Written by Virginia Kruta, columnist at the Daily Wire
I planned months ago to return to Belgium for the 77th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, and up until a few days before I left, everything seemed to be going according to plan.
I had a valid COVID-19 vaccine card (the European Union requires that for all travelers coming from the United States). I had my flight booked and a car and an Airbnb rented, and I knew what to expect from the travel because I made this trip two years ago for the 75th anniversary.
But a week before we were scheduled to leave, omicron became a thing — and COVID cases spiked in Belgium and Germany, prompting the U.S. State Department to warn American travelers not to go to Belgium.
I checked with the insurance company (I did have travel insurance in case one of us had to quarantine or got sick prior to the trip) and they said that unless one of the travelers actually had COVID-19 or had been ordered to quarantine by a doctor, the insurance did not cover cancellation.
I checked with the airline, and they said that unless the government barred them from takeoff, they were not allowing cancellations or ticket vouchers. The third-party booking site graciously offered to help us change our itinerary but for three times the cost of our initial tickets.
So we decided to go, and five days before we left, we learned that in order to get on a plane leaving the U.S. we had to have a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours old. To get *off* a plane in Belgium, we needed to have a negative PCR test that was no more than 72 hours old. But because of how long PCR test results can take and the length of time we would be traveling, the problem was immediately obvious: the test that cleared us for takeoff would expire before we landed. So we took two tests, one three days prior to departure and another the morning before we left.
Flash forward to airport check-in, where we were informed that the UK — where we had a 6-hour layover but were not leaving the airport — required a negative test that was less than 48 hours old. The first test was already expired for their purposes, and the results for the second had not yet arrived.
So the wonderful American Airlines ticketing agent shuffled our itinerary around enough to give us time to go get a rapid test, which we did, and then we were on our way.
We made our flight, we made our connection, and we finally landed in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon. We got into the rental car and that was when we realized that the GPS on my phone was not working …
As it turned out, there was a navigation system in the car. It just took us a few minutes to get it working and change the language to English because neither my son nor I know how to read Polish.
It took us another two hours to get to the Airbnb we had rented, and another hour after that to learn that there was no running water. A construction accident had cut off water from the entire street. and no one knew when it would be back on.
I sent a quick message to a friend who lives in Belgium but was not yet home from her trip to the US, and when she learned what had happened, she told us to head to her house and told us where to find a key.
We had to spend another hour in the car, but at least the day ended with a hot shower.
And then I got an email telling me that the first leg of our return trip was canceled.
We’re still working on that one.