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  • Writer's pictureDia KL

Travelling flying through the Covid19 1st wave. Part 2: within Europe 2020

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

Arriving to Europe from Asia with Greece as my entry point was quite smooth. Now I had another three flights to reach Bergen in Norway. July 2020.

Touching down in Eleftherios Venizelos international airport in Greece we were greeted with some guards and personnel who were checking our passports and PLF QR codes. In order to come to Greece you needed to fill in a Passenger Location Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before your arrival. Then on the midnight prior your flight they would send you a QR code which you have to present not only when you arrive in Greece but also to the airline before you board your final flight to Greece. If in any case you haven't been sent the QR code yet (for example if you are flying out before midnight and arrive in Greece the next day) you just need to show them the confirmation email of your submission.

In Doha, before I board the flight there was one Greek granpa with his wife who didn't speak any English and they didn't have a clue about the PLF QR code. They had to sign a paper that the airline notified them that they might be fined €500 in Greece because of not having a PLF and that they consent to take the flight.

Showing them my PLF one of the guys there asked me if I had done any Covid19 test. After I told them no, they said I looked alright and that I could proceed without being tested.

I had arranged to spend a night at my brothers place, not only to rest but to have it as a safety time in case some flight was canceled.

The next day in the morning I flew to Munich Germany with Lufthansa. Again the staff had protective gloves and glasses. Munich airport had a bit of traffic but most of its restaurants were closed. Under normal circumstances Munich airport is a busy hub with a traffic of approximately 47 million passengers (2019 data) which is almost 20% of the national traffic in all of Germany!

Hygiene vending machine in Munich airport, Germany. July 2020. Covid19 pandemic first wave.
Hygiene vending machine in Munich airport, Germany. July 2020.

It was a change that many people walking around in Munich airport were not wearing masks at all while at all the other airports until now there was nobody without a mask on.

There were some interesting things around, like the "hygiene automat" vending machine. Prices were €15 for a pack of 10 face masks, €3 for a small hand sanitizer and €3-5 for sanitizing wet wipes.

Then there were the nice napcabs, small little 4 square meters cabins with various comforts which you could rent by hour. It seems that they are installed only in two airports in Germany, in Munich and Frankfurt. Not a bad place to have some sleep in the Covid19 times. Prices were €15/h during daytime and €10/h during nightime with minimum charge €30. Although it's designed for one person two people could spend time in one cabin as well. More info here:

Napcabs in Munich airport. July 2020. Covid19 pandemic first wave.
Napcabs in Munich airport. July 2020.

The flight to Oslo airport with Lufthansa was once again smooth. Oslo airport was really quiet, the only few people I saw were the people who gathered to take the next flight which happened to be my flight as well, to Bergen. Oslo airport is normally the busiest in Norway with traffic approximately 28 million people (2019 data).

Oslo airport, Norway. Almost empty. July 2020. Covid19 pandemic first wave.
Oslo airport, Norway. Almost empty. July 2020.

At that time, Norway was still completely closed for tourists. You could enter the country only if you had a valid job contract. Upon arrival police came to escort us straight to the immigration section. As we lined, a nice policeman was pre-checking our papers. It was interesting to see a Buddhist monk among us waiting to be permitted in the country. A cool immigration officer with lots of tattoos just asked a few questions and that was it, permission to enter Norway was granted! I would have to quarantine in my final destination for two weeks.

Even though I was in transit I had to collect my backpack and check it in again, this time I was flying with Scandinavian Airlines. What was quite interesting is that almost nobody going around Oslo airport was wearing a mask! Even when we gathered to take the flight, only before we boarded our aircraft, people started putting on their masks, as it was mandatory.

Flight from Oslo to Bergen, Norway. SAS Scandinavian Airlines. July 2020. Covid 19 pandemic first wave.
Flight from Oslo to Bergen, Norway with SAS. July 2020.

Arriving in Bergen I still had quite a long way to reach my destination, a little village in one of the deepest fjords in Norway...

Working in Norway for 3 months was one of the best jobs ever, after the job was finished, in mid-Autumn I took a few more flights going to Greece to visit family and dogs.

End of September I flew from Bergen to Oslo with SAS, then to Frankfurt and finally to Athens, with Lufthansa. Norway and most of the countries in Europe had opened for tourism around that time so there was a bit more traffic in the airports and more shops open.

Arriving in Greece, at the start of October 2020, this time they sent me for a rapid Covid19 test after I told them I have never taken a test. A lady just took a sample from my throat and sent me off, the whole thing lasted two minutes. Asking them how will I be notified about the results I was told that if nobody contacts me for the next 24 hours it means I am negative. Asking if they would provide the results in some official paper I was told that "it was not the way it works". Nobody contacted me the next 24 hours so I guess I was negative...

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