Part 1. When the World Closes Its Borders...

In September 2019, I was hit by a travel fly (surprise surprise) and, this time I wanted to go hiking in a new country. I read blogs and googled various hiking destinations when Nepal caught my eye. That's where we are going to go in March or April!

My partner and I usually combine different destinations during one trip, we decided to fly to Nepal via India to see the Taj Mahal during sunrise. Unfortunately, we never got to Nepal because the coronavirus revolutionized the world and in fact, we were really close to getting stuck in India. This post tells how we managed the corona storm when the whole world began to close its borders.

Pandemic was approaching..

It was March 10th, when our flight departed from Helsinki via Copenhagen to New Delhi. We had been following the progress of the corona around the world before we left, but there were only a few cases in India and Nepal at the time, so we felt safe to leave. At Copenhagen Airport, our visas were checked and it was made sure that we were not Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Japanese or, German citizens. That was because of a few hours earlier, India had denied access to any national of those countries in order to control the corona. Because we had Finnish and Mexican passports, we were able to continue our journey without any problems.

We arrived in India the next day and continued our journey from New Delhi airport towards the beaches of Goa. There were many extra checkpoints at the airport that checked both the passport and tickets and a health check where we were checked for fever and asked to sign a form that we are healthy. Fortunately, we had made sure to have enough time during the layover and made it to our connecting flight despite all the security measures. At Goa we enjoyed ourselves the first few days exploring beaches and eating delicious Indian food.

Thursday the 12th of March -When the world stopped

Thursday the 12th of March was the day when the whole itinerary went sideways because WHO declared the coronavirus as a pandemic. The first setback for us was that India was closing its borders the upcoming night. We were supposed to enjoy Goa, fly to Nepal and return to India, but we found this impossible.

Therefore, we spent almost the whole day rescheduling our trips and flights so that we could see everything in India first and then fly to Nepal. We managed to arrange everything surprisingly easily until the next day Nepal announced that it would deny all tourist visas issued at the airport. We could no longer continue our trip to Nepal.

Thursday the 12th of March was the day when the whole itinerary went sideways because WHO declared the coronavirus as a pandemic.

Once again, we set out to think about what we should do next. We decided to continue our trip to New Delhi, visit its attractions and then in the evening, drive to Agra where the Taj Mahal is located. Monday the 16th we left the Goan palm trees behind us and landed in New Delhi, where we were met by a driver as well as a guide. The guide showed us around New Delhi, after which we drove three hours to the city of Agra. We were so excited to see the Taj Mahal at dawn!

Kaikesta huolimatta oli upeaa tutustua paikalliseen elämään!
Despite the crazy journey, we were still able to see different sides of India!

That evening at 10 pm, our tour operator sent us a message that the Government of India has closed all tourist attractions. However, we decided to wake up in the morning just to make sure the news was real so our clock woke us up on Tuesday morning at 5am.

When we got to the gates, we found out that this was indeed the case and our disappointment was enormous. We ended up staring at Taj Mahal from the hostel’s rooftop terrace with other sad tourists. The guide told us that this is the third time in the history of the Taj Mahal that the gates have been closed and the last two times have been associated with war. Since all the sights were closed, we drove back to New Delhi the same evening and decided to return to Finland as soon as possible.

Taj Mahal, India.
So close but so far.

How did we manage to fly back to Finland? What struggless we still needed face? Read more from the next part here.