Last week, on the same day in fact, I learned that neither of my two favorite vacation spots — New York City and Nice, France – has any interest in me visiting them. Two for two — I can pick 'em, huh?
It's not like I have cooties or coronavirus, although I haven't been tested for cooties. New York and Nice aren't singling me out. They want nothing to do with anyone from Texas.
The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut announced that anybody visiting from Texas and eight other U.S. coronavirus hotspots — including Florida and Arizona — must voluntarily self-quarantine upon arrival, but preferably stay home.
If you're spotted out and about, they'll force you into mandatory quarantine with checkups. If you escape quarantine a second time, it'll be a hefty fine. By the way, my journalism career, this long slow climb to the middle, found me working only for daily newspapers in Florida, Arizona, and Texas.
Three for three — I can pick 'em huh?
I was born in New Jersey, and raised in New York and back to New Jersey, and now you're telling me I can't visit my high school buddies down the Jersey shore? Oh well, the claw machine in the arcade will have to do without my $50 to win a $5 T-shirt.
"We need to do things right inside the four walls of our respective states," said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added, "Those states that had this blind, 'Okay, let's do whatever we want to do, and we'll reopen immediately, they have serious problems now."
I guess it’s true: The plaque at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor,” – it doesn’t mention a 102-degree fever or sneezing.
The irony of the role reversal is obvious. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were early hotspots in the coronavirus pandemic, while Texas enjoyed low rates of infection and hospitalizations. That’s when Texas ordered visitors from New York and New Jersey to keep out or self-quarantine once they arrived in the Lone Star State. Texas imposed its quarantine order on April 27 and lifted it on May 21.
Now that the virus is on the other foot, and Texas is spiking while the northeast is bottoming out, it's those Yankees’ turn to tell Texans "quarantine or stay out." There goes my annual sausage pie at Lombardi's Coal Oven Pizzeria on Spring Street in Manhattan. Maybe I won’t get a final chicken parm and ravioli dinner at Spirito's. The legendary Italian restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey. is being sold. Asking price: $475,000 — including the apartment upstairs. I used to bowl with owner Frank Spirito in a league at Federal Lanes. He bowled with a cigar in his mouth. I don’t remember ever seeing him without a cigar in his mouth.
Later, CNN reported that the European Union was considering putting the U.S. on its “no land” list. Same reason that New York doesn’t want Texans to visit: too much coronavirus at the departure gate. People from 54 countries are welcome to visit Europe when it opens for tourism this week. Countries like Cuba, Vietnam, Uganda, and even China — where this whole coronavirus mess started — are good to come and go. Joining the U.S. on the "No Trespassing" list: Brazil, Qatar, and Russia.
If you’ve never been to Nice, forget Paris (which, by the way, is a pretty good movie starring Billy Crystal finding love in the French capital). Nice is the capital of the French Riviera, the first big city in France west of Monaco. Because Nice was once part of Italy, and a couple hours drive east of Spain, it’s a blend of several cultures and cuisines, all of them inviting and delicious.
There's a saying, Nice always has the nice weather, with soft warm breezes off the Mediterranean. I once watched Richard Gasquet beat Roger Federer at the Monte Carlo tennis tournament. I didn’t like that one bit, but the spaghetti and meatballs at the food court was fantastic.
One of the fun parts of visiting Nice is the ease of coupling it with other European capitals. Fly KLM and spend three days in Amsterdam, three days in Nice. Or Lufthansa for three days in Berlin, three in Nice. Lately I’ve been finding the best fares and shortest layovers are Air Canada to Nice via Montreal. Gives you time to brush up on “s’il vous plait” and “merci” and “mon cheri” and most important, “deux croissant aux amandes.” Those almond croissants are tasty.
Did I say deux? Non, trois – at least.