Covidmas 2020

I managed to get out of the UK three days before several countries banned all flights from this country, and return right before most of this country entered Tier 4. Originally my flight from Liverpool was scheduled for the 23rd of December, however it was cancelled without any explanation. Easy Jet allowed for changing the flight to another date and airport and I ended up flying much earlier and from/to Manchester instead. Fortunate as it was, I spent my holiday frantically checking my phone, worried about coming home, more cancellations or even the borders getting shut. Politicians make these decisions on a whim so it’s impossible to predict what is going to happen travel-wise. When I entered Poland, it was in what I would call ‘soft lockdown’. Face masks were worn outdoors and indoors. While people adhered to the rules in general, I couldn’t help but notice how many elderly citizens wore their masks under their noses or on their chins…They are the very people we are trying to protect and prioritise for vaccinacions, so I found it rather annoying. Poland does not seem to have support bubbles (correct me if I’m wrong), so families, including the grandparents who often help parents to look after their kids, are free to meet with whoever they want. It felt strange in comparison with the UK, where some people have not seen their relatives for nearly a year now.

From the 28th of December, the whole of Poland entered ‘The National Quarantine’, which means the chain stores in the big shopping centres are shut, however the drugstores, pharmacies, bookshops and some other establishments remain open. Hospitality is shut. This state of affairs will last until January the 17th.

During that precious window of relative normality, we had gloomy weather with the exception of one sunny day. I persevered and took myself for daily walks around my humble working class neighbourhood. I ventured into Krakow Old Town on that nice day, but I got soon irritated with the crowds and the fact I could not even sit down for a coffee – virtually all the restaurants and cafes were closed – and jumped on a first tram home. I am not a city chick I used to be, I prefer quieter streets without hordes of tourists. Plus, I really don’t like photographing buildings, no matter how pretty.

It is true what they say: lockdowns make us discover various gems on our doorstep. I had two such areas within walking distance. One was a vast wetland, a wild bird sanctuary with meadows and a circular tarmac path of perhaps 5 km or so. The other, an artificial lake with a sandy beach, weeping willows and sunbeds, created long ago by the Communists and lovingly renovated the previous summer. It is suitable for bathing and very popular among the locals all year round. I have to admit, I used to take it for granted and I was pleasantly surprised how picturesque it was, in all weathers, from mist to frost. And the light was occasionally awesome too – apparently, the weather in the Tatra mountains was a bit wild which eventually brought dark skies and a warm ‘halny‘ wind to Krakow:

I took an opportunity to visit my local market (packed with old people without face masks), to purchase a mini xmas tree, and a cemetary, adorned with flowers and more or less extravagant lanterns:

As for Christmas itself, well, it happened, we met, ate, opened presents, and had a good time. I consider myself lucky when other people’s plans were ruthlessly wrecked last minute. Worse still, as I was waiting for boarding the plane back to Manchester, I noticed that all the Ryanair flights to the UK were cancelled. I sympathise with everyone who could not travel, or got stuck somewhere because of this.

Now I am self-isolating for 10 days which means I am eating eggs from before Christmas which are well past their date and I can’t take the rubbish out until the 9th of January 馃槈 It’s nice to catch up with other stuff though, like my favourite You Tube Channels, books and, well, blogging!

May the next year bring more opportunities for travel, photography and fun.