The arrival of Covid-19 and lockdown in Slovenia
The Covid-19 emergency was already taking hold and the day after we left for Slovenia, in early March 2020, Venice and the whole Veneto region went into lockdown. We just missed being stuck in Venice for a long period of quarantine!We started to ride through small Slovenia, where we made some good friends. After a few days, there was a real chance of an imminent lockdown there too, although we clearly couldn’t have imagined the impact it would really have, nor the fact that all the borders would close.First we tried to enter Croatia, but we were told that we’d have to go to hospital to quarantine for 15 days. Considering that we would have to bear all the costs relating to a stay at that centre, it wasn’t a feasible option and so we started to look for a place to stay. We didn’t have many options, seeing as almost all the hotels and vacation apartments were closed. We did find a campsite that had space but we weren’t accepted as we have Spanish citizenship and Spain at that time was one of the countries with the highest number of deaths and cases. The only time our Spanish passports were a hindrance.All we could do was head towards Slovenia’s short stretch of Adriatic coast, in case we needed to stop for a few days, unable to travel further.
While looking for a place to stay, we came across a small room in a country house. Then, when it became clear that the situation would not be resolved quickly, we moved to a small apartment in the centre of the pretty town of Pirano, on the Adriatic coast, and we stayed there for three months!
Time passed and the situation looked like it would never change, everything was so uncertain and confusing.
This virus, which came from nowhere, had totally changed our way of living right across the planet.
When you start a long round-the-world trip, you think about the possibility of your journey being interrupted by sickness or an accident, perhaps even a natural disaster or armed conflict. But we could never have imagined what would happen with this virus that, once here, looked as if it didn’t want to leave.It’s not easy to live in close contact with another person, for so long, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – the lockdown pushed us to reconsider many things. They say that closeness is good for love, and that might be true, but it also means more problems and less personal space.
Vicente and I, as strange as it might seem to anyone on the outside, find it easy to live together. We barely notice the age difference and are used to spending a lot of time together. I’m not saying we’re a perfect couple, because there is no such thing. We have our flaws and our differences, like everyone, and that’s normal, we’re only human.
Being together seven days a week, 24 hours a day is not strange for us because we’ve done it for the last three years, so our living situation hasn’t really changed. Our relationship is definitely not perfect but, despite the age difference and however strange it might seem, we know to give each other the necessary space and perhaps it is down to a combination of Vicente’s maturity and my restlessness that we complement each other and love each other more each day.
Setting off again in July 2020
The months passed by and at the end of month three of lockdown, we began to see light at the end of the tunnel. The border with Croatia was about to be reopened and the news could only make us happy, as we would be getting back to normal.
And so we hurriedly got all our stuff together to try and continue our journey through the Balkans. We were pumped up and full of enthusiasm as we got ready, as if we were setting off for the first day of the trip.
We reached the border and there were very few people. We approached, trying to be as positive as possible and tempted fate.
It was a memorable day as, after not being able to move for so long, we were finally able to continue with our life project. Rather than a long trip, this was actually becoming our new way of life.
At the border, we finally received the news we’d been waiting and hoping for, the greatest yes we’d heard in a long time. It was time to resume our journey. We entered Croatia and explored its most hidden corners, we bathed in its crystal waters and admired wonderful sunsets from our tent.
And for a while we were able to forget what the world had become, although this sensation didn’t last long unfortunately. We set off in the direction of Montenegro but because we had to cross Bosnia first, so we took the opportunity to explore this little country, one that suffered so much during the war.
What we didn’t predict was that the decision to venture a few miles inland, to explore as much of the place as we could, would create so many problems for us.
After a few kilometres, we were stopped by the police. It was quite difficult to communicate, as they didn’t speak English, but they told us that we could only cross Bosnia to travel back to the southern part of Croatia, seeing as the opening to the sea of Bosnia split Croatia in two, before continuing on to Montenegro.
Due to the pandemic, it was forbidden to travel around Bosnia. The result? A fine of more than 180 Euro, which surprised us because no one had told us when we entered the country. We could sense tension, worry and fear in the air. The police accompanied us as far as the border with Croatia and, from there, we headed to Montenegro.
The Montenegro police made it difficult for us to enter the country, particularly Vicente as a Spaniard. After a lot of insistence and having talked about our journey, we were authorised to cross the country, and they gave us a maximum of seven hours in which to do it.
Montenegro is a truly beautiful county but, as was the case with Bosnia, we had little time to admire it.
Croatia on the other hand, we’d already seen on our way back from North Cape, so we didn’t really mind that we couldn’t visit it again.
And so we hurried to reach the next border, Albania, where we would stay for almost two months. Here, we really had chance to admire the landscape, from the spectacular mountains to the beaches, speak with the people and get to know a little more about the culture.
Turkey and the goal to reach Asia
The next goal was to enter Asia, by way of the wonders of Greece and, before that, Bulgaria, because that was the only border via which Greece would allow foreigners to enter. It was in Bulgaria that we had do a Covid test for the first time. The police told us we’d receive a text message on our phone if the result was positive.
Luckily it all went well, we visited the country and were able to confirm everything we’d heard about the crystal waters of the Aegean sea and the history of this nation.
After almost a month of travelling, we entered Turkey. It was November and winter was on its way to this great nation that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia.
A little more than a month after we arrived in Turkey, all the borders were closed again, but luckily the Turkish territory is vast and, as tourists, we weren’t subject to travel limitations.
We had to request residency in Turkey and, after having covered more than 20,000 km in this fantastic country, we can say that we know it rather well and particularly appreciated its people, so friendly and hospitable. Once the borders started to open up again, we headed towards Caucasia.
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