Covid Travel Fuckabout

January 18, 2021
krauserpua

You all remember the Steve McQueen classic The Great Escape, right? If you haven’t seen that perhaps you’ve at least seen Escape To Victory. The six years of World War 2 were dark days, as the whole of humanity was under the cosh. Looking back now, the war seems absolutely insane. What on earth were our leaders thinking? Why did all of white Christian Europe fight each other when we could’ve easily just ganged up on the rest of the world? Imagine the Wehrmacht teaming up with the British and French Armies to kick the fuck out of Turkey. Wouldn’t that have been glorious? We could’ve kept going, all the way to China.


Imagine a world without China. Doesn’t that sound beautiful?


But no. The big daft cunts had to fight each other with the predictable result of surrendering half of Europe to communism and laying the foundation to surrender the rest to a flood of unarmed Africans sixty years later. What a shit show.


Speaking of shit shows, let me tell you about my own great escape. This is the inspiring story of one plucky freedom fighter’s daring breakout from Gulag Britain at the peak of Covid bullshit.


I recently expressed an interest in getting the fuck out of Britain before Boris instituted a blanket travel ban or mandatory Bill Gates “vaccinations”. My primary concern [1] was the UK turning into Australia and trapping its citizens for a whole year [2] so I decided to beat it. As Robert De Niro’s character says in Heat, never have anything you can’t leave behind in thirty seconds if you feel the heat coming around the corner. Belgrade is still mostly open. Restaurants, cafes, shops, gyms and so on are operating as normal until 8pm. You only need a 48-hour PCR test to enter. No special permits or citizens-only bullshit. I like Belgrade. I’ve got stuff going on there. So, Belgrade it was to be. I booked a ticket by KLM to fly from Newcastle on January 11th. It was an eye-watering £320 one-way but beggars can’t be choosers. Most flights are discontinued right now.


Four days beforehand, KLM sends me an email saying I need a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours to pass through Amsterdam (even in transit) and of course I already know it’s 48 hours for Serbia. No problem. I get an NHS PCR test and proudly hold the negative result email.


On the day of the flight I check-in at 4am for a 6am flight, having stayed up all night. My dad dropped me off because the Metro isn’t running and there are no taxis anymore because no-one travels or goes out, because everything is locked down in Tier 4 Newcastle. Two Colombian girls ahead of me in the queue are sent home because Colombia announced the day before that anybody who has been in UK in the past 14 days is banned entry to Colombia, even it’s own citizens. No tests, no isolation. Not even allowed in. They are rather distraught as it’s the first they’ve heard of it. Two other people are refused entry for reasons I don’t yet know.

Not this hot, not by a long way


It’s looking ominous for Krauser but I know Belgrade hasn’t barred entry and I’ve met all the requirements in the KLM email. I pass my passport across the counter and get out my email certificate.
“Oh, we don’t accept NHS tests,” says the KLM check in assistant. “New policy, a week ago.”
“You didn’t tell anyone,” I retort. “Your email says PCR test. This is a PCR test.”
“It’s policy.”


I’m refused boarding. I get talking to a sailor who works in Norway who was refused boarding for the same reason. Another two after me suffer the same fate. KLM specifically exclude the NHS test but didn’t inform their customers. Cunts. I borrow the sailor’s phone to get my dad out of bed to pick me up [3] or I’d have been stranded at 4am in sub-zero weather.


Three hours of sleep then I get on the phone to sort it out. KLM customer support confirms the no-NHS policy then tell me Air Serbia hold the ticket so I have to call them. Air Serbia said under my ticket terms I must pay a £150 rebooking fee plus the additional fare rate, quoting me £500 for a one-way ticket on Thursday (on top of the £320 I already paid). No thank you. I go to my travel agent, Opodo, who keep me on hold two hours before telling me I have to go back to Air Serbia to get the rebooking fee waived.


I spent all day on the phone. Finally I sent an email to Air Serbia with attachments of my test and the KLM email, then finally get to bed. I wake up the next morning to find Air Serbia agree with me and have waived the fee. I get back on the blower and rebook for Monday 18th. Same flight, same price, one week later.


You’d think that’s the end of the drama. Oh no!


I need a private PCR test within 48 hours of arrival. It’s a six-hour total flight, so gotta be within 42 hours of departure. Now, the clinics only guarantee delivery of test results within 48 hours, though 24 hours is realistic. So, I try to get an appointment. There is only one clinic in the North East open on Saturday and its final appointment of the day is 10:45. I’m due to arrive in Belgrade 12:30, or 11:30 UK time. So, that appointment would render my test 45 minutes out of date. There are no Sunday appointments (and likely result wouldn’t arrive in time for check-in).


There’s no wiggle room. The clinic won’t wait the 45 minutes longer, and said the system would put appointment time on the certificate. So, there is nowhere to get a private test.


I chat a bit to the clinic receptionist and she tells me all the local clinics send their samples to a laboratory in Barnard Castle. That’s a tiny scenic village at the south of County Durham, about 80 minutes drive from my house. Obviously there are no trains or buses there. “I think they allow you to test at the laboratory itself,” she says.

The only test centre open after 11am on Saturday


I check online, find the clinic, and yes they offer a click-n-collect service 24/7. I get support on live chat and they assure me they’ll be open on Saturday and results usually take 24 hours. I book a kit online and strong-arm my dad to agree to drive me down. That problem seems solved. That’s Tuesday evening. I go to bed at least reasonably confident everything is squared away.


Then I’m talking to Roy Walker. He just got to Cape Town.


“Mate, I got stopped by an undercover cop at Boarding in Heathrow. She was asking me where I’m going and the purpose of my trip. You’re not allowed to leave the UK for holiday. You need a business reason.”
“Did you have one?”
“Yeah, my mate there wrote me a letter asking for an engineering quote. I told the cop it was a business development trip. She bought it.”


So I spent Wednesday sorting out my bullshit cover story for travel. On Thursday I go walkies with Brooding Sea in the city centre. Just as I’m about to get the bus home I get an email from KLM. My Monday flight is cancelled. The square-headed Dutch government bastards have just banned all flights in and out of the country, it says. Fuck. I rush home and call up Air Serbia to arrange a refund. While the phone is still on hold I open Sky Scanner and desperately search options. The only non-KLM flights are out of Luton and Heathrow. There’s a good direct Air Serbia flight at Sunday lunchtime and….. there are two seats left. I book without even waiting for Air Serbia customer support to pick up about my existing Monday ticket. At least now I’ll be taking the PCR test on Friday.


I need to get to London. There are only four trains each day and none of them arrive early enough to catch the flight. So I buy a ticket for the day before. I’ll have to spend Saturday night at a friend’s house in London. I call Xants who offers me his spare room but adds, “you might not want it, because my flatmate literally has Covid right now and is in isolation in his room.” That wouldn’t bother me but there’s a fair chance I’d not get to board the flight and have to return to Newcastle, where I’m staying with two parents who are in the legitmate Covid risk demographic. I try another pal and his landlord isn’t even allowing his girlfriend to come over, due to bullshit Covid fears. Finally, Big Baldie offers me his floor.


“Don’t have a sofa. Don’t even have a lounge, mate,” he adds.


I take it and then order a click-n-collect sleeping bag from Argos for £10, to collect on my way back from the lab on Friday. It’s at that moment that KLM sends me a new email implying the Monday flight is still on, and this entire Heathrow rigmarole might be unnecessary. But, the money is already spent and I really don’t trust the squareheads to fly on Monday. At least now KLM has added a line to the email saying they don’t accept NHS tests. They must’ve had a lot of angry customers over that.

This exact model


Friday comes and it’s heavy snow. There is one road to Barnard Castle, over the moors. There’s heavy fog and visibility is severely restricted. At any moment we expected to come onto Road Closed signs that would force us to call off the entire trip. Luckily, we get there. I take the test in the lab car park, under heavy snow, then get some fish and chips. The test is timed to be valid for the Sunday Heathrow flight. It will have expired by Monday morning’s Newcastle flight (if it’s even on).


On the way home through the moors, I get a message from Salman. it’s a screen cap of newspaper headline that Boris has just announced a travel ban starting 4am Monday morning- two hours before I was due to leave. Sunday is now Last Chance Saloon. Now I’m concerned [4] that the worst-case Aussie situation will play out: total travel ban from UK. While sitting in the car as my dad drives through the fog I search Skyscanner for ANY country that (i) will let me in, and (ii) isn’t crazy expensive to fly to at short notice, and (iii) flies on Sunday.

Nearly all the orange is functionally red anyway. Map is even redder if you open it from UK


The entire EU is ruled out because citizens or residence permit holders only. Most of the rest of the world too for the same reasons. It looks like Latvia is open and it’s £13 from Edinburgh on Ryanair. I book that before it disappears and figure to check when I get home. I get home and read the newspaper sites. Ah, Boris didn’t ban all flights. He just ended the travel corridors through which people can enter the UK without isolation. Still, the papers say many flights will now be cancelled due to onerous new requirements. You can fucking bet KLM will be one of them. It turns out Latvia wouldn’t let me in anyway, so that option was a false hope.

I have a brainwave over night. This is a chance to set up a satisfactory fall-back plan if London-Belgrade falls through: Go to Russia. My business visa to Russia expires on 1st Feb and the governments ban on UK nationals entering the country expires on the 15th. It’s the fifteenth right now. I could fly as early as tomorrow, spend a week or so in Moscow, then take one of the convienient Moscow-Belgrade flights into Serbia. Problem solved!


I’d even have a solid business case for leaving the UK and a business visa to back it up.


So the next morning I call my visa contact and ask him: do I need extra days on my visa after my stay (like you do with a passport expiry) or can I remain in Russia until literally the last day?
“You can stay until the very last day no problem,” he answers. “But, this morning the Russian government extended their ban on UK nationals until Feb 1st. You cannot enter until then.”
“My visa expries on Feb 1st.”
“Yes.”


So, it all came down to catching a train to London. There were engineering works on the line making the usual sub-3 hour journey now take 5 hours, via Cambridge on slower, shitter lines. If anything goes wrong with my train, I can’t get to London, and therefore can’t get out the UK. Just before bedtime, Xants sends me a screencap of the overnight weather forecasts. Heavy snow and sub-zero temperature: the kind of weather that leads to train cancellations. He seems to find it amusing. As I fall asleep I can hear heavy snow and wind thudding against my windows.


I wake up to bright, clear weather. The snow has already cleared. I hop on to Trainline Live Service Updates relieved to see all four trains are on time. My PCR test comes back and I print it out. I’m ready! My dad drops me off in town and now I’m wondering if the Covid police are gonna give me shit boarding the train. Nope, it’s a breeze. I get to London on time.


I check Kings Cross underground station for service updates and I’m dismayed to see the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow is suspended due to engineering work. Literally nothing in this trip is going to plan! I must get a bus to Paddington and then the Heathrow Express. I spend the evening walking around Camden with Big Baldie then get a reasonable night’s sleep. He walks me to the bus stop at 9am and I’m off to Heathrow.


Now I was just hoping I hadn’t misread the Serbia entry restrictions (or they hadn’t changed overnight) and that the Covid cops wouldn’t interrogate me. The Air Serbia staff, bless them, barely glanced at my certificate. I could’ve written my own in crayon for all they cared. They never asked the purpose of my visit. I took my boarding pass with great relief and this was the first time in a week I believed I might actually succeed in my travel plans.


I didn’t see any Covid cops. I spent £4 on a copy of the Financial Times and rolled it under my arm when walking to the gate, just to look a bit more business-trip-like. There were no questions. The last hurdle was Serbian immigration but they too just checked my PCR test and let me in on the usual visa.


Thank fuck for that!


So, what a drama. I got an email that same day from KLM confirming they had indeed cancelled the Monday flight. So, it had been London or nothing all along.


This is all very interesting I’m sure but has nothing to do with shagging hot birds. Daygame Overkill, however, has everything to do with picking up and shagging birds. It’s the best video instructional available. Buy it now from this link or be a fag forever.

[1] Concern, not fear. I’m fuckin’ rock, so I don’t fear anything or anyone.
[2] Like my Aussie pal Joe who has been locked down all year and has to entertain himself my smashing up his house under the guise of “renovations”.
[3] High value.
[4] Just concerned, mind you. Not frightened.

8 Comments

  1. Some adventure this lad. Was a proper fuck about alright.

  2. hey Nick. will you be around Belgrade? I can get coached for a day when the weather lifts off [Send me an email. K.]

  3. Went through a similar nightmare last week when trying to fly from Hungary to Spain. I though I had it rought, but yours was even rougher.

    – Flight on Saturday via Ryanair Budapest-Madrid Jan 9. No cheap flights till Febr 3. Only KLM with extortionate rates.

    – Need PCR test 72h from flight. Fortunately I manage to get a date at 13:45 on Thursday, just 15m before cutoff time, whereby the results wouldn’t arrive the next day, but 2 business days. which would’ve meant I’d be fucked. GIven no guarantee that I’d get results the next day. Test cost about 70 euros.

    – Only available PCR testing facilty in BP. I live in the countryside, so I have to book an airbnb for 2 nights and stay in there.

    – Flight will arrive at 9pm to Madrid, so I got to stay there 1 night too. Booked an airbnb after 3-4 failed attempts. Booked ave high speed train.

    – Booked a car via ride sharing app. Later I get an SMS that my ride ran over some poor animal. Canceled. Fortunately able to rebook a morning ride in time to reach the PCR testing.

    – No food/liquids 6 hours before the test, coupled with a nice bumpy ride makes me almost throw up in the car.

    – Got the test results at around noon the next day. Yay!

    – Saturday comes, just checked out of the apartment, get call from my mother that Wizzair just canceled flight to Madrid due to half a century’s biggest snowstorm. Soon after I received cancellation SMS from Ryanair. Luckily Ryanair made it easy to get refunded, and I also canceled my train in Spain with minimal loss. Lost 20 euros on the airbnb. Now stranded in BP with no accomodation, no flight.

    – By God’s Graces, I manage to discover a flight the Sunday to Barcelona for 139.36. 10 minutes later 161.66. Finally price was 195. Test valid until 13:45, flight took off 3 before expiration.

    – Get extorted another 30 euros on Ryanair while standing in line to board, bc I somehow missed the fact on their checkout that I need to pay extra to bring my suitcase up the plane. Air fare now 4x than planned.

    – Plane arrived 20m late. 30m left till my bus arrives or I’m standred. I would’ve missed it had I not paid for bringing my suitcase on board. A blessing in disguise.

    – Starving and the bus ride is 4h long, so I scram to a burger king and buy some nuggets to keep my alive. Barcelona airport takes 15m to walk through, at least. It’s long AF.

    – Arrived to bus 5m before scheduled, I stuff my face with the fast food. Got on the buss.

    – Arrived in Valencia. Lost 1kg in 4 days.

    Missing accomplished! [Sounds like an even bigger fuckabout than what I had. Well done for seeing it through to success. K.]

  4. Funny you should mention the European powers kicking Turkey’s ass, because that is exactly what happened in WWI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Eastern_theatre_of_World_War_I
    I guess when you run out of enemies, you bring the fight home [WWI not II, but yes. Happy times. It’s a shame Ataturk held the country together afterwards. K.]

  5. crazy story thanks for sharing

  6. This is all a deflection so you don’t have to face me one on one in the streets of Berlin for daygame supremacy

  7. Deadset exciting story! I cant wait to be able to leave Australia.

  8. Germany (and with it white christian Europe) died in WW1.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: