20 August 2020 by David Ward
As travel has slowly started to open up again, our specialists have been among the first to hit the road, heading out to various destinations across Europe on their personal travels. In the first in a series of articles charting their travel experiences, our Scandinavia General Manager Sue McAlinden headed to Norway for a summer break at her family’s fjord-side cabin. Here are her thoughts, mainly of the flight, but also a little of what she found on the ground:
The flights: KLM
With no direct flights to Bergen, I flew via Amsterdam with KLM departing from Heathrow terminal 2. The first thing to note is that only passengers are allowed inside the terminal building, reducing crowds considerably, particularly when you bear in mind the reduced number of flights and lower-than-usual passenger numbers.
Masks are to be worn at all times when inside the terminal and, if you do happen to forget yours, there’s a stash of disposables at each entrance. Once inside, the bag-drop went smoothly and I proceeded through to departures where around half the shops and just a couple of food outlets were open – not a problem with so few passengers.
The boarding procedure was as normal as you’re used to and people from different groups were sat together onboard, although masks were again worn at all times. Indeed, the cabin crew were particularly hot on this, even though they were not required to wear masks themselves.
As part of a reduced in-flight service, we were served complimentary tea, coffee and cake, while alcohol was available for purchase. The in-flight magazine was also at hand, which I found a little surprising. At the end of the flight, we disembarked row by row, which was very orderly and something I hope is kept on in future.
Once at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport, we had some time to wander and, although the airport seemed busier than its London counterpart, everyone again wore masks except in what restaurants and coffee shops were open. Then it was on to Bergen, with a very similar flight experience as before, and as expected, with a cheese sandwich taking the place of the rather more tempting cake!
Bergen & the fjords
At Bergen and things seemed a little different, not least due to the fact that mask-wearing was at a noticeable minimum. That said, social distancing was well respected – at the designated 1.5m – and you couldn’t move for hand sanitizer. Aside from that, however, with the exception of the minimal crowds, it seemed very much like business as usual, a theme which carried through to the rest of my Norway experience where, with wide open spaces and the lack of overseas tourists in the fjords, it was practically impossible not to socially distance! The only real exception was in Bergen itself, where restaurants were bustling with locals to the point where pre-booking was a necessity.
One thing I must note, if you’re hiring a car as we did, you’ll need to have plenty of battery on your phone so you can fill in the pre-sent pickup forms and make the leave the necessary credit card details – it also took a fair bit longer than usual.
Bergen, Norway – off limits once more
The journey home
On the way home, the flight situation was much the same as the outbound, with very few people wearing masks in Bergen until we actually boarded the flight. Then, as we were waiting to depart Amsterdam, we were reminded to fill out our Public Health Passenger Locator Form on board, which you can’t really do without wi-fi. Once back in London, at City Airport this time, we were asked to show our Passenger Locator Forms, which we did at a distance, then we were waived through to a seemingly deserted airport. In fact, I don’t recall there being a single shop open!