Editor’s Note — Avi Liberman is a comedian with dual US/Israeli citizenship, who has chosen to travel throughout the pandemic. In sharing Liberman’s story, CNN Travel is neither promoting nor condemning travel during the pandemic, which is a personal decision. It’s advised to check local restrictions and rules related to Covid-19 before embarking on any trip.
About three times a year, I fly from Los Angeles, where I live, to London, and from London to Tel Aviv. (I have dual US/Israeli citizenship). I stay about two weeks each time, do my shows, do a day of touring and then immediately fly home.
Covid-19 changed all that.
Initially, I thought about returning to the United States and traveling within the country, but my friends in LA told me I was better off abroad if I planned to move around.
Avi Liberman recently traveled to Greece, where he visited the Acropolis. For him, travel during coronavirus is an opportunity to get out in the world now.
Courtesy Avi Liberman
I had the coronavirus back in April and have antibodies, so I’m not afraid to travel.
I also have a bunch of Chase Visa points saved up, and this seemed like a perfect time to use them.
But I also knew I didn’t want to be in Israel during lockdown; there’s no more depressing place to be than Tel Aviv, because it goes from this absolute buzz of fun to nothing.
On the go
First, I flew to Greece, and spent Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in Athens. I found a synagogue there and they welcomed me.
Liberman spent Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in Athens. Several weeks later, the city shut down to a rise in coronavirus cases.
Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
Everyone rents bikes, scooters and four-wheelers to get around the island, so I did, too.
Unfortunately, I fell off an electric bike. They don’t tell you how dangerous they are! After I fell off — I hurt my wrist, but nothing serious — my friends starting posting articles about how they’re all being recalled.
My advice: Use the 4×4 off-road vehicle instead of an electric bike or scooter.
Sofia, the capital, is filled with spectacular architecture, art and food. But my favorite was Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city and the sixth oldest city in the world.
Liberman visited the Rila Monestary in Bulgaria. The Eastern Orthodox monestary was founded in the 10th century, and is located in the resort town of Hisarya.
I even went to a comedy club there and hope to put together an “English Comedy Night” sometime in the future. I got a haircut for half the money I would have spent in the United States, something I hadn’t been able to do in Tel Aviv since lockdown. I went to Novi Sad, the second-largest city in Serbia, and traveled a bit in the countryside.
Back to Israel
Unfortunately, I had to cut the trip short by three days because Israel declared it red as of November 8. So I returned to Israel.
The writer describes Tel Aviv as a place that has gone from this “absolute buzz of fun to nothing” amid coronavirus restrictions.
Now that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have a peace treaty, I thought I should take advantage and visit. I had a flight booked on Ukranian Air to Dubai, but it was canceled for reasons still unclear to me.
It only cost US$500 roundtrip, but it would have taken an entire day to get there. In retrospect, it might have been a blessing in disguise as nonstops will supposedly start soon. I’d rather fly directly for two and a half hours than take a circuitous route with long layovers in Kiev.
People have been very nice, and interestingly, politics hasn’t come up.
Planning the next escape
Apparently, I’m not the only one who didn’t want to spend lockdown in Israel.
Depending on color status, I’m hoping to hit Cyprus or Portugal next. And then, who knows? I’m not sure when I’ll return to the States, especially since the Covid-19 rates are spiking. I figure I’ll stay in this part of the world and slowly make my way back home via Europe.
There are worse ways to spend a pandemic.