Living and Traveling in a World with a Pandemic Coronavirus.

Today is Saturday the 14th of March.

On the 10th of March we left this beautiful home in Sevilla to move to Madrid which is the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak in Spain.
Jim calling for an Uber to get us and our luggage to Santa Justa train station.
We were in the Preferente class coach on the train with only a few other travelers for the 2.5 hour trip.
Goodby Sevilla, we have fallen in love with you and will return again some day.
Massive atrium of the Madrid Puerta de Atocha train station.
Sandy waiting with our luggage while Jim walked a few blocks to get the keys to our new Madrid home.
Puerta de Atocha, the very large Madrid train station.

Initially Madrid seemed to be business as usual.  After checking into our penthouse three bedroom, three balcony Airbnb we did our usual grocery store restocking of a new home and had dinner very nearby.

We are in the tip top of this turret, see the round bed below.
Our entrance door between two restaurants.

IMG_3282IMG_3281IMG_3280IMG_3279The morning of the 11th we did our usual exploratory run.

This is the Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid), not very crowded but there were a few tour groups.


We also went into the Catedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena (Cathedral of the Almudena).


The sunlight coming through the stained glass created magical images on the cathedral walls.
We continued our run, heading downhill to the Manzanares river.
The river is not much to look at but the esplanade is beautiful and makes for good running.
Looking back at the cathedral and palace.


Entry to the Casa de Campo which is an expansive park & former royal hunting ground, with small hills, streams & a boating lake.
Dueling cameras again, Sandy taking a picture of Jim
and the reverse.
We walked back up the long hill towards home.
The underside of the bridge pictured above.


Beautiful little jewelry store, CODO, selling handmade locally designed adornments.  We dropped a couple of hundred € for ourselves and family gifts.
Approaching home, the pink turret in the middle.

We encountered a number of tour groups on this outing and everything seemed to be open.  The morning of the 12th we spent ingesting the news about the US closing its borders to Europe for 30 days and FaceTiming with our friends Brian Gerhardson and John Shade who are in Barcelona for the marathon which was cancelled after they had already arrived in Europe.  They are scrambling to find a flight home.

Heading out Thursday afternoon for the Prado.  This very old, very famous Chocolateria is about four doors down from our apartment.
Puerta del Sol.
All distances in Spain are measured from Sandy’s shoes.
Bank of Spain.
Convention center on left and Post Office on the right.
This was meant to be the first of many planned visits to Museo Nacional Del Prado.  Our plan was to become a member of the museum so that we could take it in slowly rather than spending a whole day there as our attention span is only about an hour in a museum.  On getting to the museum we found this sign and learned that all museums, cultural centers and theaters were closed for at least the next two weeks.
TV crews in front of the museum.
We waited for 50 minutes in this line with mostly American exchange students (without open schools to attend now) for authentic Mexican tacos al pastor.  1€ tacos and 10€ pitcher of margaritas.  Fun experience but not really worth the wait.
Friday the 13th we take a run to Parque de El Retiro.
Puerta de Alcalá at the northwest entrance toParque del Buen Retiro.
Estanque Grande del Retiro.


We are seeing a lot of these signs.
A place for us to come back and row if they ever reopen.


Sandy’s COVID19 protection while she runs, thank you to the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) for the jacket.
Side/back view of the Prado Museum.

Friday afternoon we take a taxi to Puerta de Atocha to catch the train to Barcelona.  The taxi driver was bemoaning the state of the economy and discussing the politics of Spain and the US in very fractured English/Spanish.  Jim was able to interpret most of what he was saying and reply.

The train station was quite empty for a Friday afternoon.
A little bit of a line for Barcelona, 30% of the people were wearing masks.

We disinfect our seats and tables before taking ownership of our seats and also cleaning our hands.  There were only three other people in our coach and the staff who served us lunch were all wearing gloves.  The train was nonstop at 300km/hr turning a 6 hour driving trip into only 2.5 pleasant hours on the train.

Brian and John were at the train station in Barcelona to meet us.
They had already checked out this hotel rooftop bar to have drinks and an early dinner.  Nice view of the Sagrada Familia.
Last European hookup with these two was in Prague, May 2018.
The Crown Plaza lobby, completely empty, not even any staff.
Rumor has it that most hotels and restaurants will be closing tomorrow, Saturday March 14.

We took the local train to Sitges at 8:30pm.  Dick picked us up and brought us to their beautiful home.  More on that in another blog.

So where do we go from here?  The really wonderful thing about what we are doing right now is that wherever we are today is home and we can live here indefinitely.  We plan on returning to Madrid on Monday.  If the trains are closed down we will consider renting a car and driving the six hours back.  If we can’t do that we are with friends in a huge comfortable home two blocks from the Mediterranean.  When we return to Madrid we expect to find everything closed with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies.

This is the grocery store in Sitges today.  Employees covered and limiting the number of customers in the store at one time, but the shelves are still well stocked.
Better than this, sent by a friend in Boston yesterday.  Ironic poster above the empty shelves.

We are presently booked to fly home to Boston on April 15.  If things are still out of control in the US and we face a potential or known two week quarantine we will probably remain in Spain until things have settled down as we really have no place to quarantine ourselves without putting others at risk.  Madrid is such a large, beautiful, historic city we feel that we could easily pass a few months exploring there even if things do not open up for a few weeks.  We can also spend some time catching up on blogs, reading downloaded books, watching movies and doing crosswords.  We feel so fortunate to be in a situation where we do have options, although limited, and we have no pressing engagements anywhere in the world at this time.  Our next plans were running a 5K before the Boston Marathon and volunteering for the marathon.  One week later we had planned on attending the London Marathon in support of our friend Kelly Leonard but London has also been postponed.  For now we are just living one day at a time and devouring the news from around the world for about one hour every morning.  Please know that you, our family, friends and supporters; from around the world are in our thoughts on a daily basis.  We are especially mindful of all of our friends in healthcare.  We cannot imagine how bad your working conditions may be now or will potentially get.  We would love to hear everyones comments either on this blog or by email as to how each of you are coping with all of the disruptions brought on by this pandemic.

4 responses to “Living and Traveling in a World with a Pandemic Coronavirus.”

  1. […] left Madrid March 21 2020 as the pandemia was overtaking the world and especially Spain and Italy. We returned […]

  2. […] One month ago today we took a train from Madrid to Barcelona to spend Sandy’s birthday weekend in Sitges with our stalkers Andrew and Dick.  We have already written about the first part of the weekend in “Living and Traveling in a World with a Pandemic Coronavirus”. […]

  3. Kathleen von Pohle Avatar
    Kathleen von Pohle

    Sandy, a belated Happy Birthday. So special that you are celebrating life seeing and feeling the world with Jim. What love and adventures. Wonderful to hear from you both and travel vicariously through blogs and pictures of stunning or quaint architecture. The gardened train stations are so beautiful. So strange to see places usually massed with people quiet and still.
    Have not seen or studied history regarding Spain. Only visited Barcelona for a couple days decades ago. Buildings are massive. Nice to have electronics to learn history with museums closing.
    I wonder about Covid 19. It is disturbing all the negative hype. How people are uneducated on covering mouths, washig hands and spaces. Amazing how so many are panicking. So grateful not to be working in the hospital at this time. Watched a CDC talk on how ramped this virus is spreading.
    Life for me is repetitive/routine/ quite stayed here in my home. Time flies. Walk. Read. Organize moms life and keep on on top of mine. Larry still is working. Oregon and Washington schools are closed. I am trying to simplfy decades of inherited things. Mom is getting more feeble. She turns 94 in April, has deep but controlled pain, simple life, has myelodysplastic syndrome- so receives transfusions every 2 weeks since August. We are talking about Hospice in the near future?!? Winter layed a beautiful white blanket after Spring tried to sprung. Try to walk daily. Usually get in 8-10K steps.
    I do a major walk/hike on Wednesdays. Several weeks ago did 8.5 miles with 2600+ feet elevation. I was one tired lady. Spectacular views of Cascade Mtn range… 14 snowed peaks.
    Be safe. Continue to enjoy your gifted retirement. I do so enjoy your travels.
    Love and hugs Kathleen

  4. Guys we love you so much. Be safe!!!!

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