We continue with our series of posts on Travel Bloggers! Discovering how they have been affected by the pandemic and what the future holds. We spoke with Thomas Dowson about his niche blog ‘Archaeology Travel’.
Archaeology Travel is a travel blog written specifically for people who enjoy exploring archaeology and history sites when they travel. It is produced by travel blogger Thomas Dowson, an archaeologist who trained in South Africa. His research focused on prehistoric arts of southern Africa and western Europe.
In the mid-90s he moved to the UK where he set up the world’s first postgraduate degree program on rock art. Other research activities include the contemporary significance of the past, which continues to influence his writing on Archaeology Travel. Thomas travels to explore the ways in which archaeological and historical sites and museums are experienced.
How much has the pandemic affected your life as a travel blogger
In February 2020 when I was buying my visa to visit Jordan, already then there were restrictions for people from southeast Asia on entering Jordan. A few weeks later, on my return home via Paris, I got off the plane in Charles de Gaulle Airport and was very surprised to see how many people in the terminal were wearing masks. Back then it was voluntarily.
A few weeks later Europe was in lockdown. It was a very strange feeling after 5 years of non-stop traveling as a travel blogger to suddenly find myself ‘grounded’. But I was able to use the time to develop a few features on Archaeology Travel. The pandemic, more specifically, not being able to travel, made me think carefully about what it is I was offering on my website. I am still learning!
How do you think travel might change after the pandemic?
Hopefully, we have seen an end to crowds. With social distancing being the order of the day, there will surely be fewer people visiting the once very popular attractions such as the Acropolis in Athens or the Colosseum in Rome. Those that see millions of visitors each year. Being with fewer people sounds like a great thing. But the way we experience these places will change as we are forced to follow one-way routes.
I also hope everyone starts exploring more, rather than just chasing bucket lists. While there is nothing wrong with seeing the most popular sites, there are many other places just as worthy of our attention. Thinking about the Colosseum, for example, it is a great place and well worth visiting. But there are the remains of some 200 other roman amphitheaters around what was the Roman world. They may not be the size of the Colosseum or as well preserved but they are every bit as interesting. Visiting these places can be just as rewarding.
What are your plans for future travels, where is top of your list to visit?
Rome, I can not wait to visit Rome again. There are now so many new things to see there since my last visit, including the Mausoleum of Augustus. I have been to the Colosseum, but I want to see more of Roman and Middle Ages Rome. I would also love to do more long-distance travel, and the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu are at the top of my list.
Do you think people during this time have lost interest in travel blogger stories?
It is too early for me to say yes or no now with any certainty. My feeling is people are going to be more interested in authentic travel stories, as they search for experiences away from popular attractions that are difficult to visit.
What is your opinion on the new travel measures that they are currently implementing in your country?
Personally, I think most if not all countries are doing the best they can: following good practices that are grounded in science. These measures in place now are not popular with everyone. But I have no time for conspiracy theorists. We are in a time when two groups of people are self-evident: those who are willing to play their part for the good of all and those who are shouting about some imagined loss of liberties.
If you haven’t visited Barcelona before, would you like to and why?
I have not explored as much of Sapin as I should have, yet. This is definitely something I hope to remedy soon. One area I have visited a number of times, and love, is Costa Daurada – Tarragona and Reus. The area has such a long and fascinating history. So Barcelona must be the next step: to go from Gaudí in Reus and the Romans in Tarragona to the Sagrada Família and the Roman ruins in the Museu d’Història de Barcelona Plaça del Rei. And of course, Barcelona is one of Europe’s great cities. I hope to get there this year, if not, definitely next year!
Thank you Thomas! We’d love to see you in Barcelona very soon.