Alex and I booked a flight to Brazil to visit family and catch up with friends. The upcharge to first class was very reasonable so we made the booking. My knee had been bothering me so that was one of the main reasons I made the decision. The first class lounge area was not that impressive with pedestrian food options and a routine waiting area. In retrospect we spent more time in the general areas than the Delta lounge. Our flight left from Boston Logan Airport to New York JFK and on to São Paulo Brazil and finally Londrina where we were picked up by my sister.
Waiting for flight
Decent food from the lounge nothing special
Ample legroom on all the flights made it well worth the upcharge
2020 was the year I had to do some personal business in Portugal and England, unfortunately it was also the year of COVID-19! In February of 2020 I arranged to do some paperwork at the Portuguese Consulate in Boston and in March due to the outbreak of COVID-19 my appointment at the consulate was postponed. It was again postponed in April and again in July 🙁 . I had no other option than to book a flight to Portugal to get my documents that I needed before December 31, 2020. I needed from Portugal my Portuguese ID card and to renew my passport which I then needed to apply for permanent resident status in England, United Kingdom. Since I was already in Europe I decided to make a side trip to my maternal grandparents home of Madeira as well. Now that you know my circumstances of why I had to travel during the pandemic I will describe the experiences I had in each of the three destinations. Understand that I was very cognizant of the seriousness of the disease and my husband is in a very vulnerable group so Alex and I was very careful with our personal efforts to prevent infection. We always wore our masks and practiced social distancing whenever possible.
We both took a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to our arrival in Portugal before leaving Boston. To board the plane to Portugal at Logan Airport we had to show documentation of our negative test results to the airline check-in station. We observed several passengers being denied entry to the plane while we were waiting because they did not have their test results.
Arriving in Portugal I found the social distancing to be in place and followed by almost everyone. Stores, restaurants and shops limited people going in and were in a one person in one out type of rotation, I felt very comfortable. With masks on the other hand pretty much the only people wearing masks were the tourists and foreigners. After about a week however I returned to Portugal from England and Madeira and many more people were wearing masks because of an uptick in the amount of cases.
England had a two week quarantine for all new arrivals and wearing of masks and social distancing were pretty much universal. Groups of no more than six people were allowed including family members.
Medeira was where I felt most safe. We had to take a COVID test immediately upon arrival at the airport and then could not leave our hotel room until we received a negative test result. This took for us about eight hours. After getting our negative results we found the procedures in place to be the most strict of anywhere we had been. Everyone wore a mask at all times and all shops and restaurants had social distancing strictly enforced. Overall the COVID protocols in place I encountered were much better than what we see here in the United States which I am sure is why the case numbers in places like Madeira and Portugal are so low. Even though England and The United Kingdom was slow to react to the virus and is why their numbers were quite high it appears that they learned their lesson and are now taking the proper precautions. I felt much safer in all three locations than I do in my own country.
Arriving in Madeira at the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport near Santa Cruz we had to make our way to our destination Porto Moniz on the other side of the island. We had several options before us; we could rent a car, take a bus or take a taxi. We decided on the taxi but did regret it, the cost was more than the stay at the hotel! One good thing about the trip was we had a chance to enjoy the scenery on the drive. The route to Porto Moniz carves its way through the mountains. Alex started counting the number of tunnels we went through but lost count after 30!!
We checked into our hotel and quarantined ourselves waiting for our COVID test results. We ordered some room service while we waited. After about 8 hours after our test we received our negative results (!) and could leave our room and explore. A wonderful start to our trip to Madeira.
The Great Wall of China is the collective name of a series of fortification systems generally built across the historical northern borders of China to protect and consolidate territories of Chinese states and empires against various nomadic groups of the steppe and their polities. Several walls were being built from as early as the 7th century BC by ancient Chinese states; selective stretches were later joined together by Qin Shi Huang (220–206 BC), the first emperor of China. Little of the Qin wall remains. Later on, many successive dynasties have built and maintained multiple stretches of border walls. The most well-known sections of the wall were built by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). The defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.
Beijing is the best destination to admire the Great Wall of China. Most famous Beijing Great Wall sections are located in its suburban areas, including the well-preserved Badaling and Mutianyu, the renovated Juyonguan, Jinshanling and Simatai, and wild Jiankou and Gubeikou. They are all not far from downtown Beijing, 1-2 hours’ driving away.
Bring sturdy shoes, if you hike just a few hundred meters from the parking lot the majority of visitors will be left behind you will have a more uninterrupted view. One caution over the centuries the stairs and steps have become tremendously uneven. One step may be a six inch rise and the next nearly a foot! Not so bad going up but on the way back down it can be quite jarring.
The Forbidden City is a palace complex in central Beijing, China. It houses the Palace Museum, and was the former Chinese imperial palace and state residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming dynasty (since the Yongle Emperor) to the end of the Qing dynasty, between 1420 and 1924. The Forbidden City served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households and was the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for almost 500 years. Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers over 180 acres. The palace exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.