We’ve had this trip to Europe planned since pre-pandemic days. Still, we were willing to post-pone it if that was necessary. For quite a while, we were certain that the U.S. wouldn’t let us out, and that the E.U. wouldn’t let us in. Still, we’ve been inoculated (I’m still not clear on the difference between inoculated and vaccinated is.) and we’ll have a booster before we leave. Also, even though the infection rates here in Oregon remain comparatively low, we’ve decided to limit outside contact during this next month just as an extra layer of precaution.
Aside from all of the normal stuff one worries about pre-departure, we’ve also been jumping through all the health hoops. Everybody wants a copy of our vaccination cards. And by everybody I mean the travel agency and all the countries we plan to visit.
Hungary insists on proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of entering their borders. Logistically, this has become a nightmare. We are leaving the US on Monday and will arrive in Budapest on Tuesday. The local places where we can get a PCR test here in Oregon are not open on Sundays, and so we’ll have to get the test as late as possible on Saturday in order to squeeze in under the wire in Budapest on Tuesday. If any of our flights are delayed, we’ll be screwed. Also, we’ll need something similar before we return. Our route ends in rural Sweden, where they charge about kr 1,000 (~US$116) for the test. I guess they are really proud of their PCR test. It’s going to be another game of getting the test and then sliding into customs in Dallas as the clock approaches the deadline.
For a while, the Travel Agency would not allow unescorted excursions through the target cities. (They call it “self exploration” but I call it “unescorted excursions.” Self exploration has other connotations, and I don’t want to give any false impressions about what I’m doing.) Don’t get me wrong: I understand why they did this, and I support the extra effort to ameliorate any impact tourists might have on public health, but we are spending way too much money on this trip to simply stand on a boat deck and watch Europe as we float by. We were ready to postpone or cancel the trip until the Travel Agency changed its policy. We can do whatever we want as long as we follow the rules of whichever country we’re in. The ship’s crew will also be keeping a close eye on our health. I think they feed you to the sharks if you return with a fever.
Another issue I’ll have is taking finals. The Winter term at OSU ends on December 10. I can take the tests remotely, but that means taking the test at the Hilton Budapest, or in a boat cabin.