Pubs Are Open in the U.K. as of 4 July 2020

The Corona lockdown started in the U.K. in March, which was one week after Germany started its own.

As of yesterday, 4 July 2020, pubs and hairdressers are open again in the U.K.. Our son, who lives in London, finally went to the hairdresser yesterday. I got to see the before and after shots – I’m glad he had the chance to go. He did not go to the pub, but took this photo while passing by this one, Blanca Road Brew Co.

Understandably, young people, after all that time of isolation, have more of a need to go out and socialize.

We ourselves had our first outing in a beer garden in Germany back in mid-May, but there was plenty of spacing and precaution.

… all’s well that ends well.

Notes from London on an April Day in 2020

This guest post is written by Thomas Shipley, who is riding out the time of COVID-19 in London.

A fog shrouds the world outside my window. There is no one outside and all is quiet except for the chirping of the birds. Inside, I find myself in a haze of unreality. I am not in a Stephen King novel. I am not in a Quentin Tarantino film. I am in the year 2020. Wildfires ravaged the Australian bush, Trump almost started World War III, and now humanity is facing a global pandemic. Worldwide shutdowns of travel and business. London is under lockdown. I am, though, allowed to leave the house to go grocery shopping.

I step outside into the cool British spring. As I breath uneasily under my face mask, the condensation causes my glasses to repeatedly fog up. I am in the heart of London – a city of millions – and it is eerily still except for the occasional passerby. I get to the local supermarket. I see a frail old woman in an aisle that was once was fully stocked with items such as laundry detergent. The store clerk sadly tells her there is none. Panic buying. We are scared, so we forage like squirrels do acorns in order to survive the winter. No toilet paper or hand sanitizer anywhere to be seen. Many basic necessities lacking. Is it selfishness? Perhaps. Yet, it is hard to undo thousands of years of human evolution. The pandemic eats away at the polite façade of our social order. I discover that crises such as this bring out the worst and best in people.

Staying inside for days on end, I lose my sense of place and time. I catch up with old friends that I haven’t spoken to in a long time. We have long conversations and we laugh. We talk about the virus. It infects our conversations. I wonder how long the pandemic’s grip on our daily lives will last. How long it will be until I am again able to hug my family and friends, dance, commute, and travel. I scroll through my social media feeds. Everyone is posting memes to relieve themselves of the anxieties that we feel in these unprecedented times. And yet – they are not so unprecedented. I remind myself that such plagues have regularly upended our sense of normality for thousands of years. The Antonine plague in ancient Rome killed many around the stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius, and yet he persevered. None of this is new. This too, shall pass.

I am grateful that I have the luxury to remain inside and isolate. Grateful, that I live in a developed country with a robust health system. Grateful for each day that I get to experience on this earth. I do not wish for easy times, but that I am strong enough to brave them. This pandemic has exposed our vulnerabilities. We had forgotten how fragile our existence is. We must learn from this and prevent it from happening again.

Sun setting in London on 03 April 2020

Eating and Drinking in Bari, Italy

I had the chance to tick off every item from my personal list of things to eat and drink while in Bari.

Panzerotti are a popular street food, and the light filling of some tomato/light cream mix surprised me. What looks like a calzone is actually a deep-fried turnover.

Panzerotti

Passing through the market area on any day was a colorful feast for the eyes.

artichokes

I also got to try the region’s famous Arancini (stuffed rice balls, coated with bread crumbs, and then deep fried).

arancini

This drink, Negroni, was a recommendation by a contributing editor of The New York Times. Negroni is a concoction of Gin, Vermouth, and Campari. We had it with our lunch, and afterwards I felt as if the sun shone a bit brighter. 🙂

Bari, we had mostly blue skies and sunshine in late November.

Our rickshaw tour guide had recommended this Espressino freddo, which is a combination of espresso, cocoa powder, and milk. This was very nice.

Espressino freddo

Last, but not least, I tried the famous Focaccia Barese, which is like a slice of pizza, but without any cheese. This is a great snack!

Focaccia

Rickshaw Tour in Bari, Italy

On our second day, we got to see more of the city by taking a rickshaw tour. Some of the sights, we had stumbled onto ourselves while walking around, but having a local rickshaw rider explain the significance of each sight, and also share some interesting tidbits, made the tour much more memorable.

We stopped to see the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, Bari Cathedral, the outside of the Swabian Castle, etc.

Basilica of Saint Nicolas

Another interesting point, high-lighted by Teresa, our rickshaw rider, were the black tiles (among the regular light tiles) around the old town. These are actually markers, meant for the pilgrims, and they connect all the holy places around town. This is to make sure that souls do not get lost. You will always find your way to another church, basilica, etc. There are 28 churches in Bari.

Then there is the Pillar of Shame, and Teresa demonstrated how a thief would be tied to the pillar. For three days, he had to sit there without food or water, and being near the market, he got rotten tomatoes thrown at him too.

San Nicola/Saint Nicolas is everywhere. The city is permeated by his presence, ranging from today’s pilgrims to kitsch replica in souvenir shops.

President Putin presented the city of Bari with this San Nicola sculpture in 2003.

The old town of Bari is the most charming place. Be warned though, it is a complete labyrinth.

Old Town of Bari

This is a typical Old Town alley. There is laundry to dry, homemade Oriecchette for sale, a scooter parked for a short stop, and people’s conversations are definitely not private.

We used this Velo Service Bike Rental and Tours website for our booking:

http://www.veloservice.org/en/home-3/

Local Specialty in Bari, Apulia – Orecchiette

I had read about this type of pasta in an article in the New York Times, so it was on my list of foods to try. Orecchiette means little ears. They are made from semolina and water, that’s all. Semolina gives this pasta a different texture, which also helps absorb the sauce much better. This is a very tasty dish.

Orecchiette

As the weather was so pleasant for late November, women would sit outside to make Orecchiette. This was one of the first things I saw on my first morning there.

Making Orecchiette

While getting a closer look at her work, I also discovered a new pasta making gadget – the dust pan.

Making Orecchiette outside in Bari, Italy

Orecchiette need two hours to dry in this special drying table.

It seemed as if every home was engaged in Orecchiette making. Orecchiette come in different sizes, colors, small and large bags, etc.

Homemade Orecchiette

I was tempted to buy a bag to take back to Germany. Years of traveling have taught me otherwise though. It does not taste the same at home. Or you put it in the cupboard with the other items. Believe me, when I tell you I’ve just located the olives I had bought in Thessaloniki last November.

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