Portugal Aug/Sept 2021

This has to go down as one our worst holidays.

Aside from the myriad of paperwork required to travel to an "amber list" country, the lack of information available as to the requirements, not to mention the numerous covid tests, before during and after the holiday; we decided to go to Portugal.

After much bureaucracy, we arrived at the villa in Portugal and anticipated lazy days round the pool, eating home cooked food and having fun. However on day two I developed a blinding headache to add to the runny nose I had and couldn't seem to stay awake for more than 2 hours at a stretch.

Will started exhibiting cold- like symptoms on day 3 and I was getting worse, spending much time in the loo. Neither of us suspected Covid-19 as we did not have the classic symptoms of high temperature, coughing, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell and taste etc.

Day 5 we drove to the airport to have our pre-departure test. We both tested positive. It was at this point we started to panic, what would we do.

The Portuguese Health Service were great, they sent us to a hospital for a further test. Our temperatures were taken and oxygen levels were checked. They did not believe we had covid as there was nothing out of the ordinary. Later that day we were advised that the tests were positive and we had to isolate.

The owners of the villa could not accommodate us for the full isolation period as they had new arrivals due. We were now passed to social services who asked us to find somewhere to stay. As we were positive and in isolation no-one wanted to accept a booking.

16 hours before we were due to check out, social services found us an apartment to stay on the edge of town. We managed to extend our car hire, change our flights and request the kennels to keep Jake for an additional week. We couldn't change the airport parking or speak to our holiday insurance. Social services even managed to obtain Will's prescription drugs and get them delivered to us.

Unfortunately the apartment owners did not accept card payments and neither did social services. We had to make cash withdrawals on our credit cards. One of the owners, Nelson, was so very helpful. He paid social services and we paid him.

We did our remaining 7 days in isolation by eking out the food left from the first week and finding an online supermarket that would deliver. On the final day we were provided an authorisation to travel by the Portuguese Government. Sadly Ryanair would not accept this and made us pay for yet another covid test.

We were panicking as we had been advised not to take further tests for 90 days as Covid would still be in our systems. Thankfully lateral flow tests are not that accurate and gave negative results. The followed a mad dash, pushing in front of long lines at check in, security and passport control. Two very hot an sweaty people ran to the departure gate 1 minute before planned take off to discover almost half the plane load of people queuing.

We met our traveling companion who had tested negative throughout, but had to isolate with us. I cried with relief that we were actually going home after all the stress and illness.

Thankfully during isolation Will had contacted his brother in the UK to extend the car parking booking. Apparently it took him several hours and many calls together with £125.

After flight delays and eventually making it out of the terminal the final hurdle faced us, getting out of the car park. The barrier remained firmly closed and requested a payment of £420. Will tried to pay, such was his frustration but it was refused. He managed to speak to the attendant who could see the extent ion and payment and we were released. Homeward bound and free.

You would think that is the end of the saga, but no. Day two after arrival back home a final Covid test is required. I was negative but Will was positive. National Track and Trace kicked in and advised he had to isolate for a further 10 days. He was not very happy to say the least.

I tried to talk to NHS119 and advised we had isolated in portugal and had since tested positive but to no avail. Will had to isolate but as I was double jabbed I was free. Will was close to having cabin fever and decided to break the rules and get up very early to take Jake out for a short walk. He was masked up and didn't see another living sole.

Being a law abiding citizen, the guilt weighed him down and he decided he would serve the rest of his sentence according to the rules. The luck we were having lately he predicted getting a huge fine and didn't want to take further risks.

Luckily local Thurrock Track and Trace got in touch. They listened to the isolation tale and noted that as Will was on immuno suppressants he probably wasn't contagious. They commuted his sentence down by several days nd sent him a confirmation email.

The Track and Trace app did not note this update so Will felt very guilty venturing outside before his isolation countdown clock was cleared. I pointed out that he had written confirmation that he was free but he was still wary. It was quite amusing to see him furtively walking the dog.

We were due to go back to the Villa in October but after our ordeal none of us are ready to travel overseas just yet. So half term will be at home and our December holiday will be back in Norfolk.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Nelson, the apartment owner. Marlene Portugal local authority social services and Catarina at Portugal health services.

I didn't take many pictures at the villa and only a few others en-route for covid tests or at the apartment.
Cehck out the apartment on Vrbo


Click on a picture to view, use the back button to return