TTG sub editor Mary Ann Pickford joined Sunvil on its first Corfu charter of the summer as Greece emerges from the coronavirus pandemic
My driver, Stefanos, was busily chatting away, telling me about what Corfiots get up to in their spare time.
His warmth typified Greek hospitality. Everything seemed so normal, except he and I wore masks. This was the new reality of travelling.
I joined Sunvil earlier this week (20 July) on its first charter flight to Corfu since Greece reopened its borders to UK visitors on 15 July. My aim was to experience what a holiday there is like in the so-called "new normal".
Aside from the tell-tale signs the world is recovering from a pandemic – signage telling you to wash your hands and keep a safe distance, sanitiser stations at every turn, restaurant and bar staff wearing plastic face shields – it felt like business as usual.
My studio in Kalami Bay on Corfu’s north-east coast afforded great views of the sea. The apartment also contained a new pair of cotton masks, a 100ml bottle of sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.
And there was a poster outlining what happens in the event a guest shows coronavirus symptoms, with an emergency medical kit comprising a thermometer, mask, gown, gloves, antibacterial wipes and paracetamol.
As part of its new Covid protocols, Sunvil did away with cleaning service in Kalami Bay, providing guests extra linen instead.
Staying in a self-catering apartment meant I was in full control of how much or how little contact I had with other people during my stay, making it much easier to keep my distance.
In Greece, it’s mandatory to wear masks inside shops and on public transport.
Tavernas and cafe-bars are currently outdoor-only, while beach sunbeds must be sanitised after each use and umbrellas spaced four metres apart. Guests are encouraged to take their own beach towels too.
Entry requirements include a compulsory passenger locator form and randomised coronavirus testing on arrival.
While these measures are part of a new era in travel, one thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the Greek people’s effusive friendliness that made travelling here all the more worthwhile – they’re ready to welcome everyone back.
Mary Ann Pickford is TTG’s sub editor. You can find out more about her travels to Greece with Sunvil at @maryannpickford on Twitter.