After not traveling much for the past year or so (my last trip was a 6-week trip to China, exactly a year ago with 2 weeks quarantine in China and 2 weeks upon my return to Canada) I decided to do some serious ‘revenge travel’. We spent most of the summer in Canada on boats and at my summer home, and started traveling internationally again about 6 weeks ago. Since then we have been to the Bahamas, New York City (twice), The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Monaco. It was an interesting experience because every single country has different regulations and sometimes it’s not clear when you arrive what these regulations are.
In Europe most countries don’t require COVID tests anymore, and if they do we decided to skip those countries (sorry Italy!). But in North America you need them each time you travel. Canada requires PCR tests every time you return, which is a bit of a hassle. The US and the Bahamas are fine with antigen tests, which only take a few minutes and are not as uncomfortable as the PCR tests. The good thing is that you can get these tests anywhere in N America: in New York City you can even get them for free in mobile vans that are parked on the main streets in Manhattan, and in the Bahamas they can come to your home or hotel to do the COVID test for you. Face masks are required everywhere (even outside) in the Bahamas and Monaco, but most other countries are more relaxed and only require them indoors. In The Netherlands you can now even go indoors without masks, it’s the only country where I have seen this so far (Canada had this over the summer, but they changed back to indoor masks after the delta variant hit).
In the Bahamas we stayed at our own place instead of a resort, but in order to enter hotels, resorts or restaurants you had to provide your COVID test results. What we didn’t realize until after a few days, is that there was a 10 pm curfew in effect. We had not seen it announced anywhere, not even at the airport, and resorts seem to have been exempted from it, because we spent several nights at restaurants at the Atlantis until after 10 pm. However, when we went to a local beach side restaurant around 8 pm they told us they were closed already because of the 10 pm curfew. We literally had no idea, but we suddenly understood why Michi had been stopped by police after 10 pm one night after visiting a friend in a nearby resort. The police just asked where she was going and when they realized she was not a local they let her go, without even telling here about the curfew.
We also made a road trip through Europe, which was very enjoyable. Because of COVID it wasn’t very busy on the roads and we never had to book hotels in advance, so we could just decide to take a hotel without planning ahead. Hotels were quite affordable as well, at least cheaper than before, simply because they are competing for less travellers. Restaurant reservations were not needed, except for some of the top restaurants in Monaco during the yacht show, which means you can decide last minute what, where and when you want to eat.
Quarantine is not required anymore as long as you are fully vaccinated. You do need to show your vaccination proof in every European country we visited if you want to have dinner or even just a coffee in a bar or restaurant (just like in Canada, the US and the Bahamas). Europe has its own QR code system that is incompatible with the Canadian vaccine passport, but we never had any issues with our vaccine cards. The countries that have had the system for a couple of weeks already seem to have fully integrated it into their way of life, nobody complains about it and even at McDonalds people simply scan their code before entering. However in Holland where the QR code system was only introduced a few days ago a vocal minority is still strongly against it and some restaurants are even threatened with closure because the owners don’t want to scan QR codes.
Personally I don’t think governments should force people to take vaccines if they do not want to take them (I am pro-vaccine, but think it’s an overreach of government power). I wish everyone would take the vaccine, but if they don’t I am against forcing them and it simply means they will get COVID within the next year anyway. After seeing how well the system works all over the world I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to fight against it, it’s simply not a hill that’s worth to die on. There are much worse things going on in society that people seem to take for granted. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories about governments using vaccine passports to get more power, in my opinion governments are just incompetent. I have seen it with Ivermectin, about which I wrote on this blog back in January this year. I thought governments would be able to understand how well it works (the data is there for all to see), but they are simply too busy and seem to follow the mainstream media. And indeed since then the media turned it into a ‘animal deworming medicine’, instead of an almost-free pharmaceutical that has been used by billions of people with hardly any side effects since the 1970s. Again, not a hill to die on, and I have had my own supply for months already.
Anyway, I don’t really want to turn this blog post into a discussion about vaccines or medicine, but just want to point out that things are similar all over the Europe and N America. Of course most of Asia, Australia and NZ are still very different (let alone Africa and S America), but they will get there as well. I am glad I can travel again, intercontinental planes between Europa and N America are full and most good restaurants seem to have survived. It will take another year before things are fully back to normal, but at least with some small inconveniences we can pretend that COVID is over. If you want to enjoy travel without too many other tourists around now is the time to go.