Planning a Holiday in a Pandemic – Hugh

Everyone knows that trying to leave the country has been an arduous task for the past 19 months, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying.

This holiday plan began when I, a presumptuous Newcastle United fan, heard rumours of a high-budget and transformative takeover of the football club whilst at a Nottingham music festival in 2018.

After a short drunken discussion with Joey, one of my many Gooner friends, we had devised a wager where if Newcastle finished above Arsenal in the 2020/21 season, I would win £250 and vice versa.

Any football fan will know the result of that bet.

Fortunately, Joey decided that he would be happy for me to use his winnings to book flights and accommodation for a weekend city break for the two of us.

Newcastle were decidedly terrible last season so I’ve known the outcome of the bet since early 2021, but after having three different attempted holidays fall apart thanks to the pandemic, I decided to wait it out for a little while.

Around one month ago things looked settled enough to get something booked and after researching the prices of flights, accommodation and of course, pints, we settled on Bucharest, the ‘Paris of the East’.

The day after booking our inflexible flights and accommodation we found out that the COVID numbers in Romania aren’t looking great, so our long weekend away may require expensive testing or even a hotel quarantine on our return.

If/when we go (in early November) we will be visiting Transylvania’s Gothic castles, exploring the communist past of the country, and of course enjoying the local bars. Our plans don’t involve any large or crowded events so if Romania doesn’t go into a full lockdown and the UK doesn’t add the country to our Red List, we’ll be fine. Nothing to worry about…

As the world opens up again I’m sure holiday planning will become less of an uncertain mess, but for now we need to accept that travelling will require flexibility, an NHS COVID pass, and the willingness to be disappointed.

Since the recent Saudi-backed takeover of the club has been confirmed, Joey and I have set a new wager: If Arsenal finish in the top four before Newcastle, then I owe Joey another holiday. But when Newcastle finish in the top four before Arsenal, I will be entitled to a free holiday; hopefully without worries of quarantines and expensive testing.

Wish me luck.

Any Romania/Bucharest recommendations are highly appreciated: