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London Notes from mid-March

I’d posted this information in a separate topic that was started in General Europe by BigMikeWestByGodVirginia (almost Heaven) - about a toilet paper confrontation at a Wal-Mart, but thought it appropriate to re-post here. The virus response has changed a lot since we flew to London on March 6, and then returned (with a strange flight and lots of rescheduling machinations) on March 18. We’re now on a self-imposed 14 day quarantine, longer than our trip! Anyway, we’ve returned from that 12-day London trip, our longest trip devoted specifically to that wonderful place. Some observations:

Saw people on the street, and at Heathrow Airport on departure, wearing medical masks, covering their mouth but not their nose. Why a mask, then?

Second full day, Sunday, March 8, was the final day of a special “Troy” exhibition at the British Museum. Fabulous artifacts and displays, almost all from the Museum’s own collection, but it was absolutely packed with people. No distancing, as none was being suggested, and it was tough to get close to many objects, or to read the single, tiny descriptive cards at many displays. Aggravating crowd, of which we were a part!

But on later days at other institutions, the crowd had thinned to almost no one - an exceptional Hockney show at the National Portrait Gallery, an enormous Picasso show at the Royal Academy of Arts, and a Titian show (7 incredible paintings, tiny attendance) at the National Gallery. As our vacation continued, it was just a few people and all the art - wonderful and sad at the same time. And now, museums have closed for the time being.

And John Soane’s museum - no queue to get in, very few people inside, but it was still a confusing maze inside even without being packed with a maximum admittance. The Tube was another matter . . . a virtually confrontational rugby scrum ordeal, especially during rush hour, until the last couple of days. The morning we left London, things were thinning considerably. Rebecca, the marvelous woman who worked breakfast at our B&B, said that day was the first time she’d gotten a seat on the morning Bakerloo Line in months! Again, wonderful and sad at the same time.

Hope to return, under better circumstances. Hope everyone’s well, or getting well. Best wishes to all.

Posted by
1533 posts

Thanks for your report. Glad you made it back safely. I woke up from a dream this morning that I was in England on a bus. We arrived in a small town and I realized I had left my luggage in the previous small town’s bus station. The driver said we couldn’t go back because Trump was coming to play golf. Too much traffic, etc.

The art exhibits you saw sound wonderful, I would have loved to see them.

I would love to go back to London again and 12 days sounds lovely. May we all get to travel again soon!

Posted by
3949 posts

Sorry, but visiting London at this time, travelling on crowded trains and museums etc, potentially catching and spreading the virus maybe wasn’t the most sensible trip. It was obvious before you left home where this was heading.

Posted by
5556 posts

I am very surprised that you went on this trip at this time.

Posted by
2305 posts

It's easy to say, in retrospect, that she shouldn't have made this trip. But on the day she left, I would have done the same thing. Our trip to London scheduled for the end of March didn't get cancelled until the night of Mar 8 and like Cyn, I was planning to self-quarantine for 14 days when we got back. Most of us did not anticipate how quickly Italy, and then the rest of Europe and New York, would get out of control. This is not something any of us have experience in dealing with. Now if/when it happens again, yes, we should be more cautious. When my husband rescheduled his trip to London for Sept, I did not buy a plane ticket for myself. I'm not at all confident that it will be over in Europe in Sept.

Posted by
523 posts

'Should have, would have, could have" - directives and advice was and is changing by the moment. lets not chastise people for decisions they made given the information and advice they were given.
lets just stay home now and do what is being told to us.
If we do have to say something about someone's choice-lets keep to science . If someone posts they are still going to church, for example, its OK to point out that that is a very very unwise thing to do now. ( if there still is traditional church/temple/mosque where you are) In NYC, Catholic churches are closed, as are most other religious places. Live-streaming or TV .
Take care.

Posted by
95 posts

Sorry, but I am with Cyn on this one. I too was in London during part of this time period, after spending a week in Berlin, and I also left on the 18th. Prior to traveling the only serious warnings out there, in Europe anyway, were to avoid travel to Northern Italy. It was not until the last couple of days of my trip when I noticed any changes – and they were minor AT THE TIME. The situation has changed dramatically since then. When I left London the papers were reporting 480 local COVID-19 cases, out of a population of 8.9 million Londoners. Those are pretty good odds in my book.

When I returned to the United States, because I had been to Germany, it was recommended that I self quarantine for 14 days which I am doing. There were no such recommendations for travelers who had returned from the United Kingdom, AT THE TIME.

Posted by
3949 posts

Sorry, people were advised to avoid close contact with people and stay home. By all means enjoy the open spaces and go a walk, but don’t take crowded tubes etc!