Comment: A view from Catalonia… quarantine rules were surprising

Reality Training’s Bob Morrell drove to Spain via France with his family and says travellers must take personal responsibility

Having monitored the lifting of travel restrictions very closely, and after our booked holiday was cancelled (we’re still waiting for the refund) we were determined to get away.

We crossed via Eurotunnel to France and drove down to Spain. As a travel experience, this was different, and we had to make provision for the fact that we were travelling into a newly-unlocked Europe.

For the journey, we had invested in disposable rubber gloves for use in petrol stations, we all had masks, and we adhered to sanitising instructions at every building. Each country is applying their rules, slightly differently. But over the two weeks we noticed the countries tightening either regional rules or specific countrywide rules, and you needed to keep an eye on the news to be aware of this.

Once we had settled in at our Airbnb apartment in Spain, we wandered down in to the beautiful port of Cadaques in Catalonia. Every person, bar none, was wearing a mask. Police were making sure each mask was properly in place when they saw people had them loosely hanging from their ears, or if they’d been briefly removed. Once you got used to this, it was fine, as you could remove them in cafes and restaurants, once sitting down. My son was adamant he’d never wear a mask. Now he had to, he soon got used to it.

For the rest of the week, we stayed safe, followed the rules, went on a couple of excursions, and had a lovely break in the sun, while adhering to the rules. We took a boat trip out of the port on an ancient fishing boat with about 30 others, and had to wear masks until we were well out of the port, and stopping for a swim, so it was a little frustrating. But again, it did not ruin the experience. Cadaques is in the Northern most part of Catalonia and so well away from the region where they had their spike in virus cases, and an hour and half from Barcelona. It is also only 40 minutes from the French border.

When we arrived in France, in Southern Provence, the rules were less strict. There were plenty of people in masks but it wasn’t obligatory, although the rules got stricter over the four days we were there. If you’re out for an evening anywhere near the Med, then you’re eating outside anyway – the poor servers have to wear masks, but customers don’t.

The news about Spain last weekend was very surprising to me. Yes, they have had some spikes but then, so do we. They are quite used to managing their lives with restrictions already, perhaps in a way some of us in the UK still need to accept to.

Our over-riding feelings after arriving home, was that all travellers to Europe, for the foreseeable future, will need to take personal responsibility for a) how they manage themselves and their families in terms of protection of themselves and others and b) for keeping themselves informed about sudden local, probable changes – which in our case meant learning some Spanish.

One of the reasons we drove was that it also gave us the ultimate flexibility to come home, should we have needed to. Lastly, the people we met were very grateful to see us, but in every location there were concerns about the viability of many tourism businesses, reliant on summer revenues.


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