Updated: Jan 19, 2021
We always plan something special on our birthdays. In 2020, We had planned to celebrate my Birthday in the beauty of Amalfi coast in Italy. When we booked the flights, the word “COVID-19” didn't exist in the World dictionary.
We started looking for hotels in Naples, Italy and Positano, Amalfi Coast. Still, there was no sign of Coronavirus in Italy at that time.
We had booked a hotel for 3 nights in Naples and 3 nights in Positano, Amalfi Coast. The initial plan was that we will spend one day in Naples, one day exploring Pompeii and Mount of Vesuvius and 4 days exploring the beaches and towns on the Amalfi coast.
As February started, everyday we were hearing the news of the spreading of Coronavirus in Northern Italy. We were quite relaxed about our plan and expected that everything will be fine in the next few days.
As our trip was approaching, we were hearing the news of casualties in Northern Italy. We had a close look on the news of Coronavirus and read about the situation in Southern Italy.
We also checked with some locals in Southern Italy, local authorities in Naples, Italy and our Airline and were told that the situation is totally fine in Naples and surroundings. So, the day came- On March 8th, we took a flight to Naples and reached there in the evening. The flight was almost 90% occupied.
We didn’t feel anything unusual on the flight except a few people wearing masks. The people also looked calm and relaxed. During the flight, the Airline had provided the form to be filled regarding personal information and emergency contact details.
When we landed in Naples, there was a guy standing before the luggage collection with a temperature detector and monitoring the temperature of the passengers and then two of the staff members were distributing the precautionary brochures.
We reached the city and everything seemed normal. There’s a huge hustle and bustle on streets and cafes and restaurants were opened. It was already 9 PM when we reached our hotel. So, we decided to take a rest and explore the city in the morning.
On March 9th, we started exploring Naples. Everything seemed normal to us. There were a lot of people on the streets and we also found the people standing on the small stalls along the road side and engaged in their conversation (typical Italian style).
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We went to Mcdonalds for lunch. It was quite empty and there was a staff member standing on the counter and instructing the customers to maintain the distance of 2 meters in the queue. Apart from this, everything was normal.
There were also tourists on the street with bag backs. All the shopping outlets were opened in Via Toledo. The restaurants and cafes were also open but they weren’t crowded. It seemed like people were busy in their day to day activities.
Italy had officially closed all the museums from March 8, 2020 so we weren’t allowed to visit the famous castles of Naples Castel dell'Ovo and Castel Nuovo.
We had explored almost all the main landmarks of Naples. There were people on the streets and everywhere but the landmarks like Piazza del Plebiscito and main squares weren’t crowded at all. We found only 15%-20% of people with face masks.
There was frequent patrolling by the police and ambulance. Near the coast, there were also few officers who were standing and observing the situation.
During our exploration of Naples, we were taking precaution by following a distance of 2 meters, avoiding physical interaction with people, avoiding going to crowded places, washing hands, using sanitizers and cleansing wipe frequently.
We had just used public transport once and maintained the distance with others.
We came back to our hotel and started planning for the next day as Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius had been closed down.
Around 10 PM, we just saw the news that they had locked down the whole Italy to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. We started getting messages from friends and family to know if we are fine in Naples.
At that time, we were shocked to find out the situation. We were supposed to come back on Saturday, March 14. So, we checked our flight and it was showing as a confirmed flight. We tried to get in touch with the Airline but we didn’t get any response from them.
Actually, Southern Italy wasn’t infected with the outbreak of Coronavirus till 9th March and the Government had planned to lock down Northern Italy and people got panicked and they started traveling to Southern Italy. That was the reason why they had locked down the whole country. We totally understand the situation and respect the decision of the Government of Italy.
At that time, we were a bit unsure whether to book the flight or stay with our initial plan. We were also scared about the uncertain circumstance and how the situation is changing everyday.
The thought of being stranded in Naples when you don’t have any home, friends and family and unfamiliarity with the language and health facilities made us start looking for the early flights to Germany and luckily we found a flight on March 10 back to Germany.
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The prices of the flights were quite high and increasing every second. We booked the flight immediately but we weren't sure if the airport is still operating or whether we will be able to take the flight from Naples or not.
On March 10, we had the flight in the evening so we were in the city in the morning and again there were a lot of people on the streets. There was a normal hustle bustle but of course less people than the day before.
The shops and cafes were still open but not crowded at all. There were a lot of patrols from the police and also the army had been placed in famous squares and Piazza del Plebiscito. Looking at the calm situation and people on streets, we really thought whether we made the right decision to go back or not.
Meanwhile, we were also trying to cancel our hotel bookings for Amalfi Coast. The hotel was being booked with booking.com. Initially, the hotel didn’t agree to refund the payment but later on they understood the situation and promised to refund the payment in the next 15 days.
The public transport was also working in the city. We reached the Airport way ahead from the flight timings. The Naples Airport was quite empty, it took us hardly 5 minutes on baggage drop and security clearance.
There were frequent flights from Naples within Italy and other European countries. There was only one cancelled flight to Vienna, Austria. I was even shocked to see that there were still frequent flights to and from Milan until March 10.
We had a long wait at the airport and our flight also got late for like 1.5 hours. Even the shops and cafes at Naples airport started closing except one cafe from where people were buying snacks.
The flight was also 80% full and again we filled the personal info and emergency contact form. We finally landed in Germany around 11.30 PM and the airport was totally closed nothing was open.
We were even shocked to see that nobody was there to monitor the temperature of the passengers in Germany. That's quite a negligence in our opinion.
We were a bit sad as we had to come earlier but that was the best decision we had made. At that time, we were also doubting our decision as everything was quite operating in Naples. Later on, we came to know that we took the last flight from Naples to Germany.
The very next day, we got an email from our Airline that our flight on March 14th has been cancelled. We had made the best decision coming back home otherwise, we would have been stranded in Naples, Italy.
It has been more than a week since we came back. We had quarantine ourselves for 14 days. Thank God, our health is totally fine. But the situation in Germany is also not so good. The number of infected people are increasing day by day.
We hope, Everything will be fine soon. In Sha Allah!!