Adventures in Covid Travel

April 4, 2022

I was in Madrid on my way to Montreal via Heathrow. Just after passengers boarded the airplane in Madrid to go to Heathrow we had to disembark.  There was something wrong with the plane. We got out an hour late.  I had 2.5 hr layover at Heathrow so I figured I’d make my connection to Montreal. 

No.  Once landed, we waited 45 min for a gate.  By the time I got off the plane they had closed boarding so I missed the flight to Montreal.  American Airlines was great-  got me another flight the next day, a hotel, transport, meals.  However, the flight went through Philadelphia so I had to get a covid test per US requirements.  Canada stopped requiring tests as of April 1, and this was April 4, so I had not tested. I found my way to the testing center in the Airport, filled out the crazy long form on the app, paid a lot of money.   Results would take an hour, they said, so I found my way to the shuttle.

I stood waiting for an hour.  I got there at 9 pm, having finally left Madrid 7 hours earlier.  About the I received the email. I tested positive!  No flying for me!   This can happen for some time after you are symptom free. The only upside was the really nice hotel, lovely dinner and  English breakfast the next morning. 

Fortunately they allowed me to travel so the next day I took the bus from Heathrow to London VIctoria Bus Station, then took another bus leaving at 1130, going through the Chunnel to Lille, France.  From there it’s a 45 minute train where I am now, on the border with Belgium. From the train station it’s about a 10 minute walk to the marina.  I arrived at 8 pm, fortunately not dark yet.  To get into the marina you need a plastic card that you scan at the gate.  I had two.  So I scanned it and got in. 

I walked down the long dock. There’s the boat, I set my backpacks down (yes, two backpacks), climbed onto the rear deck.  I’d recalled leaving a key in both boxes in case I forgot to take one with me from Spain, which indeed I had, which I figured out in Madrid.  The key was indeed in the box and in a moment I was in the boat.

However there was no electricity.  The card I had was supposed to have money on it for electrical, water, and access to the bathroom.  It did not work for electricity.  I gathered some bottles (water also runs off this card so no water at the boat) and walked back down the long dock to the bathroom to get water for the night.  

Nope. The card did not work there either.  Apparently these cards were invalidated cut off once the six months we paid for was up.  
Back to the boat.  Well, back to the gate. It would not open!  So either it was ajar earlier or they gave us one entry on the card, probably the former.  Now what am I going to do?

I start walking along the fence.  Back in January when I was here they removed a section, replacing it with a temporary fence.  I was looking for a way under, through or over.  I did have my wallet and phone with me in the event I could not get in and needed a hotel.  I could do without my backpacks for one night.

Along the way I saw one of maybe 3 occupants living aboard come out of his boat. Fortunately I speak some French. He told me I could get in, just follow the temporary fence to the end.  Mercy bucups and voila your own self – I was back in with my two sips of water for the night and enough left over for a half cup of coffee in the morning.  But at least I was in. It was not so terribly cold out so the lack of heat would not matter. I slept like a log, as you can imagine.

Next day between me and Peg on the phone talking to the harbormaster we got our card charged up.  The harbormaster is a really friendly and helpful woman with boat repair skills.  In September she made some door glides for us after the old plastic ones failed on one of the doors.  Pretty fancy work.  She is cutting me a bit of wood for the exterior box.  Before here she had a workshop.  

We have traveled during the Covid periods on several occasions to get to the boat. This was my first effort to cross the Atlantic. I think I will wait until the US air travel testing requirement is removed. This adventure stretched me to the limits and had I been really ill I would have still been in London now, nearly a week later.

2 thoughts on “Adventures in Covid Travel”

    • I’ll say. And I did not mention the last bit. I was at the train station in Lille waiting for my train and went to the bathroom. It turned out to be a pay toilet. The price was 1 euro. A lot just to urinate but I needed to go. I had a 50 euro bill and coins totaling .95. I could not get in and the attendant would not or could not let me in! I hate pay toilets. They should be illegal.


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