Coronavirus: Returning to Crete: Holiday Diary Part 1
Posted on Wednesday 22nd July 2020 by Crete Escapes
With flights from the UK to Greece and Crete resuming earlier this month, Crete Escapes’ Julie Houston was one of the first to return to our favourite island. In the first of two holiday diaries, she describes her experience.
After months of uncertainty Greece announced that direct flights from the UK could resume from July 15th, meaning our long-awaited trip to Crete would go ahead as planned just three days later.
It wasn’t long before our excitement turned to apprehension however with confirmation entry requirements would still be required for British travellers. Having successfully controlled the virus Greece want to guard against a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases. Though totally understandable we were fearful we’d now be tested, quarantined and more.
In fact, the Greek authorities simply required the completion of a Personal Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours ahead of a departure. Failure to complete this document, we were informed, can result in steep fines upon arrival.
The form itself can be completed online and is acknowledged by email once submitted. A unique Quick Response (QR) code was promised by midnight the day before travel, but we received ours promptly at 10pm the night before. We chose to download our individual codes to our phones, but they can also be printed as a backup.
On arrival at Manchester airport we donned the obligatory masks and made our way to Ryanair’s bag drop. The airport wasn’t particularly busy, but we still caught sight of many people gearing up for their holidays.
There was a small, orderly and socially distanced queue in which to drop off hold bags before we continued onto security. I had booked a 15-minute ‘fast track’ slot as part of a free trial the airport is currently running. Aside from floor markers to space the queue, no real changes were obvious here, but we were soon into the departure lounge.
From what I could see all shops and eateries bar one were open and plenty of staff on-hand to direct visitors and control entry and exit points alike. We opted to grab breakfast in the airport as opposed to the plane, which proved a good choice because taking a seat to eat allowed us a short respite from the mask!
After eating our flight was called and so we made our way to the departure gate. Rather than the usual scramble to get to the front of the priority/non-priority queues, people seemed happy to remain seated or stand back until boarding commenced.
Boarding itself was swift and without any standing on stairwells, allowing us to walk straight onto the plane. It was noticeable just how calm people seemed despite the aircraft being as much as 2/3 full. I’m not sure whether this is deliberate airline policy, but it allows for couples and families to be seated together and spare seats left between strangers.
Personally, I found the flight to be a pleasant experience because it was far quieter than usual. it’s not easy to hold a long conversation in a mask so reading/sleeping appeared to be the preferred activities.
Given services are limited we saw no trolleys in the aisles for the duration of the flight. The call button was used for toilet breaks which were well managed by the crew. Indeed, they safely directed passengers to the front and rear of the aircraft.
On arrival at Chania Airport passport control was well organised and we soon made our way to the baggage reclaim area. Staff did stop us en route in order check QR codes, while a random few passengers were directed for testing.
We were not in that number and so, luggage in hand, made our way outside to the car hire collection point and removed our masks!
Our first stop was the supermarket. Masks became compulsory in all shops from July 18th so we reapplied ours for this particular trip. The overall experience was absolutely fine and nowhere near as disruptive as we’d feared.
We then made our way to the villa, unpacked and settled down in our own private setting to enjoy glorious sunshine. Before long we were swimming in a private pool and sampling the fabulous food and wine we’d bought earlier that afternoon.
Whilst looking out at breathtaking views we were in firm agreement this was worth wearing masks for a few hours...
Stay tuned for part 2 of Julie’s travel diary, including information on tavernas, beaches and more.