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:

  1. COVID-19 test and
  2. 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.

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

  1. molecular or antigenic Covid-19 test (meaning PCR test or fast test) in the 48 hours before arrival and
  2. 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.

view from bus

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!

Bon Voyage!

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.

 

 After arrival

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

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

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