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Barcelona: What's going on? (Part II)

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Sarah-Bolton-Howard - teal circle

 

Sarah, Global Branding Expert at Partners in Performance, has been keeping a journal since the restrictions began in Barcelona, Spain. Sarah shares Part II of her blog on how she is adapting to the lockdown...


 

We are now entering the second month in total lockdown here in Barcelona. I haven’t been outside our apartment since March 15th and only Chris, my husband, has ventured outside to buy food and medicine locally.

Lockdown is loosening across Europe but not yet here. Children under 12 are allowed outside for the first time on April 26th, but for now we still can’t go out to exercise. We have had drones and police helicopters circling above the city, assessing whether families break the rules in this first step to easing things here. It makes me wonder after this experience what will I be like when it all ends? I feel I might be like a prisoner with ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, who becomes attached to their guards after captivity. Our apartment has become a haven of security and sanity, but I am not sure I will be ready to jump back out into the world without some concern. Particularly living in a bustling city and in a social culture that lives outside.

 

What have I been doing to keep my spirits high?

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The past few weeks have gone better than I thought, and we have adopted a routine to our lives which is working. Daily exercise first thing in the morning for 45 minutes in the apartment, yoga on the roof, healthy food and lots of fresh orange juice. In fact, I‘ve been delving into my personal recipes as I love cooking local cuisines. Catalonia is ‘foodie heaven’, with lots of fresh fish, vegetables and fruit; it’s great that these are still available to buy every day. One of my simple favourites is ‘Catalan Baked Cauliflower’ which is eaten by locals mopped up with crusty bread, so I’ve cooked this a couple of times in the past few weeks.

We have purposefully kept weekends different.  A catch up with different friends over Zoom on Friday and Saturday evenings over a glass of wine, then a family quiz, juggling three time zones, every Sunday.  I also have a Friday ‘Happy Hour’ with my INSEAD colleagues each week. There are six of us in my cohort and we are all in different places: Johannesburg, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Geneva and London, so we share what is going on in each of our lives during this pandemic. As my Masters nears completion, at least the extra time I have on my hands allows me to focus on my Thesis.  I’ve also got into Business Webinars; something new for but am now joining two or three each week. Last Thursday I participated in my first virtual ‘Innovation Hack’.

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It’s interesting to see how people here are adapting to the lockdown. Our neighbours live in a two-bedroom apartment, with two teenage children and a dog; not an easy existence in any circumstance. But each day at 3pm the outside table is laid for lunch on the terrace and the whole family have their main meal of the day together in the sun. At 7pm their back on the terrace and exercise together to music. Routine seems to work well for them too.

Chris and I lived in Italy for several years a while back and we still have a real passion for the country. While there I learned a delicious pasta dish from some Italian friends in Puglia, which is great with a glass of Primitivo. It has become a regular dish for us under lockdown and easy to make.

If anyone is looking for quick and easy meals, here are my recipes:

 

What's going on all across Europe?

Italy has suffered badly in the pandemic, like Spain, and there are many similarities as to how both countries live. Each are closely-knit, often with whole families living together, including grandparents. This social cohesion has had a major impact in both countries as COVID-19 has spread easily and rapidly.

There are signs of improvement starting to happen across Europe and it’s good to think positively as we slowly begin to come out of lockdown. Offices are re-opening in Poland, schools in Denmark as are many businesses in Austria. It may be a long time though before Spain re-opens the bars, cafes and restaurants which are such a part of everyday life here, but I remain optimistic.

 

What's next?

We have managed well in lockdown, despite the restrictions. It has been a time to learn new things, re-connect with old friends and enjoy some time reflecting on how we will approach the new world and seek out opportunities which will await us when the pandemic recedes.

 


Click here to read Sarah's previous blog on our website. 

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