News / South Africa / Local News

South Coast Herald
2 minute read
12 May 2020
11:10 am

KZN couple stranded in Slovakia due to Covid-19 lockdown

South Coast Herald

It has been eight weeks now and they are hoping that Emirates will resume flights from Bratislava soon.

Charmaine Benfield, with her sons Billy Pengilly (left) and Peter 'Kallie' Pengilly.

Being locked down in a foreign country, while frustrating at times, has had some blessings as well for Rob and Charmaine Benfield from Oslo Beach in KwaZulu-Natal.

Charmaine and Rob arrived in Slovakia in Central Europe on 11 March to visit Charmaine’s two sons, Billy and Peter, also known as Kallie.

Billy lives in the country’s capital, Bratislava, which is surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains, crisscrossed with forested hiking and cycling trails. It is also home to the reconstructed Bratislava Castle, which overlooks the 18th-century old town and the river Danube, reports North Coast Courier.

Peter lives in Vel’ký Meder. It’s a small holiday town like Margate. Peter has been living in Slovakia since 2007 and Billy since 2012.

“We visit them every two years. This time a planned family holiday was changed due to Covid-19,” said Charmaine.

“We hired a big enough vehicle as both my sons had leave and we planned to travel around Slovenia and Hungary.”

Rob and Charmaine Benfield.

After landing on 11 March, Charmaine and Rob went to Vel’ký Meder. The next day they visited locals towns and the following day Slovakia went into lockdown.

“All plans were cancelled, however, we have been able to take walks, explore nature and enjoy plenty of good old South African braais. The local doctor assisted with Rob’s chronic medication and the grandchildren, Pieter, 8, and Isabelle, 6, enjoy having us around.”

It has been eight weeks now and they are hoping that Emirates would resume flights from Bratislava soon, as going through Vienna/Slovakia borders was a challenge as one risks either missing the flight and/or being put into quarantine there.

“My sons may not take us to Vienna as they will be put into 14-day quarantine. The police here have been very accommodating as our visas expired on April 11 and we are allowed to stay until 30 days after the pandemic.”

Meet the Pengilly family of Vel’ky, Slovakia, Peter, Pieter, Isabelle and Maria.

“It’s spring here and if you Google 10 must-see places in Slovakia, you will discover some hidden gems.

“Repatriation flights are prohibitively expensive and there are hidden costs, and given our exchange rate, it’s adding insult to injury,” she said.

Be that as it may, they said they thanked God that they were in a family environment and have counted their many blessings.

Isabelle and Pieter Pengilly.

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