Life During Coronavirus: An Update From Self-Isolation in Portugal

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

This isn’t the sort of update post I was planning to write at this point in our Europe trip. Since leaving Grenada in January, we had an incredible time travelling through some of Europe’s top romantic cities — Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Lisbon. 

Dining out at tasty restaurants, sipping on wine at funky bars, wandering through architecturally-blessed streets, and learning about the history and culture of these cities was pure bliss!

eifell tower in Paris
Our first trip to Paris did not disappoint!

It was a stark contrast to our peaceful Caribbean island home. The shock of city life, complete with a buzzing nightlife, access to anything and everything we wanted, and amenities right on our doorstep, was just what we needed.

We were on a high! 

But… this would soon come to a halt.

Living in Rome – Our Happy Place

After 5 days in Paris and a week in Barcelona, we flew to Rome where we checked into our stunning apartment in the Trastevere neighbourhood — a favourite among students and younger travellers.

This picturesque neighbourhood with cobbled streets, narrow alleyways, and endless restaurants and bars would be our home for 3 weeks. 

trastevere neighbourhood rome
Beautiful Trastevere neighbourhood

The city has always been our happy place, and when everything in our personal and business lives was spiraling at the end of 2019, we decided to go to Rome. All would be OK if we were in Rome! 

Luckily, it was everything we were looking for. 

The overwhelming sense of community, zest for life, and importance Italians place on food and happiness are what drew us back.

We embraced the Italian Dolce far Niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), and just enjoyed Rome this time around without needing to see all the main sights and be a total tourist — we did that last time. 

gelato in rome
Can’t get enough gelato

This was all about simply experiencing the city.

We walked all over Rome every day — getting in 20,000 steps per day was the norm.

We walked alongside the river, explored numerous neighbourhoods, visited markets, dined at incredible restaurants, worked on our website, and overall, just enjoyed living (temporarily) in the Eternal City.

But, it was time to move on.

pizza in naples
Our day trip from Rome to Naples – strictly to eat pizza!

Leaving Rome

As we checked out of our apartment and made our way to the airport, we were sad to say goodbye to Rome. It had been a wonderful 3 weeks.

However, we were definitely looking forward to learning about Lisbon and spending another 3 weeks staying still, while really getting under the skin of the city.

We had found a nice work/travel/life balance in Rome that we hoped to continue in Lisbon. 

During our time in Paris and Barcelona, we started to hear about the coronavirus in our Facebook feed and YouTube, but we pretty much tuned it out — it was in China, we were all the way in France and Spain, and we don’t typically get wrapped up in media.

The Marcello Theatre rome
The Marcello Theatre

When we were in Rome we didn’t really hear anything (plus, we were in a food coma most of the time) so naturally, the virus didn’t really concern us at this point.

At the Rome airport, we utilized our Priority Pass and headed into the lounge. There were just a handful of people there, with tables for working, food for eating and booze for drinking.

The TV was on and even though the news was in Italian, I did see people in hazmat suits and it was showing hospitals and doctors.

That’s strange, I thought. 

Our TAP Portugal flight was delayed 2 hours, which was annoying, but it just gave us more time to do work in the lounge before heading to our boarding gate. 

Unbeknownst to us, we left Rome when the virus in northern Italy really spiked. We boarded the plane, and after a very loud journey (it seemed like the whole plane was filled with high school students from Italy), we landed safe and sound in Lisbon. 

Enjoying the wine bars in Rome
Enjoying the wine bars in Rome

Living It Up in Lisbon – Sort Of

This was our first time in Portugal and we were going to make the most of it!

At this point, we hardly checked our phones and Facebook apps again and really didn’t know the extent of what was going on in Italy for another week. And, there were no travel restrictions or social distancing recommendations in place at this point. Everything was running as normal.

We joined a free walking tour with Sandeman (they have free tours all around Europe), and partook in a few Airbnb Experiences as well — a food and wine class, a food and cultural tour, and a street art walking tour.

We wandered up and down the hilly city while gawking at the impressive and ornate architecture.

street art lisbon
The street art in Lisbon is incredible

The foodie scene was amazing with fresh seafood, traditional Portuguese dishes, and a wide variety of healthy foods and international cuisine as well.

There’s a large Indian, Bangladeshi, and Nepalese community here — naturally, we were eating a lot of Sub-Continent food!

The sunsets here are magical, with sailboats and ferries passing by. We sat along the water with a bottle of wine, and at one of the oceanfront cafes, while soaking in the vitamin D.

sunset by the water lisbon
A great way to end the day

Evenings were spent at secret rooftop bars, in small restaurants with live music, or partying on the street.

We had plans to visit the nearby magical town of Sintra, and a day spent with local friends who we met when travelling in Raja Ampat

Everything was perfect. But, that all changed.

Today, the streets in Lisbon are empty. 

Schools, museums, galleries, restaurants, cafes, and bars are closed (or have restricted hours).

Gatherings of groups of people have all been cancelled — including sports, live music venues and visiting homes across the country.  

Shopping centers have limited hours, and limit the number of people.

empty streets lisbon
Empty street in Lisbon, which is normally busy

The virus is well and truly in Europe — there’s no denying that. The bordering country with Portugal is Spain, which is putting its citizens on lockdown, having almost 8,000 confirmed cases.

Naturally, Portugal is trying to keep the numbers low here, so we completely understand the need to self-isolate at home and practice social distancing. 

Shifting Travel Plans

Based on the current situation here in Europe, we’ve decided to change our travel plans. 

Right now, we are supposed to be in Ireland exploring the beautiful country for a month. It would’ve been the first time we’d travelled there and we were really looking forward to celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Dublin!

However, those celebrations have been cancelled, and much of the country is under restrictions like here in Portugal. 

We felt like it made sense from a health and logistical standpoint to just simply stay put. 

We look at the situation in three ways. 

One, we don’t want to end up contracting the virus while we’re at the airports.

Two, we may very well have it right now and not know it, but pass it along while we’re travelling. In fact, we self-isolated ourselves for a week before the official lockdown just to try and do our part.

Three, if we have to be “stuck” somewhere in Europe, beautiful Lisbon seems like a good place to be.

Luckily, the Airbnb we are currently renting had a cancellation (not surprising) and we are able to stay in the same apartment. This was good news for both ourselves and our host who would’ve otherwise had an empty place.

waterfront resturant lisbon
Life outside of our apartment in Lisbon last week. And yes, Nick is having a Corona…

We know the city well, the weather is bright and cheerful, and Uber Eats and grocery delivery is available if necessary (for now). We feel more comfortable staying still in Lisbon and riding out this wave, rather than taking a flight at the moment. 

So, Now What?

Well, now we just wait and see!

With restricted movement and closures, and the potential to harm others, there’s no point in trying to travel around right now. 

The situation is changing rapidly. Governments are advising citizens to not leave the country, and other countries aren’t allowing in any flights from Europe. Many countries in Europe which normally have open borders, currently do not. 

We’re just taking everything day by day, hour by hour. That’s all anyone can do at this point.

lisbon lookout point
Us at one of the many lookout points here in Lisbon

Faith in Humanity

It’s not all doom and gloom out there!

While there are definitely some pretty crazy toilet paper hoarding and fight videos online, in general, people are good.

Here in Lisbon, the grocery stores are calm and quiet. People are purchasing a normal amount of goods — enough to get them through a couple of weeks at home. I haven’t seen any hoarding or shopping carts full of toilet paper.

During the UFC match the other night in Las Vegas, Chinese mixed martial artist Zhang Weili was competing. She received a round of applause from the crowd and there was a hashtag running during the fight: #ChinaStrong. 

In Italy, people were urged onto their balconies at a certain time of day to play music and sing together! This flash-mob was a great way for residents to not feel alone, and escape the monotony of the quarantine — especially in a culture where community is so important.

Yesterday in Italy, residents headed to their balconies once again. At 12:00 noon, across the city of Rome, everyone stood on their balconies and applauded at the same time to thank the doctors, nurses, and caregivers for their incredible efforts. That’s pretty amazing.

Don’t panic and spread fear, but be informed and prepared. Support and help one another, and we’ll all get through this together. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

mosaic tiles lisbon
The stunning mosaic tiles are all over Lisbon

Remote Work, Productivity and Goals

We have a lot of time on our hands at the moment. And, I’m sure many of you do as well. If your trip has been cancelled, you’re working from home, or you’re forced into quarantine or lockdown, we’re with you and want to give you some ideas on how to bide the time.

What Are We Doing?

Apart from binge-watching Netflix and drinking copious amounts of red wine, we’ve been taking this extra time to work on this website and our YouTube channel.

As you can imagine, with all the uncertainty regarding travel right now, not many people are searching this topic. And, if they are, it’s most likely “How to get a refund for my trip to ___!” or “Number of coronavirus cases in ____”. 

The travel traffic to our website has tanked right now, which is leaving us (and our fellow travel blogging colleagues) with some financial and creative uncertainty.

But, we’ve decided to still write about travel and create useful videos on our YouTube channel.

In fact, Nick has been pumping out some awesome videos lately! Like this one about sights to see in Paris, and this one about off-track things to do in Paris, with many more coming.

Travel planning and getting inspired about destinations is something that can happen right now — regardless of travel bans. If we can’t travel right now, we can still dream about and prepare for our next trip.

el born barcelona
Exploring El Born neighbourhood in Barcelona

We also have another side to our site which is all about being a digital nomad. We’ve written a lot on Goats On The Road about this topic, including how to make money from home and work from anywhere in the world.

We hope that these articles can help you out and provide information on remote work. Click here for that section of our site.

With so many of us now in self-isolation at home, why not start a side hustle?!

With all this extra time on your hands right now and all the financial uncertainty in the world, it’s a good time to diversify. Start new projects, and finish up old ones.

Here are some suggestions.

Create a Website

This is one of the easiest things you could do right now. What are you interested in? What are you knowledgable about? You can start a website on any topic. 

  • Gardening
  • Art
  • Sports 
  • Business
  • Pets and Animals
  • Camping
  • Carpentry
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Coaching
  • Travel
  • Finance
  • Living Abroad
  • Fitness
  • Healthy Living
  • Eco-Lifestyle
  • Hiking
  • Minimalism
  • Veganism
  • Food and Recipes

…the list goes on!

If you start a website through this link, you’ll receive our step-by-step course to help you set up a professional-looking website (correctly) in no time. Plus, you’ll receive our Absolute Best Blogging Tips ebook, and be added to our Beginner Blogger Facebook group. 

Creating a website is simple and easy. Plus, having a creative outlet and something that is yours is a great feeling. The income you can generate doesn’t hurt either. Blogging is our favourite digital nomad job for a reason. 

gracia neighbourhood barcelona
Start a website and earn money for travel (or whatever you want!). Photo taken during our stay in Barcelona

Teach Online

Whether you’re a native English speaker or a speaker of another language, you can earn a great living teaching online. Work from the comfort of home, and make your own schedule — all while working in your pajama pants!

There are numerous companies you can choose to work for. But, if you’re from Canada and the USA (apart from California), VIPKID is the best option, and if you’re from the UK, Education First is a good bet.

Check out our full list of 10 Online English Teaching Companies. Many of them pay $22 / hour or more.  

Learn more about VIPKID in this insider’s review, and learn how much an online English teacher salary is in this post.

Do Your TEFL Course

Speaking of teaching English online, most companies (whether online or in-country), will require you to have a TEFL certification, which you can complete online. 

Having a TEFL will help you be better prepared to teach classes, and give you a better chance of being hired. There are numerous companies to choose from, check out this list of the best TEFL companies

Write an Ebook, or Finish One

We all have that half-written ebook on our computer that we “never have time to finish” — or, is that just me?

Creating an ebook about a subject that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about is a great idea. Or, maybe you want to write more in the style of a biography, or a fiction novel. Either way, now’s the time. Programs like Canva are great for designing a book.

Get Fit

Have you been thinking you could lose a few extra pounds? Nick and I are definitely going to use some of this time for exercising. 

Take this time to pull up a Yoga channel on YouTube and stretch it out. Head to the basement and dust off your treadmill. Do sit-ups and push-ups in your living room. Open that workout app on your phone and actually do one of the routines!

Working out at home is a great way to get fit and pass the time. 

food in lisbon
After eating our way through Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Lisbon, it’s time to get fit

Learn a New Skill

E-learning was already popular and now I’m pretty sure it’s going to surge.

Have you wanted to learn a language, rock at social media, cook new foods, renovate your kitchen, build a treehouse, learn how to paint, edit videos, etc.? 

Have a look on YouTube for tutorial videos, or check out platforms like Skillshare and Teachable. And, if you’re curious to learn more about SEO (search engine optimization), check out our free one-hour tutorial.

Nick’s already lined up a bunch of courses he wants to take online. With extra time, why not build your knowledge base? 

Other at Home Ideas

Regarding side hustles, many people are opting to do more freelance writing, become virtual assistants for companies, or taking paid online surveys. All of these jobs can be done remotely.

For more, there’s a great website called Flex Jobs which lists hundreds of remote jobs by category. And, the gigs are siphoned through with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that only legit jobs are posted.

Right now they have a deal running — use code SPRING at check out and receive 50% off for one month, 40% off for 3 months, or 30% off for a year. 

Another great way to spend time at home is to simply relax, watch a movie, enjoy time with your family, take a bath, or read a book!

Watch The Video

In Conclusion

There you have it. An update from us Goats in self-isolation.

So far, we’ve been in our apartment for around 2 weeks. We have a fridge full of food to eat, wine to drink, online businesses to run, Netflix to watch, and exercise to do. 

fridge food lisbon
We’re stocked up and ready!

We have each other, a roof over our heads and food available. That’s all we need for now. 

We know that there are people out there who have been affected much worse than us and our thoughts are with them. We hope that this passes sooner than later and that people can come together to get through this.

Boost your immune system, take care of your loved ones and support businesses where you still can — both online and in person. Safe, healthy and happy moments to you all. 

Where in the world are you at the moment? How have you been affected? Share with us in the comments.

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Portugal streets with text overlay life during coronavirus an update from PortugalPortugal with text overlay an update from self-isolation in Portugal life during coronavirusPortugal with text overlay an update from self-isolation in Portugal life during coronavirus


Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 12 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel.

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24 thoughts on “Life During Coronavirus: An Update From Self-Isolation in Portugal”

  1. sometime last month, Nick proudly claimed it was a Personal Choice eating meat……
    Now fast forward a few weeks and see how a personal choice of a few in a small little town of Wuhan has caused such a widespread chaos…..

    Wish people start thinking its not personal choices anymore, it does have a world wide effect!
    Wish viruses affected only people with personal choices, but unfortunately it doesn’t.

  2. Hey KV,

    Thanks for your comment.

    A few quick points.

    1. I never “proudly claimed” I eat meat. I pointed out that we try to be vegetarian at home and while travelling, we don’t limit our diet as much as we want to try different foods.

    However, if you’re talking about the Facebook post from Italy, the meat in question in that post was wild boar, not farmed meat. Killing wild boar doesn’t have the negative effects on the climate as mass-farming and they are an overpopulated menace in many parts of Italy:

    We’re actually on your side on this one! Ideally, everyone should stop eating mass-farmed meat and should limit animal consumption in general.

    2. There are also plenty of viruses, parasites and food-borne illnesses passed through fruits and vegetables:

    3. At a time when the world is in crisis, trying to come together, I hardly think it’s appropriate to point fingers, particularly when evidence is limited for the origin of this particular outbreak and there’s a lot more to its transmission than just food handling & consumption.

    Even if it was passed at a meat market in China, it’s unlikely that it was from the types of animals that we’ve consumed personally.

    I think now is the time to work together and be inclusive, rather than internet shaming from an unjustified and uninformed high-horse.

  3. No idea what KV is trying to say…. But since they think Wuhan is a small little village, I wouldn’t put too much stock in their opinions… Lol small village of 11 million people maybe..?

  4. Justin, small village in this world buddy, it had the effect to lock down billions, now getting the point of a small village ??

  5. Justin, small village in this world buddy, it had the effect to lock down billions, now getting the point of a small village ??

  6. Hey Nick,

    I was pointing at the “personal choice” remark buddy and how it affects populations globally, be it Italy or wuhan the point here is the same, spread of virus from animal killing is far more disastrous.

  7. Hey Nick,

    I was pointing at the “personal choice” remark buddy and how it affects populations globally, be it Italy or wuhan the point here is the same, spread of virus from animal killing is far more disastrous.

  8. Thanks again for your news.
    I’ve had to cancel my flight from Varna, Bulgaria, where I live, to Kathmandu, via Istanbul.
    I actually got my flight ticket through a travel agent in town. They kindly phoned me this morning, to say that they are contacting Turkish Airlines, on my behalf, to change the date of my flight, which should have been this Sunday. Now I’m provisionally re booking for October. Hopefully, things will have improved by then.
    Best regards,
    Non- Roaming Uncle Richard

  9. I live in Toronto ON and this summer vacation I planned to spend in Dublin, Ireland with my Daughter and Grandkids.
    Unfortunately, coronavirus destroyed my plans and instead of flying to the Green Island and discover the home land of leprechauns I will spend these three weeks at home.
    Hope all this buzz around coronavirus will go down and medics will find the solution against this bacteria.

  10. Hi Richard,
    Thanks for reading and replying to our newsletter. Sorry you have to cancel your trip to Nepal, but that’s great that the agent is contacting the airline and sorting out everything on your behalf.

    Wishing you the best and hoping we can all get back out on the road again soon!


  11. Hi Anatolii,

    Thanks for reading and responsing to our newsletter. Sorry to hear that you won’t be travelling to Ireland to meet up with your family, that’s disappointing for sure. Wishing you the best during these unpredictable times!


  12. I’ll drink to that !

    And as the ending of the Month Python film, ‘ The Life of Brian’, as they are being crucified, they start singing, ‘Always Look on the Bright Side’.

  13. So happy to hear you are both healthy, happy and within the company of wine! Thank you for sharing the home ideas – side hustle pending! Some great inspiration; I’ll definitely be looking into some of these this afternoon 🙂 Continue to look after each other and keep us all updated on where and when you are with your posts. Sending all the love and calm form Grenada xo

  14. Goats, I am a Portuguese follower of your adventures, you are ‘velhos amigos meus’ 🙂
    Always wondered when you would come around to visit Portugal.. never would have guessed that something like this would happen, let alone that I would read from you guys quarantined in my native Lisbon. The world is a strange place.

    I moved abroad six months ago, so I am not there now and not sure when I will be able to come back (almost certainly not when I was planning, in Easter). But I am happy that you are there. You are among very nice people, no warmer place to be in a time like this.

    (I don’t know where you are staying, but people have been coming to the windows every day at 22h to clap for the health professionals that are on the front line of this fight, so if you hear clapping around that’s what is about.)

    I think this may be the way of the world to make us all stop, stay still and reflect a little. We definitely need it. Stay safe and I hope you still enjoy Portugal in these weird times we are living.

  15. Glad you guys are doing well and staying positive! Just curious, are you at all concerned about going over the visa-free days (I think it’s 3 months for Canadians in the EU)? We’re currently stuck in El Nido in the Philippines. The country has virtually gone into lockdown and there are very few available flights, even if we did manage to get to an International airport we’re not sure where we’d go or if we’d even be able to get back to Canada. So for now we’re renting an apartment, getting work done, making friends, and trying to take advantage of having a place to ourselves that’s typically overrun with tourists. We’ll definitely be going over our 30 visa-free days and not sure if we’ll be able to make it to an immigration office to get a visa extension – hopefully they’ll be understanding given the circumstances. Stay safe!

  16. Hey Guys! I’m currently in Mexico City, trying to decide whether to return to the chaos in the USA next week, or stay here in beautiful CDMX. Everything has stayed pretty normal here. They have closed the schools and cancelled all the large gatherings, but otherwise, I’m doing the same things I have been doing here for the past five months. So, I have a three month trip to Portugal beginning May 15. Given the current state of affairs there, in your opinion, what are the chances that I will get to begin my trip on time? Or should I just cancel? Thanks for all the great content! I hope your time in Portugal is great. I know it will be memorable!

  17. Thanks Lils! Yes, these are uncertain times for sure, but we’re so used to working remotely so luckily that part of it isn’t strange for us. But, staying inside all day is!! Sending you and the island lots of love and positivity xx

  18. Hi Ade,

    Wow, thank you so much for the kind message! We’re happy taht we were able to enjoy Lisbon before everything changed — it’s such a beautiful city with so many things to see and do. The Portuguese people are so kind and helpful, we’ve loved it here. We’re inside mostly now, but hoping to make an appearance in the not-so-distance future and explore the city once again. Wishing you all the best!

  19. Hi Anna,

    Thanks for reading and commenting We were really worried about overstaying in the Schengen, but naturally, as this has all progressed, things are changing. Airbnb is offering free refunds to people who have booked during a certain time, some airlines are as well. And, the Portuguese government announced about extensions on all documents and visas in the country. So, I think we’re ok!

    Maybe check on some of the expat/foreigner Facebook groups in the Philippines regarding your visa? Either way, good plan on staying in and staying put, I think that’s all anyone can do… All the best!

  20. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for reading and replying!

    I think that the reason people are returning home is due to healthcare coverage in their home country. What I personally think is that it’s not a great time to be in airports, on airplanes and sitting in quarantine once you reach your destination! Lots of decisions to make. I’m sure Mexico City and Mexico as a whole will eventually be similar to the situation here in Europe with social distancing and only going out when necessary. Regarding coming to Portugal, I can’t say for sure. But, sadly, I doubt things will be better by then. There are a lot of cancellation options right now with Airbnb and some airlines too. We’re keeping things booked for now and then waiting to see as the days go on about cancelling! I realize that doesn’t really give you an answer! Wishing you safe travels.

  21. We’re in the exact same position as you guys – in lockdown in Leon Spain.
    Like you we have a nice apartment, a great host, and drinking lots of wine. Looks like we’ll be here a while.

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