I thought I would share my recent experience of travelling through Europe so you know what to expect.
Whilst I continue to own and run Spanish Motorbike Tours, I have recently setup another company in the UK called European Van Courier Ltd. This business provides a door to door european van courier service, transporting anything from a box of teabags to a complete house move and anything inbetween. This journey was a European Van Courier Ltd trip, so it was in the company van instead of on the motorbike, but it should help you to understand what it is like crossing parts of Europe during ‘new normal’.
As I left Spain, the van had a ZZR1400, 3 large bags of clothes which were both shipments on behalf of customers, and then some tools and wine for myself. I had to detour around Lleida due to it now being under lockdown once again, so I headed to Zaragoza, Huesca and on towards Pau in France.
I expected some random checkpoints along the way, and particularly I neared the border with France, but I didn’t see a single checkpoint during my trip, in either country.
After my overnight stay in an unmanned hotel in France, I had two collections to do in Western France before heading to the ferry at Roscoff. Throughout Spain and France, the wearing of masks varies considerably. Some areas it seems that every single person is wearing one, yet in other areas, it seems that only about 50% of people choose to wear one.
When I arrived at Roscoff, everyone was wearing a mask. Before I reached the check-in booth, I was stopped by the police who wanted to look inside the van. Satisifed with what I was carrying, I checked in and joined the first queuing lane. I was then approached by a pair of port officials who also wanted to look inside the van. Then a few minutes later, a different pair of port officials came over and wanted to look inside the van. And they didn’t just look, they went through everything. Every box and bag was opened and checked against the paperwork. This was the most thorough vehicle inspection I have ever had in almost 30 years of crossing into Europe. Fortunately, they did it to every other van in the queue.
As I type this, I am onboard the ferry to Plymouth. Brittany ferries are taking the covid pandemic very seriously. Masks must be worn all the time, from the minute you join the queue to board until you disembark the ship. We have only been at sea for an hour, and the cleaners have already been round twice disinfecting all hard surfaces.
I have had to fill in the quarantine questionnaire for the British government, which seems a bit pointless. They want to know the countries I have been in, and the dates, but no mention of the regions or even towns where I have been. The form says I must quarantine for 14 days (as a driver in road transport, I am exempt), but the whole quarantine system ends in 48hrs anyway.
Meanwhile, in Catalonia, they have now made the wearing of masks mandatory irrespective of whether you can observe social distancing rules. During the hottest part of the year, when temperatures are often well into the 50’s centigrade in the sun, this is going to be an unpleasant summer for the catalans and holidaymakers in this wonderful part of Spain.