The experience of traveling from point A to point B is overwhelming and shocking, especially if you, like me, have been cooking at home for the past year. Because of my job, I have undertaken eight flights in the last two months, and the airports were full in every case, planes full and people used to push back on old habits of pushing and shoving, with little regard for the Covid label.
The normal dimension of international travel is the new dimension to adapt to the point of your destination on the Covid timeline, as the pandemic unfolds at different rates. The total closure at your departure point can move to a more comfortable freedom as you depart. Then the whole thing happens the other way around. Traveling back and forth in Covid time causes a whiplash if you shake between the rules and regulations, based on the state of the pandemic.
When I visited New York in late March after being locked up in Turkey for months, it was like being transported to the future. Friends and colleagues in their thirties are being vaccinated, restaurants, shops and cultural sites were open, and people were socializing like in 2019. It was exciting to be in a place with such uplifting energy and to see people in person, but it left I was overstimulated and exhausted at the end.
Turkey experienced a tremendous increase in new coronavirus infections when I returned, and I experienced the strictest closure of the pandemic, meaning locals had to stay home except for groceries and medical emergencies. I was pulled back in time. Tourists were exempt from the restrictions, but the novelty of visiting empty museums and walking through deserted streets quickly faded. After all, what is a place without its locals, its restaurants, cafes, bars and culture?
When I arrived in London, I was walking in a kind of limbo, because I had to spend the first five days in quarantine. I was fully vaccinated and gave a negative test to enter the country, and it did not feel to me as if I would be taking a risk by walking through the park or fetching a coffee. But violating the quarantine rules carries a hefty fine of up to £ 10,000, about $ 14,000.
I received several phone calls a day from a government job to see if I was abiding by the rules. Once I was in an online work meeting and missed the call, which sent me into a mess to try and see if it would get me in trouble.