Bavaria and Occitanie with a chance of Far East Dreaming: my travel outlook for 2020
As my “MySharona” Diary is nicely emptying out, with an occasional wave of contacts flooding into my clinic, I am picking up hope that travel may be possible again this year and that travel outlook for 2020 might not be so bleak now.
As crowds of pissed males celebrate “Fathers Day” here in Germany and celebrate their altered state by hugging, kissing and the odd altercation, I am not losing hope. Because we may now be at a stage in Germany where we can track and trace new cases, and we may no need to tighten measured we have already relaxed.
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Germany, Europe and Travel Blogging and the Travel Outlook for 2020
As the EU is tentatively reopening some of its internal country borders (Finland and Estonia, Germany and Austria) after closing them for nearly three months, budget airlines are advertising tickets from July onward at full blast. Not knowing if and how there will be restrictions, including immigration, at the destination. I was tempted to book a flight to Tel Aviv cheaply to make up for my cancelled Israel/Palestine trip in March – but when I would be quarantined when I arrive, what’s the point?
And still! Everyone is talking about travelling again. Here, it is mostly about taking holidays in Germany this year! Many German travel bloggers have remembered their sustainability outlook and post prolifically about holidays in Germany. For summer, accommodations on the seaside have been booked – at a premium.
The general mood is to stay in Germany. Whereas in past years, hopping on a cheap flight for a weekend of beach or party was heavily promoted.
Since I never go on holiday in Germany, save for day trips or business, trying to join them would have been insincere. Besides, I probably know England and Scotland much better than my native Germany, due to the fact of having travelled a lot when I worked in the UK.
Worldwide travel warning and summer travel outlook for 2020
The German government has a travel warning in place until 14. June at present. By law, you cannot enter Germany unless you are a German resident or citizen. If you are a EU citizen, you will be allowed to travel through Germany to reach your home if there is no other route. Someone from the Czech Republic told me he was not restricted at all when he came into Germany for work, so I am unsure how strictly this is enforced right now. There is much buzz that the traditional holiday destinations in the EU and Schengen Area are going to re-open for tourism after that. And what’s more important, no quarantine when you return to Germany if you’re healthy.
Travelling again versus staying at home
Even when part of me wants to stay in splendid isolation for all non-life essential activities until the number of new infections are so low in Europe that it will be almost impossible to pick up an infection, I have been one of the busier people during the past few months due to COVID-19 and the need to provide some ambulatory diagnostic and treatment facilities where I live. I have come into close contact with patients and although currently conspiracy theories spread like wildfire here and we get our fair share of demonstrations, I can vouch for the severity of this illness from personal and professional experience. This was always going to be my bit of fun away from my main job, so all I want to say about this is please maintain physical distancing, follow guidelines of the country you live in and apply common sense.
At present, everyday life in Germany looks to us child-free double income suburbans almost as if barely anything happened, from the outside. Shops have fully reopened. Restaurants have reopened. The roads are packed as always. I run this travel blog is a hobby. So while travel restrictions affect me off on a personal level, I couldn’t care less if visitor numbers dropped. No travel, no travel blog reading.
I’ll travel – and eat my words as I set off on Southern Germany trips
So, will I travel?
Yes. But I’m afraid I’ll eat my words and join the Germans newly found appreciation for travel in one’s own country forst. On a few business trips.
Last year was my first year at my new employer. I kept my head down and did not attend any training courses. At New Years, I booked two courses in Southern Germany to finally get my acupuncturist certification. They are happening – very soon. But for weeks it was totally unclear on whether they’d happen at all. Now, hotels open in the federal state a day before the course starts, and the course is permitted to proceed – with a reduced number of delegates. Because the hotel is in the middle of nowhere on a hill and train tickets were stupid expensive because of the spring school holiday, I plan to drive there. My first trip since Jordan in January, ad although it will be a lot of work with an exam, I am looking forward to it.
The second trip will go to Bavaria. Also work-related. At my annual appraisal, I was asked to take over a service from a college. And in healthcare in Germany, you need a certification, usually with some pricey training courses tacked onto it, for nearly everything. So, I’ll spend two weekends in Nuremberg in July, normally high season! But when I booked my hotel on my trusted Booking.com, I found tons of available attractive rooms in the 60-80 Euro price range – with free cancellation option. I can take a high-speed intercity train from my home town to Nuremberg, one change in Berlin. 500 kilometres in under four hours, at prices that I haven’t seen for years.
International travel outlook for 2020
As I got confirmation for both training courses going ahead, I got bolder and suggested to my husband that we try to go to France see his father. He turned 80 in January. While my husband was able to fly out at short notice for the actual birthday (he can basically be a digital nomad) I had to stay put because of work. The birthday party that was planned in March – cancelled because of COVID-19. Our annual visit in May – ditto.
So, we took the plunge and booked flights. Normally, it’s a two hour straight budget airline flight to Toulouse, with several flights a day. Now we have to fly Lufthansa and change in Munich. I even went as far and booked a hotel room in Aubrac for a little side trip – with free cancellation, of course.
Ans we booked a “big” trip last December – two weeks in Japan. It was ging to be our honeymoon in 2019 but we then decided to go to Spain instead in order to do some work on the house and ensure we could meet all our payments. So far, we have flights which are still happening. We have a few accommodations booked, some directly, some on Booking.com. At present, non-Japanese are essentially banned from entering Japan . If you have valid reasons, you need to undergo PCR Testing and quarantine. Interestingly, the Japanese Tourism Authority has a list of tourist attraction and when they are likely to re-open: most of them at the end of May, so there is still some hope.
Test before travel?
Will test availability positively alter the travel outlook for 2020?
Antibody testing became available to the public at my work site a few days ago. You have to pay for it, unless you’ve been sick recently.
I sent a sample anyway as the lab price is reasonable. I had some nasty flu type illness before testing was widely unavailable. As a result, I self-isolated pretty much for the first weeks in March. Then I worked with protective measures for ages. I had a negative test after contact with someone who didn’t have symptoms but later tested positive. I have had contact with patients, including suspected cases on an almost daily basis. And although we have a face mask rule, although we have use the appropriate protective equipment for risk procedures, I do get the occasional “moist speech” when I look in someone’s ear despite asking nicely to keep the mask on and not to speak when I am anywhere near someone.
If you want to travel, there are now also swab PCR tests widely available in Germany, with labs having capacity. You pay for these too, but the price is also reasonable in comparison with other Western countries. I have even read about certain airlines and countries performing tests before departure (Emirates) or before you are allowed to enter (Iceland). I am not sure what type of tests, or how sensitive or specific they are, but having some valid evidence of being free from infection at the time of travel would probably be useful. As long as you have the capacity to test wannabe travellers without compromising testing actual contacts.
May this be the last COVID-19-related blog entry. Although I have some more #coronacrafts stuff, but hey, pottery stuff will survive anything, right?
The Small Print
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Booking.com. This means I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through it. I use Booking.com for most of my hotel bookings. They are a company I recommend – even through COVID-19 cancellations, they have always acted fairly to me. Thank you!
It also seems to be good taste to state with every COVID-related post how privileged one is. But well, that privilege was always there. Living in the EU, having access to healthcare, attending school and university for free. And while everybody tagged Netflix and Chill, I was actually working my ass off. I built up a testing clinic and tested and treated lots of people. I am lucky to work for a large employer who has not announced furlough measures. Which has actually happened in Germany, because due to the twisted health system. Most healthcare facilities run for profit. Most money is made with quick turnover surgical procedures, which have been cancelled en masse.
I understand talking about travel again comes from a position of privilege (“Like, do you have no other problems?”). I’d be lying if I said I am not keen to travel again. And I will, of course, observe all legal requirements.