Categories: Travel Stories

A day in the life of quarantine

by Jessie Beyer - Thursday, April 2, 2020

Updates From Staff Around The World

With much of the world on lockdown we have been checking in with our staff and tour leaders to see how they are spending their days. Here’s a little trip around the world to check in with them and get a glimpse of their days.


Luis Pegado, Tour Leader

Where do you live?

In a peaceful and safe country side in Alentejo, Portugal. I live in a small farm with nobody around, a little piece of heaven that is paradise nowadays.

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?

We, like most of the sensible world affected by this pandemic, are confined to our homes and asked not to go out unless we have good reason – which I happily do. The entire country seems to be following the rules quite rigorously and as a reward we have one of the lowest case numbers in Europe. It pays off to be on the outskirts of Europe in a pandemic situation.

What did you do today?

Music is important to me so I find time every day to practice either the ukulele, guitar, piano or harmonica. I also do some work in the vegetable garden every day, walk the dogs, go for a walk after lunch, take a long siesta, go for a run and have begun to do some yoga or the likes of it I could find online.

How are you staying in touch with friends and family?

I make it a point to call three friends every day. People need to talk. Today I called a friend that is divorced and he has not been able to see his daughter for 3 weeks now. I hope I brought some joy to his day.

What foods/drinks have you really been enjoying lately?

Too many Sunday meals – it is Sunday every day and desserts are really the worst. Today we went out for our walk and the topic of conversation was what sweets we want for Easter….. I hope the virus goes away fast because at this point desserts are going to kill me faster.

Where is the first place you hope to visit once travel restrictions are lifted?

Honestly the first travel I want to do is to the first Portugal tour I’m supposed to lead for ExperiencePlus! This will be a long “winter” and work is paramount. So when it’s safe, please travel to Portugal, this precious gem hidden in the southwesternmost corner of old Europe.

What have you found to be most grateful for during this time?

Having my family close.

If you had one piece of advice for people right now what would it be?
Take this very seriously. Even if you feel you are strong enough to fight it and win you may contaminate someone who is not.


Julie Horton, Chief Purveyor of Cycling Vacations

Location: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
Colorado is under a stay at home order. What does it mean? Theoretically all but essential businesses are closed.  That we only go out to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or other “valid” reasons, which at this point does include exercise. What does it looks like in reality? Every day I am surprised by what is considered an essential business – construction, anything auto related, home improvement stores, liquor stores, all kinds of places offer “curbside” pick-ups- restaurants, quilt stores, tea shops. The only true closures it seems are theaters and other large gathering venues including schools. A large number of people are working from home, a large number have been laid off so there have been dramatic impacts. However it’s shocking to me how many people are still out and about. Our governor tried to convey a sense of danger about a week ago – his message, “This pandemic is not a vacation.”

What are you doing today?
It’s Wednesday so I got up and came to work. Everyone else at the ExperiencePlus! office in Fort Collins is working from home so I’m allowed to go to the office.

After work I’ll go to the bike shop because my brand new drive train is making a terrible noise…sigh. The visit to the shop will be very different than just 2 weeks ago. The door will be locked so I will knock put my bike in a rack and step six feet away from it. The mechanic will come out wearing gloves and we’ll talk to each other from across the sidewalk.  In fact, this local bike shop was featured recently in Bicycling Magazine – check them out!

Anyway, then I’ll head home to finish a cold frame I’m building for lettuce seedlings in my raised garden bed. Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow – why, oh why? Spring you temptress.

Are you able to get exercise in, if so what are you doing?
There are basically no outdoor restrictions so I am hiking and riding my bike as much as possible. Because the trails and natural areas are so crowded I’ve begun avoiding them. It’s been interesting revisiting some old routes around town. I’ve always loved exploring and heading up/down a road just to see where it goes and have been amply rewarded for my efforts this spring. I’ve also taken to playing – doing sprints through the park, high knees on benches, crossing logs, pull-ups on whatever I can, a series of push-ups when I go by the “thing” of the day. So every time I see a park bench 10 push-ups, or a stroller or whatever I pick for the day. I chose robins one day –  big mistake – who knew there would be so dang many robins?

How are you staying in touch with friends and family?
The usual – phone, text, zoom. I had been riding with a few people keeping distance. Or meeting someone at a natural area and hiking together but a minimum of 6 feet apart. However given the situation it’s time to go solo.

What foods/drinks have you really been enjoying lately?

My last restaurant meal was on March 11. I had spinach, mushroom pizza with truffle olive oil, a salad elevated by gigante beans, I’m so smitten with  them – so creamy and buttery. Oh and two exceptionally cold beers.

Where is the first place you hope to visit once travel restrictions are lifted?
Anywhere.

What have you found to be most grateful for during this time?
It’s spring, and I have a wonderful family, home and garden. I’m not a fan of winter, particularly the lack of daylight, I shudder to think what my mood would be if this were November.

Coming to work and interacting with our travelers. Some of the messages of support are so touching – I admit I’ve shed a tear or two. Our travelers give me hope! We recently announced that our December 12 Patagonia Lakes District trip  will feature a total eclipse of the sun and eight people have already booked, another 4 are tentative. There were a few virtual cheers around the office I have to say!

If you had one piece of advice for people right now what would it be?
Stay away from each other! AND If you’ve had a particularly tough day watch the Great British Baking Show. I firmly believe that it would be impossible to not feel better afterwards so please report back to me.


Philipp Schmitt, Tour Leader Development Manager

Where do you live?
Although I am German, I have been living in Granada, Southern Spain for the last 20 years. I live here with my wife, 8-year-old daughter and our dog.

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
The regulations in Spain are pretty strict. You are only allowed to go out to shop at grocery stores and pharmacies (everything else is closed anyway). You are allowed to go to work if you can’t work from home, but this has been taken further since last week and only jobs of systemic importance are allowed to work. You are also allowed to walk your dog! So, I am allowed to go out with the dog. But since people have been renting their dogs to give others the chance to go out, the police is after dog walkers and you need to prove it is your dog and you need to stay in the vicinity of your home.

What are you doing today?
I am glad to be pretty busy. I am working with our local partners in Chile and Argentina and we are building a tour in each country around the eclipse that will take place on December 14, 2020. And since I am the manager of our Tour Leaders, too, I am lucky to be in contact with our Tour Leaders, keeping our community alive, figuring out what we can do right now and preparing for when all this is over. And then we are trying the best to home school our daughter, keep her busy and running around and getting rid of her excess energy, which takes a lot of my energy and I fall into bed, dead tired at 10 pm (which in Spain is like before dinner…)

Are you able to get exercise, if so what are you doing?
When the lockdown in Spain started I tried to buy a trainer for my bike but they were all sold out and I got pretty scared, but a friend and neighbor found one on an English website and we ordered it. And unbelievably it arrived within a few days!! Now we share it and every other day I get to bike on our terrace heading towards the Sierra Nevada.

How are you staying in touch with friends and family?
I am not very much of a techie, but now I really am happy and using a lot of the virtual ways of contacting family and friends, through FaceTime, Skype, Zoom etc. Although I am a big fan of writing letters with a fountain pen and I still have one pen pal (very old-school) but we now scan the letters and send them by email.

What foods/drinks have you really been enjoying lately?
In my first life I was a sailor and used to do long crossings over the Atlantic or even longer crossings over the Pacific Ocean, so I said to my family: “Three things will bring us through this, a strict routine, physical work and good food.” And I love to cook and my wife is great in baking and preparing all kinds of desserts. So, I’m afraid we’ve been eating too well: I still had some wild boar in the freezer, and marinated it over night in yogurt with garlic, then roasted it slowly in the oven and served it with German style “Semmelknödel” (bread dumplings) and a sauce made of dried mushrooms my brother in-law had sent in a care package from Bavaria…. (I guess I need to add some more hours on the trainer…)

Where is the first place you hope to visit once travel restrictions are lifted?
I had to cancel my last trip to Italy to go to the Farm for the training and the summit, and funny enough right now the first thing that comes to my mind is, I’d love to go to Italy to and start a tour. Maybe some “cappelletti pasticciati” at the Villa Franchi and an ice cream at the Linus Jazz ice cream parlor and buying a big chunk of parmigiano at the market in Faenza draw my mind to Italy, too.

What have you found to be most grateful for during this time?
The smiles of my daughter and wife in the morning, and knowing everybody close is doing fine.

If you had one piece of advice for people right now what would it be?
Not mine, but Winston Churchill’s piece of advice: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.


John Giebler, Director of Tours

Where do you live?
I live in Northern Italy, near our European base.

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
We’re not supposed to leave home unless it’s for something essential, like buying groceries, medicine, or visits to the doctor that can’t wait. We risk a hefty fine and legal action if we’re found too far from home. It’s not clear how far “too far” is, but it seems best to stay on your own street. We’re not allowed to bicycle as training. That’s hard for most of us, but I do realize that if I were to fall and need the emergency room I’d be putting a stress on the medical system that’s already stressed.

What did you do today?
Even though we don’t have tours running right now, I’ve been as busy as ever with work. Our Tour Leaders are so important to us in many ways and it’s important that we stay in touch with them. We’re also working on our 2021 dates and a lot of projects to work more locally this season since international travel is shut down at the moment.

Are you able to get exercise, if so what are you doing?
Yeah, almost every day I’m able to do some yoga, weight lifting, or exercise videos online. I really like the fitnessblender.com site.

How are you staying in touch with friends and family? More than ever! It’s a silver lining to all this. I’ve been doing video chats with my family and we’re celebrating my dad’s birthday this week. We’ll be back for an online Easter dinner Sunday.

What foods/drinks have you really been enjoying lately? I’ve perfected my pizza recipe and that’s what’s on the menu tonight. And we’re fixing ourselves a spritz aperitif waaaaay too often.

Where is the first place you hope to visit once travel restrictions are lifted?
The Farm! No, really, I can’t wait to get into our new office space. My wife and I are talking about a lot of vacation ideas including Greece and Southern Italy. We had planned a trip to the U.S. this summer and I really hope we can still make that happen.

What have you found to be most grateful for during this time? My wife! And thank the heavens for that because she’s the only one I see!

If you had one piece of advice for people right now what would it be?
Mindfulness. And to be honest, I’m amazed at how well the earth is recovering from how we were treating it before all this. I really hope that when we get back to normal, that “normal” is a little more environmentally friendly. We’re talking a lot about how to get out of this mess, but we also need to be talking about how we got into it and how to keep it from ever happening again.

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Jessie Beyer - Originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Jessie headed west for college and never looked back. She earned a Journalism and Technical Communications degree from Colorado State University, and has since worked in a variety of industries including radio, sustainability, and wine tourism. Jessie combines her passion for travel, cycling, and storytelling to help people understand the unique power of exploring the world from the seat of a bike. A self-proclaimed travel junkie, Jessie has found herself on many extended adventures. She spent 2015 exploring many corners of the world including tramping through New Zealand's mountains, cycling through Europe, and hitching a boat ride down the Mekong river from Laos into Thailand. At home in Colorado you'll likely find her singing her way up mountain trails, talking to strangers, and seeking restaurants with patios and Spanish wines.

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