Some of you may have noticed my short absence from the blogosphere last week. And that is because, after a very trying last couple of weeks in Paris (you can read all about it here), our move to Stockholm finally came through and here we are……in gorgeous gorgeous Sweden.
So first things first, travel in times of a pandemic.
Getting out of Paris and flying to Stockholm was very straight forward given all the travel restrictions and uncertainity due to COVID-19. The Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris was eerily empty as I reckon are all airports globally. Masks were compulsory and there was a lot of signage advocating social distancing in seating areas as well as the check in and security queues. Only one person at a time was being allowed to go through. So whilst things were slower than usual, it wasn’t taking too long in the queues because the number of people flying was quite small. Also, not many flights were taking off at the same time. This made social distancing more feasible.
The only shops open at the airport were a few selling food and the newsagent, where you can buy magazines, water, chocolates etc. Everything else was closed.
The boarding gate was the only place where I felt the airport could do better. Instead of spreading out the departure gates, they had clubbed two or three flights in the same area. So everyone seemed to be congregating in a small space. However, once boarding actually started, people maintained the requisite distance and it was all very orderly. Prior to boarding, everyone was temperature checked.
We were flying Air France and I was quite surprised as how busy the Paris – Stockholm flight actually was! It was at least 60% full if not more. Wherever possible, the airlines had left the middle seats empty. But you could see that it was only because not all seats had been sold. On a full flight, they would not necessarily leave a seat empty. For the full duration of the flight, we had to keep our masks on.
They did serve a small snack and beverages during the flight. The sandwich was separately wrapped as were the biscuits. Not cutlery or plates were used and the drinks were served in disposable paper cups.
Once we landed in Stockholm, we could see the difference. While the airport was very empty here too, the only people wearing masks were the passengers (us) who had just disembarked! In Sweden, masks wearing is not compulsory but you are allowed to wear one if you so desire.
Since we were flying from within the EU, there was no passport control/immigration required to enter Sweden. We were also not checked for COVID or quarantined. For people entering Sweden from the EU, there are no travel restrictions.
What was a little jarring for us was seeing people behave normally outside and going about their business! Shops and restaurants were open with people sipping beer in the nice summer sun. After three months of lockdown with no social contact with anyone, I think it will take us a while to get used to the old way of doing things!
Currently, we are happily ensconced in our temporary apartment and on the hunt for a more permanent abode.