First off, don’t worry. I don’t have the coronavirus – COVID-19 – at least not yet. I am writing this from Barcelona, a week into my stay in this stunning city. By the time you read it, I will be back home in Los Angeles. So what changed?
I was supposed to be here another two weeks, then hop down to Marrakech – my first visit to Morocco and Africa – before spending five days in Madrid with a close friend from the UK. Those things are no longer happening.
As the coronavirus spreads, Spain has ever-increasing cases and, while the total here is still under 500, yesterday saw a 100 case increase, and I feel it is only a matter of time before a truly sustained outbreak here. Currently, most of the Spanish cases are in Madrid, so my friend and I decided going there was probably not in our best interests. It isn’t that we worry about catching the virus – I am young and in good health, so it would likely be very mild – it is that we worry about being allowed back into the US and UK, respectively, without going through a quarantine if we were to fly from a place that, by that point, could have cases in the thousands. (Update, only three days later cases are now nearly 2,000 here, and my decision is seeming better.)
That decision made, it was only sensible to also scrap Morocco and leave Spain from Barcelona while there are few cases here and my returning to the States would be easier. My round-trip airfare was on Delta, so I called them to ask about changing my flight. “Sure,” they told me, and quoted me nearly $2500 to do so. Uh, no. Fortunately, Norwegian was offering one-way BCN-LAX flights next week for under $400. I jumped on that, and Wednesday was the day that made the most sense.
I can’t say I’m not disappointed. Losing three weeks of my trip is hard, missing the chance to see Morocco is rough, and losing a rare opportunity to see my friend is heart-breaking. I am saddened that hysteria demands that I do this before being forced into quarantine in my own country, and frustrated that we don’t have a better way to deal with testing for the disease that would allow me to do that upon arrival. But with the apparent severity of the spread of COVID-19, I don’t have much of a choice, and if something were to happen, I prefer it to happen in my own country, with doctors who speak my language, and my friends and family around.
So where does this leave The Royal Tour? After all, it’s hard to write about travel if I’m not traveling. And not only has this trip been cut short, but my next to Japan and Taiwan has been canceled altogether. Well, expect to see a lot more content about Los Angeles, more in depth reviews of specific sights from my recent past trips – I have resisted those since they aren’t exactly in my wheelhouse – and more philosophical travel-adjacent essays. I hope these will keep your interest until the virus fears die down and I re-emerge into the world.
In the meantime, I have SO much amazing content about Spain coming up, so be sure to stick around and read it. If you are a regular reader who likes what I’m doing here at TRT and wants to add your voice, I’ll have plenty of free space to fill and would love to talk to you about guest-posting, so email me!
If you are out traveling, be safe. If you are home, also be safe. Love from BCN/LAX.
Saying goodbye to the Alhambra and to Spain