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Looking back on 2020

Hello from Lisbon!

One year ago today, I was in Vienna, Austria ready to start a new chapter in my life. It now seems so long ago, considering what we’ve all been through this past year. I remember how excited I was to wake up in a different country, facing unfamiliar territory and ready to navigate a brand new world!

Of course this was pre-Covid, and things were about to change. Looking back, I realize my 2020 experience was different from most others. I’m so fortunate to not have to worry about losing a job, or having children out of school, separated from their friends, or worried about whether I can put food on the table. I chose to rebuild the structure in my life in fun, exciting ways. It wasn’t forced darkly upon me quickly, like it was for so many others.

My 2020 journey was unique to me. I didn’t know what to expect from this journey of travel and fresh experiences, but I certainly didn’t expect to deal with a global pandemic.

It’s interesting to look back on the monthly blog I’ve been writing, so this year-end blog is like a walk down memory lane. If you’re inclined to read further, this has been my 2020 experience!


This is the last time I remember normal. Honestly, the weather was a bit cold for me, but the feeling of being in a different country and beginning a new journey made up for it. Since I no longer had to drive my car to an office every day and work from 8 to 5, I had to create a different structure in my life. I joined a gym, a yoga studio, a Wednesday night Improv Group, and did plenty of train travel on weekends to nearby countries like Slovakia, Czechia, and Hungary. The food, culture, and lifestyle of Austria and surrounding countries was magical. My next chapter was well underway, but things were about to change...


Covid-19 was nipping at my heels as I barely made it to Zagreb before the borders closed in mid-March. It wasn’t long before I found myself locked down (with stores and restaurants closed, including transportation) and days later experiencing the scariest earthquake I’d ever felt in my life (coming from California yet!) Airline flights out of Croatia were non-existent and I do remember a couple days feeling fairly isolated and alone. But somehow (which I credit to my daily meditation and connection with God,) I found my groove. I remember April weather being incredibly warm and beautiful, with blue skies and 70 degree temperatures almost daily. That certainly helped! There were a couple of parks within walking distance where I did yoga with the sun beaming down on me. In the mornings, I’d sit on a bench in King Tomislav Square, drinking my coffee while listening and watching the big water fountain. Just contemplating life. I adjusted, and felt comfortable in the solitude of it all.

Fortunately, things returned to what seemed like normal during the month of May. I traveled down to Split (near the Adriatic Sea) - and also visited Plitvice Lakes National Park with my personal tour guide (a wonderful guy named Nikica) while walking around the most beautiful waterfalls, lakes, and creeks I’d ever seen. Usually packed with tourists, the park was nearly empty. It was surreal.


Even though there were some travel restrictions, I easily got to London in June where there was a semi-lock down. The trains were still running, so each day I journeyed into the city, walking the empty streets of the West End and Trafalgar Square. I was also able to join a co-working space in Camden Town, which gave me a sense of normalcy and a place to go to each day. By July and August, things were opening up and for a few months life felt...pretty good! I even took the train to Paris for a week! Then came September, when I had the most amazing time of my life attending my month long Masterclass in Screen Acting at the Actor’s Studio UK - and going to Pinewood Studios every single day! It was a life changer, and the result was my acting showreel!


I’ll never forget the leisurely and scenic four-hour train ride from London to Edinburgh. My summer in London was over, and it was time to move on. I loved autumn in Edinburgh - it was so beautiful! But unfortunately Covid was getting bad again and things were shutting down. I got to know the City of Edinburgh quite well and even made it to Glasgow, but I never got to see the Highlands or any of the other scenic parts of Scotland. Time was short, but I’ll be back!!


I had planned to go to Athens, Greece after Scotland - but Covid restrictions were tough there. I had read where Portugal was pretty easy to travel into (and the Covid restrictions were not too harsh) so it was onward to Lisbon! As it turns out, it was an excellent choice. The climate here is mild, people are friendly, and the city is stunning! It’s also close to the ocean and they have palm trees - creating a real California vibe! My Christmas was fantastic, strolling the colorful, holiday decorated and beautifully lit streets. I also attended several socially-distanced dinner parties where I ate some really good food and new friendships were formed. I’ve been really happy here!


I’m supposed to leave Portugal in early February, but given that travel is once again hindered by Covid, I’m not sure where the next destination will be. I’m hoping to extend my stay here, so you’ll have to wait until my next blog post to find out what happens!

A meme I saw a while back said “We’re all in different boats, but we’re in the same storm.” We all have to weather the storm in our own way, but remember we’re not alone. I guess we all have to count our blessings where they can be found - and live life the best we can. I remain thankful and grateful. Here’s to a brighter 2021!

Thanks for following along! Stay safe and healthy everyone!



Bob Tapper


Outside US: +01 9494846275

Inside US: (949) 484-6275

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