Felicity Long
Felicity Long

I've been traveling to Europe nearly once a month for the past 20 or so years. In fact, I was supposed to hop on a Delta flight to Switzerland March 27 to visit the beautiful Burgenstock properties in Bern, Lausanne and Lucerne.

Instead, like many of you, I'm social distancing at home with my family, trying to score groceries, binge watching "The Crown" and baking cookies. 

But Europe is never far from my thoughts. 

Surreal scenes of deserted tourist destinations -- the Champs-Elysees in Paris, Catalunya square in Barcelona and the Vatican, where Pope Francis is delivering his weekly sermons to an empty St. Peter's Square -- are hard to process.

Unthinkably, Germany was forced to postpone until 2022 the Oberammergau Passion Play, a once-a-decade, 400-year-old blockbuster theatrical event that was expected to draw nearly a half-million spectators this spring and summer; France has pushed back the famous Cannes Film Festival (new date TBD), and Switzerland is rescheduling its world-famous Art Basel festival until the fall.

As in the U.S., public gatherings throughout the Continent have been curtailed, and in some countries, citizens are under lockdown, with police roaming the streets enforcing curfews.

For those of us who love Europe, this begs the question: How soon can we realistically pack our bags and visit these iconic sites again? 

The hard answer is that, while there are clients who are reportedly delaying rather than canceling European travel plans, some surveys are starting to reveal jitters on the part of American would-be travelers. This is understandable, given that even the experts can't give us an exact timeline. 

But it also doesn't hurt to remember that Europe has surmounted a lot of hefty challenges over the centuries, and the destination has always come roaring back -- each time with renewed strength and spirit. 

Consider the liberation of Paris by the Allies in 1944 after four years of Nazi occupation, the triumph of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall after nearly 30 years of heartbreaking separation and the exciting emergence of Eastern bloc countries after decades of Soviet domination.

Or go further back to the spectacular rebirth of London after the disastrous fire of 1666, the formation of a free French society after the horrors of the Revolution and -- more chillingly apt -- the glory of the Renaissance after the Black Death in the 14th century.

There's a lesson to be learned from that history, and it's one of endurance and hope.

With that in mind -- and rose-colored glasses firmly in place -- I predict that Parisian waiters will serve a fine Beaujolais on Saint-Germain again. Theatrical productions will wow audiences in London's Covent Garden again. Apple strudel with schlag (unsweetened whipped cream) will challenge our diets in Vienna again, and the breathtaking works of Picasso, Monet and Klee will be waiting to lift our spirits again in fine museums across the Continent.

So while we're not encouraging anyone to cross the Pond before it's safe to do so, I feel sure that Europe will be ready when we are. 

Or as Hemmingway famously wrote, no doubt inspired while sipping Pernod at Les Deux Magots in Paris or by the running of the bulls in Pamplona, no matter how dark things may seem, the sun also rises.


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