid masonry, laid down in 122 AD, which stretches across the peaks and troughs of Northumberland and Cumbria. Enough for a multi-day vacation, not just an afternoon of sightseeing.
How to do: Headwater (01606 369 882; headwater.com) offers ‘Walking the Best of Hadrian’s Wall’ – a six-day self-guided tour of a central section of the route. From £759 per person.