I traveled to London between the 8th and 15th of March which was just about 2 months ago. It was spring break, my UK visa was expiring at the end of the month, there was no better time to take the trip to England. It was a school holiday, I had free time off school and I took the necessary permission for my week off work. If you follow me on Instagram, you would know that I had a number of impediments taking this trip but I was determined. Traveling during Covid 19 was not as
I was scheduled to fly out of Washington DC but I wasn’t allowed to board on Aer Lingus because I didn’t have an Irish transit visa. I was oblivious to the fact that I needed one to transit via Dublin as a Nigerian. I got another ticket, British Airways this time, a direct flight to London Heathrow Airport, the only issue was that the flight was leaving out of John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and I had to make the trip to New York. Buses to New York average about $25 but a flight to New York could be as much as $200, I didn’t need to think about this. Y’all know I definitely took the bus.
This was the third time I was taking the bus to New York from D.C and trust me when I say that I could immediately tell there was a pandemic. We were 7 on a bus that would normally have up to 50 passengers. I had paid extra for a front seat, extra leg room and a clear view of the front but the driver was not having any of it. ‘A’int nobody sneezing or coughing over the top of my head’ he said. We were asked to take a sit anywhere from the middle to the back. That was definitely my first quarantine experience 😳
New York’s JFK was busy and the only give away that there was a global pandemic was Donald Trump’s briefing on TV and CDC warnings in news flashes. There were no social distancing mechanisms, no face masks and no temperature tests. London Heathrow was not as busy on arrival, I was however asked where I had been in the last 14 days and other customary border questions. I got through immigration and found my way to the London underground. I was going to be staying at Stratford so I hopped on the Piccadilly line and headed out.
Things were pretty normal in London, but over the next few days things went quickly from 0-100 back in the U.S, the Corona virus situation had moved from an Endemic to a Pandemic. Lifestyle and daily activities did not really change in London, it didn’t feel like I was Traveling during Covid 19. There were still tourists everywhere I went to but back in the U.S, D.C had declared a state of emergency, schools had been shut down, I was no longer returning to school for the rest of my time as a graduate student. Also the US was steadily closing its borders and arrivals from all of Europe except the United Kingdom was to be stopped. I stayed for the 1 week I planned to stay but just as I got back the borders were also closed to the UK. In all honesty, I was spending my time in London as I ordinarily would and looking back, my friends were more worried for me than I was. I got a number of panic calls and of course messages.
On my B.A flight back to NY, I witnessed a little unexpected scene, a British guy seated just in front of me was bounced off the flight discreetly for allegedly being in Europe within the last 14 days, the gentleman had denied it saying he hadn’t, showed the crew his itinerary but they had insisted that he had made a declaration on a previous flight that he had been to Europe. On arrival at NY, the lady just in front of me had been to 7 different countries in Europe during the past 14 days, she was an American citizen and don’t get me wrong she had the right to return back up. I was just alarmed at how someone who had expressly declared that they had been to 7 different countries in Europe wasn’t taking off the flight, someone who actually posed a risk to other passengers.
I took the bus back to D.C and was glad to be finally home partially self quarantined and relived the memories of my time in London via photos. I had survived traveling during covid 19.