Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Guest Travel Blogpost by former Channel NewsAsia personality and ex-broadcast journalist Patwant Singh:
With the Covid-19 pandemic besieging the world, the global travel industry has almost come to a standstill.
Flight restrictions and lockdowns have put a stop to many a traveller’s holiday plans, both near and far.
Europe, an all-time favourite vacation destination, could now be inaccessible for quite some time with the virus still pervasive.
Luckily for me, I managed to catch the famous European sights just before the Covid-19 scourge hit planet earth.
My Europe vacation began in late November last year (2019), lasting over 2 weeks and stretching into the pre-Christmas celebrations.
However, it was not without some surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, especially at our first stop in London.
On the day we arrived, Tower Bridge was the scene of a terror attack, with police shooting the attacker dead, but not before he killed 2 and injured 3 innocent victims.
The news soon sank in that this was real and not a scene out of a Hollywood movie and thank goodness we had arrived a little later or might have witnessed this horrific incident unfold in front of us.
With the bridge out of bounds, the obligatory selfies had to be taken from a distance.
Thankfully, the rest of the London tour went without incident as we visited the usual tourist destinations like Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.
What stood out for me though was the added cheer brought about by the festivities welcoming Christmas.
Busy shoppers soaking in the glow of Christmas lights on Regent Street. Photo Courtesy : Patwant Singh
The Christmas lights on Regent Street were officially illuminated in mid-November and shoppers could enjoy the light-up from 4 to 9pm daily. Video Courtesy : Patwant Singh
Bright lights in the shape of fairies greeted London shoppers at some of the up-market shopping districts.
Another unique sight, albeit created by mother nature, awaited, me as my entourage crossed the channel into continental Europe was the striking façade of the majestic White Cliffs of Dover along the English coastline.
A spectacular natural feature that owes its unique colour to a rare, pure form of limestone that is similar to chalk.
A view of the White Cliffs of Dover from our ferry as we cross the English Channel into France. Photo Courtesy : Patwant Singh
From chalk, it was onwards into the land of cheese and wine, and one cannot visit France without a stop at the Eiffel Tower.
Paris with the tower and other palatial buildings including the river Seine, is a must-see for a first-time visitor.
What stood out for me though was a place called Colmar that is now getting more prominence.
Situated in the heart of the idyllic Alsace region in northeast France, the picturesque quaint town is akin to a scene out of a storybook with its half-timbered houses, rustic canals and lush flora and fauna.
The historic Old Town is littered with medieval houses dating back to the 16th and 17th century.