‘Better than I could have imagined’: How foreigners feel about being able to travel to Germany

'Better than I could have imagined': How foreigners feel about being able to travel to Germany
People enjoy the Saxon-Switzerland national park in eastern Germany this summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael
Although travel is by no means simple, it is easier for many people to visit Germany after restrictions were eased this summer. Here's how The Local readers feel about their trips and plans.

From catching up with friends, meeting family members – including newborns – or hoping to see the Christmas markets, many people are delighted to be able to come to Germany again, or at least hopeful that they can plan a trip. 

On June 25th, Germany lifted entry restrictions for fully vaccinated people coming from many non-EU countries, opening up the possibility of smoother travel. 

READ ALSO: Germany relaxes travel rules for non-EU residents: What you need to know

Of the people we surveyed earlier this summer, just over 30 percent had booked travel to Germany, while around 36 percent were planning a trip. 

Jennifer Hill, 48, in Wisconsin, the US, had been planning her summer trip to Germany for over a year.

She was due to visit Munich, Würzburg and her great-grandfather’s town in Lower Franconia in May. But she moved it to July. Luckily Germany eased travel rules for the US as well as other non EU countries at the start of summer so she could take her trip. 

“I had originally planned to include Austria, but decided it would be better to just stay in Germany,” she told us.

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Hill opted to stay in Airbnb accommodation instead of hostels to avoid too much contact with other people. She also packed FFP2 masks and bought travel insurance with Covid medical benefits to prepare for the trip. 

She said the vacation was less about sightseeing and more about “seeing where my family lived and enjoying being in Germany”.

“My visit was better than I could have imagined,” said Hill, who is fully vaccinated. “I felt very safe there, regarding Covid. I visited a few churches and other sites, ate at beer gardens, hiked, did some family research, and stayed with relatives in my great-grandfather’s town.

“I really appreciated that masks were required in public spaces, as they are not here in the US. And the restaurants I visited had good contact systems in place.

“At the end, I took a rapid take home Covid test to re-enter the US. Cases are up now in my community at home, as they are everywhere with the Delta variant. I’m glad I had the opportunity to go there when I did.”

READ ALSO: How Germany’s travel rules to fight the Covid fourth wave could affect your holiday plans

Of those who answered our survey, the majority – more than 67 percent – were fully vaccinated against Covid. 13 percent were not fully vaccinated just yet, and just over 13 percent were not vaccinated but still wanted to come from Germany. 

‘I miss my children’

Lots of people told us they were desperate for family reunions or to see loved ones in Germany. 

Eloise Tunnicliffe-Grundy, from the UK, said: “I’m visiting to see my boyfriend of three years, as we’re in a long distance relationship. I’m looking forward to spending time with him and eating local food, as well as seeing his family.”

Lars Kroll, 32, in the Netherlands plans to go sailing with his dad, see his parents and grandma, as well as friends.

Lots of people said they were concerned about Covid rules affecting their plans. 

Pat Milner, 65, from Rugby in England, said: “I cannot wait to visit my son Stephen and Anne who I haven’t seen for a year. They were due to get married in 2020 and their rearranged wedding was for this July. Now it has been put back until summer 2022.

“I feel relatively safe as I have been vaccinated, but worry about being refused entry to countries because of Covid restrictions.”

People at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in July. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

George Throup, 20, from London, is planning a trip to visit his girlfriend and her family. “I’m most looking forward to good food and getting out of the UK. I’m worried that we will be hit in the UK by another variant and we’ll be put back on the banned list!”

For some people it has been really difficult to plan due to complications with Covid restrictions. 

Harafa Minga Jerome, 42, in South Africa said: “My children and ex husband are living in Germany. My kids are still young and in school. I last saw them in 2019 when I went to Hamburg to visit.

“I was planning to visit in February 2020 but lockdown started and our borders are still closed and I am unable to travel to Germany. I miss my children dearly. I am looking forward to seeing them smile, holding them, talking to them and we love to dance as a family.”

Susan Mathew, from Bangalore, said she wanted to visit her son and daughter-in-law in Germany, and enjoy the countryside.  

‘I fell in love with Berlin’

Others are looking to explore their past. 

Greg Carter, 66, from Nevada in the US said he was stationed in Germany in the 70s. He loved the beer and food and has lots of friends he wants to visit. 

Steven Thompson, 61, in Las Vegas was also stationed the US in the 70s. “I would spend my weekends mostly in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and would like to look up old friends,” he said. 

“Since I’m not traveling until September, I’m in a wait-and-see mode right now.”

With tourist attractions across the country such as stunning castles like Neuschwanstein in the south as well as lakes, mountains and beaches, Germany is at the top of some people’s wish list.  

READ ALSO: Germany moves United States and Israel to ‘high risk’ list: What does it mean?

A stunning summer’s day at Titisee-Neustadt, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

Gary Michael Dubret, 57, based in New Orleans, Louisiana, said: “I want to visit my friend and I’d like to see the world largest model railroad train table in Hamburg.”

Melissa Mongelli, 45, is from the US. She came to Deutschland in 2019 and “fell in love with Berlin”, making her desperate for a return trip at the earliest opportunity.

“Love the city,” she said.

Charlie Ehrmann, 78, based in Georgia, US, said he attended high school in Berlin and met his wife on a trip to Munich so he’s taken many trips to Germany.

He wants to take his family – including his grandkids when they graduate from high school – to Germany. He loves the “Germany/Austria area, castles, mountains, food and music”.

Ehrmann said he was looking into how tourists can get tested in various cities. “Most hotels have been helpful in letting us know if they require and/or provide testing,” he said.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about Germany’s testing rules 

Mark Jeavons, 58, in England, wants to get back to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) for his annual trip to improve his language skills. 

Chris Laing, 53, from Edinburgh, is also a frequent visitor. “We visit Germany every year,” he said. “We love the food, beer and mountains.”

David and Nancy, who are in their 70s and live in Indiana, US, also visit on an annual basis.

“We lived in Germany for six years,” they explained. “Looking forward to driving along the Rhein and Mosel rivers and enjoying the scenery and great restaurants. Unfortunately we missed Spargel (asparagus) season!”

Meeting grandchildren

Others who responded to our survey said they wanted to get back to their second home in Germany, attend weddings – or even prepare for studying in the Bundesrepublik.

For Sharon Rosslind in Cape Town, a trip to Germany will be “to meet my two grandchildren”.

Tsitsi Makoni, 59, in Zimbabwe, said she wanted “to see my grandsons”.

She added: “One was born in 2020 and due to Corona I haven’t been able to visit and meet him. My other grandson is arriving on the 27th of July 2021 and would really like to be with my daughter when she gives birth.”

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Thanks to everyone who shared their experience with us. Although we weren’t able to include all the submissions, we read each of them and we are truly sympathetic to the challenges everyone is facing right now when it comes to travel during the pandemic. 

If there’s anything you’d like to ask or tell us about our coverage, please feel free to get in touch.

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