COVID situation in Germany in April 2021

This is where I usually write about my travels. The last trip to take place was in February 2020, just before the first lockdown began in mid-March.

We have been in lockdown mode for quite some time. With 16 German states, and each carrying its own set of regulations, it gets rather confusing at times. You might have heard Germans can fly to the Spanish island of Mallorca, but can’t rent a vacation home on the German shore.

In Germany, we can’t travel yet, because hotels, B&Bs, and the likes are closed to the public. We can’t eat in restaurants yet, but we can get deliveries.

We can’t get vaccinated yet, because there isn’t enough vaccine to go around. Priority groups go first, and just this past weekend, my husband was able to register for his vaccination (now all teachers get their turn). Of course, this was only the registration. Who knows how long it will take to actually get notified for an appointment.

We have adjusted, of course. We have also discovered new likes, such as going on picnics. This is in regulation with the keep-distance rule, and we can be outdoors.

With more time on my hands, I printed out a slew of British Tea Time sandwich recipes. White wine, which I usually do not care for, does find its purpose at picnic time.

My idea of Outdoor Isolation works really well. It takes one minute on foot to get to the park. Passersby smiled, and a bit of wine made my own smile even bigger. I plan on having picnics from now on whenever I can.

Picnic Time and Outdoor Isolation in Germany

The Flying Train of Wuppertal, Germany

Yesterday, 2 March, the Suspension Train (a.k.a. the Flying Train) celebrated its 120-year anniversary.

These historical postcards are part of my personal collection.

This platform is in front of the Barmen Rathaus (city hall), with Barmen being one of Wuppertal’s 10 urban districts.

Barmen Wuppertal Schwebebahn

This one is postmarked 25 Feb 1903. The Schwebebahn had been running for two years by then.

Schwebebahn Wuppertal

The Flying Train on its route, Barmen- Rittershausen.

Flying Train Station

On its way to Ritterhausen, the Schwebebahn goes under the Neue Sonnborner Brücke (New Sonnborn Bridge)

Sonnborn Bridge and Flying Train

Youtuber Denis Shiryaev digitally reworked the black-and-white film from 1902, and added color. I especially like the sound effects, which really brings it to life.

Heathrow Airport London Long Immigration Line

Having left the quiet Frankfurt Airport, our son encountered the opposite situation at Heathrow Airport, where the immigration queue was manned by only two people. This left people waiting in line without food or water for up to seven hours. It took our son six hours in the queue. We will have a chat with him this evening and we will surely hear some more details as well.

More about this here from the BBC News Business with the headline: “Heathrow Airport seven-hour queues ‘inhumane’, say passengers”

This was the immigration queue at Heathrow Airport on 28 Feb 2021 around 9pm.

Thomas had to be at the Frankfurt Airport by 2pm, no snacks are being served on flights, and yes, one can go without food or water until midnight. That is when he got back to his flat in London.

Some of the hold-up was caused by passengers not fully prepared for entry with the new regulations. One of them being having booked the two COVID-19 tests beforehand, and showing proof of it.

His two COVID-19 tests for entering the U.K. came to a total of £ 210 after some comparison shopping. Some test centers charge as much as £250 per test. All this, among other required entry forms, was done well before his flight.

His airport taxi reservation, which is usually around £40, tacked on another £5 for each additional 15 minutes. I’m sure he will let us know what his total bill came to.

He also had to miss his TESCO food delivery as none of his flatmates were home.

He made it back to London. That’s all that matters for right now.

Quiet Frankfurt Airport in Late February 2021

Yesterday, we dropped off our son at the Frankfurt Airport. It felt a bit strange not having been there in a while, when we used to be regulars there.

Our son, who had been working here remotely for close to three months, was heading back to London, where he works, and pays dearly for his room.

My last flight, before the pandemic, had been to Bari, Italy in November 2019, so it was a bit eerie to see the airport this quiet. The only sound came from this Turkish-sounding singing get-together inside the terminal. In normal times with so many passengers, this kind of gathering might not have taken place.

Most of the aisles, such as this one, were empty. Some shops were closed. Marco Polo’s store window carried a sign which said, “Never Closed”… The shop was closed though.

This usually bustling airport has been hit hard.

At the other end of our son’s flight was the opposite situation with Heathrow Airport’s immigration queue manned by only two people. More about that in my next post.

This is what BBC News Business titled it: Heathrow Airport seven-hour queues ‘inhumane’, say passengers.

Advice to Writers of Any Age

Many years ago in my early days of blogging, while out on a walk with my son, he made a comment at that time which left a big imprint. It was quite a learning experience, not only for me as a parent, but for my writing as well.

Now more than ten years later, he works as a professional writer in London, and he sent me this.

Years ago as a young man my mother asked me to help her with an entry for her blog by taking photos. Though I don’t remember it well, I for whatever reason was annoyed enough by her request to say ‘Das liest doch eh keiner’ (German for ‘nobody will read that anyways’). As callous as the statement was in hindsight, my mother later told me that my bit of blunt honesty made her less self-conscious and restrained when expressing herself online.

Given how much of our communication online these days is scrutinized and policed by other users, the unintended impact my words had are perhaps more relevant than ever. Too often are we afraid to express our true selves for fear of repercussion. Too often are we worried about what other people will think or say.

If we don’t express ourselves as we are, though, then how can we really hope to ‘know ourselves’ as old adage from the oracle at Delphi goes? The more our lips are sealed, the heavier the burden of truth lays on our shoulders. The truth shall set you free.

Write, then, as if nobody will read it.

Speak, then, as if nobody will listen.

Express yourself.

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