COVID, London, and Oslo

I’ve always wondered in the back of my head when it’d be our turn to contract COVID. We had started traveling again as early as Fall of 2020, and continued throughout 2021 and the first half of 2022, so we were exposing ourselves to the general public all over the world. While we certainly did our due diligence in mask wearing, getting vaccinated, and taking reasonable precautions, we were still at higher risk to exposure.

Well, that time for us to finally test positive would come on June 2022, en route to London. Bridge and I were on the plane flying from SFO to London to meet with Bree when I received a text message from Alan.

I just tested positive for COVID.

When I saw the text message, my heart sank, because I knew it would be impossible for Bridge and I be spared from this same fate since we ate together, slept together, and kissed each other good bye just hours prior. The minute we landed at Heathrow, I took our COVID tests from our luggages, found a cafe at the airport and self-tested immediately. I didn’t even need to wait for the results to know the outcome but I still dreaded seeing the darkened lines indicating our positive tests.

I contemplated on our next steps as we waited for Bree to arrive from her flight to Hong Kong. We hated the thought of passing the virus onto her, but also felt it would be unavoidable being that we’d be staying in the same hotel room for the duration of the trip. I discussed the options with my sis (not that we had that many to consider!) and we decided we’d just do our best to keep a distance from Bree while also accepting the high likelihood for her to contract it too.

Masks on, we greeted Bree with 6′ distance air hugs upon her arrival and then proceeded to check into our hotel in London. Fortunately, we had a 1 bedroom that allowed us to set up a separate bed in the living space for Bree while Bridge and I hunkered down inside the bathroom. Sharing the bathroom was unavoidable though, so we agreed we’d all mask up as much as we could.

Between the jetlag and COVID, Bridge and I pretty much slept around the clock the first few days. I had found an Asian market near our hotel and stocked up on some essentials that enabled me to cook some soup noodles for myself and the girls in our kitchenette. Bree kept herself busy with Netflix and the three of us mostly slept our way through the first few days in London while the rest of the city was busy celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee.

Finally, on the last 2 days of our week in London, Bridge and I finally recovered and we were all very eager to be out and about! Since it was Bree’s first time in London, we explored some of our favorite parts of the city with her, like Camden Market and Covent Garden. The girls got an impromptu haircut and we also took a graffiti art class that was super fun! It was like a childhood dream come true, to hold these spray paint cans against a wall and be as creative as we wanted with them!

While COVID did interfere with a bunch of our plans in London (like having tea at our favorite place Sketch!!), we most certainly did not intend to let it dampen our spirits for the rest of the trip, except when we arrived to our next stop Oslo, Norway, to find Bree feeling unwell…..uh-oh, surely we knew immediately what that meant.

Bree got COVID from us.

I should backtrack and mention that this was a trip that the girls planned on their own, and the Norway part was a surprise for me. I didn’t find out where we were going until we were at our boarding gate, though I did have a hunch that we’d end up in a Scandinavian country. We were all so excited to explore a new country together and that we’d get to adventure as a trio for the rest of our trip. Ugh…COVID!!

The girls booked a room in a hostel-like place for us, which meant besides getting our own private room to sleep in, we had to share all common areas with other travelers, including the bathroom. This proved to be a real inconvenience for someone with COVID, but we were thankful to be right across the hall from the shared bathroom. There was also a shared kitchen, and I spent a lot of my time there making porridge and soup noodles for Bree while she rested (while also washing a ton of dirty dishes that other guests left around. 😵‍💫

Since Bree pretty much slept around the clock the first few days, Bridge and I would go out and explore Oslo on our own. We loved the Aker Brygge area, a vibrant waterfront district known for its mix of modern architecture, lively atmosphere, and stunning waterfront views. We indulged in salmon delicacies and took a super fun food tour where Bridge accidentally stepped on a cat corpse. Near the end of the food tour, I had the worst bout of food poisoning I’d ever had (not from the food tour, but from a dish of suspicious mussels I had eaten the night prior) and I seriously thought my impending death was waiting for me in a small bathroom corner at a random restaurant in Oslo. I must have been in that stall for nearly an hour, crouched in a corner in excruciating pain. Sweat was running down my forehead and my entire body as I shook in pain. I tried calling Bridgette, only to receive an iMessage back from her asking if I still wanted the Norwegian hotdog I had asked her to hold on to while I dashed to find a bathroom. 😓

After what felt like eternity, I finally released enough toxin to feel like I could muster the strength to get out of the bathroom. My legs were weak, so there was no way I could’ve walked the 20-25 minutes back to our Airbnb. I called an Uber, and texted Bridgette that she needed to find her own way home from wherever the food tour ended. Those were the times when I felt especially grateful for Bridgette’s young independence. I had no doubt that even though we were in a foreign country that Bridge would have the ability to find her way around. I also knew she didn’t have any money with her, but that she had enough trouble shooting skills to figure something out. At that moment, my sole focus was getting myself back to the Airbnb alive.

As soon as I arrived to our room, I collapsed onto the bed and fell into a deep sleep. I got awoken by Bridge at some point after she returned from the food tour to check on Bree and I. Groggily and apologetically, I told her there was no way I’d be able to make it out of bed for the remainder of the day. Bree was also sleeping around the clock to recover from COVID, so with my permission, Bridge took my wallet and spent the rest of the day exploring Oslo on her own. She had quite an interesting journey and you can read all about it on her blog here.

Finally, on our last two days in Oslo, both Bree and I were recovered enough to get out of bed. We took a city bike tour around Oslo and enjoyed some beautiful points of interest, such as the Oslo Opera House!

We also walked the grounds of Frogner Park and were very intrigued by the sculpture installations there!

While the first half of our trip certainly did not play out the way we had anticipated, we still made a ton of wonderful memories. We suffered through COVID together, took great care of one another, and managed to explore a new city! A year later now, as I reflect back on these memories, I’m so grateful for all of it….the highs, the lows, and the in betweens. As we journey through life, curveballs that throw us off course are inevitable, but if we choose to find joy even during those moments of pain and suffering, we come out on the other side with so much gratitude and growth.

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