Russell David

Postcard From Luxembourg

by Russell David "Luxembourg? That’s not a place you visit, it’s somewhere you fly over!" Such was a typical reaction when I told people I was off to the small nation land-locked by Belgium, France and Germany. But I had my reasons. One was that, like my trip to Vienna a month previously, I had paid for a hotel room there in 2020, not been able to use it thanks to the bubonic plague, and unless I filled it before the end of 2021 I would lose my money. The other reason was that by journeying to Luxembourg I would finally have visited all 27 E.U. countries! In 2018, on arriving back at Bristol Airport from yet another trip to Gran Canaria (a rubbish one) I noticed a poster listing all E.U. members. It was in that moment the idea struck me. I realised I’d been to 15 of the countries already, over many years, so why not set a target of doing all of them? In the spirit of the slogan on the T-shirt I got from Spiked, “Love Europe, hate the E.U.”, in a mad flurry I set about visiting the likes of Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and more – and I loved it. That was until the governments of E.U. member states decided to go against all of their pandemic preparedness...

Postcard From Vienna

by Russell David Why did I visit Austria? Why now? Here’s why: I’d been due to stay in Vienna (and Luxembourg) in 2020, having paid for non-refundable hotel rooms but had been forced to cancel (twice); both hotels said I could use the booking until the end of 2021. Little did I realise then that it wouldn’t be until 2021 was nearly over that a trip would be feasible. So I embarked on this three-night break because I sort of had to, and a few tweaks to the testing requirements meant that this was unlikely to be as much of an ordeal as my trip to Slovenia in September was. It’s no surprise most people aren’t booking holidays at the moment. In the 10 days leading up to the flight I received five emails from Ryanair, four of which were identical, headed ESSENTIAL REMINDER FOR YOUR TRIP in bold, capital letters, red and underlined. A couple of lines down it said: “Failure to comply with local travel requirements may result in you being fined or denied boarding or entry into your destination.” That too was in bold and underlined. There was then reams of copy about the E.U. Digital Covid Travel Certificate, passenger locator forms, masks and tests, until it returned to its theme: “Failure to produce required forms/negative Covid test results may result in...

Postcard From Slovenia

by Russell David When I told a friend I was off to Slovenia he questioned why I’d go to a country that had only vaccinated around 64% of its population, compared to 95% in the U.K. I explained to him that the vaccination rates of a country would not have the slightest bearing on whether I would choose to go there, because these vaccines don’t appear to stop transmission or infection, they only (possibly) reduce the chance of serious illness in the person who has had them. And besides, I needed a break from this stifling little island. What I found, though, was a mixed picture. In some ways it’s better in Slovenia than in the U.K., but in other ways it's much worse, making our regulations seem light and liberal. That's not what I had expected. Getting a flight can often be stressful; in Covid times multiply that by 10. I awoke (after bad dreams) two hours before my alarm on the day of my flight and was unable to get back to sleep, a million things going through my mind, a million things that could go wrong on the trip. It starts long before the actual day of the flight, as you take your test and send it off and hope it gets there in time… and that...

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