At the umpteenth time of asking I’m on the road again… this time to Bergamo, Italy.
Where Europe first witnessed the virus, but now, Grazie Dio, it is a tourist destination again.
The journey, like so many these days does not begin in a travel agent but in an Edinburgh pharmacy with a Covid-19 home kit.
That’ll be £115 to you and me with a £10 courier service to get the sample to Belfast (no, me neither)
The test is invasive and involves you scraping the tonsils (or back of the throat if you’re sans tonsils).
Break the swab stick in half and insert it into the tube provided.
Then break the swab in half and repeat for the nose.
And if you think I’m going to do that to myself you have another thing coming.
The indomitable Mrs M is my willing assistant in this.
And she seemed a bit too enthusiastic too about the task, saying she was ‘going tae stick it right up me, pal!’
I felt my only brain cell too being scratched as the water welled in my eyes.
When you’ve stopped blinking fill out an online form.
And then sit back and wait for them to email you the next day verifying they got your samples.
Then within 48 hours they’ll email you again to tell you if you’re positive or negative.
You’re on your way.
Check, of course, that your politicians haven’t changed the rules regarding the country you’re visiting.
Or in the country you’re imprisoned in.
And make your way to Edinburgh airport.
Airports are normally a hive of activity but with a vastly reduced number of passengers now it’s refreshing to be able to breathe.
Or it would be if I wasn’t wearing the compulsory medical mask that you have to sport when you’re on the move.
I saw one imposter wearing a bandana around his mouth (the very thought!) but better not risk it.
Not that the staff in Edinburgh are airstapo or anything… they are, in fact, delighted to see you and are I’m sure smiling behind their masks.
Seeing this is a whistlestop visit I’ve taken only a small rucksack and a slightly larger rucksack with wheels.
Which meets the Ryanair regulations.
And it all cuts out the need for the electronic bag drop off which I hate.
So you’re now through the first test of the Crystal Maze and into the shopping and eating and dining concourse.
It’s all pretty much the same although there are no wee whisky or gin plastic samples.
I guess you’ll just have to buy the stuff.
The kerching souvenir shops are still pedalling their merchandise and you can, of course, still buy your Saltire rubber duck and fridge magnet.
Grab a seat, buy your bottle of water (unless you’re an airport drinker even if this is 7.30am) and pour it into your own container.
Better still if you can find yourself next to a plug to keep your phone charged… the Scary One is bound to text.
And besides if you’re under the age of 30 you’ll have your ticket and documents on your phone.
All the time remember to hand sanitise after everything you do.
Make sure you’ve got all your possessions and documents and sit under the departure board.
Particularly your passport and evidence of your negative test to show at the gate.
And, maybe go to the toilet before you board.
Now barring being stopped at the gate I’m back on the road… to Bergamo.
Now, what could possibly go wrong?
And seeing this is my first time in Il Bel Paese for a couple of years I’ve been taking a trip down Memory Lane…