Pandemics, it would seem, are a good time to travel.
In a previous blog, I told you how the cascade of air travel had calmed to a trickle and how the hustle of airports had faded to an almost sepulchral calm. No queues at check-in or security, no need to pay for a seat because there’s hardly anyone on the plane, no lengthy wait to retrieve your baggage, and straight through passport control with a flash of your passenger locator, PCR test and confirmation that you don’t have a temperature. And as for social distancing, it suits me just fine.
Wonderful. It’s almost like flying was in the ‘fifties … or so I would imagine.
So, what about a road trip? Of course, we did this last year when finally freed from the constraints of house and garden, and it was fine because the pandemic was over.
But now it’s back and because the lunatics who run this particular asylum (the EU) are incapable of translating proof of vaccination into a passport to travel, or agreeing to universally accept a QR code, there is still a thick haze of uncertainty as to what you are required to produce to enter a particular country.
This I will now share with you, chapter and verse.
The short answer is … in case you can’t be bothered reading the whole blog … err … virtually nothing.
It’s the weekend before our trip and I set about booking hotel accommodation in my normal fashion. Check out where I want to stay on Booking.com (I once accidentally typed Boobing.com into my search engine — don’t go there) then I find the website of the chosen establishment and telephone them to book. I also check what restrictions are in place in their country and what documentation I will be required to produce upon arrival.
I am informed by the Panoramahotel, Waldenburg (Germany, for the geographically challenged) that they require a “quick test” – no PCR required – and that we should produce evidence that our journey is essential travel for the purpose of work.
The Appart’hôtel Hevea, Valance (France, for the geographically challenged) informs me that there are absolutely no restrictions apart from the necessity to wear a mask in reception. Neither type of test is required, nor is the production of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale regarding the necessity of our travel.
I’m not entirely convinced, so I contact a friend who hails from the Land of the Cheese Munchers, and I’m informed that a negative PCR test is absolutely vital in France. And this generates considerable uncertainty, because even if the hotel doesn’t require a test, I’ll be driving a somewhat conspicuous GB plated car, to which Monsieur Le Gendarme will be drawn like a fat boy to a Greggs sausage roll.
Spain, of course, doesn’t count because Pedro is so desperate for the tourist buck that he’s gone into denial about the Chinese flu (there you are … I’m not buying into this WHO political correctness bull either).
So I come up with a plan. I have a friend who owns a property development company in Marbs, and one email later I have two things: the first is a letter – please note the headed paper, Monsieur Le Gendarme – stating that my services are required for the purpose of plastering and painting a villa which has just undergone a full refurbishment. But, remarks another friend, will the fact that you are driving a 911 not raise a Gallic eyebrow on the face of the said Monsieur Le Gendarme?
Sacre bleu! I reply, I am zee most celebrated plasterer and painter in zee whole of zee Europe and my services are in constant demand! Ha! Take that to zee bank!
The other thing in my possession is a negative PCR test bearing tomorrow’s date. My friend has a friend who has another friend with a very specific skills set.
Now before you go all sanctimonious and tell me that I should be locked up for perverting the cause of justice (concealing evidence from police … tampering with evidence … giving false information during a police interview – none of which I was guilty of) let me point out why I have absolutely no scruples over this clandestine skulduggery.
First of all, I have HAD the Chinese Flu, and second of all, I have also had two doses of vaccine and therefore I am as much of a threat to passing the thing on, as an English striker will be to the Croatian goal in a few weeks’ time. Third of all, I am fed up of being exploited by the profiteering testing mafia. Okay, It’s been my choice to travel, but to do so has cost me well over a grand in testing, over ninety-five per cent of which goes into the back pocket of the testing clinics. My test showed negative because I was negative, and therefore paying €120 is not going to make me any more negative.
So my bags are packed and I’m ready to go, I’m standing here outside the door …
Amigos, the sun is shining, the beach and Pepe’s Chiringuito beckon, therefore you must shelve your excitement, contain yourselves and bate your breath for Part Two of my travel blog next week.
Hasta pronto, chic@s!