Travelling on the brink of a Pandemic

In April 2019, I like many others excitedly booked a holiday. We have been fortunate to travel to many Asian countries for work conferences that we’ve added amazing holidays onto, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, China and Boracay, Philippines for a wedding.

I’ve travelled to America back in the 80’s with my Husband Harry for leisure and a belated honeymoon but never Europe. It’s eluded me. 2005 the year prior to turning 40 I was considering a holiday to Europe to celebrate my start of a new decade but my mum, who was a home body and didn’t like travelling and had a strong sense of family disapproved of my suggestion of going to Europe. When I enquired if she could mind my children whilst I went with my new partner at the time who she didn’t really like she replied….

‘ It was irresponsible of me to go when I was a sole parent and I had young children’.

Her view was the world at large outside Australia was a dangerous place. By leaving our borders meant undoubtedly one was putting their life at risk. So along with me thinking I wasn’t sure my partner at the time was someone I wanted to experience Europe with and my disapproving mother I didn’t go. I remember feeling so upset of her disapproving tone in her voice which made me feel like an uncaring mother who was prepared to leave my children orphaned.

The year prior to turning 50 I thought about going to Europe to celebrate my 50th birthday. That was 2016 the year Archie my youngest was doing his VCE his final year at school where the ATAR score given at the end of it dictates what university and what course you will he accepted into. It wasn’t the year an 18 year old who needed clear firm boundaries needed me to leave him alone to stretch those boundaries unparented.

As not only a single parent but sole living parent there’s been different parenting and financial responsibilities. There’s no other parent to take the responsibility it has just been mine. Affording travel was impossible for me as a sole parent of young children. It took me all year to save a couple thousand dollars to take the three children for a two hour drive to Phillip Island, a beach in southern Victoria, the state in which I lived for a two week summer vacation. An interstate beach holiday wasn’t within my reach.

It wasn’t until I met Ted that I have been able to travel abroad. I’m fortunate to now be in this position that we as a couple can afford to go. My children have now grown up, the expensive years of raising them past and a small inheritance left by my parents has afforded me some different opportunities.

So when a friend said that her and her husband were going to Europe and asked us to come along I said yes!!! A big YES. It took some persuading Ted to take almost 6 weeks away from work but we locked it in, bookings flights and paying deposits. Just prior to Christmas we paid in full, I was so excited, then the virus broke out.

Ted who loves trains, will turn 60 whilst we are away so I booked us on the Orient Express as a gift for his birthday.

He has bought a lot of happiness into my life and embraced my three children and is good to them. He is a loving dad to his own two children and has worked hard all his life and I admire him. I wanted to do something special, I wanted to spoil him like he has me many times over.

The Simplon Venice Orient Express for us is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s obscenely expensive. Having a holiday in Europe from Australia is also a big deal for average Australians. It’s expensive, it takes planning and saving for. A holiday to Europe from Australia can cost 5,10, 50 thousand dollars or more depending on how long you go for where you stay and what you do, so it’s a pretty special experience.

I’m so excited to be taking Ted on the Orient Express, I think he will love it. It departs from Venice and we alight the train in London the following afternoon.

Venice Italy is considered Northern Italy which is currently a hotspot of the COVID-19, Coronavirus. In this current epidemic people are being quarantined in some countries in an attempt to avoid the spread of the virus. As it stands 16 days away from flying from Melbourne Australia into Rome Italy, this virus is on the brink of becoming a pandemic.

Last weekend we had a long discussion with our travel agent. As it stands if we cancel our trip we lose all our money, many thousands of hard earned dollars, not to mention once again the shattering of a dream. We are not so concerned about catching the virus. Saying that we prefer not to and currently as of writing this blog the mortality rate is 2%. We are concerned however that we may be quarantined for travelling to Northern Italy or even just Italy as a whole and not be granted entry to other countries we plan to visit.

We are meeting our friends in Paris where we will commence a 21 day APT riverboat cruise from Paris to Prague. We are concerned we may not be able to embark the ship unless we have endured a quarantine period of 14 days. This situation is changing on a daily basis. I have had sleepless nights as my dream holiday feels like it unravels.

Instead of three weeks away from boarding our business class flight with Singapore airlines, another lifetime experience I upgraded to for Teds birthday experience, we have been facing not going. I have laid awake wondering do we cancel Italy. If we change our flight into Rome that will incur cost so could we fly into Rome then catch a flight to the UK and go there instead, then catch a flight back to Venice just to board the Orient Express. What if the Orient Express gets canceled because London won’t accept a train full of people from Venice which is currently considered a high level of risk area.

All these crazy thoughts. All this anxiety. If the companies cancel on us we apparently should get a refund, which financially is a relief but emotionally nothing short of disappointing. You can’t help but think this all started because of poor governance by the Chinese authorities over wild animals being sold in wet markets in the Wuhan Province. That the entire world has been placed in an economic and health crisis due to these wet markets and their daily occurrence thousand of miles away from you.

But getting angry won’t solve the problem. Governments need to learn from these experiences. Right now it is what it is.

The COVID-19 virus is a concern because it’s a new strain of the Coronavirus that causes colds and flu like symptoms. It’s a new strain that humans can be infected with now it has mutated to cross from animals to humans and non of us have immunity to it yet. We don’t know if it will mutate further and become more virulent and we currently don’t have a vaccine like we now do to influenza which we can given particularly to the elderly, in-firmed and young . Experts are predicting a vaccine that could be safely given on mass could be 12-18 months away. Scientists fully don’t understand the ongoing impact it could have should it mutate again.

This is a good post from Instagram which explains the COVID -19 virus and current facts.

At this point we are going as planned. We will review in another week. We potentially may cancel Milan or even Italy as a whole. It’s all unclear. It’s unsettling instead of exciting.

Will we see Europe as others have before us? Will it have a different vibe? Will shops and attractions be open? Will the streets be empty, I really don’t know what to expect. That’s also causing concern and anxiety.

Our friends are still planning to meet us in Paris.

My case is almost packed. I hope everything will be ok.

Love Lucy x

These are some images of the current feeling in the world

Getting a seat at a table won’t be an issue in Venice

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