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Restrictions or not - we test the travel experience in Southern Europe

Is it possible to travel during a pandemic? The editors' answer is a resounding yes. It requires a little extra planning, but the joy of travel is as great as ever.
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Restrictions or not - we test the travel experience in Southern Europe is written by Alberte Munch Ekstrand.

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A trip to holiday Europe under restrictions

The summer holidays are approaching, and and we see that the restrictions in the travel area are gradually changing or disappearing. And the urge to travel - yes, for us it is greater than ever. But how is that travel under corona restrictions? The editors have left to test holiday Europe.

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Where are we going?

A trip during a pandemic requires a bit more preparation than otherwise. Even for travel nerds like us, it can be hard to find head and tail in the various rules and restrictions, but it is definitely not impossible. First, we had to figure out which ones countries that are ready for Danish tourists without requirement of quarantine upon entry, curfew or the like.

The choice fell on Greece, because here we could start the holiday as soon as we landed, with restaurant visits and everything that belongs to a good holiday. Danish tourists are welcome in Greece, as long as you could present a negative PCR test, which is a maximum of 72 hours old, or a valid vaccination passport upon entry.

In addition, we had to fill one form to the Greek authorities before departure, where we stated, among other things, how we came to the country and where we were to live. Then we were sent a QR code, which we had to show in Athens airport.

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Coronatest and a slight sweat on the upper lip

Two days before the trip, we had all booked time for a PCR test, and crossed our fingers that they came back negative. They did. Then we were ready for departure. And yet. For one from the editorial staff had also taken a quick test, and because it had been taken after the PCR test, the corona passport for the accessing PCR test did not appear. The passport instead showed the result of the quick test.

It gave a little nervous sweat on the upper lip. For what do you do without a valid coronate test 24 hours before you have to fly? With the help of the Corona hotline, an appointment was made for a PCR test at the airport, where you could get an answer within an hour for a fee. Our advice is therefore to check up on, which tests apply in the country you are traveling to and make sure your latest coronatest gives you the right coronapas.

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One step closer to the southern sun

With the coronate crisis averted, we set course for Kastrup Airport on a cold and rainy May morning. Can it really fit that we are heading for a week of sun and 25 degrees in Southern Europe?

We have checked in from home, which passengers are advised to reduce the spread of infection. With bandages on, we move through the almost empty airport over to the counters to hand in the luggage. Here we were to show both the 'PLF document', as the form to the Greek authorities is called, and also our corona passport. We get handed over boarding pass, and then we're one step closer Greece.

We move on to the security check, which takes place as usual, in addition to the fact that there are fewer open counters. After the obligatory fumble with trays, bags, computers and transparent bags of liquids, we come to the other side.

The duty-free shop, which usually entices with everything from alcohol, sweets and beauty products, is closed, just as many of the shops and restaurants are also closed. However, we can still buy some snacks in 7-Eleven and a breakfast bun in Lagkagehuset.

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Restrictions and fresh supplies on board

At the gate, they will again see the PLF document and the corona passport before we board. Just before we enter the plane, we are handed a package with disinfectant wipes and face masks. We find our seats in the almost full plane, and after the usual safety procedure, we take off with the familiar tickle in our stomachs.

After we've been flying for a while, a flight attendant comes rolling with a cab of food. The food service is obviously not subject to restrictions as we otherwise feared. Whether it is the smell of lunch or the prospect of being able to take the bandage off for a while that makes us happiest is not to say. But a nice surprise it is at least.

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An ordinary unusual flight

Since we booked tickets, it was difficult to find direct flights to Greece, and we therefore have to stopover on the trip. This is of course something to take into consideration as it can be harder to find direct flights because there are just fewer planes.

Three hours later, we board the plane to Athens after presenting our papers once more. On the short trip, we are given a cup of water, and thus we also get the opportunity for a mouth-free moment.

As the plane has landed and is standing at the gate, the familiar ding arrives, which indicates that the seat belt must be loosened. Above the speaker, a voice tells that the front row must rise and begin to go out. They ask passengers to stay seated until the row in front of them has come out.

"- Nice with a new procedure", when we barely think before everyone jumps out in the aisle to be the first to leave the plane. The familiar ace with hand luggage is not that easy to stop - even if there is a corona.

Before we get our luggage, our passports and papers are checked again. Some of us have printed it all out while others have saved it on the phone. Both work flawlessly. However, we had to show it many times along the way, so our advice is to have it all together in one place where it is easy to get hold of.

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Acropolis, Athens

Greece, here we come

Finally we arrive and now we're just heading for the hotel. We are lucky to be picked up, because the taxis can only carry two passengers at a time, and there are few trains. Then you travel several together, you are split up into several taxis, and therefore we had agreed that we were picked up by Greece Private Transfer. You have to make it easier for yourself sometimes.

The next six days we will experience Athens and the nearby island Agistri. We visit sights, eat delicious Greek food restaurants and takes on beach trips - yes we do everything you would normally do as a tourist. Everything is open. The only real difference is that here - like many other places in Southern Europe - you have to officially wear a bandage in all public places, including on the street. And you should only take it off when you eat or drink.

At the hotel they have also taken their precautions. On arrival, we will receive plastic-wrapped remote controls for the air conditioning system. The packaging is changed every time new guests arrive.

When we go by ferry to Agistri, it turns out that they only half fill the boat. So it is on a hanging hair that we get tickets for all of us. You must therefore be aware that it may be necessary to book transport in advance if you want to be sure of getting the desired departure.

When we get away from the big city and out on the much less populated island, however, it seems that they take a little easier on the current restrictions, because here very few people wear streetwear on the street. However, we always have bandages on hand if they prove necessary. Overriding, however, is the joy of being out traveling, seeing something new and feeling the sun's heat on the skin.

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Walk-in coronatest

After almost a week's much-needed trip to the south, it's time to return to Denmark. In our case, the journey home requires a negative coronate test that is no more than 48 hours old. Fortunately, there is no requirement that it be a PCR test. We therefore inquire with our local contacts and are guided to a small test site on the outskirts of Athens the day before departure.

After we have answered a number of corona-related questions, they take a nose test on us - a little more unpleasant than the short one we are used to here in Denmark - but fortunately it is quickly over. We could also have had a PCR test in the same place. After an hour, we can pick up a printout of our test - and 4 out of 5 of us will also receive the test sent to our e-mail. The last e-mail had apparently slipped into the hustle and bustle.

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Forward in the plane

With our negative test from the day before, we head towards the airport. We have checked in in advance and have chosen seats far ahead in the plane. The Danish restrictions on return travel mean that we must be tested when we land at Copenhagen Airport, and we have heard that it can take a long time if you are not among the first.

Just like on departure, we have to show our coronatest at check-in and again up at the gate. They accept our quick test and we go through security. When we get on board the plane, it is clear that it is less crowded than when we flew down here. All center seats are blocked, so there is a minimum of one seat or one aisle between all passengers.

Nothing about the procedure has changed as we stop over, and here too we easily slip through with our Greek test papers and enter the waiting area at the gate. In the next flight, the middle seats are also blocked, and we can enjoy the last trip home with a little extra space around us.

When we land at Copenhagen Airport again, the rain hits the small oval windows in the plane. We're getting ready to get out as it's our turn. We can not be the only ones who have received the memo about rushing into the airport. For people jogging towards the sign that directs vaccinated and passers-by on the right and all other passengers on the left.

We arrive among the first, have our quick tests done and are taken on to a waiting area. Here we wait for 15 minutes until our test answer is ready and then we can otherwise leave the airport.

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Ready for new adventures

We come home with renewed energy and the urge to travel has been nurtured for a while, but we are ready for yet more adventures around the world. Because even traveling once in a while requires extra preparation, then it can easily be done in a responsible way. If only you take your precautions and follow the developments, then you are up to date on the latest restrictions and travel guides.

Really good holiday too Europe - or wherever you choose to go.

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About the travel writer

Alberte Munch Ekstrand

Alberta has especially experienced the world from the water side - including a year of long-distance sailing across the Atlantic to the Caribbean in the family's home-built boat.

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