Countries That You May Not Have Considered Before Covid
At the risk of showing my ignorance, let me tell you everything that I knew about the country of Albania before Covid became a global pandemic: It's a country. The truth is, countries such as Albania, Serbia, Turkey, and many others were never on my radar as countries I planned to ever visit.
I, like many Americans always thought of Western European countries whenever I thought about traveling. I wanted to go to countries that had a little culture different from my own, but still gave me access to McDonald's if and when I wanted it.
That all changed when Covid hit. Because my fiance was Russian, I decided not to go back to The States during the pandemic and chose to stay with her in whatever countries would allow me. But I discovered that there were very few countries that I was actually allowed to visit due to Covid restrictions on Americans.
Because of this fact, I ended up living in countries that I had never actually considered traveling to. After being in full lockdown in Morocco for six months, I found myself living in Turkey, Serbia, and finally, Albania.
I was actually starting to give up on the nomad life. My fiance couldn't handle the stress anymore and so she went back to Russia. There were very few countries open to Americans and Albania just happened to be one of them. My plan was to spend a week there and then fly home. I was homesick and scared and had lost all my inspiration to discover new places.
But a funny thing happened in Albania. While in the capital city, Tirana, I began to notice the incredible mountains that surrounded the city. I walked through the park and started noticing species of trees that I had never seen before. My curiosity was coming back.
A couple of days later, I took a bus to a seaside town in the south called Saranda. Not only did Saranda have the same snow-topped mountains that reminded me of the Alps, but there was also a gorgeous sea with crystal clear water and white pebbled beaches right outside of my hotel.
The food was amazing. The people were friendly. Everything was incredibly cheap. And I quickly stopped longing to go home. I seriously had no idea how wonderful Albania truly is. I also couldn't believe that it isn't a country on every tourist's radar. So one week turned into four months.
I hate Covid. I hate the suffering that it has caused, and the fact that it has separated me from the woman I love. But I also think it's important to be grateful, even in times of adversity. One thing I am most grateful for is the opportunity to experience places that I would never have traveled to if it weren't for the travel restrictions.
As I write this article I am in a hotel in Berlin. I did end up going home, but only to get my vaccination shot. Next week I will return to Albania, where I intend to live for the foreseeable future. Albania allows Americans to live there for up to one year, visa-free, so I might spend the entire year there.
This whole year has taught me a valuable lesson: Don't discount other countries just because they aren't the typical American tourist destination. I hope I never forget this lesson. Now, I have no idea where my travels will take me next.
Covid is still an issue and countries are changing their restrictions on a seemingly daily basis. But still, I'm excited by the possibilities of going to new places I would have never previously dreamed of visiting.
So, I'm curious. What countries are now on your radar that weren't there before Covid struck?
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