As of the 23rd of March, our cats are legal to travel. In the blog post previously uploaded we expressed the concern of not being able to get the cats back to England with us (although this still is a struggle) they now have all the possible things they could need to cross over boarders, including their own little passports. Within these passports all the information regarding their vaccinations and about their owner, is placed. This definitely puts are mind at ease a little as it does mean they have the ability to travel if and when we need to. (although finding a flight that accommodates them is a lot harder)
However, regarding our situation in Greece as of right now it looks as though any possibility to travelling home has been taken away or disregarded. In the latest news update the Greek government have suspended any direct flights to the UK meaning that you can only travel via another country. However, this poses this risk of possibly contracting the virus or even becoming stuck somewhere else less homely. This suspension of flights comes on the same day that the foreign secretary released a statement urging all British citizens abroad to come home or wind up stuck in that specific country. So, at this specific moment we are staying in Athens for the foreseeable future and I guess we will just continue to monitor the situation happening here and in England and organise ourselves accordingly.
Written& edited by: Elly Babe (@elly_babexxx)
Starting from today, if you leave the house, you are required to carry a permit and your passport. So what does this really mean? And what are we going to do?
This measure may seem extreme. However, it is just the next step of the lockdown and expected. You are allowed to leave your house only if it is essential. This means you can still go to the supermarkets and pharmacy and you are also entitled to leave the house to do exercise. This can involve going for a walk in the park, which is pretty much all we have been doing for the last seven days since the lockdown began.
I wanted to try out the new restrictions, so this morning Elly wrote me out a permit (we couldn’t print it as we don’t have a printer and all shops are closed other than supermarkets). I grabbed my passport and went out for a run. The streets and park were pretty much empty apart from one or two other runners and a few oldies getting there shopping. Towards the end of the run, which took me past the main boulevard towards the acropolis, I spotted a squad of police officers. I thought I would see If they would check my permit. I ran past, and they completely ignored me. From this experience, I feel that the new restrictions have been made to allow the police to have more power over the population. Although if you are complying to their rules, they will leave you be.
At the moment, Elly and I are looking to stay in Athens. The reason for this is that, for the time being, we feel safe here. Everyone is taking the lockdown seriously, only seventeen have died so far. Despite this, the Greek people continue to be relaxed and understanding. There has been no panic buying, and the supermarkets are fully stocked. The lockdown may seem more extreme than the self-isolation tactic employed by the British government. However, I feel that it will allow for the Corona Virus to be dealt with quicker and with fewer deaths.
Another reason that we are having to stay in Athens is the fact that we cannot seem to find a way to get our cats home with us. The UK does not allow us to fly the cats directly, which means we had planned to fly to France and get the ferry over, with the only airline that allows cats to travel in the cabin with us (Aegean Air). Unfortunately, the problem would be getting the cats from France over to the UK. To get over the channel (with a pet) we would need to be in a vehicle, both ferries and euro star will now allow us to walk on with the cats. So, a big reason we are staying is that we don’t want to leave our cats behind.
Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a lot of fake news and speculation. For example, we thought that the last flights to the UK ended on the 20th of March. This was, in fact, the last day Easy Jet flew back. Airlines ARE still flying back to the UK. We were told that people coming from the UK would have to be in isolation for two weeks when entering Greece. Again, this is not being enforced by the government, it would be self-isolation not forced isolation.
To end on a positive, our university in Athens is setting up online lectures starting from this week which means we will have more to focus on and with the permit, we can still leave the house and go for walks. If anyone has suggestions for ways to stay active mentally and physically while on lockdown please leave a comment or email us.
We hope you are all healthy and safe and will keep the blog updated on what is happening here.
(Just to cheer everyone up, have a look at the wild tortoises that I saw today while on my run, please put the video on mute I was very out of breath at this point)
Written and media produced by: Alex Hood (@Alexjohnhood)
Any outbreak of a virus is scary as you struggle to come to terms with the new way of life in your city, especially if the virus results in mandatory lockdowns. However, at least you still have the familiarity of your home town and are not stuck out in a foreign country waiting to see what precautions will be put into place. Well … if you have taken up the Erasmus scheme this year this is what you are having to come to terms with.
As the outbreak of Corona virus was being documented many of us didn’t see the extent to which, in just a couple of months, it would change the lives we were currently living. Athens, Greece has moved from a buzzing capital city into what may resemble something of an apocalypse with only a handful of people heading outside for a coffee and a little walk in the sunshine. However, compared to the English government we feel that we must praise the Geek government in stopping the unnecessary interactions and large groups of people such as university, with restaurants only providing take away or delivery, and the closure of bars and clubs. They have even gone as far as to make it illegal to open up these places without the word of the government. With this put into place it provides the police the ability to arrest anyone who is not following the protocol. With all of this in place it allows the Greek government to holt the unnecessary spread of this disease and will hopefully allow for the death rate to remain at the low rate it is currently at (and for many sites to open up by the end of the month). This is of course hopeful thinking and we understand that the government must do whatever they can to keep the population safe.
Although, this is all well and good while we are here in Greece, the thought of going home is one of the more confusing aspects of it all. With some people fleeing, while others stand their ground it can be a stressful time to decide what you should do. I think this has been the most difficult aspect for us as we don’t want to be stuck in any position, whether that be in Athens having to wait months to see our family and friends in England or in England without any of our belongings, and possibly without the cats. With the flights from England to Greece coming to an end on the 20th March till the 1st May there was a must to make the decision of where we wanted to spend our time. After a talk with our Erasmus coordinator and our families, we decided. Dejan heading back to England on the last flight out of the country and me and Alex staying here. These were tough decisions but what was best for us.
Only time will tell what the better option was, if there is one at all. All we can hope for is to remain safe and hopefully pick up our studies within the coming weeks. Although, it is upsetting not to be spending this time with our friends and families we believed this to be a choice that would carry on benefiting our whole experience here.
Our next step will be to contact the British embassy here in Greece to ensure they are aware of our presence within this country however, apart from that step we’ve just got to ride this out like everyone else.
Stay safe & continue to put into place the hygiene measures set out by the government!
Hopefully we won’t be disconnected from the UK for too long.
We are three Brighton University students who have been given the opportunity to study at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. This blog will be our way of sharing our experiences of living and studying in Greece, plus will include tips and advice for those also looking to study abroad or even just visit Athens.
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