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Meet Our Team: What is Life like in Holland, Portugal, Israel and London right now?

August 19, 2020

On a global scale, lockdown is lifting and people are heading back out and adjusting to a new way of life. Here at Stranger Magazine we wanted to give you our own views and experiences and what we are currently up to in our own home countries.

Esmé (Writer) - UK/Holland

Esme at the beach

What is the easing of lockdown like where you live?

I spent the first 3 months of quarantine in the UK but as soon as the travel restrictions were lifted in May I relocated to my family home in The Hague, Holland! Holland dealt with the spread of the virus extremely well, adopting an ‘intelligent lockdown’ approach which resulted in much lower levels of infection than in the UK, and as a result lockdown was more or less lifted here on June 1st, with all shops, bars and restaurants opening. When I first moved back here after living through England’s strict lockdown I felt quite overwhelmed and stayed inside, but after the first month I felt much more comfortable being out and about knowing the Dutch government had imposed sensible and successful rules.

What have you been up to since the easing of lockdown?

I had my first meal out back in June at my favourite restaurant Dekxels, and it felt so surreal to be out again that it was one of the best meals of my life- as much as I’ve enjoyed cooking at home you can’t beat eating out with friends! Since then I have been seeing my friends regularly and making the most of the amazing weather by going to the beach and cycling everywhere. I found that being able to cycle helped so much during lockdown as I was getting in my exercise and fresh air in one, whilst catching up with friends on our bikes.

Delicious food at Dekxels

What's a lesson you've learnt from the first half of this year?

One lesson I have learnt during this period at home is that I love my alone time- living in lockdown has forced me to become comfortable in my own company and appreciate how nice it is to spend some time recharging and reflecting on my day. I found that when I started seeing friends again, I valued coming home and spending time with myself so much more than did 6 months ago! I used to avoid spending too much time alone and always wanted to keep myself busy and seeing people, but lockdown has forced me to slow down my pace of life and I am very grateful for that, it is something I will try to be more mindful of maintaining in the future.

Have you booked anything fun for the future?

I plan on visiting Zeeland, in the south of The Netherlands, for a staycation with my girlfriends this month. A popular holiday spot, Zeeland is famous for its white beaches and tranquil atmosphere, so we will be holed up there with our phones turned off to escape for a few days! I also have a trip to Lisbon on the cards for some time this year hopefully; my trip was cancelled in March so I opted for vouchers on my tickets for as soon as Portugal is open again… maybe a little city break in October to catch some final rays for the year!

 

Mariana (Writer) – Between Lison and London

What is the easing of lockdown like where you live? 

Everything is open currently except for clubs, that will soon turn into regular, sitting-only bars, which feels good. We have regained some of the normality back. In Lisbon it's a bit more restrictive than in the rest of the country, because of the concentration of cases in some areas, you can only meet with a certain amount of people and everything closes at 11pm. Nevertheless, it's nice to feel people are enjoying the small things in life and taking less for granted

What have you been up to since the easing of lockdown?

First thing out of lockdown was seeing my best friends, since I don't go home to Lisbon that often, that was my priority. Second was definitely going to a restaurant, not so much for the food but for the experience. Recently, I've been trying to gather courage to go to the cinema.

Mariana at Bairro do Avillez

Have you booked anything fun for the future?

Only my return to London, can’t wait!

What's a lesson you've learnt from the first half of this year?

Definitely: don't take anything for granted and long term plans should always have insurance.

Also, Lockdown has made me appreciate cinema and literature more, I've outdone myself, I've read 9 books in 6 weeks and almost managed to get my perfect score of a film a day.

How do you feel about travelling now?

I am not planning anything in the near future, I'm afraid the UK will pull out on the air bridges at any time, like they did with Spain. Two weeks in advance already seems too long to plan things for.

Tal (Founder) - London/Tel Aviv, Israel

What is the easing of lockdown like where you live?

B.C (Before Corona - credit to Mariana) I was based in London however I decided to go back home in Tel Aviv to see my friends and family. Usually, I see them every 1-2 months but because of lockdown I hadn't seen them for six whole months which is the longest it has ever been. I booked my flight on the 5th of July (with Wizzair- the only airline who flies to Israel at the moment and it only cost me £30 so I took the risk). They changed my flight a couple of times but I finally took it on a very early Friday morning in the end. 2 weeks prior to my flights, they announced in London they everything will be open in 2 weeks. Great timing to fly back. 

In Israel, I had to quarantine for 2 weeks before seeing my friends and family. The day I landed they opened up things in London, and the day before I finished my quarantine (a story for a different time) they announced that Israel is going back into lockdown. GREAT TIMING TAL. 

Luckily, the following day, the Israeli government changed their minds and everything stayed open, and I got to finally enjoy a cup of coffee that wasn't in a take away cup. Since then, things are pretty much good here, we need to wear a mask all the time, but otherwise all good. 

Tal's showing off her beautiful home town of Tel Aviv

What have you been up to since the easing of lockdown?

Since being back home, I must say that even though things are open, It doesn’t feel 100% as it used to be. I go out for dinners, go to the beach and see my friends, but something is different. 

They talked about a bridge between Greece and Israel, and I had my hoped to go there for a nice summer holiday, but the numbers are still growing in cases here and it doesn’t seem plausible right now.

As Israel is such a small country and it’s not popular to travel domestically, I'm using my precious time to work hard (and get a tan). 

I must say that eating out was the thing that I missed the most. In the last few months I've been cooking every day and I'm very happy to take a break from it

Easy to delay a 2020 summer holiday when you have a beach on your door step!

I'm Feeling - optimistic for better days. The nature of my job is thinking about travel all the time, and I really really miss it. I am a positive person by nature so I'm doing the best I can to enjoy the present. I have so many ideas for future trips and I cant wait to start travelling again! 

 

Nicole (Writer) – Surrey/London

What is the easing of lockdown like where you live? 

The UK has opened up quite significantly in the last few weeks. Restaurants, bars, shops, hairdressers and now bowling alleys and spas are all open. You’re also allowed to hop on a plane to some countries and return without quarantining – something they called ‘air-bridges’. It’s still a risk to take though as Spain and France were a couple of these countries and in the last couple of days that has changed and anyone on holiday there now has to quarantine for two weeks when they’re back!

What have you been up to since the easing of lockdown?

At first, I vowed not to go anywhere public even though I was 'allowed to' as I was super anxious. I’m still a little apprehensive now but I do feel a little calmer about things as long as I keep social distanced, my mask on and my sanitiser at hand (Yes, I've been called the corona-police).

So, I've been camping with a few of my friends. We all stayed in our own tents and kept things to the rules and it felt as normal as it could! I had no idea how much seeing my friends could do for my mental being as after seeing them for the weekend I felt completely recharged. Also, for the month of August the UK government has introduced 50% off discount at participating restaurants so I couldn’t resist heading out and grabbing a burger and a milkshake with them.

Food tastes better when it's 50% off and supporting the hospitality industry

Have you booked anything fun for the future? 

I have booked a drive in cinema to go see Grease with my boyfriend! You can pre-order food and drink and it is brought straight to your car. I'm super excited about it and hopefully I won't be 'Stranded at the drive in' (badum-tss)

What's a lesson you've learnt from the first half of this year?

I have really appreciated the time to slow down and reflect on everything. I have come out of this first half of this year much more mindful of myself and prioritising things in my life that keep me happy.


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