A while ago Matthew Morrison reached out to us as he and his family were doing an extraordinary thing, they were traveling around Europe during the COVID pandemic. Naturally, we wanted to hear their story.

We will be posting a multi-part series of their adventures, we hope their stories give everyone some happy vibes during this time of global aviation meltdown.

Italy


After more than a month in Croatia, our itinerary was open. However, we were still very limited in our options for Americans. A couple of weeks ago, Brooke read an article on an Italian website about a bridge to Italy from Croatia for travelers who have spent more than 14 days in country. After researching the US Embassy and Italian Health Ministry websites’ details, we decided to go for it. We booked a flight and flew to Rome from Dubrovnik. There were only 5 other people on our flight! After passing thru customs in Italy, we were required to take a Covid test at the airport. It wasn’t pleasant, but the kids handled it bravely. After 20 minutes, our results came…. all negativo! And we were on our way on our next journey!

Rome


We spent 7 days in Rome, and although the covid measures are more restrictive and enforced, everything is open and welcoming. You absolutely have to wear a mask inside and while outdoors in Italy, but it is a habit we are now used to. Italy is more stringent with their precautions due to their initial experience with covid but is now leading the world with their precautions and technology. From wearing masks, to hand sanitizer before entering any establishments, temperature checks, and social distancing, all of these measures are strictly enforced. They have become more normal and less of a nuisance for us. All of the monuments, tourist sites, restaurants, shops, and cafés are open and welcoming. Some have restricted hours and early closures due to a lack of business, but most places are happy for any business. The amazing thing is, there are absolutely no crowds! We have not waited in line anywhere and have had places entirely to ourselves, which is unheard of! We have stood in museum halls in the Vatican Museum all by ourselves and strolled into and through the Roman Colosseum with no wait! We were blessed by Pope Francis in Vatican City and stood among a couple hundred others, versus the usual thousands! Rome was great, and we could have enjoyed the Eternal City much longer, but we decided to move on and experience more of Italy.

Florence


We have been in Florence for 4 days and are now learning about the birth of the Renaissance. The city is so charming and welcoming, as was Rome. Everyone is so surprised to learn we are from the United States since the only way here right now is through Croatia. I think we are one of the only American family tourists in Italy right now. Our time here has been amazing so far, and we can’t wait to explore more of this beautiful country! Our pandemic travel journey and world schooling continues in Italy!

About us


Matthew – 45 years old. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii. My father was in the Air Force, so we moved around quite a bit when growing up. We lived mostly around the US, but we also lived for 3 years in Australia. I was used to traveling from an early age and have continued to enjoy traveling throughout my life. I went to college in Arizona, where I met Brooke one summer. Post-college, I entered the Air Force and went to flight school. I was a fighter pilot in the Air Force and flew F-16’s for 20 years. I served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the early 2000s. In the last 10 years in the military, I was in the reserves where I worked part-time as an F-16 instructor pilot. I retired from the military reserves in 2018. While in the military reserves, I got hired on to a major U.S. airline in 2007. I’ve been with the airline for 13 years and am currently a Captain. Our industry has been crushed by the pandemic, and many of my peers at other airlines are being furloughed and without jobs. I have enjoyed traveling my whole life since I was a child and throughout my military and commercial pilot career. I am very grateful for this opportunity in such unprecedented times!

Brooke – 40 years old. Grew up in Prescott, Arizona. She took many trips as a child and has always loved to travel as well. She went to college in Arizona, and post-college worked as an event planner until our son was born. Today, she enjoys volunteering at school and raising our two kids as a full-time mother. We have traveled together around the US, Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, France, and Costa Rica. We take frequent trips back to Hawaii to visit my family. Brooke loves adventure and experiencing new places also. Brooke is an avid kayaker and skier.

Parker – 13 years old. Born in Phoenix. Loves the outdoors, biking, camping, theatre, and playing video games with friends. He has recently developed a growing interest in history.

McKenzie – 11 years old. Born in Phoenix. Loves dance, theatre, gymnastics, and acting. Also looks forward to outdoor activities such as camping and kayaking. A complete lover of dogs, cats, and all animals!

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