When I had to cancel my planned trip to Germany in April 2020, little did I know that travel in 2021 would continue to pose challenges. But after not having seen my Dad for over two years, this summer I decided to buy a ticket to fly to Europe, challenges or not.
Until I was able to fill out the airline’s required online paperwork a mere three days before my planned departure in early September, and receive confirmation that my immunization record as well as my destination and accommodation in Germany were approved, I wasn’t sure my plan would come to fruition, as recommendations and regulations were being adjusted constantly.
Even when I showed up at Denver International Airport many, many hours before my scheduled flight, I still wondered if the carrier or TSA would find a reason not to allow me to board. Much to my relief, they didn’t. But much to my dismay, the plane was full and there was no way to keep a safe distance from my fellow passengers. At least every person I saw seemed to be wearing his or her mask as required. Until food was served, when all the masks came off at once. Mine didn’t, as I waited until most my neighbors were done, and even then I replaced my mask after each sip or bite.
After ten very long hours in a very crammed space, the aircraft parked on the tarmac rather than a gate, and I spent another twenty claustrophobic minutes in a bus until we were dropped off at the terminal. Never mind the conspicuous signs asking riders to stay 1.5 meters away from one another. This might have worked with three or four buses, but the airline provided only one.
Flying overseas had never before been such a roller-coaster of emotions. After agonizing whether or not to proceed and feeling better once I made the decision to do so, I still didn’t know if the fluid Covid situation would preclude my trip until I was seated on the plane. But after enduring far too much extended closeness with strangers, I finally arrived safely in Frankfurt, where I was greeted by my Dad’s smiling face (at least he seemed to be smiling behind his mask).
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with family and friends in Germany, especially in light of the latest virus news, and grateful not to have caught Covid. Apart from the sadness of having to part from my Dad, and the hassle and cost of needing to obtain an official Corona test, which wasn’t as straightforward as expected, my return trip to Colorado was far more pleasant than the outbound flight. The plane wasn’t full, I had no immediate neighbors, and was able to stretch out across three seats, a rare luxury.
As what was supposed to be a short introduction turned out too verbose, I won’t impose on your patience any longer. Instead, I will share some of my actual experiences in Germany in several future posts. Thank you for reading.
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PS: The featured photo above shows Denver International Airport with the pointed roofs of the Jeppeson Terminal and the ship-like Westin Hotel.