I’m Leaving Spain on a Jet Plane

March 28, 2020

We were prepared to weather the storm in our great Airbnb apartment in Segovia, Spain. However, the Spanish Government had other plans for their visitors as of March 19. They set a restrictive rule that all hotels and accommodations for tourism are closing in 7 days. Since we were not in our current apartment on the specified date of March 14th, we were required to return to the USA.

We received this information from AirBnB on 22 March at 5am (Interesting that this info took 3 days to get to Airbnb lodgers). So we jumped on it and got a flight booked for the 27th of March back to Indianapolis. Our journey will be long as we will travel from Segovia to Madrid by taxi, train and Metro; fly from Madrid to Frankfort, Frankfort to Newark, then fly into Indianapolis.

We will have finished the 14 day Spanish quarantine the day we plan on boarding our first aircraft. We now know we will once again be quarantined at home for 14 additional days, especially after our flights!

Food and essentials have been a non-issue here in Segovia. But going to the US has us quite worried with all the news of people hoarding foodstuffs, etc. I guess we will see how the US handles this scenario. We already know the Spaniards – although struggling with loss of life, among many other things – have been excellent in handling the rules and procedures placed upon them. We can’t thank the Spanish people enough for their extreme courtesies extended to us. Our hearts are with you during this difficult time.

Our last look at Segovia as we hopped into the cab bound for the train station.

US State Dept

We have been less than pleased with the communication from our US State Dept, the Embassy and Consulate in Spain, whether e-mail or website. At 4:30pm on March 22nd, we received an e-mail in regard to the same Spanish Govt decree from our Consulate. We received this 12 hours earlier from AirBnB.

So we are going to leave a very restricted situation, going through 4 airports and millions of germs in 40+ hours to arrive home and sit in some type of a quarantine (rules keep changing). We are concerned about the situation in the US and it appears that not many people grasp the scenario, and we run the gauntlet to put ourselves into this. Only time will tell what country handled it best. We are prayerful that the science community will collaborate and find a vaccine for the world.

Let the Journey Begin

Packed and ready to go home with two additional carry-ons. Not sure about the bottled water but I’m thinking the TP is a “good to go”.

Getting the plane flights was the easy part of the journey home. We were staying in Segovia and that is a 30 minute train ride into Madrid. On a normal day, we could catch a train any hour of the day. However, trains have now been reduced to three times a day and on the day we left, we found that the trains had been reduced to two per day. Therefore, we have to leave eight hours early for a 5pm flight.

Three of us boarded the train at the Segovia-Guiomar Station and we had the entire carriage to ourselves. Arriving at a normally busy train/metro station in Madrid felt like we entered the Twilight Zone. It’s hard to image not standing in line for a ticket, the entrance terminal or an escalator. I didn’t even worry about clubbing anyone with my backpack as I pulled my non-spinner wheeled suitcase thru the turnstiles.

Yes, the train terminal is open for business.
Two trains have arrived but only three people board for Madrid.
I think we are safe in the train carriage. Seats and tables have been sanitized and we are ready to go.
Madrid train/metro station at 10:00 in the morning.
A sight you never see when the Metro is running – NO lines, NO people!
Heading to the airport on the subway. Staying 2 meters apart wasn’t an issue.

Let’s Fly!

Arriving at the Madrid Airport meant that we had to wait for four hours before we could check into the terminal. This would be the theme of our travels over the next two days. We had packed quite a bit of food for the trip: freshly baked bread, oranges peeled in a Tupperware container, cheese, crackers, chocolate and almonds from Spain. We were set with food for our journey.

Once the terminals opened, check-in was a breeze. This is the first time we have ever seen them offer to check baggage for free. Most people were shocked when they offered this service. Next, we head to security to see what happens there.

You can sit on the conveyor belt at the check-in station when they are all closed.
Oops, I must have been in the self-check luggage lane!
Well, getting thru security was a breeze (don’t tell them I took this picture).

Knocking on Germany’s Door

We had some concerns about getting into Germany once we left Spain. Luftansa would not issue us boarding passes or check our luggage all the way to the United States (RED Flag). We booked thru United hoping that everything would work seamlessly and we were wrong. So, once we arrived in Frankfurt and headed thru Security, they said that we were not allowed to enter the Germany due to COVID-19 rules (in transit only). Our luggage, located on the other side of Security (in Germany), was not available to us. Thankfully, after multiple phone calls, the Politzei escorted us to get our bags and then escorted us back out into “No Man’s Land”.

While this all sounds very daunting, it does happen quite a bit. We had already decided we would find a couch in “No Man’s Land” and sleep until our boarding passes appeared on the United app. After a quick run to the restroom, a short scouting trip to find that no restaurants were open, our phones beeped and we had received our GOLDEN BOARDING PASSES!!!!!!! We were finally able to enter security and into the international gates. So, we quickly swaggered up to passport control, flashed our boarding passes, got the appropriate stamps in our passports and strolled to our terminal to lounge for the next 12 hours until our flight.

With excellent internet, plug-ins beneath our seats, and bathrooms around the corner, we checked-in to our 3-Star airport chair accommodations (3 chairs = 3 Stars). We both caught up on some needed sleep and were happy to realize that the bakery around the corner was starting production around 5 am. Needless to say, smelling bread baking pretty much stops the sleep process with thoughts of pretzels and freshly made cappuccino’s dancing in our heads. Yes, some real food!

Sleeping under the Golden Gate Bridge. Well ok, in Frankfurt airport.
A plethora of freshly made sandwiches for the weary traveler.
Three cheers for Germans and their love of bread. I salute you and I’ll take three cheese pretzels and a veggie pizza.

We have been reading quite a bit about the airlines carrying more cargo during this time than passengers and we were so surprised to see the tarmac full of cargo heading for our airplane. Our flight from Frankfort to Newark was fully loaded with cargo and only 60 passengers. Because of the concerns about keeping a distance from people, Jeff booked business class seats for the flight. Expensive but hopefully it will allow us to stay virus free. There were 2 people in first class, 6 in business class and the rest in economy. Yes, everyone had plenty of space between them and everyone was cleaning all surfaces before they nestled down for the seven hour flight back to the US. Only individuals holding the blue US passports were allowed to board the plane. Look out USA – Here we come!

Proof that planes are carrying much more cargo than passengers.
Yes, Virginia, there is an ice cream cart in business class.

As we were landing, we were handed forms to fill out about our health and we each received an information card about COVID-19 and what steps we were to take once we reached our final destination. Once we landed, CDC came aboard the plane and explained the information on the card to us. We were then told that we would have our temperature checked prior to entering Customs. Im not sure what would happen if you had a temperature, but our temperature was taken with a digital thermometer and were normal. We were never tested for the virus. After safely entering Newark, passing the temperature test, we were ready for our flight to Indianapolis. After 40+ hours, we were more than anxious to get home to Indiana.

Love the “do not travel while sick” statement. Wasn’t the US State Dept threatening us to leave Spain?
Stand back and have your temperature taken before entering customs.

A Very Heartfelt THANK YOU!

Home. Now we sit and wait another two weeks to make sure that we do not have the virus. We have been so blessed to have so many of our friends and family who have worried about us during this journey. To all of you we say a very heartfelt Thank You. While our journey may have seemed very stressful to some, we were truly very safe and comfortable with the decisions that we made along the way. We turned to God for help and guidance and we knew that we were in great hands.

4 comments

  1. Glad you got back OK, that was a looooong flight home, now for the craziness the USA brings to you. Good health and remember to wash your hands.
    DK

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  2. This is definitely travel under pressure and a testimony of your grit and tenacity. In spit of the challenges you found amazing food, a three seat bed to rest and plenty of room for social distance while flying. Yes, your guardian angels were with you. Thank you for taking time to describe and share the scenarios so beautifully. Sending a virtual hug to you both as you settle into your quarantine and home base.

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