Spain Or Bust: Travel in a Time of Covid

Old Dec 22nd, 2021, 12:35 PM
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Spain Or Bust: Travel in a Time of Covid

I have marked this as a trip report, and I sure hope it pans out. We are 72 hours away from departure and have received a notice from Delta that a negative Covid test is now required to transit through Amsterdam. Thankfully, we have been able to secure appointments for tomorrow afternoon to get a PCR test. I also ordered some more Abbott BinaxNOW kits, as a back-up in case we don't get our results in time. Of course, those Abbott tests need to arrive by Dec. 24th to be of any use. We will see!

The itinerary for this trip is as follows:
Barcelona, 4 nights
Granada, 3 nights
Malaga, 3 nights
Seville, 4 nights
Cordoba, 2 nights
Madrid, 5 nights

If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in Barcelona on December 26th. My plan is to write this trip report as we go. I'll include information on where we stay, sites we see, what we liked and didn't like, etc. Much will depend on if we can stay healthy.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and that I will actually have a trip to report on - stay tuned!
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Old Dec 23rd, 2021, 03:08 PM
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Sounds awesome. Have a great trip. I'm glad to see at least ONE person on this board that isn't letting COVID keep them from traveling. I just returned from Cabo this past weekend but admittedly, we are putting our Europe plans on hold until 2023 due to all the various governments constantly changing the rules of the game (as in your Amsterdam case).
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Old Dec 24th, 2021, 06:31 AM
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We will be following your story closely. We have flights booked in February to Barcelona for a 12-day stay, including a visit to Girona and Valencia as well. Our main issue now is how to have a plan in place if we test positive one day before our scheduled return to the U.S. My understanding is that Spain requires a 10-day quarantine. Do we scurry around and try to find an airbnb for 10 days (I think the Spanish government says you can get out of quarantine in 7 days if you test negative at that point)? Or hunker down in a hotel room, waiting for hotel staff to drop off stale tomato bread daily? And pay more for a rescheduled flight back home. Ugh. Is it worth the hassle at this point? We can get a voucher for the tickets, usable in 2022. But who knows what's going to happen covid-wise next year? .......So good luck to you on this trip and Merry Christmas!
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Old Dec 24th, 2021, 08:08 AM
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Signing on. Hope all goes to plan.
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Old Dec 24th, 2021, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by halfapair View Post
I have marked this as a trip report, and I sure hope it pans out. We are 72 hours away from departure and have received a notice from Delta that a negative Covid test is now required to transit through Amsterdam. Thankfully, we have been able to secure appointments for tomorrow afternoon to get a PCR test. I also ordered some more Abbott BinaxNOW kits, as a back-up in case we don't get our results in time. Of course, those Abbott tests need to arrive by Dec. 24th to be of any use. We will see!

The itinerary for this trip is as follows:
Barcelona, 4 nights
Granada, 3 nights
Malaga, 3 nights
Seville, 4 nights
Cordoba, 2 nights
Madrid, 5 nights

If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in Barcelona on December 26th. My plan is to write this trip report as we go. I'll include information on where we stay, sites we see, what we liked and didn't like, etc. Much will depend on if we can stay healthy.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and that I will actually have a trip to report on - stay tuned!
Hope you received your backup tests in time and that your trip goes well. You have a very good itinerary. Along with Japan, Spain is my absolute favorite country I’ve traveled to. It is truly amazing and awe-inspiring. With 5 night in Madrid, I’d encourage you to do at least a day trip to the incredible city of Toledo. It’s only 30 minutes or so by fast train and is my 2nd favorite city in the country after incredible Sevilla.
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Old Dec 25th, 2021, 01:49 AM
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Wishing you the best! I hope all goes well!
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Old Dec 25th, 2021, 08:00 AM
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We’ll, very sad to say, it’s a bust for now. As you’ve no doubt seen on the news, the airlines have been cancelling hundreds of flights because of crew shortages. We woke up on December 24th to a notification that our flight had been canceled. The big twist is that my husband and I had booked our tickets separately because we had eCredits to apply to our airfares. I should have called Delta to book our flights and apply the eCredits, and gotten one confirmation code/booking.

So, Delta ended up rebooking us on two different itineraries: me through Atlanta, DH through LA. And with things being the way they are, flights could get canceled at any time along the way (we each had three flights instead of two).

We spent 3 hours on the phone (2+ on hold), and got our trip rebooked for April, and it’s under one booking/confirmation. Lesson learned!

We had tickets to a concert at the Palau de Musica in Barcelona. The have given us a credit towards a future concert. I’ve been able to cancel all our hotel reservations without any penalties. We had some great hotel choices, many with Jr. Suites because the rates were so low. Rebooking has been a bit of a challenge because room rates are higher in April. But we do have rooms all booked, just not the swanky digs we were dreaming of.

One silver lining is that the trip in April will be one day longer, so we’re adding a day to Barcelona so we can do a day trip to Monserrat, or other (TBD).

People ask us if we had trip insurance. We did not. TI is expensive and actually covers very little. Our actual financial loss is probably the same or a bit less than paying for insurance. Hopefully I can change our Renfe train tickets 🤞🏻
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Old Dec 25th, 2021, 09:21 AM
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halfapair,
I'm really, really sorry about what happened to you and what has happened to many during this incredibly disruptive holiday season!


I understand how disappointing and frustrating this has been, especially when trying to keep informed by the airlines and then having to cancel at the very last minute. I'm glad that you've been able to rebook successfully for the spring.
On December 21 when arriving at the Seattle airport for our flight through LHR to Madrid, I felt as if I were just about to fly right into a monstrous storm.
Thankfully, after some blips (both major and minor) along the way, we've made it and are currently enjoying our Christmas Day in Madrid, but it certainly wasn't easy, and the lead up, fraught with stress and anxiety.

Let's hope that the spring brings you far smoother sailing!

If you had purchased quite a bit ahead of time the Renfe Premium tickets (the sales of these have been currently suspended) you could change them without penalty.
https://www.renfe.com/es/en/viajar/p...tancia/premium

If these tickets were purchased at the "Elige" fare, to change them you'll be charged 20% of the price of the ticket.

Last edited by Maribel; Dec 25th, 2021 at 09:28 AM.
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Old Dec 25th, 2021, 09:42 AM
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halfapair, I'm also so sorry your trip had to be canceled, but given the current environment, it's understandable. But so disappointing, too. What a crazy and stressful time it is to travel now! Still, I'm glad you have it all rescheduled for an April trip. All in all, that sounds like a great trip and having that extra day is the icing on the cake!

maribel - I"m glad to know you've arrived! Hope the rest of the trip goes well!

Last edited by progol; Dec 25th, 2021 at 09:52 AM.
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Old Dec 25th, 2021, 09:59 AM
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Halfapair, you sure did a great job adjusting and making the changes!
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Old Dec 25th, 2021, 11:40 AM
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Halfpair, so very sorry you had to cancel, I can imagine your disappointment. Hopefully your trip next spring will work out as scheduled, all the best!

My sister and I were planning a multi country 8-10 weeks in Europe starting Easter 2022, but now we’re agonizing where to go and whether to book anything at all. My sister will be on sabbatical and she’d been looking forward to traveling, but now it’s all up in the air. We’ll see how things are in a month’s time and maybe make some bookings with free cancellation.

So terribly frustrating…I know this is a first world problem, but …
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Old Dec 25th, 2021, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by geetika View Post
Halfpair, so very sorry you had to cancel, I can imagine your disappointment. Hopefully your trip next spring will work out as scheduled, all the best!

My sister and I were planning a multi country 8-10 weeks in Europe starting Easter 2022, but now we’re agonizing where to go and whether to book anything at all. My sister will be on sabbatical and she’d been looking forward to traveling, but now it’s all up in the air. We’ll see how things are in a month’s time and maybe make some bookings with free cancellation.

So terribly frustrating…I know this is a first world problem, but …
geetika Travel is certainly fraught with anxiety right now. Some countries are more open than others. Spain does not require any testing or quarantine, and everyone has been so helpful making refunds and accommodations for our cancellations.

We will be trying again in April, and we already have tickets to Slovenia/Croatia for late August & September 2022.

with the new anti-virals coming online, one would hope that the madness will end soon. I would encourage you and your sister to give it a go. Maybe scale back how many’s countries you go to, and which ones you choose. A friend of mine took her kids to Greece this past summer and did just fine. Others are traveling without incident. We just got caught by circumstances.
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Old Dec 26th, 2021, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by halfapair View Post
geetika Travel is certainly fraught with anxiety right now. Some countries are more open than others. Spain does not require any testing or quarantine, and everyone has been so helpful making refunds and accommodations for our cancellations.

We will be trying again in April, and we already have tickets to Slovenia/Croatia for late August & September 2022.

with the new anti-virals coming online, one would hope that the madness will end soon. I would encourage you and your sister to give it a go. Maybe scale back how many’s countries you go to, and which ones you choose. A friend of mine took her kids to Greece this past summer and did just fine. Others are traveling without incident. We just got caught by circumstances.
Yes halfpair, Greece and Croatia are on our list, also Sicily, with perhaps some time in the Naples and Amalfi area.

Here’s hoping for good health and cheer in the coming year, take care 😊
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Old Dec 26th, 2021, 05:40 PM
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Halfapair, the circumstances that caught you out is called a Pandemic. it has not ended. Until someone formally anounces that the pandemic is over, travel will be disrupted.
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Old Dec 27th, 2021, 02:24 PM
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Halfapair, I'm sorry your trip didn't happen, but it sounds like you have a great attitude and glad you'll try again in April. I also have a Portugal & Spain trip planned for April. My thinking is we'll just see what's happening in April, try to be flexible and hope for the best.
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Old Dec 28th, 2021, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by halfapair View Post
People ask us if we had trip insurance. We did not. TI is expensive and actually covers very little. Our actual financial loss is probably the same or a bit less than paying for insurance. Hopefully I can change our Renfe train tickets 🤞🏻
Sorry to hear about your issues.

Insurance is a real mess right now. Because I'm using a couple of VRBO rentals for my trip to France, I opted to buy insurance, and did something I've never done, which was to opt for the cancel for any reason coverage. Without that option, I tend to agree that insurance in a time of covid isn't very useful. With it, it certainly does get more expensive, and makes taking the risk a better option (particularly with airlines being more flexible on rebooking, at least if you regularly fly that airline). But, I like knowing that, if we get another covid flareup in mid-May, and things go haywire in France, I can simply cancel the trip and not worry about the financial impact of that. Also, there's a chance that quarantine costs would be covered if I contracted covid while travelling (would have to have a confirmed diagnosis--don't think contact tracing quarantine would do it).
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Old Dec 28th, 2021, 11:50 PM
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progol,
Thank you for your well wishes for our trip.
Despite the major and minor setbacks, we've been in Madrid now for a week and are having a truly wonderful time despite an extremely rocky start (more about that in a separate post).

The Madrid city hall has really outdone itself this year with the gorgeous holiday light show, just extraordinary, and spirits are high, despite the ongoing pandemic. (I've put photos on my Instagram and will try to post some here on another thread.)

Here there is a full vaccination rate of 89% here in Madrid. In constrast to the other regions (Murcia, Galicia, Rioja, Catalunya, País Vasco, Asturias), here a curfew hasn't been established or any requirement to show vaccination certificates to enter restaurants (with one exception for us), as there is in Andalucía. The New Year's ball drop in the Puerta del Sol (cava and 12 grapes) has been restricted to 7,000 vaccination spectators but we'll enjoy it from our comfy hotel room.

Many restaurants have been able to keep their outdoor terraces, now with heaters, so there are plenty of options of outdoor dining. Mask wearing, however, is obligatory on the city streets, and compliance is very high. Of course we have to be very careful, wear our KN95 masks, and we've been walking everywhere, avoiding the metro and crowded buses.

Because we'll be returning not on direct flight but instead transiting through LHR, American has informed us that our emed, monitored Binaz AG self-tests that we brought with us can't be used for our return, so we have an appointment (pre-paid, 25 euros) at a Democratest lab on the Gran Vía the day before departure for a rapid antigen test.

But travel during these very uncertain times, with constantly changing rules, is certainly not for everyone, it requires constant vigilance and unfortunately we had to cancel our 9 days in Lisbon-Cascais-Sintra mid-trip, moving it to March. The need for antigen testing every 48 hours to enter restaurants, hotels, the threat that restaurants would close in protest of this (which hasn't come to pass--just a threat), the cancellation of New Year's fireworks, the week of the mandatory "work from home" requirement to keep citizens off the streets.... all of this just made the Portugal portion of our journey too complicated.
Luckily the cancellations went smoothly. We were able to rebook our Iberian flights for March (with 45 euro rebooking fee but a lower round trip fare) and both Lisbon and Cascais hotels were rebooked at the same rate in March, thanks to the kindness of the hotel desk staff.

So far, all is well, but we're bracing for more surprises!

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Old Dec 29th, 2021, 02:38 AM
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Oh, Maribel, what an adventure! I’m glad to hear that you’re having a wonderful time in Spain and wishing you the best for the remainder of the trip!

Here’s to a healthier (!) and happy new year for all of us!
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Old Dec 29th, 2021, 07:30 AM
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Hello everyone,
Thank you for your kind words, encouragement, and advice. So far, we have been able to rebook everything for April, and received either refunds or credits for nearly all tickets we purchased: Sagrada Familia, Prado, Flamenco performance, etc.
Only the Alhambra and the car service we booked to get us to the airport on Christmas Day have not issued refunds.

Fingers crossed for April!🤞🏻🤞🏻
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