So I found a way to roam around Europe in the worst time possible, summer 2020. It turned out that truck drivers don’t need to quarantine and they don’t get tested.
(Not sure if that loophole hasn’t been closed yet.) Once I realized that, I jumped into my brother’s truck as the second driver.
Truck drivers don’t live to the normal day schedule. They try to stay awake for as long as possible, because the more they travel a day, the more they earn. So
equipped with a huge pack of energy drinks we set off into our journey. Starting in Cambridge, we took route to Dover. I remember the rain hitting the front window.
We had to wait about 2 hours before they let our truck onto the shuttle.
The ship was full of drivers like us, the poor working class men with tired faces. We got a dinner for free; nothing special, like a chicken with chips, but this
was a taste you don’t forget. It was the night already, and outside it was extremely windy and cold. When the wind blew, I could barely breath. I was watching
the lights of Dover fading away, and then the lights of Calais approaching.
There is a trap set in the middle of English Channel for anyone who forgot to turn off the phone. Some cellphone tower outside of EU zone waits for uncareful travellers.
If your phone connects to it and sends any data, you recieive a horrendeous charge.
Then the shuttle almost silently stopped at the French shore. It was around midnight. We disembarked and started driving the long way south to the Spanish border. We
didn’t visit any major city, as they were surrounded by military who let people in and out only with a valid reason. It looked kinda scary to be honest.
France has beautiful forests and beautiful little villages. It was weird that we couldn’t see any people, because everyone was ordered to stay home, and almost no
lights. It is customary in France to have wooden covers on windows, that block light completely, so you don’t see if people are home. It felt almost dreamy.
The next day we arrived to the little town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
The town at the French-Spanish border seemed unaffected by the pandemic. The life slowly went on. After disembarking cargo we went to a tiny restaurant to have our first
pizza in 2 days. The streets in the town were narrow and high slope, so we had difficulty driving the truck around. We visited the ocean shore full of sea weeds.
Considering the time of the year, it wasn’t very cold.
Then we set course on Spain. The roads were visibly more crowded, as the lockdown measures weren’t as strict. The highway often led through long tunnels and it was remarkable
to see completely different view on the other side. We delivered our last cargo to a factory near Pamplona and then we took a totally touristic trip to Vitoria-Gasteiz. As
evening was approaching, we went to a caffee to have some donuts. It was nice to see the social life going on, unlike UK. This is where me and my brother had to part ways,
as he got an offer from a completely opposite direction, while I wanted to head west to Portugal.
Looking at the map, the next city to the west was Miranda, so I took a train and after a short while I disembarked at the station. Unfortunately it was the last train that
day and I found myself lost alone in an unknown city. Each hour it was getting darker and colder. I opened Booking.com and checked that hotels are still open. 30 minutes
later I was at the reception. They didn’t ask me anything, just took my passport and let me in.
The next morning I walked the streets of Miranda to better see where I really was. I decided to do an express train trip through Spain, visiting as many cities as I
could. Train tickets for tourists were cheaper, but I had to scan the passport in the ticket machine.
My first stop was Valladolid with red buildings around the market square.
Then I headed to Avila, with beautiful city walls. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get into the city center, as I didn’t have enough time.
My last stop that day was Salamanca, a city with lots of castles.
From there I booked FlixBus to Lisbon, Portugal. The bus was late at night, so I had to wait several hours on the bus station. As the bus drove at night, I took a sleep
to regenerate for the next day. We had a change in Coimbra, where I had to wait an hour for another bus. This was the most tiresome part of the trip.
So finally I found myself in Lisbon. As I hadn’t have a shower since 2 days, I bought a new t-shirt in a shop. The life in Lisbon went totally undisturbed and there were
lots of tourists. Portugal didn’t have almost any lockdown measures, except waiters in most restaurants wore masks, but most people didn’t bother.