It has been a while since the last instalment of the ongoing adventures of Bruno & Sofia saw the light. And that’s not because of lack of time. Rather, it is the lack of adventures. We, too, like so many of you, have been confined to the limits of the house, for much of the last year; we, too, haven’t seen as many people as we would have liked to. No more social gatherings for a while, with friends and family. No more cooking workshops – although that, to be honest, was a bit of a blessing in disguise, as I had already for some time lost interest because of the routine creeping in. We even had to abandon our regular golf activities for a short time, with the course closed.
But on the other end: we don’t have regular jobs to lose, or businesses (hmm, except for those cooking workshops, perhaps). We don’t have small children to cope with for 24 hours a day. And we don’t live in an apartment on the fifth floor, with only a tiny balcony. Best of all, we are actually quite good at inventing things to keep ourselves occupied. One of the fun things was an online lecture series via the infamous Zoom, by Dutch museum directors, with a focus on modern, mostly contemporary art. Which did in fact alter our view of many formerly incomprehensible art works and encouraged us to look up several pieces out in the open, that we would earlier not necessarily have recognised as art. Our Instagram and Facebook accounts show some of the results. Bruno found time to add old (previous century!), and thus dubious, memories and photographs of faraway places to theonearmedcrab.com (https://theonearmedcrab.com/east-african-memories/, id/a-travel-diary-from-southern-africa/, id/egypt/, id/jordan/). Oh, and Sofia began studying Russian, for the time being also online – never too old to add yet another language!
Obviously, Russian is not entirely randomly chosen. We had envisaged as one of our first post-pandemic travels a slow run down the Trans Siberian railway, ending up perhaps in Japan, or China, or both. But not just yet, that much is clear. Caucasus 2.0, taking in more of Georgia, and Armenia, will also need to wait – and that while Armenia has since become a lot smaller! And not to mention the Mother Of All Trips, already on the cards for a while: but for that the world really does need to seriously open up again. Perhaps even more frustrating, family visits to Argentina are on hold, too.
Which means that for the time being we are confined to Europe, traveling-wise. Not that that is entirely without effort: never mind that we both have been fully vaccinated long ago, to get to the UK you still need to be tested – twice -, and to get back to The Netherlands ten days later, again. I am actually writing this on what I hope is going to be my last day of mandatory quarantine, that is if the last test comes back negative. But we did manage to visit Sofia’s aunt in Scotland, who we hadn’t seen for a long time, and fit in a few rounds of golf, too. And a short trip to France in July – essential, as the bottom of the cellar became visible – proved that even the small BMW that we drive these days is capable of transporting the appropriate amount of wine boxes, in addition to golf clubs (and there was even space for Sofia, also on the way home).
Further back, three days after the borders in Europe opened again last year in July, we drove to the Czech Republic, where we spent three weeks, including several days Prague without tourists. Well, except that much of the country was flooded with Czech tourists, who, totally understandably, took their holidays in July, in their own country – It is just that we have never yet been on holiday in July, ourselves. But the absence of large hordes of foreign tourists did encourage us, to the extent that later that year we went to Italy, to Verona, Venice, Ravenna and Florence, amongst others, which miraculously was without too many tourists, too. Well, except Italians, of course, who also seem to have holidays in September and October, but never mind.
And next? Hmmm, more Europe, for the time being. Slovakia and Hungary are beckoning, next month. And of course , there are lots of other places nearby that are fabulously interesting, and where we haven’t been yet. It is just that we had reserved those for once we are old. Which is still a long way off, obviously! We can’t wait for the world to open up again – but then I am sure we are not the only ones.
Right, that was it, for the time being, A4 is full again. Trust you are all well, hope you will come and see us as soon as that is feasible again (although chances are that we ourselves will be in the air again, as opposed to on the road), and wish you well in getting through these not-so-easy times for many.
Best, Bruno & Sofia
PS: OK, one word on Covid 19, then, which I have tried to avoid throughout this letter:
Where The Netherlands has had, as long as I can remember, 17 million self-appointed National football coaches (soccer, for our American friends), who all have their individual opinion on the selection of players and the tactics to follow, we now also have 17 million self-appointed epidemiologists, who all happily share their unsolicited scientific insight and advice. With the difference that, where the pseudo-football coaches’ advice is aimed at the greater interest of the nation, the pseudo-epidemiologists’ advice is generally closely associated with the own, narrowly defined self-interest of the individual in question.