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

Ice Cream Parlor Corona in Oberursel

You know you have been living in one place for a long time, when you no longer think about place names and their meanings.

But yes, our ice cream parlor on Hohemarkstraße in Oberursel, is really named Corona (which is Italian for crown), and is run by the Franceschet family.

While I’m at it – if you live in the area, the Eiscafé does offer delivery within Oberursel during these restricted times. Minimum purchase is € 15, and deliveries are made between 12:00 – 19:00. Handling etiquette requires you to leave the money in front of the door for social distancing.

Order yourself some delicious ice cream such as the famous Spaghetti Eis. Guten Appetit!

Contact information for Eiscafé Corona on Hohemarkstraße in Oberursel:

  • WhatsApp: 01771690560
  • Tel: 06171 – 21430 (landline)

Best Wellness Hotel in Germany is Kisssalis-Therme

Based on a ranking by the online travel portal, Travelbook readers have chosen the wellness hotel Kisssalis in Bad Kissingen to be the best one in Germany.

Bad Kissingen, a spa town located in Franconia (northern Bavaria), can be reached from Frankfurt by car in 1 hr 40 Min (150km).

To find out more about the hotel, visit Kisssalis.

Happy New Year 2020

My new year started off by receiving this traditional Korean ‘Luck Pocket’ called Bokjumeoni (복주머니). There is no better way than starting it off with something so bright and promising.

Lucky Bag Korean style (복주머니)

Happy New Year to everyone out there!

Hard work puts you there where good luck can find you.

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

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