As you might know from my previous escapades, I’m a fan of travelling by train. You can look out of the window, observe the strangest things happening and I always use the time to work, read or listen to podcasts.
Taking the train during Corona times seems somehow more predictable, too; planes get cancelled a lot, trains less and also there’s no hassle at the borders. You still follow the rules, but in a a more relaxed way.
I tried this first hand. Two weeks ago, I took the train down to Düsseldorf, where my sister lives. Although Danes weren’t very fond of Swedes travelling to their country already at that point, I was allowed to change trains in Copenhagen without any issue, no one even asked me where my final destination was. The interesting part though is that on the Swedish side you don’t have an obligation to wear masks, whereas in the exact same train on the Danish side you are. Does that make sense?
Arriving to Germany from Denmark, declared a risk country, wasn’t linked to any troubles either. Some random checks were carried out of people on the train, and a loud voice said in broken English that you should please report back to the respective health authority in Germany if you were travelling from the Danish Kingdom.
After 16 hours, I arrived safe and sound to Düsseldorf, spend five days there and continued the journey to Lausanne. Also, no problem at all, a quick SMS once passing the border that if you come from certain regions you should quarantine. A phone number and web address were provided. No need for me to do this, so I finally arrived at my friend’s place, where I had planned to stay overnight. Early next morning, I hopped onto the next train to Milan, over to Florence, with my final destination being San Vincenzo.
The train ride in Italy was slightly different, than the previous ones. Sure, there was some kind of social distancing on the previous trains I’ve taken, but also not really. In the train from Milan, I entered the train and even though my carriage was missing, I found myself a spot far away from the closest passenger. The place next to me had a red coloured head rest, indicating that no one should sit there. The red marks were aligned in a diagonal way to ensure a certain distance even between the seats in front and behind you. In addition, every new passenger received a little Trenitalia paper bag. It contained a disposable head rest that you should place on the top of your seat, two small plastic packages filled with hand disinfectant, one disposable turquoise face mask and a tin with water. Finally, the train staff was walking around and cleaning all parts that people could’ve touched.
A few hours and a small cute animal resembling an otter running over the railways later, I arrived to San Vincenzo. I spent four nights there, at the magical Poggio ai Santi, but more on that soon.
Five days later, my journey back continued. Just, that in the meantime, Germany decided to declare Tuscany a risk zone and hence when coming back to Germany I would have to take a Corona test or go into quarantine. You receive the test result after 24-36 hours, so not a problem really. Except, if like me, you planned a very short stay over and continue back to Sweden. Well, bad luck, but this would be a problem of future-Kaja.
After amazing pasta in Milan, a spontaneous lunch resulting from four extra hours in the city, I headed to Lausanne. On the train, the girl in the seat opposite of me, treated rules of hygiene with her own interpretation. After eating a good four or five Burger King chicken wings, not missing a single piece left on the bone and then finishing a chicken burger, she started polishing her ten nails, one by one. To be fair, she used a tissue to catch up all the nail dust that might fall down. At some point she took down her mask, coughed, and said “oh, I feel sick, I need to eat something”. I hope a nice dinner was waiting for her at home.
After another night in Lausanne I continued my travel back up. You really do meet strange people on trains; some talking on loudspeaker mode, acting as if they were in their own living room, kids reading stories out loud (very loud) to their parents, ladies in their late 50s getting drunk in the morning and so much more. Anyways, I jumped on the train at 7h and at 13.30h I arrived in Düsseldorf. I headed to the Covid-19 test centre, and a nice lady stuck a long stick with a cotton tip down my throat, lovely. Now, I’m sitting in my sister’s apartment – in a separate room of course – waiting for the result.
I have the antibodies, so I doubt I have Corona, but let’s see if I make it to Stockholm later this week.