So far, so holiday
Martin and I were driving, appropriately listening to Latin American music, and enjoying the landscape of the Dominican Republic. The first days in the Caribbean had already passed exactly as you would imagine. But then we heard the first news on the radio: Corona had arrived on the island. Mobile phones are usually off limits on holiday, but we checked the updates every day, informed ourselves about the situation back home and followed the developments worldwide. We started to feel uneasy and were wondering how it would all progress.
The return journey was imminent
The day of our planned return home was getting closer. As a precaution we registered with the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because we just didn’t know what would happen. Fortunately, the flights were scheduled to take place as planned – until Tuesday morning, 17.03.2020, the day our flight should take place! But then we received a dubious email from our online booking office and suddenly our planned flight that evening was no longer to be found. Instead of spending the last day sitting comfortably on the beach, we immediately made our way to the airport – and we weren’t alone! It soon became clear from one information point with a long queue – it didn’t look good for travellers like us. The recommendation of the embassy: somehow make your own way home, no return is currently planned!
One day longer in the ‘Domrep’
We drove back to our guesthouse in Punta Cana, where the trip had started exactly two weeks ago. The owner was very helpful and said we could stay as long as necessary. He was happy to receive guests, the cancellations had increased day by day. In the evening we sorted our trip home and booked a flight to London. Then it was time to wait and hope that the flight would actually take place. Nevertheless, we celebrated the booking success with a Pina Colada. We spent the next day in our accommodation and on the beach. Although we couldn’t really relax because of all the uncertainty.
Return journey number two
We returned to the airport early in the morning. The boarding passes we received at the counter felt like the best Christmas present! We used the waiting time to book a hotel in London and connecting flight to Munich. At last everything seemed to be ok. At the airport in London, and on the plane itself, more and more people seemed to be wearing protective masks and clothing. We also had disinfectant ready – the situation was very strange – the feeling of unease returned.
The second part of the trip from London was planned, but we already had doubts at the baggage drop-off: the airline did not want to take us to Germany with our Austrian passports at first. We tried again and got through. Nevertheless, we contacted the Foreign Office. We were assured that a return flight would operate in the afternoon. And despite the confirmation from Munich airport and the German Embassy, boarding was only possible for German citizens. Quite unbelievable but true: a half-empty plane took off to Munich. We immediately contacted the Austrian embassy and secured places for the repatriation flight.
A flight home
The Austrian government’s repatriation flight was organised by the embassy in London, the ambassador himself was even there to help. The condition of the flight was a cost-sharing and agreement to a 14-day home quarantine. Of course everything was fine for us, we just wanted to go home! It was mandatory to wear masks during the flight. When we finally arrived in Vienna, our temperature was measured to check we didn’t have fever. Then we went to Salzburg by train and finally got home at 3am on Sunday. The ‘Odyssey’ came to an end.
The beginning of quarantine
The quarantine started with a lie in. The order was: you must not leave your four walls, but your garden is allowed. If symptoms of COVID-19 appeared during this time, we should report it immediately. With our stock of food we could get by one or two days. My mum got us fresh fruit and vegetables, and all-important toilet roll. The delivery came in the afternoon – without contact of course. From afar we waved and exchanged a few words. But we were curious to see what the future held.
Today is already day ten! Fortunately, we don’t have any symptoms yet and have got used to living in our four walls. If the longing for a walk or bike ride grows, it quickly changes. I have already had a virtual get-together with my friends – communication with loved ones is extremely important. But even after our quarantine, we must adhere to the guidelines given. Health and the common good come first.