Expats share their thwarted travel dreams, what lockdown is like in their city, and the first thing they'll do once restrictions lift

Since our borders closed, there has been an influx of New Zealanders returning home to hunker down and get through this crisis. But there are still travellers and expats living in cities around the world, working out their own lockdown existence.

Kiwi news anchor Isobel Ewing had only just arrived in Hungary when the borders closed.

The thermal baths are high up on her list for places to visit once the lockdown has lifted. She was still "waiting for her swim togs to arrive", when public places began to close.


In spite of a curb to the city's famous nightlife and public baths, life seems to go on pretty much unchanged.

"To be honest the lockdown hasn't been as strict as the one we've seen in other European countries."

She sees people going to get their bikes repaired, nails manicured or even have their dogs groomed claiming these qualify as "substantial reasons" to go into public.

However there's one obvious absence from Budapest's streets, which has enhanced her morning jogging route: "Where normally I'd have to dodge hundreds of people, there's nobody around. It's really beautiful and kind of eerie."

Sarah in London is less enthusiastic about the streets emptying. Decent coffee is the number one thing she misses in lockdown. As soon as it's all over, she says: "Brunswick East in Dalston is an Aussie cafe that I'll definitely be heading to."

While she's still able to work, she's not been into her offices in Victoria for three weeks.

"To be honest, I don't really know what the city is like but I know what my suburb is like."

After a month in her bubble, she is keeping sane by cycling and yoga.


The lack of nightlife is a stark contrast to what she remembers.

"I love to go out in Hackney Wick or Dalston."

One of her favourites is Ridley Road Market Bar - an open air bar which runs in a market stall - where she'll go to celebrate when things are back to normal.

• Artsy East London has been hard hit by restrictions - but many bars and galleries are trying to set up virtual presences online, for Hackney hipsters to get their culture fix.
Modern ART London has set up a video exhibition called Corrosion and even the Royal Academy's Picasso Paperworks are getting in on the virtual action.

Brendon in Shanghai China saw the worst of the coronavirus pandemic earlier than other cities. He's hoping the easing restrictions are a sign the worst is behind them.

"I never panicked. But was definitely cautious going to the shops" with face masks, temperature checks and registration needed for the simplest tasks.


However, the peak of the lockdown came just as his wife and he were expecting to become parents.

"Luckily neither of us ever had any symptoms and my wife gave birth to twins on the 20th of February."

Though he remembers the difficulty that neither he nor the babies' grandparents were able to visit in hospital.

As an educator his kindergarten has been closed for months.
Now over the first influx in China, his message to Kiwis is "stick to the rules" and "do what's right by your family" and things will come right.