A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: tatehomberg

Getting out of the UK

Not sure I will even post this. This one is really just for me.

There was a new variant of COVID that popped up in the UK not too long ago. We are in Bath and things are pretty good here but there is a chance the whole country will go on lockdown and we would be stuck. We have been self isolating here in Bath for at least a week. We have had almost no contact with people. We decided we need to get out while we can. The problem was where? We looked at everything - . Spain, France, Ireland, Mexico, Caribbean, even going back to the US and ending the trip. We ran into road blocks left and right. For days we looked at websites and went back and forth about what to do and in the end we decided to go to Mexico. Head back toward home but not go home yet. (We can’t go home for another month because we are renting our house). We chose Cancun because it was one of the few places that we could fly to without breaking the bank and we could easily get out of when we wanted to head home.

We finally made a choice but that is just where the fun started. As soon as I booked the flight, I saw something on the airline website about travel restrictions. I always like to have more information so I clicked on it. The US was requiring COVID test for all people coming from the UK. Which was fine. We are not going to the US, we are going to Mexico. However, our flight goes through ATL. Do we need to have it? In short YES.
OK that is fine, we don’t mind taking the test but now we have to find where we can take it. That is another two hours on the internet and Shelley finds us a place. The only place we can take it, in time for our flight, is London. Which is in tier 4 lock down and is an hour and a half away. It is also the center of the new COVID strain which is 70% more contagious.
We don't want to go to London unless it is to fly out of here but now we have to. We are getting ready to go to London tomorrow. Any other time, “Going to London tomorrow” would be a wonderful statement. Right now it is making me nauseous. I have been nauseous for days. I am generally not a nervous guy but my stomach has been in knots and I can’t seem to relax.
This whole trip we have been careful and have felt pretty safe. This is the first time I am scared. Imagine getting COVID on the way to get COVID tests. Irony would be a really big bitch.
Tomorrow is the 28th of December (the original day we were supposed to go to Lisbon) and we fly out on the 30th. Hopefully we don’t run into anything else. Tomorrow is a long day of train rides that we don’t want to take, going to a place we really don’t want to go. I’ll write more later.

( Jan 7th 2021) It is a little over a week since I wrote the 1st part of this and I wanted to finish while it is still fresh in my mind.

So the day we went to London for the COVID tests, we left about 8:30am, our tests were at 1:30pm. We had to pack lunch because everything was closed in London, so there was nowhere to get food. The train rides were uneventful and not too many people, however the cost to ride the train was twice as expensive (Maybe to try to discourage people from traveling). Once we got to London we had to take the tube (their subway) to get to the test. Again, this is the last thing you want to do when there is a more contagious strain of COVID out there.
It takes about 40 min. to get to the testing area by the tube and we have to wait for about 30 mins to an hour to get the test. The test is very uncomfortable. We have to get both our nose and throat swabbed.
By the time we are done, it is about 2:30 and now we have to work our way back to Bath. We will get our results in 36 to 48 hours but our flight is in 40 hours, so we spend the next day and a half worrying about getting the results in time.
The next step is to book a train to the airport. A train is the only way to get to the airport from Bath. There is a bus but it doesn’t get there until after our flight. So I go to book the train and this time it is 4 times as expensive. I have no choice so I hit buy and it says “sorry sold out.” Panic sets in. I refresh the search and the price goes up. I still have no choice so I hit buy and “sorry sold out”. This happens a few more times and by the time I get train tickets the price has increased to 6 times the amount we paid a week ago for the same train but we have tickets.
The next day we pack and get our COVID results, negative. We are ready to go. We hopped the train at 5:30am. The train that was so expensive and kept saying “sold out” was pretty much empty. The rest of the trip to the airport goes pretty smooth. No problems with the train, we check our bags, the airline checks our COVID results and we get through security with time to spare. The flight is long but fine. It’s not very crowded and we know that everyone on the flight had to have COVID tests, so we feel pretty safe. Before we took off we booked a room near the airport in Cancun for one night. We did know if we were going to be able to get on the flight, so we waited until the last minute to book a room.
We get to Atlanta and switch planes. Everything has been pretty smooth up to this point and the flight is only about 2-2.5 hours Cancun. We board the plane and it is packed. Delta has crammed this plane full. I don’t understand why it is so packed and the dumbass Americans are halfass wearing masks and no social distancing at all. I am having thoughts of getting off the plane and just flying back to Portland. We have been traveling for over 4 months now and this is by far the worst disregard for COVID safety I have seen anywhere. Isn't it good to be back in the States?
On the flight it dawns on me why the flight is so crowded. It’s New Years eve weekend and these yahoos are going to party in Cancun. Now I know that is something that I should have thought of but with all that was going on it never crossed my mind. Doesn’t matter now. We are on our way.
We land and the “20 somethings” are pushing to get off the plane so they can party and all I can think is: “I hope you bring in the new year facedown in a mexican toilet!”
We get off the plane and we get in a pretty long line for customs. Well I think it’s a long line but it’s going to get longer. There are two people checking passports. One is checking Mexican nationals and flight crew and the other is checking everyone else. It's moving pretty slow. Then the one person checking everyone else, gets up and leaves for like 30 mins or more. In the meantime more planes land and the line gets a lot bigger. I am guessing there are 250 to 300 people in line now.
The one customs agent finally comes back to very loud applause and cheers. The line moves again. People are getting very upset and we hear arguments behind us which sounds like people trying to cut in line. Finally a second person shows up and it moves a bit faster and we finally get through. We catch our shuttle to the hotel and fall into bed. In total over 24 hours of travel. 2 hours on a train to the airport, 9 hours to Atlanta, 2.5 hours to Cancun, 2 hours in customs and the rest of the time waiting in airports. One very long day and one very long week but we got out of the UK.
About 5 days later. The whole UK went tier 5 full lockdown. We got out just in time or we could still be there.
We ended up in Cozumel and will be here until Jan. 26th then home to Portland. That both makes me happy and sad.

On a side note, with all the places we have been on this trip Cozumel is the most cautious place in regards to COVID. All places like restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores. They take your temperature, hand sanitizer and have you step on pads to sanitize for your shoes. Everyone is wearing a mask inside and out. Unless of course they are Americans but even most of them are doing it. I can’t speak for all of Mexico but Cozumel has their shit together.

Posted by tatehomberg 03:22 Archived in England Comments (0)

Stuck in the UK

So, about a week ago we traveled from Inverness to Bath, England. We had spent our 3 weeks in Inverness planning the next half of our trip. We planned to spend about 10 days in Bath over the Christmas holiday and then head to Portugal on the 29th of December. New years and my birthday would be spent in Lisbon. Well, I don't see that happening now.

I am going to give you the whole story.

Our trip to Bath started a little rocky. We had booked a place through hotels.com and about a week before we were leaving, we got an email saying our booking was cancelled. After several hours on the phone we found out that the people that own the place we booked were just not renting the place anymore. I guess it was a covid thing. However, we still needed a place to stay. After a day and half on the phone and yelling at 6 different people from hotels.com we got another place. It was twice as expensive but we got hotels.com to pick up the additional cost. Problem solved!!!!

We have been here about a week and we like Bath. Cool little town and great for Christmas. We have done some day trips to Stonehenge and Glastonbury. Saw some great history. It has been a nice stay. However, some COVID issues started to come up. First off, London and southeastern England were raised to a tier 4. Which is Lockdown. London is about an hour and half train ride from Bath. It is not that close but also not that far away. Bath is currently in the much lower tier 2. Restaurants and shops are still open with restrictions in place. So, we are still in a pretty safe area.

Then, a few days ago, some news started to come out that there is a new strain of the virus that is 70% more contagious and that is what has caused the lockdown in London. After that news started to come out, EU countries started to close their borders to any travel from the UK. Flights, ferries and trains were all blocked. The country we were traveling to had not yet closed but it looked like they might.

In an effort to get out of England before things got really bad and before Portugal closed their borders, we changed our flight to the 23rd. We moved our flight up a week which cost us about 4 times the original cost. It was really hard for us to do but it seemed like the best choice. At this point I need to give credit to my wife for helping me to see that it was the best choice. Even if our process is a bit bumpy, we balance each other really well.

Now I wish I could say that was it, but at this point 40 countries have now closed their borders to the UK, including Portugal. Our fight was just canceled. We are currently without a plan to leave the UK and not even sure when we would be allowed to leave.

All that sounds bad. However I am going to focus on the positive stuff. (this is not my strong suit, so be patient with me).

  1. 1- Bath is only tier 2. We are currently not in lock down and most things are open.
  2. 2- We have a place to stay. The owner of the apartment we are staying in has been wonderful. He has told us we can stay as long as we need and that he won’t overcharge us. Really nice guy. I met and talk with him today.
  3. 3- Because our flight was canceled, we should get all of our money back. Even the money we spent to move up our flight.
  4. 4- We like Bath. If we have to hunker down here, it is a nice place to be.
  5. 5- Then thought countries are closing their borders, most are only doing it for 48 hours to a week. So things might open back up soon.

All that being said, we currently have no plan. We have no flight and don’t know how long we will be here. We are exploring all options, including coming back to the US. Right now we have to wait and see what happens and what flights out of the UK look like. I was just looking at some flights right after the new year.

I think we are here until after the new year and we will just have to hope that all of England doesn’t go tier 4 in the next few weeks. I am really not sure what is going to happen from here but I want everyone to know that we are safe and we are being very careful. We love you all and we might see you sooner than planned.

(Again, forgive all the mistakes in this entry. It's midnight here and the words are running together.)


Posted by tatehomberg 00:13 Archived in England Comments (0)

Dec 7th update (JT)

Hello all,
I wanted to give everyone an update. It has been a bit since I wrote. When I stated this blog I thought I would write a little bit like every other day. Kind of like a journal that I could look back on 10 years from now, but that just has not happened.

So where to start? First, sorry there has been no recent "Savvy Travels" videos. We were filming one in the Orkney islands at some neolithic sites and we ran into some bad weather. I mean really bad. Rain and about 30 MPH winds. We were also stuck out there in it for about 45 mins with no shelter of any kind. We literal hide behind one of the neolithic standing stones to block the wind and waited for the bus to show up. Anyway, we hope to film sometime new soon.

So we had a great time in the Orkney Island and saw some amazing things, a lot of which dated back to before the Pyramids. We were also hoping to see the Northern Lights but no luck. It was just too cloudy the whole time. Getting to and from the Orkney's was not a lot of fun. One really winding 3 hour bus ride there and back we took a pretty rough 7 hour ferry ride through the North Atlantic. There was some motion sickness from the trips to and from but we survived. We hope most of our travels are by train from here on out.

We picked our place to stay and lay low for a bit and that place is Inverness. We are 2 week into a 3 week stay here at Inverness and then we move on. It has been nice to settle into one place for a bit and Inverness is a cute town and of course the COVID issues here are pretty under control.

As you might have heard that the UK became the 1st country to approve a COVID vaccine and they started giving it out today. Some people have asked us if we will be able to get the vaccine and the short answer is no. We would be too far down the priorities list and we are not planning on being in the UK much longer.

Where to next? Well I am glad you asked. We will be heading to Bath, England for about 2 weeks. Bath is about 2 hours from London and is in the area of Stonehenge and Oxford. After that, on Dec. 29th we fly to Lisbon, Portugal. After Lisbon it is still unclear but the plan is to explore Portugal, Spain, and a bit of Morocco. When go north to Paris for a bit. Then we plan to fly out of Paris back to the US.

So that is your update. I could write so much more but I am trying to keep these somewhat short and it 11:15 pm here and I should go to bed.

Good night all and please forgive all the typos and mistakes that I didn't catch

Miss you all,

Posted by tatehomberg 22:25 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Savvy Travels- The Renaissance

Savvy Travels ep.4

Savannah explores Florence and the Renaissance! This is the forth installment in her educational videos as she travels Europe.

click the link below

Savvy Travels- The Renaissance

Posted by tatehomberg 13:27 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Nov. 5th update (JT)

Quick update.

Hello all,

Lets start with a few answers to some questions we have been getting:

Yes we are keeping up with the election. They cover it here like they cover it there.

Yes we were able to vote before we left.

I have also been asked about the up coming UK lock down and how that is going to effect us. The short answer is: it really is not going to effect us and here is why. Well, it is England that is locking down, not the whole UK. Looks like we got out of London just in time. The UK is Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each place decide how they are going to handle COVID.

We are currently in Inverness Scotland (The highlands). Scotland uses a 5 tier system to rank levels of infection and degree of lock down. Tier 5 is the worst- Full lock down.

No place in Scotland is at tier 4 or 5. We are currently in a tier 2 area, and on Wednesday we will be heading to a tier 1. We are heading to the Orkney Islands for about 10 days. The Orkneys are North of the Scottish mainland. During those 10 days we will be picking our new home for the next several weeks and staying put for a bit. We might stay in the Orkneys or go back to a place we have already been to. Not sure yet.

So as far a COVID goes, we will be in one of the safest places in the world.

That is it for the update. I promise to drink some Scotch for everyone. It is the least I can do!!!!!

Good night all

Posted by tatehomberg 14:21 Comments (0)

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