Travelling and its challenges

Day 14 of Bloganuary and still going strong! Today’s prompt is to write about a challenge I faced and overcame. Pff, there are so many, where to start? 

Okay, I will share one of our most recent challenges with you. First I have to take you a few years back so you’ll understand why this was a challenge. When we started our travels in 2019 we had to unregister from the city we lived in, and from the Netherlands. This meant that we didn’t belong anywhere anymore. Sounded pretty good at the time! We were officially homeless and ready to travel!

What we didn’t know is that we would be dealing with a pandemic very soon, and that our lives would become a lot more difficult!

Travel + a pandemic = a challenge

Never did we think that during our travels we would experience a global pandemic. It definitely caused a challenge. Not being able to fly, cancelled flights equals lost money, endless testing, but most importantly trying to get vaccinated. In March last year we flew from Spain to Serbia. We managed to enter the country with a PCR test that had cost us about € 500,- and a lot of stress, but we made it! 

Arriving in Belgrade we realised that we had to figure out how to get vaccinated. Not only to stay safe but also to prevent paying all of this money for tests while travelling. 

I hear the question coming up: ‘Why travel at all when there is a pandemic?’. Good question! We didn’t really have a choice because Paul is British and I am Dutch. Since Brexit happened we can’t stay longer than 90 days in the EU or another European country, so we have to keep moving around. 

In Belgrade I started asking around where we could get vaccinated, because Serbia was one of the few countries where as a foreigner, you could get one. They told us to register on the Government website and very likely we would get an invitation for a vaccination. Awesome, so we did. After waiting for 2-4 weeks, I had a suspicious feeling that it would be a bit more difficult than we thought, and I was right. I found an article in the newspaper and it said because of vaccination tourism and many scams that were going on, the government decided to pause the vaccination process for foreigners until further notice. 

Okay, we have a bit of a problem! We didn’t want to have to spend all that money on more PCR tests to be able to travel, and be unprotected from this still unknown new virus. The next country we travelled to was Montenegro. Because of an agreement between the Balkan countries we could go there without a test. So we did! In Montenegro there was no possibility for us to get vaccinated, so we hoped to get a better chance in our next destination: Croatia.

When we arrived in Croatia in July 2021 (after visiting Montenegro in between), one of our first days off, we called an Uber to go to Dubrovnik. I had a nice chat with the driver and I told him about our struggles getting vaccinated. Then something amazing happened! He told us his mother was a nurse at a hospital and he could give her a call to ask her about the possibilities for foreigners to get vaccinated. 

OMG! Would it really be possible to get vaccinated? It would solve so many challenges for us. The answer was yes! He gave us the address and told us they had another vaccination round the next day! And it worked! We managed to get vaccinated the next day and travel freely again!

Sorry, your vaccine is not accepted anymore!

What?! Our vaccine wasn’t recognized anymore as a valid one by a lot of countries in Europe. Yes, you guessed it right, we were vaccinated with Johnson&Johnson. This actually happened very recently. When we arrived in North-Macedonia, we found out that our vaccine would not be enough anymore to cross borders. Back at square one! What to do now?

Our host told us that they would not vaccinate foreigners without a Macedionan ID number, and surprise, surprise, we do not have one. So I had to start my search again. I researched the internet, made a lot of phone calls and after a few days I found a specific government email address for vaccinations. They responded back to me and gave me a location on where to get vaccinated. We went to the location and stood in line, with high hopes of getting vaccinated. When they looked at our documents, they told us it wasn’t possible to get the vaccination because we weren’t Macedonian citizens. Nooooo! Not again!

I tried to explain it to the woman, but she was relentless. Fortunately  for us, her colleague heard our conversation and offered to make a phone call. No promises, but maybe he could do something for us. And he did!! He arranged a temporary ID number for us so that we could get our vaccination. As I am writing this, we are fully vaccinated and ready to travel to our next destination.

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