Time stopped here

Back in Portugal, we paid and secured another flight to get back home and then we just waited alone for our departure day. Family visits didn’t happen – we could have contracted the virus and be carrying it unknowingly, we had been in so many public places and airports that it was a possibility. Not wanting to be negative and think the worst but knowing that we had family with sensitive health putting them at high risk, we spent the last days there with no visits or contact. This was the worst and saddest part. Leaving with no goodbyes, hugs or kisses. It felt like we were running away …. On the flight back I cried and the rule of no face touching was ignored because how do you cry and not touch your eyes and face and nose?!

It was March and the world had frozen. In Europe spring was arriving, the days were getting longer and warmer, the daffodils were everywhere coloring the pavements and gardens. It was spring the sun was shining bright and the swallows were returning. But the world was frozen in time, the roads were empty the stores were closed and you couldn’t hear or see people on the streets. The children were quiet there was no soccer playing in the parking lots near apartments. It was spring the season of renewal and people were resting and waiting indoors for a virus to disappear.

We stopped at Obidos on our way to the airport. A Moorish castle with a real little village inside its walls. There is a maze of narrow cobbled streets with colorful window boxes and flower pots. But the village is frozen and silent. Some geraniums are starting to flower but there are no tourists, the shops are closed and my footsteps echo in the streets with the colorful houses. It’s so still and then … a little lady looks out her window and her cat joins her. They are as surprised to see me as I am in seeing them, we spoke softly about the empty streets and the lack of tourists. It’s so painfully beautiful; clear blue sky with fluffy clouds floating by. For once you can photograph everything without having to wait for people to move out of your frame, you have the whole castle to yourself but it doesn’t seem the same, I miss the busy touristy place this usually is.

I felt like I was walking in a cemetery alone, the last survivor, wondering who lives here, what is behind that beautiful blue door…

The airports are empty and the planes are parked on the runways waiting to fly. We arrived home on Monday the 23rd and that Thursday our president announced a national lock-down.

Its autumn here by us now and the leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors of browns, reds and yellows and we are home waiting for the end of this virus. Missing out on the colors, the cool breeze and walking and feeling the dried leaves crunching under our shoes.  Our streets are quiet, the malls are closed. We try to be normal and work from home. But waking up and checking the numbers of infected people and deaths that occurred overnight is not normal.

It’s Good Friday today, there would have been a family lunch at one of three places, we would have had a lot of food and even more cake and sweet things, love, laughter and coffee on lazy sunny chairs, instead we all ate alone. None of this normal.

It’s March 2020 and people are not allowed out but autumn does not know this. The seasons are changing, they don’t wait for us. Autumn and spring don’t know that we have to wait for the virus to stop before we can go out and see it all change around us ♥

I miss my family, the ones here and the ones in the northern hemisphere, the feeling is very strong this month.

Ireland is a pop-up picture book

We arrived in Ireland on the 11th of March. It was windy and raining, walking out of the airport in my new K-Way jacket I thought, I got this, it’s not so bad. What are people going on about this place being cold?

It was OK for the rest of that day, we got our car and took a long drive to the Airbnb in Malahide (little city just north of Dublin). We walked into a very warm house and room and it was dinner time. Time to hit a pub!

Just two minutes away from our accommodation, dinner for me was; soup and beer bread and hubby chose a vegetarian curry. We shared both. After a bit of chatting I escaped and walked down the road for my first shopping exhibition.                                I chose Tesco, it was also all we had right there at our doorstep, so I bought some things for breakfast and went back to the pub …. Conversation continued, but being visibly tired we called it a night and went ‘home’ to sleep.

Morning! We were greeted by a beautiful sunshiny day. Breakfast in bed alla me, courtesy of my Tesco shopping and we were finally ready to explore Ireland.

The first stop was the beach, and I just want to laugh at the thought of the wind, it was blowing so strong that holding the cell phone for a pic was a real blast!!!                    Next visit was the Malahide Castle and Gardens, and by now the weather had changed on us like four times. No lies!

We both bought a what I call Irish jackets, something proper for the rain and wind, and that was the last day I wore the K-Way.

From here on I don’t need to mention the cold anymore, protected and dressed for an Irish adventure I adapted by zipping up and putting on the hoodie or removing it just as quickly.

Ireland is beautiful. The road users are well mannered. People are friendly. There are lots of South Africans and Brazilians living there. Vegetarian and vegan options are available almost everywhere you go. People walking everywhere all the time! Anytime of the day, they walk, and you can see they love it. They eat potatoes with everything, which probably explains why they are happy and mostly friendly.

The accent is sexy and even I know how to say yeah, yeah. And that park and garden is actually pronounced with a smile and more open mouth so that the R sound is well … there but not there.

Parks, castles, gardens, green grass everywhere you look, it rains everyday so it’s not a surprise that everything is so green. I loved it all.

The impact of the virus was visible everywhere. Overnight stores had placed hand sanitiser at entrances for customers and there were lines at till queues indicating distancing. It’s as if they were all on the same WhatsApp group, it all changed instantly.

Places were starting to close up, either behind us or ahead of us. Schools closed and a day later all public and touristic places started closing too. It was almost time to go back to Portugal, we left on the 19th of March. I still looked at the e-ticket on my phone that we had booked for Bergamo, Italy and cried a little.

It was time to leave and we were getting nervous about places shutting down around us and our airline cancelling our flight back home. I was sad to be leaving like this, as if we were not saying goodbye properly, we didn’t do and see everything we had planned to. Still I loved my time there.

Ireland was like walking into a pop-up picture history book and that is the best way to describe it. ♥

Corona update on this day – Italy now had 41,035 confirmed cases, Ireland 557. Portugal would be in state of emergency and everything would be closed.