Travel During Lockdowns

Late last week, we left the safety of our friends’ backyard in Austria and headed back out on the road in hope to reach Norway. On leaving Austria, they had just gone back into full lockdown, whilst the rest of Europe was already into their second round of lockdowns or are soon to be heading down that path again. This makes travel hard and very nerve racking. Our trek to Norway meant crossing various borders and transiting through with heavy restrictions in place. This means no coming into contact with anyone as you haven’t completed quarantine on arrival. We played it safe and stayed on the freeway at all times, including overnight stops, where we slept in the roadside truck stops. 

Checks were completed at all borders we crossed. On the German/Austrian border, we were questioned on where we were headed and where we were coming from. After stating we were headed north to Norway, they waved us through. On crossing into Denmark, more thorough checks were made. They wanted to see passports and paperwork stating that we had permission and valid reason for heading to Norway. Luckily, we had our residency papers ready to go, so on we went. 

At this point, we were actually shocked at the ease we had crossing international borders. In saying that, we were very prepared with all the paperwork we needed to prove we had permission to enter Norway. On arrival in Sweden, we were surprised at the questions we were asked by authorities and the checks they completed. Not that they were unnecessary, but with Sweden having little restrictions with COVID, we didn’t think they would be that precautious on letting us enter. I guess we don’t have EU passports so that is probably another red flag, on top of our unusual number plates. Having made it through border controls in Sweden, we thought we were on the home stretch and had made it through the hard yards.

We spent two days in total making our way more leisurely towards the Norwegian border, enjoying campsites back in nature and appreciating freedom again. It feels like you are stepping back in time in Sweden, most people going about their day as everything was normal and COVID wasn’t present and still causing havoc worldwide. We still took precautions and wore our face masks but it was nice to head to a supermarket and see people doing normal things. 

We woke early one morning and headed for the Norwegian border. Filled with excitement and hope for our new chapter, we couldn’t wait to get to the border. We knew they would complete in-depth checks and it wouldn’t be a quick stop, but we thought we had it all figured out and were fully prepared. We had done all our research, but a technicality got us in the end. We have been granted residency in Norway, which it states online that if you have residency, you don’t need a negative COVID test upon entry. Well authorities said that although we have been granted residency, we don’t yet reside in Norway nor have a permanent residence so back to Sweden we must go! They said come back with your COVID test and your free to go.

The police were very friendly and nice about it all, and kindly escorted us back into Sweden. At this point, we were so disappointed. We knew there was a small chance this could happen but prayed it would be okay. We had researched COVID test prices in Sweden prior to arrival and weren’t thrilled on the high price tag of 200 euro plus per test! After being turned around, we knew we were in for an expensive few days! It had to be done so we sucked it up and made it happen.

After a quick brain storming session and some overwhelming emotions, we pulled ourselves together and decided on a plan of attack. We headed to the closest medical centre and thought surely they can point us in the right direction. Thankfully, the Swedish speak English rather well, so we had no issues and were given details of the private COVID testing clinic located one hour south from where we were located. With a test booked for the following day and results to be in the day after, we found a nice camp in a small marina and breathed a big sigh of relief. We knew we would get there, it would just take us a few days longer than we had initially planned.

A few days later, negative COVID tests in hand, we headed back north en route to Norway. This time we knew all would be okay. On arrival at the border we were greeted by the authorities and were disappointed not to see the same officer as our previous visit. Our first thought was great, here we go again with all the checks! A moment later, a familiar face popped up and recognised us. Although, we don’t speak Norwegian we could understand what he told his colleague and we were relived. He told him, ‘they are the Australians who just need to show a COVID test’. And like that, we were in…

Currently sitting in quarantine, we are so relived and thankful. This year has made us face so many challenges and we have accomplished our final goal for the year. We made it to Norway!!! 

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