I love travel, but there is a lot to be said for being at home when the world goes haywire. One HNN contributor was not so lucky during his extended journey around Europe.
This week’s blog is a secondhand tale from a very trusted source.
Fortunately, I know of no one who has become sick with coronavirus (COVID-19), or tested positive, and fingers crossed I will not. I hope that is true of you, too. I have heard of a few people who sensibly, selflessly isolated themselves as they felt a little under the weather, but those cases have proved to be a common cold or something less.
I work with a small handful of wonderful freelance writers, journalists we trust and like, who are located in places where time differences and language barriers pose a particular problem for an English-speaking staff in Cleveland, Ohio, and myself in London.
One of those freelance journalists, Vladislav Vorotnikov, however, has been in lockdown away from his home country of Russia when Russia closed its borders to safeguard its population.
How he reached that point is an example of the global lives many of us led until early March, and presumably will revert to when his hideous mess is behind us.
“I’ve been in Munich for business and booked a flight to Valencia where I was going to stay with my wife for a month to improve my Spanish. The state of emergency introduced by the Spanish government made that trip senseless, and so we had to change our plans,” Vorotnikov explained.
“At that time, we learned that Russia has restricted air connections with Germany, Spain, Italy and France, so we decided to move to Vienna. We … started to search for flights back to Moscow,” Vorotnikov said.
He added that the search turned very fruitless very quickly, with Austria then restricting flights, including those to Russia, and the fares for anywhere close to his home rising rapidly.
“It seems there was kind of a panic among Russian tourists who were trying to get home before the complete lockdown,” he added.
Vorotnikov said he was very aware that his personal situation was not a critical one, rather one of inconvenience. For others, it was much worse.
“We met a Bulgarian couple whose flight back home from Munich was canceled, and they were going to Vienna simply to get closer to their home. During this journey, their relatives told them that Hungary closed the border, and they were not able move further. In a similar way, Slovakia introduced travel restrictions. They were desperate, not knowing what to do.
“We also met some Russian tourists whose flights were canceled, and they had no money to book their flight back home. They were trying to get help in the Russian embassy,” Vorotnikov said.
Vorotnikov said he and his wife managed to get a flight on 18 March and booked a Vienna hotel not far from the city center for their enforced stay.
The Austrian government asked citizens to go out only if necessary as of 16 March, he said, but there was nothing to walk to anyway as all the city closed at 3.30 p.m. on the previous day.
“In general, we were lucky because we only had to stay for an extra night or two (and) not spend too much on air tickets. … I’ve heard a lot of stories of people who got in truly desperate situations with no money, no food and no assistance from anyone and not knowing what to do,” Vorotnikov added.
This year, I had two business trips canceled and one vacation, but I consider myself very fortunate I was in my own home when all this global crisis began. I am sure there are many unfortunate souls still stuck in limbo.
Vorotnikov is now back in Russia, and his reception at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Alexander S. Pushkin International Airport was filled with scrutiny.
“There was a thorough inspection in the airport. There were (approximately) 30 doctors examining us, taking different probes and so on. We didn’t see anything like that in Europe,” he said.
Reading between the lines, and hopefully not speaking for Vorotnikov, I sense a lot of kindness on his journey being sent his and his wife’s way from hoteliers and other people.
Let’s hope that remains long after this virus is gone.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.