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Tables at Europe’s finest restaurants, seats at La Scala & top West End shows – post-Covid-19 life’s looking fine & dandy

Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
Tables at Europe’s finest restaurants, seats at La Scala & top West End shows – post-Covid-19 life’s looking fine & dandy
As we experience a frisson of excitement at soon being set free from lockdown, summer 2020 may yet prove to be a winner for those willing to venture out and savour the opportunities that exist in our ‘new normal’ world.

From the Highlands to Heraklion, people thought summer 2020 was going to be effectively cancelled, with many understandably hesitant about leaving their homes for a holiday abroad where they could be expected to endure the Mediterranean heat while sitting in a plexiglass box on an Italian beach, like a specimen in a museum. 

But for those willing to brave the big, still largely deserted, outside, there are some fantastic opportunities beckoning, notwithstanding the demands of social distancing. It’s time to start work on that hedonist’s bucket list you’ve always promised yourself. The post Covid-19 one. Using all the money you’ve saved by not paying your mortgage, or commuting to work, or buying posh sandwiches from Pret. 

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Like your food? Good. The coronavirus has done you a favour. Shuttered restaurants will be desperate to open their kitchens and you can even get a table at Heston Blumenthal’s usually sold out Fat Duck restaurant in the UK around the middle of June. 

Granted, the fixed menu for two will set you back £650 before you’ve had a drop of wine, but hey, you’ve dodged the Covid-19 bullet so far, so why not celebrate with a nice meal and bottle of Nyetimber 1086 for £510 a bottle. You deserve it. 

Book early! 

If all that sounds a little hard to swallow, then plan a night out at the theatre in London’s West End. Granted, you won't actually be going right now and will need to wait until September – only enhancing the experience by building up anticipation – but the uncertainty about reopening means ticket sales have come to a standstill right now so there’s plenty of future availability. 

Just the time to pick up a pair for Hamilton, or maybe Harry Potter and the Cursed Child parts One and Two.There are loads of seats available at face value for September, and maybe the kids will even be back at school by then. 

Feeling even more adventurous? You could go further, if you dare, and grab a couple of seats at Milan's La Scala theatre which has abandoned its regular opera season, but does currently have October tickets for a recital by famed Uruguayan bass-baritone Erwin Schrott. 

For something French and fancy, why not try Le Cinq in Paris, where the earliest restaurant bookings are still available for the start of July? It looks worth the wait for the eight course meal at €360 excluding drink, but including black truffle from Vaucluse, blue lobster from Chausey and caviar from Sologne. Even food is free to travel now! 

Seats are available on Eurostar from London to Gare du Nord at just under £50 but you’ll have to wear a face mask and forget conversing with any of your fellow passengers as they will probably be seated some distance away. 

While in France, why not pop down to St Tropez, where thanks to the lack of regular Eurotrash you could snaffle a phone reservation by the sea at Club 55, while the billionaire yacht-set suffers in self-isolation. Put on a broad-brimmed straw hat, sip champagne with ice like Brigitte Bardot and reminisce about the sacrifices you made during lockdown. Tell everyone, in a loud voice, how tedious it all was. 

Club owner Patrice de Colmont will make sure you’re comfortable. 

Meanwhile, over on the other side of Europe, the Greek Islands are desperate to see foreign faces and wallets – having realised their domestic populations aren’t actually substantial enough to survive the economic impact of a few days of cold weather, let alone a pandemic. 

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Around 65 percent of Greek hoteliers are staring bankruptcy in the face right now so they are going to be right up against it come June. If you can get there – and easyJet flights to Athens are a little more than £100 each way at the moment – they may never let you leave. The Hellenic version of Hotel California. 

Of course, that does rely on easyJet actually getting its fleet off the tarmac again. With cancellations currently on a rolling seven-day basis and an ominous offer to book anytime up until April next year, you’ll need nerves of steel before you click that ‘Buy Now’ button. 

All this is just a start. 

There are helicopter operators, personal tour guides, private yachts, lakeside villas, mountain chalets, tables at some of the finest restaurants in the world, and empty entertainment venues all crying out for business – your business – once we’re free to travel and play again.

The new travel is not for the faint-hearted, of course. One indiscreet cough too many could still clear a theatre in minutes, but the hesitant are driving down demand and if you are among those first responders to the call of lockdown freedom then you should be in a winning position. 

Inevitably, of course, there will be some point when you wonder how you might be paying for all this extravagance in your new life of hedonistic opportunism opening up before you. Hold that thought!  

Because if you use your credit card to pay for it all and then convince your bank you deserve a three-month payment holiday, then there’ll be no pressing need to address the debt until September, maybe October. 

And with the Covid-19 crisis hopefully past its worst by then, it will be good to have something new to worry about.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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