So I Travelled As The World Was Closing

This article was written many months ago. To avoid getting any more abuse at the time, I held on to it until it seemed appropriate to publish it.


As some of you will be aware, my most recent trip came on the weekend that the world basically started closing down due to the Coronavirus outbreak. In fact, I arrived back just a day before the UK government strongly advised against all travel.

As such, I came in for a fair bit of criticism on social media. Although to be fair, I also had an airline employee thank me for my ongoing support during these tougher times. That thanks went a lot further with me than the criticism I received.

When I booked the trip, whilst the Coronavirus situation was around, it wasn’t anywhere near as serious as it is as of today. Therefore, I felt reasonably comfortable booking.

Even by the time it came to taking the trip, whilst the situation had deteriorated somewhat, there were no travel bans in place. As such, I felt reasonably comfortable travelling, provided I took a few more precautions along the way.

I was somewhat expecting Heathrow to be a bit of a ghost town when I arrived. It wasn’t. If anything, it was just as busy as usual, considering it was just before 5am when I arrived.

I was expecting to be the only person in the Lufthansa lounge that morning. Again, that wasn’t the case. It was typical for that time of the morning.

When it came to boarding, again, I was expecting an eerily quiet flight. Once more, my expectations weren’t met. The flight was reasonably busy. Maybe not quite a 100% load, but again, I would say it was a typical load.

Vienna

Upon arrival at Vienna, again, it was business as usual really.

I still had to wait in line at security. There were still people in the lounge. It was much the same when passing through on my return too.

And the onward flight to Athens was still busy. At least behind the curtain. Up front, it was just me. Although that could have been an anomaly.

Athens

Upon arrival into Athens, a couple of messages popped up on my phone from social media saying that the city had shut down. No shops. No restaurants. Nothing.

I figured if I could reach my hotel, then this wouldn’t be an issue. From the airport, I took the metro. Again, this was reasonably busy. Hardly the ghost town I was expecting. Upon arriving into the city, the disaster movie scenes that I was expecting once more were over hype. It was as busy as any other city on a warm Saturday afternoon. People were still walking in front of me when I was taking pictures. A good 90% of the shops were still open. There were a number of tourists around. Again, much like the airports, business as usual.

The only areas that were closed were the government sites. Museums, historical sites and the like. There were also a couple of the more major worldwide chains closed – this was one Hard Rock Cafe that will have to wait! However, this was the minority.

But other than that, everything was most definitely open and not showing any signs of closing any time soon. Even the pushy bus tour sales people were out in force!

Upon reaching my hotel, would I be given any health checks? No. Once more, everything was as per usual. The guy on the front desk mentioned that the shops would be closing at some point, but it certainly wasn’t the abrupt nature that we saw in the UK. More of a gradual wind down it appeared.

I was able to grab dinner that evening and breakfast the following morning with no issues.

The Return

When it came to return, it was on to the airport bus. On this bus were travellers, cabin crew and airport workers. Once more, everything was the same as ever. People at the airport, as ever.

The lounges in Athens, Munich and Vienna were typically busy. As was the airport in Athens. It certainly didn’t strike me as somewhere that was throwing a closing down sale.

Flying when the world was closing

The three flights I took were also typically busy.

Flying when the world was closing
Flying when the world was closing

Do I Regret My Decision?

No. Not in the slightest. Athens is one of the few cities that I haven’t visited before. The weather was great – and at the end of a long British winter, experiencing temperatures in the mid-20’s was more than welcome. My trip was complimented with some great flights too.

Does this make me a little selfish? In the eyes of most, probably. But I’m firmly of the opinion that life goes on. Despite all the calls to “stay home”, that isn’t an option for me anyway. Even when suggesting ways to work from home, my employer wasn’t interested. So put simply, I have to leave home regardless. In the mean time, much the same has been the case with regard to my work situation. My hours have been reduced, but I essentially have to travel there and back every day.

It should be noted that when I did take this trip, in the UK and across most of Europe in fact, there were NO travel restrictions in place. Not to the extent that we have seen more recently. So no rules were being broken in that regard. Yes, the world was closing. But it hadn’t closed completely at that point.

Not to be arrogant enough to say that it could never happen to me. But I feel comfortable enough with the precautions I took whilst away. I didn’t get too close to anyone. I made a point of washing my hands a lot more than usual. Almost at every given opportunity in fact, including at least twice on all the flights I took. And where hand sanitiser was offered, I used it. Isn’t this the general advice given to stop the spread of Coronavirus?

Flying when the world was closing

To Read The Full Series From That Trip:

➔ Austrian Airlines A320, Business Class, LHR-VIE
➔ Austrian Airlines A320, Business Class, VIE-ATH
➔ Athens: In Pictures
➔ Intercontinental Athenaeum Athens Hotel
➔ Aegean A320neo, Business Class, ATH-MUC
➔ Lufthansa Cityline CR9, Business Class, MUC-VIE
➔ Austrian Airlines A320, Business Class, VIE-LHR

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