Health and Fitness Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Health and Fitness

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.

How To Handle Visa Overstays And Issues Due To Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

airport terminal

Please note the situation is changing daily and the information below may be out of date by the time you’re reading it. Because of the quickly developing situation, I’ve included advice and a template you can send to the relevant embassies to get more information.

Closing borders has left people stranded worldwide and many of you, on tourist or other visas, wondering what will happen once travel is permitted again. You might be in a situation where your visa in a foreign country is or has already expired. Below is a template you can use to send to the appropriate embassies.

Template To Send Embassies

Subject: Question – Overstaying Because of COVID-19

Good afternoon,

I’m would like to know the correct procedure for travelers who will be overstaying their visas in (COUNTRY) due to travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and border closings related to COVID-19.

What must be done on our side to make sure we are following the rules in these extreme circumstances?

I would really appreciate if you could point me in the right direction as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance.

This template was highly successful in getting prompt replies from many embassies. Additionally, many nations have already posted or replied back to me with their current procedures. Please be sure to verify anything posted below, it is posted only for informational purposes.

European Union (EU)

In Chapter V Article 33 of the EU Visa Code regarding Extensions, the following is applicable:

The period of validity and/or the duration of stay of an issued visa shall be extended where the competent authority of a Member State considers that a visa holder has provided proof of force majeure or humanitarian reasons preventing him from leaving the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the period of validity of or the duration of stay authorised by the visa. Such an extension shall be granted free of charge.

The global pandemic falls under force majeure and visa extension fees have been waived. Get in touch with the embassy of the EU/Schengen country you are currently in to apply for an extension if you are worried about overstaying. Currently, 90 extensions are being issued in most cases for Schengen tourist visas.

buckingham palace

United Kingdom (UK)

The latest information can be found here.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.

You should provide:

  • your full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

We’ll let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

u.s. capitol building

United States (US)

Tourist Visas:

Note that the expiration date on a U.S. visa does not determine how long one can be in the United States.  The way to confirm one’s required departure date is here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.

Those who need to extend their stay must apply with USCIS.  Their website is here:  https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

Non-Tourist Visas:

Please refer to ECA communication dated February 7, 2020, for guidance, specifically the section on exchange visitors currently inside the United States. Sponsors and their exchange visitors are also encouraged to review the following USCIS website detailing special situations for extensions and change of visa status, including those individuals subject to INA 212(e): Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. Go to: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations and https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

China

Latest updates here.

The National Immigration Administration has rolled out special measures to facilitate foreigners’ stay in China as well as their arrivals and departures amid the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.

With no need of a separate application, foreigners in China will have their stay or residence permits extended automatically for two months during the epidemic period, Liu Haitao, an official with the administration, said on March 1 at a news conference in Beijing.

Immigration offices nationwide will issue urgent exit and entry permits within 24 fours for those coming to China for anti-COVID-19 missions, including medical assistance, drug development and academic exchanges, Liu said.

They could also apply for a special visa at Chinese ports of entry if their journey is made on too short a notice, he added.

Like Chinese citizens, foreign residents in China can file applications online and have documents delivered to their homes after the issuance, Liu said.

South Africa

The latest announcements can be found here.

Any foreign national who is already present in the Republic and originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by COVID-19, and whose temporary residence visa is due to expire or has already expired, will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa provided they meet all the prescribed requirements. Visas valid until 31 July 2020 may be issued to such applicants.

Any foreign national who originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such a destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by the COVID-19, and who is the holder of a temporary visa which expired since 01 December 2019 and those which will be expiring up to 31 March 2020 will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa without the need to first obtain FORM 20 (Authorisation for an illegal foreigner to remain in the country pending an application for status)

These are temporary measures and is applicable until further notice.

Thailand

The latest information can be found here. New rules and restrictions for all travelers as of March 22nd.

There is a provision (clause 2.28) in the current Immigration Order 327/2557 concerning the extension of stays that allows immigration to give 30-day extension “based on embassy request”. If you have exhausted all possible extensions of your entry stamp, you may use this embassy letter to extend your stay in Thailand due to travel restrictions in your country or due to the cancellation of the flight. This extension is applicable to any type of entry stamp (visa on arrival, visa exemption, tourist visa or non-immigrant visa). You need to contact your embassy in Thailand if they are able to issue the letter. It is also good to note that some immigration offices may issue the extension without the embassy letter as long as you are able to show proof of cancellation of your flight.

Note: All nationalities currently holding a 60-day tourist visa can still obtain a 30-day visa extension just like before. All nationalities under the visa exemption scheme currently holding 30-day entry stamp are still able to extend for 30 days at the local immigration office, just like before.

Taiwan

The latest announcement:

Automatic 30-day extension for foreigners entering Taiwan on or before March 21 with visa waiver, visitor visa, or landing visa (no application is required) (overstayers excepted).

Mexico

The latest here.

The period of stay allowed will not be more than 180 days, at the end of which you must leave the country by any means because said immigration status does not allow you extend the period of stay in the country or change the condition of stay. Due to the foregoing, and because the Mexican immigration authority has not restricted departures from the country, it must foresee their departure from national territory by another means of transportation available or other than by air in the event of cancellation of the service. It will also be convenient to contact your embassy or consular representation in Mexico in order to obtain the corresponding assistance for your return. Greetings.

Turkey

There has been no general announcement made, so far it seems decisions are being made on a country to country basis. Here’s the latest for U.S. citizens. The current recommendation being made is:

The Government of Turkey announced that due to COVID-19, they are extending visa validity for tourists in Turkey, who cannot leave due to international flight suspension.

That said, we have been sending information on existing flights. Please consider taking a limited commercial option – such as a flight to Doha, Qatar, on Qatar airways, which has connection options to the United States. As long as you purchase a ticket with connections to the United States as your ultimate destination, you will be allowed to board your flight from Istanbul.

We recommend you drive to Istanbul, and take existing flight options out, before commercial flight options disappear.

Turkey (cont.) – Information For Australians

If you are not already, we highly recommend that you monitor the Australian Embassy in Turkey’s Facebook page, Twitter (@AusAmbTurkey) and webpage. For urgent consular assistance, please call our 24 hour Emergency Call Centre in Australia on +61 2 6261 3305.

Visas

We acknowledge that it’s difficult to get the correct advice on extending your visa in Turkey. At this stage, we have not been informed that Turkey will be automatically extending its visas for foreign citizens still in the country as a result of COVID-19. To get an extension, you should try to make contact with local authorities as your first point of call. If you’re still not sure who to contact or how to get an extension, we recommend that you contact the Australian Embassy in Turkey by email on [email protected].

You can also subscribe to updates from Smartraveller for changes to the situation in Turkey.

Updates Incoming

This page will be updated as new information comes in but with this being a developing, global crisis it won’t be possible to post all the information here. Check through to the links however for more information, I’ll be sure to keep adding and updating those as frequently as possible.

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 To Prevent Jet Lag (But You’re Not Going To Like It)

jet lag sucks

No matter what anyone tells you, jet lag is something you can treat but not completely avoid. Traveling in the sky fast enough to outpace our biologically imprinted circadian rhythms requires some body hacking to mitigate the effects.

You’ll still feel jet lag but less intensely for shorter durations if you subject yourself to a few uncomfortable rules.

1. Don’t Eat On The Flight

For some reasons as soon as we board a flight our appetites start fiendishly craving overly processed, tasteless airplane food. Our biological clocks are timed in big part through our livers. According to neuroscientist Matthew Walker, evolution has primed our bodies to become sleepy a short time after our final meal of the day. Having airplane food high in sugar and sodium resets this countdown timer. Also, the lactose in the foods and other additives may cause even more gas than flying already does disrupting deep sleep even further.

2. Run Right After Your Flight

A solid cardio-focused workout can help speed up our body clocks adjustment to a new timezone. The impact of running in particular might have a significant impact on combating jet lag, shortening it up to 8 times in limited animal studies. Anecdotally, the best time to get the workout in is immediately after arriving to a new destination. Don’t fall for the “I’ll just rest my eyes” trap and get to a park, treadmill, or if either aren’t an option, try these hotel room workouts.

Plan for a minimum of 30 minutes or more of exercise at the highest intensity comfortable for you to get your blood thoroughly circulating. Swollen flight ankles? Running or biking is a straightforward way to treat that flight side effect as well.

3. Control The Mornings And Power Through

Sleep is not a state you can will yourself into easily but staying awake is a goal we can achieve through conscious will. No matter what time you land, try to get to sleep at a normal hours but no matter how little you sleep, get up on time in the morning. Give yourself an extra hour from your regular wake up time back home but other than that, don’t snooze. Using your bladder as an alarm clock can ensure you get out of bed, no matter how much you want 5 more minutes.

sarajevo golden hour

Use Chemicals Subtly

Caffeine can also be used in moderation to help adjust your clock as well if consumed at the right times. Caffeine drinkers, get that coffee or tea as early as possible in the morning after you wake up but don’t consume any after noon. You might be wondering about alcohol but since that drug blocks rapid eye movement (REM) and deeper stages of sleep, if you must, keep it to one drink until your jet lag is gone.

One last thing, remember that getting over jet lag takes time so maintain these habits for at least a week, depending on how many time zones you’ve shifted. In the first day or two we often have a rebound effect giving a false honeymoon period that we’ve cracked jet lag – only to realize a week later at 3am completely awake that might have been wishful thinking.

Asen’s Fortress Is A Hidden Day Trip In Bulgaria

asen's fortress

More than a few visitors coming to Sofia or Plovdiv tend to miss Asen’s Fortress, an easy day trip from either city tucked away in Bulgaria’s mountains. Likely built by the Thracians roughly 2500 years ago, its unassuming remains obscure the fort’s interesting past. Only two hours away from Sofia and less than 30 from Plovdiv, there are several tour operators running shuttle buses here but if you’re up for it, renting a car gives you more options with fewer crowds.

asen's fort bulgaria

During the fall, winter, and colder days of spring you’re likely to be the only visitors around, having the entire fort to yourself. Walking around the grounds though might not be for everyone, there are a lot of stairs and steep climbs to be aware of. Even so, just stepping out to the front entrance can give you nice views of below.

asens fortress church

Well preserved and restored if you do make the climb up you’ll see the Church of the Holy Mother of God. Built in the 12th or 13th century, it was the only remaining part of Asen’s Fortress which was mostly destroyed in the 14th century.

asen's fortress

Asen’s Fortress was strategically located close enough to the Ottoman capital Istanbul to be a viable staging ground for competing brothers warring to become sultan. Fratricide was common through this era of Ottoman history meaning brothers would murder one another to become sultan.

Church of the Holy Mother of God

Seeing the obvious issues a place like Asen’s Fortress might cause, it is thought Sultan Suleiman destroyed it to prevent a figurative thorn in his western side.

bulgarian flag

You can often catch wonderful views, even on a cloudy day as the winds tend to carry breaks in between the mists of the mountainside below.

asens fort

Asen’s Fortress is open Wednesdays through Sundays from early in the morning through later in the day (8am-5pm). There’s a nominal fee to enter this beautiful place to explore. During the colder months remember to wear good shoes, watch your step, and make your plans around any potential snow.

Further north you can find Belogradchik, a fort built into the natural rock formations, climb Vitosha if you’re staying in Sofia, while all the time keeping in mind they nod backwards here. So when ordering one of these local dishes at a restaurant, they will be bringing you a coffee – unless they’re nodding up and down.

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