As many of you know who have followed our social media know we have been in Barbados for the past month. Although never originally on our travel plans, we decided to come here quite last minute from Turkey. This was our first trip where we had been subject to strict quarantine laws including a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival and a period of isolation before a second test. Once the negative result was received then we were free to explore the island.
Requirements before Entering Barbados
We had a PCR test undertaken 72 hours prior to our arrival and had to upload this along with completing a health questionnaire prior to our flight. We were then provided with a receipt which we had to present at check in at the airport which we had to produce to show we had done this. Our flight was from Istanbul with a 2 hour transit in Frankfurt. This was painless and we spent a couple of hours in the transit area before our flight to Barbados on Eurowings. As flights go it was very empty and we were able to if we wanted to have a whole row of 4 seats to ourself to try and have a sleep! Bonus! The food however was not great and we only had one meal and half a sandwich for the whole 9 hour flight; never the less it went quickly and we did manage to get some sleep. First class laying down facility, at an economy ticket price. Bargain!
Our Arrival Experience
Upon arrival at the airport we disembarked row by row and went to the terminal. This is where the fun and games began! We queued here for over 2 hours to show our documents; inform of quaratine hotel and to have a temperature check and health screening! It was tough and there really was no communication or clue exactly what we were queuing for! We were given a red wrist band to wear whilst quarantining and they recorded our hotel and gave us a band to wear so others could see where we were staying.
The Bajan government compiled a list of ‘approved’ locations where newcomers to the island could quarantine for their first few days here, comprising of some selected hotels and villas, which had to be paid for at way above the going rate, and a government building, Paragon, where people could stay for free. Unfortunately couples, married or otherwise could not stay together in this facility, so from the available list we chose to All Seasons Europa Hotel in Holetown. Booked at a ‘reasonable cost’ on Booking.com for 4 nights it looked a nice location to quarantine.
Quarantine at All Seasons Europa
We left the Airport and had to queue and get a covid approved taxi to take us to our accommodation. It cost us $58 (£22) for the taxi and then upon arrival we had another long wait. It appeared that the hotel had charges which had not been made obvious prior to booking; people in front of us checking in were clearly disgruntled at these hidden charges as were we when we discovered ‘taxes’ of £90 added to our check in and a security desposit. Tired, weary and fed up we made our way to our room. We were informed we were not allowed out of the patio area. We even had CCTV cameras monitoring us to ensure we didn’t escape, or so much as let a toe cross the threshold.
We had our Covid test undertaken on Thursday in Istanbul which meant that we had to have another one done 4/5 days after that. We arrived on Saturday and were informed that Health Ministry staff would keep in touch with us and that we had to record our temperature twice a day and send every 2 days to a number via whatsapp. I asked at reception and they said that the Health Ministry would be in touch to organise our second test; however given the vague nature of the communication thus far; including not being able to submit our temperature readings as Whatsapp was not available, we made our own enquiries via email. On Sunday we received a call following my email to book us into the local polyclinic for a free test at 9am. I do feel we would still be waiting if we hadn’t chased it.
72 hours in Quarantine
We are not going to lie this was tough……the only access to food we had was through room service which served pretty grotty food and all added up to an extra £100+. It was also only available at certain times so there were points where we were starving and had to wait for hours before we could order again. Neither of us liked to be confined to the property and whilst we realise it was necessary it is not an experience we are keen to repeat. We had full cooking facilities and were given information about where to order groceries but this had a 48 at least delay which was no good for quarantine. Some online research highlighted a service by Mike who makes fresh rum punch. A few whatsapp messages and he delivered us rum punch, and some additonal groceries/provisions via reception within a few hours. We will be forever grateful to him and we ordered further bottles off of him when we came out of quarantine. To date his is the best rum punch we have found!
We were both going a little stir crazy in quarantine and started to make friends with the local wildlife. We had William the whistling frog, Larry the lizard, Harry the Hummingbird, Dave the Dove, Brian the snail, Gary the grasshopper and our favourite, Samuel the Sparrow. Turns out Samuel was actually a bullfinch but his name never changed!
In order to attend the Covid test we had to pay for a covid approved round trip taxi. This cost us around £60 to the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic.
Upon arrival there were masses of people queuing at the entrance but were informed our tests would be carried out at the side of the building. We sat underneath a canopy which advertised HIV awareness until we were called inside. After a wait we were called into a room together where all our details were checked including previous covid test, accommodation details and passport details. This was all recorded on a rather modern excel spreadsheet. An email address was taken for our results to be sent to and it was back out in the waiting room again. The funny thing was we were both fed up with waiting but also couldnt grumble cos the only other thing we would be doing was being confined to quarters! Actually it was great to be out and about.
We were then both called to an outside gazebo where two staff in full hazmat outfits undertook our test. All we can say was it was very through compared to our previous test and they counted to ten whilst swishing the swab right up our nose. Not a pleasant experience whatsoever. We were free to leave then and informed our results would be through in 24/48 hours ….we were hoping for the former!!
On Tuesday we waited eagerly for the results to come in; refreshing my emails continuously. Eventually at 1pm our results came in and we were free to leave our patio yay….not before we had provided copies of our negative results to reception via email. It may have only been 72 hours but that 72 hours was extremely long and we struggled! At the same time however it was reassuring that they took it so seriously and this was helping to keep covid figures so low. We read stories of other places whereby you were allowed out of your room and to use the swimming pool but this was not an option for us and I believe rightly so. We were both very relieved to be ‘free’ and couldnt wait to see what the island had to offer.
Keep an eye out for our next blog post to see what our experiences post isolation in Barbados were like!
Carol & Nigel x