We get up this morning and I can’t wait to get the fuck out of Budva. Had an awful night’s sleep between the music and the rattling air con. Go down to have some breakfast and Angus is feeling a bit under the weather – I assumed it was just the ‘sniffles’ that was going through the bus; one of our travel companions, Josh had been sniffling for a couple of days and had tested for Covid twice, but was thankfully negative.
Angus tells me that he’s not feeling great and I ask him what he wants to do and he decides to go off and ask Holly for a RAT test. Every tour bus seems to have at least one Holly – she’s an ICU nurse from Victoria and she’s been a wealth of information for the various aches and pains that people crop up with when they’re travelling. Our Holly is amazing, she’s been dealing with Covid patients in the ICU since the pandemic began and she’s just the most caring and wonderful young woman I think I’ve ever met.
Anyway, Holly gives Angus a test and well fuck wouldn’t you know it, it’s positive. So Josh goes back and tests again – he’s now positive too. Turns out a third young man, Darren is also positive, and then we get to watch the paranoia ensue…
Company policy is that they can’t continue on the tour. And I understand that entirely the company and the guides have a responsibility to the entire group and can’t knowingly have sick people travelling with the healthy ones… but there are at least another 6-8 people with he same sniffles and cough on the bus, but if they don’t test and don’t tell the leader, then they get to stay. Damn, but I wish we hadn’t tested him until Tirana or Skopje, because now we are off the bus and if fucking Russian bogan-land, Budva!
(*Oh why was he wearing this t-shirt today!)
Poor Simon then has to call his director and find out what to do with us – there’s no way I’m leaving Angus sick in fucking Budva on his own, so I’m off the bus too even though I have no symptoms and am feeling fine. They said they will find us rapid accommodation in a nicer hotel than the one we stayed in last night! Thank fuck for that! So Simon sets off on foot making phone calls and racing into reception areas.
It takes him about an hour before he finds a place that can give us two rooms and we say some quick goodbyes, but are sadly and unceremoniously dropped off at the new hotel to wait and see what is going to happen from there and the tour leaves without us.
So we find ourselves, me and these three Covid positive young men, sitting around a hotel reception area from 0900 until a possible check in time of 1200. :/ Mostly they’re just sitting there sweating and enjoying the decent wifi, while I’m already plotting how to to get the fuck out of Budva! My reasons for wanting to flee were multiple, but the biggest ones were – we are stuck in a small party town that (from quick googling) has limited covid facilities in their local hospital, has a population with some of the lowest vax rates in Europe and if Angus got sicker or I was already sick with it just not symptomatic yet – the last thing we need is to be stuck in a town where the primary language is Russian, the second, Croatian and all the English speakers we’d met spoke worse English than my French or German! Yikes.
While waiting for the hotel rooms, we discover that insurance claims will need PCR tests before they’ll cover any covid related healthcare of travel changes… so the boys all trot off to go get a test which thankfully was just over the forecourt at the front of this enormous resort hotel we’d been taken to. Eventually the rooms are ready and everyone is kinda exhausted, the boys are in various states of illness, a bit feverish, very fatigued and coughing a little here and there. The resort is so huge, we have to be taken to our ‘villa’ (and I use the term loosely) by golf buggy. So we load all onto this thing and get there only to find out we are on the third floor and there’s no lifts!
Shit, fuckity, shit, shit!
My feet and knees have been giving me loads of extreme pain for days (the fibromyalgia was super stirred up, I think a combination of cobblestones and sitting on the buses for hours) so the idea of having to traverse six flights of stairs to ‘pop out for food, water or supplies’ was just a dirty big ‘NOPE!’… so my determination to get us the hell out of Budva asap was now seriously accelerated.
The guys all get into the rooms around midday and all immediately crash and sleep for about six hours – time I put to good use planning our escape. It’s a Friday and the weekend is looking bleak. But I figure I have an internet connection and a credit card and I can make this work… until it turns out the internet in the rooms is for shite and I can’t get things to load after I left the reception area!
While they were sleeping – we had received a message from TT saying they had managed to secure the rooms until Monday for them, and would work out what happens after that. I had asked the guys if they were planning to stay until Monday or did they want to transfer the fuck out of there with us? They were both pretty noncommittal and seemed happy to take the free accommodation on offer, but there was no way I was hanging around to see how things panned out.
So onwards with the planning and… Poo, bum, piss, fart, bugger and fuck – right when I really needed it the most, there’s no fucking internet. I have two SIM cards – one from the UK, which mostly works in EU countries, so not Montenegro, and one from AUS which is supposed to have coverage in Montenegro, but the reception in this resort was barely 1 bar of 3G and the hotel wifi was so slow and was dropping out so much as to be nonexistent. I ended up waking Mr K at 0400 in Brisbane to help make some bookings for me.
Plan B involved:
– Booking a driver to get us from Budva to Cilipa (near the Dubrovnik airport) after check out tomorrow morning.
– Finding an airport hotel to stay for Saturday night.
– Take the most affordable flights I could find to Athens.
– Convince Travel Talk that seeing we had paid for accom up until the end of the tour, and were not using the hotel in the party hard town of Budva, could they please cover the hotel in Athens.
Simple right? We managed to book a driver to take us to Cilipa which cost AUD$220, then booked an Airbnb place which was €130 for the night near the Dubrovnik airport, and then flights from Dubrovnik to Athens on Sunday morning with Aegean at completely arse-rape, last minute prices of €349 each! Ouch! But Plan finally in place I managed to calm my tits and get ready to go to sleep.
At some point while I was dealing with all these logistics, poor Angus had gotten up and his appetite had overcome his symptoms and he decided to head out (six flights of stairs!) to find some food. He found local Italian restaurant that did take always about 400m from the room and when he walked in, the waiter insisted he take his mask off! No shit, they do not want anyone reminded that there might be a deadly virus circulating still.
And it was on this note and we eventually crashed for the night… thankfully from this enormous resort, the party noises seemed much further away, and bless it’s cotton socks, the air con was working better than most but we had been in masks all day and because of the proximity, (we had pushed the beds apart as much as possible in the small space), we were sleeping in them too.
Tomorrow – we will see how tomorrow pans out… because it has to be better than today’s clusterfuck.