It was a very stressful time for everyone. At the mid of March 2020, when all flights, train and coach services have been suspended across whole Europe, there was still a lot of Slovak citizens in the UK who needed to travel to their country to help their families in that cruel time.
They asked me – as a travel and transport specialist – for any possible solution to help to go. Finally, after many hours I did spend on the internet and the phone with staff at the Ministry of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic we found a solution: there was the only way to go to Slovakia: by taxi. And because the United Kingdom has been recognized as a country with a very high level of the citizens infected by the Covid-19, both countries on the planned way, the Czech Republic and Slovakia banned travellers from the UK to go through their countries for direct transit – there was a compulsory 14 days quarantine for everyone who crosses the border.
It was a time for closer co-operation between my company and private hire operator from the Czech Republic to move forward with my plan: I will drive to closest place on the cross-border between Germany and the Czech Republic and then colleague from the Czech Republic will continue through the Czech Republic to Slovakia. Complicated, yes, but possible.
So my very first commercial repatriation service was from Bournemouth via Reading (+1 passengers), London (+3 passengers), Dover, France, Belgium and Germany to the very small village in Germany, Reißigmühle, just 200 yards away from cross-border.
In Dover, we meet a few cars at the car park before boarding to the ferry – but not too much as usual. A break on the ferry was more than welcomed, I had still a long way to drive so the rest was very nice.
And I did enjoy every mile on the highways across Europe – no lorries, no cars just us and highway. Nice clean and fast ride…
And finally, we arrived at the village of Reißigmühle. After 15 hours on the road. Passengers still had a long way to go, but they went through the most critical point: the border with the Czech Republic.
So, what about me?
In the first place I had only one very important thing to do: find the petrol station, computer in the car said I can drive last 30 miles only. I know, it was a stupid thing I did: all the journey I tried to look like professional, behave like professional so I should stop at petrol station early – but I was sure it will be OK to find the petrol station there. And actually, it would be OK, just I did not realise that I will be middle of nowhere, so chance to find a petrol station around? Sci-Fi.
I did find a small, local petrol station just 3 miles away (Bft-Tankstelle Öl Heimburger) but I was in doubt if that will be opened late afternoon – lucky me, it was 24/7, an unattended forecourt with card payment only. I was worried a bit about diesel quality, I shouldn’t be: I did fill the tank up (70 litres) and drove without any refuelling to Dover!
Well, next I did spend a few hours sleeping in the car (-2 Celsius overnight…), then, the next morning, I was on my way back to the UK. I got a big shock when arrived at Dunkirk ferry post: see the picture, just me, lorries and nobody else. Very unusual!
Finally, I arrived back to Bournemouth after 1 and a half-day. Tired, but happy I could help others. And what was more important: I did find a way how to escape from “zero” jobs to “something” and get some cash to pay company bills.
Journey date: 25/3/2020 outbound, 26/3/2020 inbound
Service type: Private Hire – Commercial repatriation service, full-managed trip, journey price £900
Miles drove in total: 1724
Time on the road: 31 (rest time +8)
Traceroute: Bournemouth – Reading – London – Dover – Dunkirk – Belgium – Netherlands – Germany (Reißigmühle)