A couple of blogs ago I mentioned that people werent travelling at the moment, well that's not exactly true as there are still a number of people who are trying to get home and if you read any of the stories on the internet, you'll it's not an easy task.
Back in 2013 on our trip to China, we met our friend Tracy, who's from Queensland, Australia. We met on a very choppy ferry ride from Piraeus to Samos in Greece as we headed into Turkey. Tracy hadnt had much luck on that trip as most of her luggage had gone missing (See Gibblocates Passim Greece). We've kept in touch over the years and let each other know about the various trips we go on. This year Tracy was heading to Europe and if all had gone to plan we would have met up in Wales in a couple of weeks - if all had gone to plan...but as we know it didnt. So we've kept in touch and Tracy has kept me in the loop regarding her travels....and it's been quite remarkable.
Tracy arrived in the UK in February and then headed off on a cruise ship to Norway, to see the Northern Lights - Then the Corona Virus reared it's ugly head - Tracy managed to escape the Cruise Ship and then went to Spain - She spent a week in Madrid and left the day before the pandemic struck there, from there Seville and eventually ended up in lockdown in a place called Rota for 4 weeks I believe. Tracy was meant to be flying back to London - this would be the time that we were going to meet up, but obviously with the Pandemic it made more sense to try and get back home. Eventually Tracy managed to get some flights booked from Madrid and she has now finally got back to Australia - I asked Tracy to let me know how it went as I thought it was not going to be plain sailing. I then received the following email last night - and it's better than anything I could come up with - I've asked Tracy's permission to use her email and I think it is remarkable and well worth reading, here goes:
Hi Lloyd Arrived Australia, the trip back went smoothly!!!!
Got a Taxi to Puerto de Santa Maria to the train.. Perspex barrier in cab.
Arrived to a deserted train station, but the cab driver came in with me and offered assistance. Social distancing observed on train. Probably no more than 20 passengers to three carriages!!!
Arrived Madrid to a deserted train station, really eerie, probably 15 taxi drivers waiting. Very civilised with first cabbie getting the fare. No perspex barrier in cab, no mask wearing or gloves, by cabbie, in Madrid.
After the past few weeks with my Spanish app, was ready to have a "go", with some chatter. Established no habla ingles y yo no habla espanol.
The cabbie said " no compre espanya"
So reverted back to English. Lol.
Hotel booked close to airport, travel thru
Gran Via, which was totally deserted, although cabbie seemed to find every red light.
Pulled over by Police and cabbie explained the story, to apartmento and aeropuerto manyana.
Provide verification of flights and accommodation.
Get an email from accommodation advising keys were in a safe place!!!!
Return email to establish where "safe place may be located".
Photo of brick under the tree provided.
Cabbie drops me off and takes off.
No idea where accommodation is, dark and no identifying signs.
Locate tree with brick find keys. Gain access.
Undertake the anti virus clean down. Have a wee drop to calm nerves.
Next day get late check out as no need to be at airport before 3.30.pm
Order Uber, doesn't arrive, yep panick.
Lady comes out of the unit orders cab, apparently only certain companies are operating in individual locations.
Cab arrives 3.20 and starts the rabbit warren route to the airport. Aussie lost her s***. Cabbie quickly understood, quicker route was required.
Police checked again.
Second last to check in.
Baggage all checked to Brisbane.
Held up in security, undertake the swabs, bath gel confiscated.
Airport deserted, twenty minutes to gate.
Only one flight out of Madrid and last gate.
Board plane, start to breathe.
Arrive Frankfurt, meet a Canadian lady,also doing the airport sleep over. Decide to hang together. Ask cleaner best spot for a sleepover, and get some good oil.
Start looking for shower for anti virus clean down, disinfect sleeping area.
Find a distraught young lad on the way back from showers. Advise not to stay by himself to come down where we were.
His father had tried to book airport hotel for him but hotel is booked out, at €305 per night, they are doing ok. The father booked a hotel out of airport, but the boy is not able to leave.
Our "room" is close to smoking room, or what turned into party central.
Met a soutth African man, Croatian woman who said she has been in terminal 1 since 24th March, waiting for paperwork approval, to return to Croatia.
South African bloke worked in oil industry and company provided accom and business class flights, but I don't think he returned to the room.
Decide about 1am time for some sleep.
Wake get some breakfast, decide to check out next gate.
Took about a 20 minute hike, train ride then another 15 minute hike, back thru security, another swab, another item removed from wet pack. Theme starting here.
Discuss lack of boarding pass for Sydney to Brisbane leg of journey. Advised ask at Doha.
Arrive Doha, deserted airport. Discuss lack of last boarding pass. Advised all good check in Sydney.
Board flight, 200 vacant seats. 67 passengers.
Arrive 14hrs later in Sydney still no boarding pass, just a bit frazzled.......
Most of other passengers arriving Sydney are from various companies in United Emirates which paid their way back.
Lady returning from UK caught flight to Doha from Manchester and said there was only 3 people on the plane from Manchester.
Sydney airport, herded like cattle, with police, security, army and navy personnel.
Health check consisting of temp being taken.
Discuss lack of boarding pass. Told to discuss at border control.
Arrive border control and told, Sorry your here so this where you will be for 2 weeks.
Bundled onto bus, wait 45 minutes on the bus, arrive 5 star accommodation Sydney, processed, while observing social distancing.
Discuss possibilities of a cigarette, no go. Aussie sheila explodes. Have strong discussions with police. Escorted to room by army personnel, no entry access to room provided. Can't open a window, view of partly renovated office in adjacent building.
Boarding pass arrives at 2am.
Ring reception, talk to asst commissioner of police, request options for airport transfer.
Get the run down of enforced isolation for 2 weeks and best to contact airlines for change of flight.
So here I am in my glided cage. 3 meals ,which are pleasant, provided, nicotine withdrawals and TV in English until May 6.
Daily phone checks in room on health, physical and mental.
But, its great to be back in Australia.
Well done Tracy, it sounds like my worst nightmare. Hope Isolation goes okay and you finally get back to Queensland.