The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 44

The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 44

Sunday April 26, 2020

We might finally have some good news. I’m mentioned previously that Spain has the strictest lockdown measures of any European country, the major difference with other countries being that we haven’t been able to go out for walks/exercise since the lockdown started on March 14th. Well, yesterday I heard that starting May 2nd adults may be allowed outside for walks. Officially the lockdown ends on May 9th, so that would mean we have a week to ease into post-lockdown…

Below: Some people have been abusing the “pet walking” rule to go for walks

 

 

Anyway, we’re pretty excited about the idea that we’ll be able to go out again. If so I’m shaving the “lockdown beard” on May 1st (Lissette’s hating it big time, especially now that it seems to be a magnet for food particles. Pretty soon I’ll have rodents living in there).

Spain has had 223,759 people infected and 23,190 deaths as of today, but numbers have been going down in both respects. The peak number of deaths was April 2nd with 902 deaths. Yesterday Spain had 288 deaths.

These are all good signs and consistent with what’s going on in most of Europe. Italy, France, Spain and Germany will all be coming out of lockdown in various stages between early and mid-May. This website breaks down all the countries by numbers. The UK, the European country that was slowest in responding to the virus, still has high numbers and there doesn’t seem to be any definitive date as to when the lockdown will be lifted (more here).

How life will be coming out of lockdown is another matter entirely. I’ve joked previously that we might all run outside only to be blinded by the sun and run back inside. After this much time being stuck inside it’ll be an adjustment, as much physically as mentally.

Outside Europe: Of course the country with the highest numbers in the world is the USA where Mr. Wacko is suggesting that inserting disinfectant and UV rays into the body might be a cure. That was the day after he kept contradicting his doctors (see this videoI had to include it because I’ve never seen Morning Joe absolutely lose it). Today Trump announced that he won’t do conferences anymore, that “they’re not worth the time and effort” and that the “lamestream media” doesn’t report his facts accurately.

 

 

In our little corner of the world..

Lissette is coming up with some art projects to keep busy. Somehow I’m always the guinea pig.

 

I’m told I might have to perform in a video sometime soon. And I’m pretty much 99% sure that it won’t be as exciting as that sounds…

So, do people all think we’ll be normal again when this is all over? I joked about the sun and everyone running back to hibernation but the truth is that when we do go out for groceries it’s a stressful affair between the mask (which is hot and makes our glasses fog up) and all the rules you now have to follow. We’re honestly happy when we get back to the apartment. I know that even when lockdown ends we won’t be rushing to a restaurant or even a café. At least for now I think this time in lockdown will change our habits.

Something another blogger mentioned to me which resonated: What’s odd is that I find the less I have to do, the less I CAN do. With all the opportunities — free on-line courses, televised movies and first-class theater productions, free audio books and book downloads… I don’t wanna do anything. I sit down to write a blog entry, type a few lines, stare at them for a while, and go away”.

I come away reading that and feel guilt. Guilt over having all this time in lockdown and not working out every day, guilt about not practicing my Spanish (this apartment is filled with Spanish books and movies), and guilt about not having been more creative with my cooking over the last 5 weeks (I’ve always said that if we move to Spain we’ll take a cooking class. I could at least have looked up some dishes online…). Instead we’ve probably been drinking too much, watching too many movies, and eating too much pasta.

On the other hand I tell myself we’re all a bit stressed worrying about real life. If we die tomorrow I’ll feel better knowing I enjoyed my last days with a glass of rum in one hand and a big bucket of buttered popcorn in the other. 

 

Game of Thrones

We finished Game of Thrones last night. I think overall it’s very good. We had a lot of late nights watching episode after episode. But I have to say that the last episode really, really, really sucked. 8 seasons we watched, only to find out that the boy with the broken legs and the perpetually blank stare on his face becomes king? That was a real letdown.

Lissette has this thing that bothers me when watching a fantasy series: she overanalyses. During Harry Potter she’d complain “if they can do all this powerful magic, why do they have those silly wand battles? It makes no sense”. In GOT it would be “why couldn’t they have been more creative with the White Walkers? They’re just zombies and I hate zombies. Why couldn’t they be more like vampires maybe. I like vampires.” I married a total dork.

Overall though a lot of fun and we already have that depression that comes with having finished a series…

 

 

Misadventures in Far Away Places

Last week I received a Facebook message from a young lady in Brno, Czech Republic: “Hi, are you that Frank who wrote Misadventures in Far Away Places? If so I just wanted to let you know that I loved your book”. It was the nicest, most incredibly unexpected message.

The story is that 15 years ago I wrote a book, sold a few copies online, then totally forgot about it. Somehow she got her hands on it.

The message prompted Lissette to tell me “hey, why don’t you put it back online?”. So I have. If you’re curious about it click here or on the image below.

 

 

 

Travel industry news & blogging

In my last coronavirus diary I mentioned that Lonely Planet will be closing most of it’s operations. It’ll be weird to walk into an airport bookstore and not see shelves full of Lonely Planet guides. It’s the end of an era.

Yesterday I heard that the New York Times was suspending the travel section in its Sunday edition (some have said because travel advertisers are no longer advertising). It will instead introduce a new lifestyle section. The Globe and Mail (who I’ve contributed to) told me that they are also suspending “destination travel” for the time being.

It got me thinking of this travel blog.

I’ve previously mentioned that I wouldn’t write about travel destinations, that it seems “tone deaf” at the moment. Nobody likes to see some idiot blogger posing in his bathing suit somewhere exotic while they’re stuck in lockdown.

But this is a travel blog after all and I can’t just continue writing about what I eat or watch on tv. So I’ve decided that I will write about certain destinations. I’ve got a post coming up for example on Novi Sad (Serbia) as well as a few posts on places we’ve visited in Spain in search of a new base. BUT I’ll do it differently – I won’t be sending out those posts by email. I know a lot of people don’t want to read about destinations right now and I don’t want to clog up people’s emails with unwanted posts. Instead, I’ll be focusing on a lot of travel-related, current event stuff aimed at keeping people up to date with what’s going on in travel and how it’s impacting us a full-time travellers. I’ll keep it light, as I have with these coronavirus diaries and my periodic newsletters. These posts I will be sending out, along with (in the same email), the destination specific posts that I mentioned above. That way they’re there if you should you chose to read them…but they won’t be the primary focus of this blog for the next little while.

 

Survey

Lastly, I’d like to do a survey.

  1. Are you intending to take a vacation in 2020?
  2. If you are taking a vacation, will you travel? (or will you be staying home?)
  3. If you’ll be travelling, will you be travelling domestically or internationally? Will you fly?

Additionally: how do you think the coronavirus will affect your travelling behaviour this year? (ie. what are you doing differently than you normally would). Next year?

Feel free to expand on your answers.

I’d very much appreciate people’s input.

 

past diaries:

Lockdown diary Tuesday March 17 (day 4)

Lockdown diary Tuesday March 24 (day 11)

Lockdown diary Tuesday March 31 (day 18)

Lockdown diary Tuesday April 14 (day 32)

 

Thanks for Reading!

 

 

34 Comments

  1. Hi Frank,
    I can see that you are even more lockdown in Spain then we are here in Croatia. At least we are allowed to go out in nature, at first it was possible to do that only in and around your town but soon government allowed it inside one county. That was my opportunity to explore better my county (Istria), there is some parts of it where I have never been so this isolation wasn’t that bad for us here. I walking a lot these days and explore parts of country so close to me but I didn’t get enough time and will to do that before, you always say “that’s here at home I’ll go there sometimes, later” and then buy ticket for some remote destination. 😀 On the other hand big down side is complete lack of tourist and I’m working in tourist company so the future is unknown but it doesn’t look good for now, hopefully it will get better. And I miss traveling a lot, new places, new people, airports, even jet lag… 😀
    Love you lockdown Diaries 🙂 keep on writing.

    1. Hi Gile,
      Glad you’ve been able to travel at least around your region. We spent 5 weeks in Istria a few years back and enjoyed it. Pretty place.
      I saw the news today that Croatia will be allowing in tourists from other EU countries on June 15th. That’s good news for you isn’t it? I don’t know what percentage of the usual tourists that makes up (I see a lot of UK, US and Korean tourists in Croatia) but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
      But yes, agree with you. I think over the last few weeks we’ve been feeling more and more depressed with the new reality…

  2. I see Lissette has some unexplored talents! I’m so glad that you’ll finally be able to get out for a l-o-n-g walk and sunshine now that Spain is slightly easing up on some of the restrictions. Over the weekend, Portugal also issued its first step in a phased approach to open the country again and we’ve gone from a state of “National Emergency” to a state of “calamity.” (Is it just me or does state of calamity sound more dire?) Anyway, like you and Lissette, I’m in no rush to push the boundaries beyond a visit to a garden center if it’s open since it looks like I’ll be home for a few months.
    In answer your survey:
    1. I’ve cancelled all of my vacation plans for 2020 – Croatia, Egypt, Italy. Insert sad face here.
    2. If I do go anywhere, I’ll take some day trips close to home and do a bit more exploring around Portugal. I’d planned to see fam back in the US during the ’20-’21 holidays (hence I’d have to fly) but that’s too far away to be able to plan or count on the great and mighty orange one to implement any effective response.
    I’m sure you are chafing at the many unanswered questions and uncertainties ahead as you contemplate all the things you need to accomplish to obtain your residency in Spain. (Other than getting sick or having someone you love become ill) the not-knowing and inability to plan is one hard things about this pandemic. Keep well!

  3. Hi Frank. Knock wood, but we are doing quite well now in New Brunswick. No new COVID cases for 10 days in a row. So well, in fact, that they’ve started to loosen some of the restrictions (we’re allowed to visit with one other household only (groups of 5 or less), and some of the trails and golf courses have re-opened — but that’s pretty much it). We have a phased approach to reopening other things, depending on how the next few weeks go.
    However, the borders remain closed. We’ll only be travelling to our neighboring province of Prince Edward Island — and only if they will let us in! Right now (PEI has just rolled our a four-phased renewal approach) they’re not allowing anyone in until they re-assess in July. I don’t blame them!
    I had a work trip planned to the UK in May, and it has been cancelled. My company has cancelled all international travel indefinitely, so I’m quite certain I won’t be flying anywhere this year.
    If I was in your position, I would also be worried about getting back to Spain. It might be best to stay put! Ontario is still in the midst of the pandemic right now (525 new cases yesterday). 🙁
    Stay safe!

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie. That’s very helpful because we’re weighing all our options and have been in contact with a lawyer here. You’re right, we want to stay in Spain if we can. It’s not like we have a home in Canada and the idea of a 2 week self-lockdown in Canada (after 6 weeks now here) is not something we want to experience. We have absolutely no reason to come back to Canada except for our Spanish visa application…and all applications have been put on hold with no estimated date of resumption.

      On top of that, I didn’t realize there were such strict border measures BETWEEN provinces. So we can forget about a Canada cross-country trip this year, even if we chose to come back.

      Thank you very much Stephanie.

  4. Hi Frank.
    This your picture is great, maybe the best one. It can be your avatar for social media and even for your blog. My congratulations to Lissette!
    I still read your blog. And you know what? My blog has almost not lost its traffic during March and April (how about yours?). That means people still want to read about travel destinations.

    Your survey.
    1. Yes, of course, I am always on vacation because it’s my hobby and work.
    2. I will start to travel again. I like to stay at home for awhile, but only after a good trip.
    3. Internationally. And it will be North of Italy or South of France. If planes start to fly, I start to use them immediately.

    I am agree with George, your commenter, the dangerous of this virus is exaggerated. I think somebody uses it for a businness.

    We canceled our trip to Languedok, France, and now, we are self insulated in a small town near Moscow, Russia, and live among a forest. The mode is not too strict here. We walk every day.

    But I am already tired of staying here. I want back to France or Italy, even if I die from a virus there. Joke!

    You both stay healthy!

    1. Thank you Victor.
      Yes, traffic down significantly since the virus hit. Most travel bloggers have experienced the same.

      Unfortunately, I think none of us will have choices. The more I’m reading about rules of countries coming out of lockdown, the more I’m seeing very restrictive rules on mobility. I think nobody is going very far over the next 3 months at least.

      Stay safe Victor!

  5. 1) Vacation? Well, we’re retired and so sort of on permanent vacation, and living in France.
    2) We’ve cancelled travel plans. We may just rent a car and limit our travel to France. Lots to see and do here!
    3) We do have tickets for a return visit to the US. Unlikely we’ll go. I expect we’ll have a 2-week quarantine upon arrival (long, for a one-month stay). Then another when we return to France. And… will France even let us back in, even with our long-stay visa? I expect we’ll just stay here.
    (Besides, things in the US are getting pretty crazy.)

    By the way, Frank, I *like* the Van Gogh look!

    1. Thanks Paul.
      You hit on the things that worries us most about going back to Canada and applying for the Visa: what if we get the Visa but Spain has shut it’s borders to non-EU citizens? At least you have the visa in hand and don’t have to go anywhere. We HAVE to leave Schengen once our 90 days (which was frozen for the lockdown) is up. So we’re really questioning right now where we go after…

  6. Hi,
    Yes, we will take holidays this summer: going to Ottawa, Canada in July and to Belgrade, Serbia in September. Yes, we will fly, but staying at our own place, not a hotel. Our trip to Mexico was cancelled and we got a credit, but need to use it by the end of February, 2021. So, we will go to Mexico too between November, 2020 and February 2021.

    1. Thanks for the comment Vesna. We might be in Ottawa at the same time as you – it’s the city I spent my teenage years. And Mexico and Serbia both some of our favorite destinations. If I can recommend, try to see San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato when visiting Mexico. Actually, there are so many beautiful places there..
      Happy travels!

  7. I’ve been enjoying your lockdown updates. Thanks for sharing your experience in Spain. I hope to travel in 2020/2021. We were supposed to be in London this week (business) and cycling through Sicily next week (vacation). We postponed the Sicily trip rather than cancel it. When it comes down to it, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about stepping on a plane again. Things will be cleaner than ever (I’ve always thought airplane cleanliness had a low bar), so that will give me some confidence, but all those people.

    Traditionally, we’ve always loved staying in our home town of Winnipeg during the summer because the weather is perfect and there is so much to do. However, every festival and event has been cancelled. I suspect I’ll go nuts with gardening on my rooftop patio as an alternative. At least we can be outside in the sun.

    1. You’re very right about planes Deb. And it seems that they won’t be using that middle seat so added comfort. But it’s the people and the added procedures (which are still not clear) that will I think hinder a lot of people from travelling.

      We’re still not 100% sure what we want to do. The idea was to fly back to Montreal, apply for Spanish residency, and then do a cross-Canada trip while the application is processed. But I’m not sure what the situation will be in Canada in July/August. So we’ll be winging it and decide when we’re back.

      Winnipeg a nice place in the summer. I went a few times when I was working, usually in winter but once in summer. I remember it was very lively. Sorry to hear they’ve cancelled all events.

  8. In answer to your survey, No, I don’t see us traveling in 2020. We’ve cancelled everything that was on our calendar. As you well know it’s chaos here in the US. In listening to reputable opinions based in Science, this virus is not going anywhere anytime soon and with so many governors pushing to open their states the virus will regain traction and peak again with a vengeance, probably by late summer.

    As much as we’d like to pick up where we left off in Europe, I don’t see us flying anywhere in 2020.

    We’ve learned a lot about preparedness during these days. We think of ourselves as people who are well-prepared but we now recognize there are items that we should always have on hand (and no I’m not talking about TP). I believe this preparedness will carry over in some degree as to how we travel in 2021, if only to be more vigilant about what we already do.

    It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds but I think travel will change dramatically around the world. It’s possible the EU countries will close their borders as Macron has suggested. It’s possible passengers will be screened for fever before boarding a flight. Passengers may have to wear masks, food service on flights could stop, etc., Cruise ships will have to change how they operate to keep passengers healthy. The travel industry will have to change.

    Here’s the thing though, I’m not certain other countries will open their borders to US citizens. The world has watched as this administration has botched the handling of this pandemic and the world recognizes how far behind in the game the US is. So, it’s quite possible the decision to travel will be taken out of our hands.

    It speaks volumes to the state of affairs in the US when brands such as Lysol have to issue disclaimers not to ingest their products.

    1. Hi Patti.
      A couple of great points. 1) A worry for us is going back to Canada to apply for our non-lucrativo…and then finding out that we can’t come back later in the year. We’ll know more over the next few weeks as they define the rules. But if that’s the case we may put things on hold and go somewhere in Europe outside the Schengen (again, if we can…).
      2) Canada-US extended the border closures last week for a month. At some point it might be a cause for friction because if Trump pushes for borders to be open he’ll get pushback. Canadians very much keeping an eye on what’s going on in the US and the last thing they want are Americans coming over the border. Good point bringing that up. But of course it’s not limited to Canada…

      Last paragraph – Bingo.

      1. I was actually thinking the same thing about your situation, Frank. It may be in your best interest “not” to leave Europe for the next 6 – 12 months. I also think it’s quite possible you will not be able to gain re-entry in to Europe. If you already had your residency, you’d be in much better shape, but alas… And, the powers-to-be may say one thing three weeks from now, and then something completely different three months from now. So, better safe that sorry I think. Stay in Europe.

        1. Thanks Patti. We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks as things open up. Really, we’d like to get our lucrativo done and to be settled somewhere when that 2nd wave comes.

  9. 1 – I have no idea yet if I will be heading out.
    2 – I have a Toyota Truck I camped out of for 3 months last year in the all and planned on 6 months or longer this year. I live on the east coast – upstate NY and was planning on again heading out west and southwest. That is where I’d be going if I go out.
    3- Domestically. no flying. My sister and I had thought of flying to somewhere in Europe to go hiking this fall – but definitely not happening this year.

    Yes, it is already effecting my travel in that my plans are on hold till I see what happens after states start to open up in the next few weeks-month.

    I have no idea about next year. I imagine it will be a few years before I plan to get on a plane to Europe again. If I did I was planning on hiking in Scotland or Crete or Cyprus or Corsica, some Mediterranean island that is not too touristy.

    But I still really like reading articles about travel, as that is how I plan my long term travel dreams and actualities. And it is nice to read about places when I am not going anywhere. So I am glad you will still write your articles about destinations, and what it is like to stay put in Spain, and especially what it is like to do the process of making it a base for you guys. I found the articles on your Croatia process really interesting and valuable to follow along with as it happened.

    Best to you guys,

  10. If you asked me 2 weeks ago, I would say yes we are planning to travel in 2020. Now I am not sure. We will probably do something but more like a roadtrip camping somewhere (we are in the US). We have cancelled all flights until October (which is a trip to visit family) and I am sure we will cancel that one eventually. No internationally travel this year for sure. Although my husband travels for work a lot. They are staying home right now but we will see what the company says in the coming months.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Jessica. Yes, it seems to be the overwhelming sentiment out there. We won’t have a choice, once the lockdown is lifted in Spain we’ll have about a month before we have to leave the Schengen. So we’ll have to get on a plane which we’re not looking forward to. Will be interesting to see what the experience is like though…

  11. at this stage Frank I/we are not travelling this year. We don’t know where this will go and for how long, but right now you can’t actually fly out of Australia as far as I know. So international travel is something that is a no for us, with the possible exception of New Zealand, but unlikely. There is talk that when international travel restarts from Australia, NZ will be the first place open. They have contained it brilliantly, and we’ve done all right too. I wouldn’t be surprised if basically flights beyond NZ do not resume until 2021.
    So I am looking to 2021 for my next trip. I was planning on 3 short trips this year, and continuing that way for a few years. Now I am looking at maybe mid or second half of 2021 having a five to six week trip to make up for this year. Ill take a few short breaks here and there but try to keep as much leave in my back pocket as I can.

  12. HI – I’m going to have to repost some of your post on FB – I will give you credit – I love the bit about accomplishing things during the virus…or not accomplishing anything…and Dr. Trump
    For 2020 I have two trips planned – driving to both – I live in Missouri, USA and will be driving to a lake in Arkansas for an extended week end in August. In Sept I’ll be driving to Pompano Beach, Florida for a week. Normally we would fly but this year we drive because of the virus – this group is in the 60’s and 70’s so flying is not an option until it is recommened by our doctors. I had to reshedule a trip to Greece from June 2020 until June 2121. I am hoping things are back to normal by then. I am also planning to rent an apt outside of Florence Italy for the month of Oct 2021 so I am banking that travel will return in 2021 – if it doesn’t by then all bets are off! Good luck to you and keep on writing we are still reading…..Mary Lou

    1. Thank you for the very kind comment Mary Lou!
      You are busy travellers and those sound like great plans. I would think things would be back to at least semi-normal by summer of 2021. Let’s all hope.
      All the best and thank you for taking the time to comment Mary Lou 🙂

  13. Hi,
    I know and read about the possibility of a 2nd wave you mentioned in your reply. As of this week, Lufthansa through my travel agency allows me to make a re-booking decision until August 31, so by then I should know if the group will leave for Europe in mid October for me to join. I will just cancell all the extensions in Italy I originally planned on and just come back home. Although we are not on a mandatory lockdown, I am on an almost self imposed one, mostly because of all the disinfecting/cleaning I need to do when back, so I choose not to go out, except for some food shopping. Even cancelled Dr. appointment.
    I definitely will continue to read your blog……….always found it interesting.
    Again, both stay healthy!

    1. The doctors all seem to mention a 2nd wave, although I’m trying not to think about it. Let’s get through this one first. But come September we want to be somewhere where we can again hunker down if required.
      I guess they’ll be a rush for certain services when lockdown ends. We have to get new glasses, we need to make dental and doctor appointments. Like you it’s something we’d rather not do but can’t let our teeth rote either…
      Take care of yourself and Moishe Sara!

  14. We cancelled a trip to Australia in February, a class I planned to take at Oxford in July has been cancelled. If we go anywhere, it will be domestic by car only. We are in our 60s and love to travel so this is a major disappointment. But with the virus and the market being down so much, we will stay in the U.S.

    in Oxford in July has BP been cancelled

    1. Sorry to hear Dee. Good luck on making it to Australia one day, it’s a country that’s on our list as well.

  15. Love your blog and will continue to read it on any topic you choose to cover. In 2020 I plan to take a long planned car trip along the Clearwater River in North Central Idaho and into Western Montana. That’s assuming my Airbnb reservation is still good. I will wait to travel internationally until 2021. Share your view of “Dr. Trump.” Feel embarrassed by his behavior, which is not representative of the people I know.

    1. Thank you Pat. I think a lot of people will do exactly as you’re doing. A car trip in that region sounds fantastic.
      We’d like to see a bit of the US and plan to when/if Trump is voted out. If he’s not Lissette thinking of renouncing her US citizenship (she had dual citizenship). She doesn’t want to be part of an America who would vote this guy in after the disaster of the last 3 1/2 years.

      1. Props Lissette…

        But there are MANY better reasons to renounce than just hating Trump.
        And they keep “raising” the costs involved too. It’s on my radar as well.

        Frank… keep your lady painting. She has a real talent there!

        Take care,
        Michael

  16. Hallo
    Yes I will take a vacation and I will only fly.
    To Spain and Poland. Wife also wants to see Rome so I might fly there as well.
    Business will be to London and Slovakia.
    I think fear is overdone. Wife and I are physically very strong. Also I have done work on viruses infection (not a doctor, have run a frontier med anti aging clinic) so I know how to strengthen immune.

    1. Thanks for the comment George.
      We’re I think in pretty good health and getting infected, while scary, is not the primary reason we wouldn’t travel (although I knock on wood as I write that because plenty of younger people have gotten seriously sick and died). It’s the unknowns I’m worried about. For now we still don’t know what rules will be for non-EU citzens wanting to fly into Europe or what health requirements they’ll impose. There’s a lot of uncertainties.
      On the other hand, if you do get to go it might be a great time. You’d for sure have less tourists which is a pretty good reason. We’re actually thinking of visiting Barcelona before having to leave Spain for precisely that reason – when’s the last time Barcelona had so few tourists?
      All the best with your summer plans!

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