I Accidentally Went On A European Quest During A Pandemic™️

By Dakota Warren, March 31, 2020

Read time: 10 Mins

I Accidentally Went On A European Quest During A Pandemic™️ Image

But it’s okay, I’m a Virgo. I’ve been subconsciously preparing for this my entire life.

-excitedly said goodbye to my sweet Melbourne life for what was meant to be over a month.
-saw a few people at the airport in masks. An old man next to me laughed at them and called them “tin hat lunatics”. 
-painted my nails black while waiting to board my connecting flight in Dubai. 

-took too much Valium and threw up on the airplane. 
-convinced myself I was in a video game for the rest of the flight, as I drifted in and out of consciousness. 
-sacrificed the remnants of an Aussie summer for the famous British winter. 
-London was busy, surprise! (Sarcasm.) Bustling. Her lungs breathing with locals and tourists alike, all rushing for the tube and spending too many pounds on flare pants and coffee. Business as usual. 
-spent majority of my stay walking.
-spent too much money at Glossier.
-consumed too many pints and confessed my dream to be an actress to a table of strangers. That was the first time those thoughts had ever left the safety of my own brain. 
-kissed my tour guide. 
-met some people that would make their beds in the back of my mind, for eternity. 
-decided the COVID-19 stuff was just media hype, and I would be safe in Europe thanks to a current lack of cases. 

-doused myself in the gasoline of fruity au de toilette, and lit myself on fire with the match of a Frenchman.
-climbed the Arc De Triumph, and within seconds of reaching the top, was aggressively hailed on. 
-got day drunk and began to sink into my momentary addiction to French (and Italian) wine. 
-drunkenly argued about gun laws over a fancy 3 course Parisian dinner. Won the argument (I think).
-bonded over a stolen phone. 
-had the most expensive nap of my life in the Moulin Rouge.
-saw something on the news over breakfast croissants about COVID-19. Was too hungover to try and translate it, let alone care. 

-vowed to be sober for the length of my stay in France’s wine capital. Inherently broke that vow.
-strolled the picture-esque fairy tale streets as the setting sun casted a midnight glow over the city. 
-found some sand dunes, and curiosity led to me running half way up a dune against aggressive and stubborn winds. Am still picking out pieces of sand from my eyebrows to this day. 

Saint Jean De Luz
-hid from the ice cold rain for the entirety of my stay. 
-finally confronted the rain as I left. It got physical. The rain won. 

San Sebastián
-drank enough sangria for a small Spanish family, children included. 
-mistook a mirror for a wall and flashed an entire bar.
-flirted with a Spanish man in Italian. 
-lost three (3) hours of the night. Sangria induced amnesia. Evidence of me throwing up down an alleyway during those three hours have since surfaced.
-performed a sacred French act. In Spain. 
-smelt a lot of people get high along the Spanish shores.
-did one (1) face mask in an attempt to make amends to my body for all of the poison I was drowning it in.

-heard Northern Italy was under quarantine from the virus. Didn’t think too much of it. Plans were made to bypass Northern Italy and brace Austria with my presence earlier. 
-consumed so many tapas my stomach literally cried out for help. The sangria probably didn’t help. 
-had my breath taken away by a Spanish flamenco. Pretty sure I had eye sex with the guy on the guitar.
-had a two day long cold. Put it down to the lack of sun, sleep, and self care. Didn’t let my brain linger on what I thought were far-fetched virus oriented thoughts. 
-screamed Party In The USA at the top of my lungs with a friend as drunkenly shameless as me. On a stage. In front of a full bar. 
-started a riot. 
-cried over my bloated bread and sangria belly. 
-kissed someone just because of their accent. (Boston). 
-stayed awake for 52 hours because of something I inhaled. Cried because I couldn’t feel my hands or feet by the end of it. 
-gave terrible half-conscious advice from a tiny single hostel bed. 
-said goodbye to a soul that made mine feel more special. 

-climbed to a lookout point and called my parents (for the first time since leaving home).
-bought the best fresh mixed berries (baies) I’ve ever had in my life from a little French market.
-tried avocado sorbet. Was pleasantly surprised.
-had the worlds most photogenic picnic by the beach. 
-drunkenly dyed a blonde back to brunette in a hostel toilet. 
-bought post cards to send to my family. Never made it to the post office.
-continued my descent into oblivion. 

-tried to flirt with rich old men out the front of the worlds richest casino. 
-failed. Could not afford the drunken confidence in the Monte Carlo.

Cinque Terre
-cried peering out the window from the back of the coach (listen to the song So Good At Being In Trouble by Unknown Mortal Ochestra for extra effect) driving alone the Italian coast because I am the architect of my own reality and I am living my dreams.
-indulged in an impossible amount of gelato al cioccolato.
-befriended a crazy old Italian lady with a tiny dog named Coco whom she lost amongst the crowd at the beach (and did not care).
-cried a little bit (again) at the overwhelming cuteness of the drying washing proudly hanging from each Italian balcony. 
-developed a new-found love for Aeperol Spritz. Renounced any previous love for European wine. 
-strangely enough, a lot of the restaurants and bars were closed at night. We discussed (for no more than a minute) if it may have been because of the virus. 

-this was the first time the phrase ‘ghost town’ has ever made sense to me. Saw about 4 other travellers in what is usually a tourist hotspot. 
-got yelled at in a pharmacy while scouring for cough drops for standing too close to the counter, in case we had the virus. Gave my tummy butterflies, and not the nice kind.
-had a photo shoot with the (incredibly underwhelming) leaning tower. Apparently usually there is not the freedom nor space to do so. A stall owner told us this is the quietest it has ever been and something bad must be coming. More butterflies. 

-searched the empty, deserted streets for an open cafe. Found one. We were the only customers in it.
-had an eery discussion with a H&M cashier about the reality of the virus hitting Italy. She said it was happening fast and inching closer to where we were. Paid for my jumper (which I bought because I was inexplicably shivering) and left. It now dawns on me that the shivers were chills.
-had a 3 course Italian feast with an opera singer. He whispered “dance with me, sexy girl” in my ear. We negotiated from a salsa to the Macarena.
-was in the midst of getting absinthe-drunk (objectively the worst kind of drunk) when a friend passed around an article on their phone claiming Italy was on lockdown. Dread washed over me, the same as the others. And confusion. Decided to sleep and work it out in the morning when sober. 
-the sun rose, as did Operation Escape Italy™️. Italy was in total lockdown – closed borders that we had to flee from before they were all patrolled.
-cried (third time!) out of confusion and stress. And because my Italian dream was now back to being only that; a dream. 
-was a passenger on board the lucky last bus to be let through the border to Austria. 

Hopfgarten im Brixental
-saw snow for the very first time!!
-had snowflakes fall on my hat for the very first time.
-slipped over in snow and rolled down a hill for the very first time. And the twenty-third. 
-half of the people I was with got very sick. Nobody wanted to talk about it, because nobody wanted to dampen the mood. Nobody also knew how serious the situation was (or was going to be). We (nervously) laughed it off over butterscotch schnapps.
-witnessed my friend roll down the bottom of a giant snow covered mountain after a failed attempt at para-gliding. 
-para-glided (successfully!) off of the Austrian alps. 
-rocked up to a tight-and-white party in loose, black clothing. 
-uncontrollably started howling like a broken dog for the entirety of said party, for no apparent reason.-helped someone go the wrong way. 
-had a drunken melt down because somebody stole my €3 gin. 
-did something with someone that I wouldn’t have done if I knew what I knew now.
-woke up (still drunk) to find Austria was closing it’s borders, too. Trudged my way through the snow to a bus heading to Germany, suitcase in one hand, clinging to a water bottle for dear life in the other. 

-visited the (remnants of the) Dachau concentration camp. Can still not fathom the experience into words.
-met the fourth dimensional backrooms of my mind, in a hostel hallway. They’re yellow and blue, and never-ending.
-explored another ghost town in all of her eery glory. 
-ate the juiciest, most delectable (and most expensive) vegan burger of my life. 
-sneezed in aforementioned burger restaurant. Witnessed four people take one large step away from me. Wasn’t blessed by a soul. 
-realised, over aforementioned best vegan burger of my life, that Europe is no longer a safe place to be, especially regarding getting back to Australia. 
-decided, with a heavy heart, over an absurdly large German beer (or several), to leave Europe and seek refuge in London, where there were a) less cases of the virus and b) flights still being accepted into Australian borders. 
-said goodbye to some dear friends as we all parted ways in an attempt to get home safely. 
-pinched myself too many times in order to wake from this bad dream. Didn’t wake. 

-alas, the trip came to a complete and unexpected loop. Just like everything in life. Discussed this with a friend who got LOOP tattooed on her thigh.
-London was quiet, but still functioning. Most were wearing masks, and there were posters every corner asking Londoners to wash their hands to stop the spread of the virus that had seemingly not yet claimed their city. 
-ventured to various (still functioning and quite busy) Sunday markets, where I had a falafel bowl so good I teared up.
-didn’t feel dreadful. Just felt like a common cold. Didn’t have half the symptoms the charts circulating the Internet were saying I needed to have. Put it down to the unexpected Austrian snow.
-had coffee for the first time in months. Regretted it. Spent an hour counting my pulse.
-skulled an entire bottle of Jagermeister straight from the bottle, split with one friend. 
-both threw up and passed out in our hostel beds before we even made it outside. 
-FaceTimed my bosses dogs. Not him, just his dogs. 
-tried to blow the money for the rest of my trip in one day on Oxford street, to find half the stores closed for safety. Was confused if London was beginning to lockdown or not. People were still roaming the streets, but where were they going? 
-internally debated monogamy in a vintage bookstore.
-consumed an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s while watching a horror film behind the spaces between my fingers in a theatre. Evidently, the last night the theatre was open, before it was called to be closed. 

-was expecting a medical SWAT team to scoop up each arrival and ram cotton tips down their throats (or up their noses). Silently panicked. 
-was not met with such caution. Passengers were to tell a worker if they had been in China or Italy, and if they had symptoms. It was all based on homestead. Those who claimed they did not freely continued on their journey home.
-admitted to being a potential carrier (and was evidently one of three from an entire flight. So much for honesty.)
-had my temperature taken with a gun. No temperature. ‘Go through,’ they said. ‘How would I go about getting a test? I was in Italy, and have symptoms.’ ‘You don’t have a temperature, so just quarantine and monitor your symptoms.’ 
-went straight to quarantine in a little house in the bush. Slept for 18 hours. Woke with every recorded symptom the guides on the Internet said there was to have. 
-was told again that I would likely not be tested due to my youth and mild case. So here I am, riding it out. 
-symptoms cleared within a week. Tracked them in a logbook, next to sketches of bunnies and clouds. Every day felt like a Sunday. 
-I’m going to be fine. You’re going to be fine. We’re all still unsure what fine entails exactly, but everything is going to be fine. This is all impossibly foreign and new and there is no way to approach it in an order let manner because you cannot order what you have no control over. But we’re going to be fine. 

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