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Your Coronavirus Lockdown Stories And Videos From Around The World

A few weeks ago I got in touch with my newsletter readers (you can be one too!) to ask how everyone was doing during this unprecedented global shutdown. These are difficult times for many but if there is one positive side, it’s a time when we have the Internet. We can communicate over video calls like Captain Picard, download any book ever written, and watch far too much television from any screen available.

In this sense, the world is a little smaller and many of you sent messages on what you’re doing to pass the time from around the world. Here are select lines from a few of your fellow readers, viewers, and listeners:

“I am in Colorado, on the Front Range. It is a beautiful spring day here and I am sheltering at home. When I used to work, I worked from home, so I am quite used to being isolated between trips. I feel like I have been training for this for 30 years.” -Pamm

“We’re taking the opportunity to go through the cookery books on our shelves to experiment with more dishes – Turkish and international. The exercise mat and dumbbells are in use, too.” – Julia (Fethiye, Turkey)

“I’m near Cleveland, Ohio, USA and we’re under a shelter-in-place order. I teach college history so I’m preparing to do that remotely starting next week. I’m spending my time catching up on some reading. It’s amazing how the absence of everyday “white noise” in my life is helping me refocus and re-prioritize.” -Laura

“Here in Berlin, things have slowed down, everything but supermarkets, spätkauf shops and pharmacies is closed and just take-outs available. I’m just flattening the curve at home, out rarely, but busy on the laptop nonetheless. Using the time to study… ” -Paul

“Every night at 8 pm we all open our windows and clap for several minutes in a row to thank the people who are still working out there to keep us alive. After the clapping is done, some of the neighbors start playing songs (very very loud) to motivate everyone else. Songs like “We Are The Champions” and some Spanish songs that I am not familiar with. I always smile at this time. It is a beautiful little routine that we have.” -Liz (Valencia, Spain)

A few of my travel blogger friends also sent in some messages you can watch in the video above. For a full version with more stories of how others are handling corona lock downs, check out this episode of the foXnoMad Podcast.

I hope all of you are doing well. Expect a lot more travel and tech quarantine content coming your way on YouTube (shot earlier in the year) and right here in the meantime to keep your mind and wanderlust active!

What Istanbul, Turkey Looks Like Under Coronavirus Quarantine

Most of Turkey right now is under a coronavirus advisory to stay indoors, like many other countries around the world. Slowly over the last week, most business have shut their doors, aside from pharmacies, grocery shops, and bakeries while those who can, are generally working from home.

Istanbul, a city with a population of roughly 15.5 million people has turned into a movie set. Streets that are normally too crowded to walk down are desert, as you can see in the video above.

istanbul coronavirus

Taken on a walk to the grocery store, it’s a glimpse into a silent Istanbul that, after COVID-19, may not happen again in a very long time.

Should You Cancel Your Travel Plans Because Of Coronavirus?

The travel restrictions, bans, and other disruptions are changing rapidly – since I uploaded the video above a number of new safety measures have been put into place. It’s best to check your local government updates as well as news about your destination for the latest developments.

Here’s how to handle your travel plans over the next 45 days and what to do about planned travel soon after that.

What If You Have Travel Plans Confirmed?

A lot depends on where you’re going, how long, for what reasons (e.g. recreational) as well as whether or not you fall into any of the high-risk groups for a severe case of coronavirus (COVID-19). Additionally, if you have regular contact with anyone in the high-risk groups, you should take this into account as well.

london train station

The information here isn’t about the medial implications of traveling (the World Health Organization has a good primer) but how to handle your travel plans. If you have international travel planned between now and April 15th for recreational purposes all things considered, you should probably cancel or delay your trip.

Many international and domestic corona-related restrictions in place right now are set to be reevaluated over the next 2-4 weeks. Given the uncertainly plus widespread cancellation of many events, the sooner you move to cancel the better.

How To Handle A Cancellation

Flights purchased through a booking engine are the first place to begin. You’ll want to process a refund there first – make sure you’re detailed as to why you’re not flying (e.g. more than just saying “corona”) – and see if you can get a refund or voucher for future travel. Additionally, you may want to get in touch with the airline directly as well as your travel insurance provider for other options.

What About Those Great Travel Deals? (Next 45 Days)

Most travel insurers are no longer covering corona-related claims after early March, so it’s a massive risk you’ll lose money, arrive to a lock down, or otherwise have your vacation plans vaporize. Attempting international travel plans before the end of April is likely not to go smoothly, so plan any trips for after the next 45 days or so (May 15th) to be safe.

For those of you with planned (i.e. booked) travel between April 15th and May 15th, it’s best to keep those plans as the middle of April is when a major reassessment but governments and the travel industry is likely. We’ll all have a better idea of what the summer travel seasons looks like then, with hopefully better news.

How Long It Takes To Get To The New Istanbul Airport

Getting to and from different parts of Turkey’s largest city to the new Istanbul Airport (IST) isn’t as convenient as it was from the former major airport in town. Planning a visit through IST is a lot easier though when you know how to get there and the time it takes to do so.

You can see the best times to get to Istanbul Airport in the video above or read on.

Timing

Traffic in Istanbul could be called punishment instead since most of the time that’s what it feels like. However, if you’re fortunate enough to have a flight in the late evening or early morning hours (10pm-7am) a ride from the European side of the city to Istanbul Airport will take roughly 30-45 minutes with a taxi. From the Asian side, add an extra hour to be absolutely sure you’ll make it to the airport on time.

ortakoy mosque istanbul

For all other hours of the day, add an extra hour of drive time to get to the airport. You may get lucky with traffic but to be absolutely sure, those are the minimum amount of times you’ll need just to get to IST.

Once There

Keep in mind at IST you’ll go through security before entering the airport, then after passport control, with a third check likely before your gate. Checking in as well, plus the security checks is a 45 minute process at non-peak hours – at all other times add an hour to this.

Adding it all up at non-peak traffic hours, you can comfortably leave for IST Airport 2.5 hours before your flight from the European side, 3.5 hours from the Asian side. During most of the day though you’ll have to add an hour to both times. So, if you’re flight is at 4pm, from the European side you’ll want to leave around 12:30pm. From the Asian side, 12pm is a safe bet.

Ride And Security

You almost never need to arrive at an airport 3 hours before your flight, two is usually sufficient. That’s the case at IST as well, but since traffic and the added security checks can take a while, calculate so you’re walking through the front door 2 hours before takeoff. Besides, if you get there early, you can enjoy using the free wifi with this hack.

What 249 Gram Drones Mean For Travelers

There are a number of rules, regulations, and restrictions for flying drones around the world. Often, an important number you’ll find in many of the regulations is 250 grams, a weight used to differentiate between drone classifications. With the release of the DJI Mavic Mini specifically designed to weigh 249g, you might be wondering what it means if you travel with a drone.

There’s a lot of confusion regarding the current weight limits and not knowing the right rules could get you fined or worse. Here’s what you need to know about flying your lightweight drone.

Why 249g?

It’s important to remember that drone rules vary across the world (here’s an always up to date map, as well the mobile version), but in many United States jurisdictions and western Europe, 250 grams often marks the line between two classes of drone. Since a lot of the world has taken its drone law cues from the U.S. (one of the world’s largest drone consumers), 250 grams has become an unofficial global standard.

scottish highlands

Drones weighing more than 250 grams are usually considering amateur unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) whereas 249g and less are either a lower class of drone or classified as toys.

Rules Still Apply

One major point of confusion for a lot of people to clear up now – in most places with a 250g weight limit, drones weighing less aren’t exempt from any rules. For the most part, drones like the Mavic Mini weighing 249g don’t have to be registered, but all the other restrictions apply.

And if you think about it, that makes sense. The Mavic Mini is 249g but it can still fly above 120 meters (394 feet) which is most places is not allowed because that’s another level of flight space. You still need to maintain a visual line of sight (VLOS) in Sweden for example, since 249g or not, crashing a drone can still be dangerous to people below.

Know The Local Regulations

Drones weighing less than 249g might be able to be imported into countries where UAVs are not officially allowed but it’s important to check the specific rules that apply. As I mentioned above, this map is updated in real-time and DroneMate (Android/iOS) can put all the local laws and regulations in your pocket for offline use. It’s also worth mentioning that as drones get lighter and smaller, legislators are likely to update the rules over time to encompass the updated tech.

249g drones like the Mavic Mini make it just a little less hassle to get permission to fly a drone in some places but that’s not likely to be the case indefinitely.

The Oldest Cathedral In Scotland Says A Lot About Glasgow

glasgow cathedral

The Glasgow Cathedral, completed by 1136, is a prideful building that’s seen two religions, survived the Reformation, and where classes of the University of Glasgow began. You don’t normally associate the word tough with a cathedral but in Glasgow, Scotland, it couldn’t be more appropriate.

In 1502 the Cathedral was the place where King James IV signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England. Somewhat ironically, the Glasgow Cathedral was then used to house artillery during the Battle of Glasgow in 1544, somehow surviving artillery fire itself.

Roughly 20 years and two Scottish kings later, the originally Catholic Glasgow Cathedral ensured its survival to this day through a bit more serendipity. James VI traced the ownership of several lands to Archbishop Gavin Dunbar, who had left an £800 legacy for the cathedral’s upkeep. James VI gifted this money for the repair of the Glasgow Cathedral ensuring its existence 500 years later for tourists to visit free of charge.

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