From Slovenia over Italy to Spain (Canary Islands)
Travelling in Covid-19 times is possible! Borders are open, but for crossing there are rules to be respected. These are different for every country, sometimes even region, therefore, a good preparation ahead is essential. Fulfil all formal requirements, and you get the ticket of entry – when stuck by a zealous government officer staying polite and positive may help.
There are 2 keys to your destination:
- COVID-19 test and
- Self-declaration form
Both are basically easy to fulfil, once you know the ways and means, which are different for every country.
Here is my experience when I travelled early January 2021 from Slovenia over Italy to Canary Islands, Spain, all by public transportation: Flixbus from Ljubljana to Milan (the only public transport linking Slovenia and Italy on that time), with a local bus to Bergamo, then by air-plane to Fuerteventura, Spain.
I added an update May 2021 after my return from Fuerteventura via Milano and bus to Slovenia.
Getting familiar with different kinds of Covid-19 tests
There are 2 kinds of tests:
Fast Covid-19 test
You can nowadays make antigenic fast tests so to say everywhere “around the corner”, they are often for free or cost somewhere between 15 and 30 euro. The result is available within minutes.
PCR or Molecular test
Molecular tests are also called PCR and require analysis in a laboratory with results being available earliest after a couple of hours. Usually the results will be sent by email to you within 24 hours. The cost is accordingly higher, between 70 and 100 euro.
For the smoothest proceeding avoid doctors and go directly to a laboratory. They often have online appointment scheduling and dispatching of results. For the testing itself you of course need to go there: be prepared for a scrub deep inside your nose. It’s a weird feeling and might cause a few tear drops. Relax body and mind with a deep inhale/exhale and start travelling to your destination in your thoughts.
Find travel regulations of your destination country
Check the rules of your destination country with regard to your origin country, meaning the country where you’ve been staying the last two weeks before travelling. Refer to the official government’s website of the destination country, usually the public health website, and go sure you’ve got the latest update, as regulations change weekly.
Information for Italy
For Italy, the site of the Italian Health Ministry is helpful and updated in English. Countries are subdivided in 5 groups, you click on the group of countries where you’ve been staying over the 2 weeks preceding your departure and get the rules. Referring to list C which covers most EU-countries, travel to Italy is permitted without the need for any certification of motivations for travelling. For me, it meant I could transit to Bergamo airport, my flight was on the day following my border crossing. However, be careful if you plan to move around Italy, there are restrictions, which change on regular basis, the current ones are here.
Conditions to enter Italy without quarantine are
- a molecular or antigenic Covid-19 test (meaning PCR test or fast test) in the 48 hours before arrival and
- a filled in self-declaration which is for download here. Flixbus provided passengers with the form once arrived at the border.
Travelling to Spain
To enter Spain most travellers are requested to present a negative PCR test result, made in the 72 hours before arrival. Find more information and a download list of countries on the Health Ministry’s website.
As for the self declaration, Spain introduced an electronic declaration system, you find it here: Spain Travel Health. Download the app on your phone for paperless handling or fill in the online forms, in which case you have to print at the end.
In both cases you’re provided with a QR-code giving you the laisser-passer at your arrival in Spain. The online form or app are quite straight forward: you provide your details, confirm that you don’t have any Covid-19 symptoms or risks and add your flight number or travelling route.
Along Trieste coastline, from bus
Airport Milan, Bergamo
Schedule Covid-19 testing
It can be tricky to schedule the Covid-19 testing, as the laboratory time frame can be 24 to 48 hours for providing the PCR result, and your destination country can request them not older than 48 hours. Which gives you zero hours for transit in between.
Depending on your location, you might figure out moving closer to the airport or border for the PCR test, to go sure of obtaining the result before travelling on.
Airports and train stations in Covid-times
At the Bergamo international airport, there were still a few places open where you can grab a coffee, croissant and a sandwich. Forget about higher cuisine demands.
Less gastronomic and commercial experience takes airports back to their original functional purpose. Which is just as well.
When I arrived in Bergamo the evening before the flight, around 8 pm, all restaurants and bars were closed.
Train stations in Italy are also deserted in the evening. There are still officers around for checking the respect of covid-regulations, providing a feeling of security, so don’t worry.
Just be aware of the different circumstances and measures in different countries and be prepared to face them!
Count enough time for check-in, as there’s an additional step now at the airport: at the entrance of the Bergamo airport, self-declaration forms are distributed (Italian and English version), you fill them in leaning on a corner of a busy table, trying to keep the 2 meters distance while squinting over your mask.
Then comes the next (and all decisive) queue to the officer checking the form. The man wanted a good reason for my trip to Fuerteventura. He didn’t like tourism (for personal reason or because he mixed up with another country?). I told him working. Do you have a paper from your employer? Well, I give yoga classes online… (showed my yoga mat) What? with an interrogative and incredulous expression. Well, yes, you know, I work online, from everywhere… He wasn’t in a mood to understand or argue, sweeping with his hand he made me understand shutting up and walking on. There was a long queue behind me.
And only now start the stages of checking-in luggage, emptying the last bottle of water and taking off belts, unpacking the laptop for physical check etc.
The walk to the gate was ghostly with the chic boutiques in the long corridors all locked by metal curtains. Only at the end one shop offering duty-free perfumes and alcohols.
At Fuerteventura airport the QR code, which I had generated with the Spain Travel Health app was required. Nothing else, take your luggage and welcome to our wonderful island!
What? Why did I make all this PCR effort???
In the evening, after settling in my accommodation, the landlord asked me a picture of my passport and my PCR test result, they must provide it together with my passport details. Phew… it was a long way, but it was worth it. I had arrived to an exceptional scenery for the upcoming Yoga for your Back online classes!
Descent on Fuerteventura
Conclusion January 2021
Travelling in Covid-19 times requires more preparation than it used to, but it’s still possible, even without quaratine, at least to some countries.
You should NOT travel if you have symptoms like fever, cough, breathing difficulties, if you were diagnosed Covid-19 in the past two weeks or if you had close contact with a case of Covid-19 in the last two weeks.
Get familiar with your destination’s as well as transiting countries’ valid regulations, make your covid-test, complete self-declaration documents (in Italy one for every change of public transport) and you’re ready to go! And take a pen with you – you never know when you have to fill in a document declaring that you’re aware you’re travelling in COVID-19 times.
On the road in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Accommodation with place for online yoga classes
Update May 2021
My flight back from Fuerteventura was fixed for 9th of May 2021. Heading for final preparation of the retreat Yoga & Mountains in Slovenia. The airline sent me a bunch of documents for Italy to choose from and to fill in. Flixbus for Slovenia was more discrete. I found a self-declaration anyway. Duly I printed and filled in all forms.
Carefully I went through all regulations for Italy: Most persons coming from an EU-country must directly go for quarantine, are forbidden to use public transportation from airport, must go by private means. There are exceptions like airline staff, cross-border workers, and “any person passing, by private means, through Italian territory”…. I had not a tiny bit of a chance for private transport from Milan airport to Slovenia.
What would happen at the airport in the worst case? Would they oblige me to take a taxi? (Around 400 km to the border…)
For Slovenia a PCR-test is required (120 euro again!) in case you enter from a red listed country. Spain was red listed. Somewhere, a very small text said “except… Canary Islands…”. But then there were no details about what you have to provide if you are part of this exception.
Given my experience in January, I decided to take the risk and go for an antigen test, 25 euro.
Armed with my filled-in paperwork, the fast Covid-test, self-confidence and a smile I started my trip.
First day in Slovenia, Lake Bohinj
Last day on Fuerteventura, Costa Calma
Border Crossing in Covid Times
During check-in with the airline, the covid-test was requested in the same sentence together with the passport.
On arrival in Milan Malpensa, which was around midnight, first everything goes as usual, you wait for your luggage, then you go on in direction of customs, you cross an open door and here you stay in the entrance hall, ready to board a taxi or hug a friend, if you’re lucky enough to have one to pick you up! And now comes the surprise: No uniform at all in visual range. I looked behind me and all around, there was absolutely nobody checking people arriving from abroad.
The next day, the Flixbus staff also asked me the Covid test together with the passport during check-in. They’re rather interested in the date of the test, its nature is not screened. Everything fine so far.
The bus is quite comfortable, and the Slovenian border again passed unnoticed, the mobile phone sent me a message that we changed country. No control at all. Maybe the bus had slowed down a bit at a point?
Conclusion May 2021
International trips are safe. All passengers are tested, as for the staff it’s not important, there’s no service anyway, except if you’re starving and you pay for it.
Be kind with the check-in staff of the transportation companies, they’re the ones who decide if you’re fit to fly or take the bus in Covid times. What happens after arrival is a deal between you and your conscience.
It might be far more ‘dangerous’ visiting my parents, as they’re both vaccinated for Covid, and I am not. But that’s another story and I’ll hug them anyway!