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How I got back to Croatia from the U.S.

Alexandra made it back to Dubrovnik after 4 months in the U.S. (Photo: Instagram/The_Mindful_Mermaid)

It has been quite a few months for American-born and Croatia-based blogger Alexandra Schmidt. 

Schmidt, who has Croatian ancestry, moved to Dubrovnik a few years ago and is behind the blog The Mindful Mermaid. Back in March, just as the pandemic restrictions came into effect, she got stuck traveling in Morocco.

She had to be repatriated back to the U.S. and spent the last 4 months living back in Minnesota where she grew up. Last week she arrived back in Dubrovnik and shared her story.  

I’m so relieved to announce I’ve been back in Dubrovnik for a week now. After four months of uncertainty when I’ll get back. After what was an exhausting and intense 20-hour journey out of the U.S.

Initially, I was waiting to travel back to Croatia until the pandemic stabilized and borders opened up. But as cases continue to soar in the U.S., I realized I needed to get back ASAP, before things got even worse.

So for the past 3 weeks, I meticulously planned my return, prepared all the proper documentation and paperwork I needed to get back. I also found out last minute that I needed to enter Croatia with a negative COVID-19 test in hand (PCR nasal swab).

Both gathering all the documents AND the process of traveling internationally during a pandemic was so stressful. That’s why I still don’t recommend non-essential air travel, especially internationally.

Flying back to Croatia was a huge risk, but one that I was willing to take as my travel was essential.

As most of you know, Europe is closed to most U.S. citizens due to COVID-19. However, Croatia DOES allow Americans to enter for business, personal reasons, or tourism with proper documentation (proof of accommodation or homeownership, business letter, etc). 

You’re also allowed to TRANSIT through many places in Europe (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, etc), as long as you don’t leave the international area.

Two caveats

There’s a risk you can be denied boarding in the U.S., even with proper documents. Airlines are scrambling to keep up with the daily changing rules, and it’s a risk for them to allow boarding to passengers that could potentially be sent back.

Croatia also just introduced that you must enter with a negative PCR COVID-19 test no older than 48 hours, or go into isolation for 2 weeks.

I was so nervous I would be denied boarding, AND was super stressed at the last minute trying to find somewhere in Minneapolis that does a 24-hour turn around time for PCR nasal swabs. (Check out valley wellness in Burnsville if you’re looking).

I luckily had no problems checking into Minneapolis, but in Boston, I had to go through an additional document check. I had to plead my case with the gate agent, and firmly explain that I was legally allowed to enter Croatia.

Unfortunately, our flight was delayed two hours to Paris, so I had 15 minutes to catch my connection to Dubrovnik. I ran through the airport with all my luggage, because if I didn’t make it, I would have been stuck in the international terminal in Paris for God knows how long.

Barely anyone checked my documents in CDG.

Once landing in Dubrovnik, it took some time for them to look through my documentation and look over my negative COVID-19 results, but then it was in! That was honestly the easiest part.

I definitely won’t be traveling for a while after this entire experience, but so glad my journey ended with this view!

I’m honestly still processing this entire experience. I’m glad I got to spend a little extra time with family, especially my mom, over the past couple of months. But my time back home solidified that the U.S. is no longer my home. I feel such a weight lifted off of my shoulder after getting out. I’m finally able to get somewhat of my life back now, after feeling so powerless for 4 months.

I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated the simplicity of the Croatian village life more than now. It’s truly been healing for me to back in my element.

Here’s to hoping we can all travel safely and smoothly soon.

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UPDATE: I MADE IT BACK SAFELY TO CROATIA! (Part 1) 🇭🇷🌊🌎🎉 – I’m so RELIEVED to announce I’ve been back in Dubrovnik for a week now. After four months of uncertainty when I’ll get back. After what was an exhausting and intense 20 hour journey out of the U.S. – Let’s recap: In March I got stuck traveling in Morocco as the world shut down due to covid-19. I had to be repatriated back to the U.S. I’ve spent the last 4 months living back in Minnesota with my mom (where I grew up). – Initially I was waiting to travel back to Croatia until the pandemic stabilized and borders opened up. But as cases continue to soar in the U.S., I realized I needed to get back ASAP, before things got even worse. – So for the past 3 weeks, I meticulously planned my return, prepared all the proper documentation and paperwork I needed to get back. I also found out last minute that I needed to enter Croatia with a negative Covid-19 test in hand (PCR nasal swab). – Both gathering all the documents AND the process of traveling internationally during a pandemic was so stressful. That’s why I still don’t recommend non-essential air travel, especially internationally. (More on this in Part 2) – I’m honestly still processing this entire experience. I’m glad I got to spend a little extra time with family, especially my mom, over the past couple months. – But my time back home solidified that the U.S. is no longer my home. I feel such a weight lifted off of my shoulder after getting out. I’m finally able to get somewhat of my life back now, after feeling so powerless for 4 months. – I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated the simplicity of the Croatian village life more than now. It’s truly been healing for me to back in my element. – Thank you all for your good vibes and support along the way! In part two I’ll explain the insane experience I had trying to get back to Croatia. – Hope you’re having a good weekend!! – – – – – #croatiafullofbeaches #instacroatia #crostagram #croatiavacations #croatiafulloflife #croatiancoast #experiencedubrovnik #dubrovnikriveria #visitdubrovnik #sunsetcaptures #sunsetaddict #sunsetgram #igerscroatia #covidtravel

A post shared by ALEX 🌊📍Blogger in Dubrovnik (@the_mindful_mermaid) on

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Update: HOW I GOT BACK TO CROATIA FROM THE U.S. PART 2! 🇭🇷🌊🍷🎉 – Flying back to Croatia was a huge risk, but one that I was willing to take as my travel was essential. – As most of you know, Europe is closed to most U.S. citizens due to Covid-19. However, Croatia DOES allow Americans to enter for business, personal reasons, or tourism with proper documentation (proof of accommodation or home ownership, business letter, etc). – You’re also allowed to TRANSIT through many places in Europe (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, etc), as long as you don’t leave the international area. – Two caveats: – There’s a risk you can be denied boarding in the U.S., even with proper documents. Airlines are scrambling to keep up with the daily changing rules, and it’s a risk for them to allow boarding to passengers that could potentially be sent back. – Croatia also just introduced that you must enter with a negative PCR covid-19 test no older than 48 hours, or go into isolation for 2 weeks. – I was so nervous I would be denied boarding, AND was super stressed at the last minute trying to find somewhere in Minneapolis that does a 24 hour turn around time for PCR nasal swabs. (Check out valley wellness in Burnsville if you’re looking). – I luckily had no problems checking into Minneapolis, but in Boston, I had to go through an additional document check. I had to plead my case with the gate agent, and firmly explain that I was legally allowed to enter Croatia. – Unfortunately our flight was delayed two hours to Paris, so I had 15 minutes to catch my connection to Dubrovnik. I ran through the airport with all my luggage, because if I didn’t make it, I would have been stuck in the international terminal in Paris for God knows how long. – Barely anyone checked my documents in CDG. – Once landing in Dubrovnik, it took some time for them to look through my documentation and look over my negative covid-19 results, but then it was in! That was honestly the easiest part. – I definitely won’t be traveling for awhile after this entire experience, but so glad my journey ended with this view! – Here’s to hoping we can all travel safely and smoothly soon 🇭🇷🍷🌊

A post shared by ALEX 🌊📍Blogger in Dubrovnik (@the_mindful_mermaid) on

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