Like many of you, I had been waiting...and waiting...for travel to be allowed again to Europe. The morning of my flight I checked and double checked that I had all of the necessary information. It seemed pretty straightforward and thankfully it was. The airline agent checked my COVID vaccine card when I checked in at the airport and then...nothing. No one checked anything during my connection in Atlanta and when I landed in Frankfurt, the immigration officer simply asked the purpose of my trip and I was allowed in. Yes, masks are still required and Germany requires the masks to be medical masks---no cloth masks or other face coverings are allowed. There are social distancing markers and hand sanitizing stations in place. Most hotels, restaurants, stores, tourist attractions, etc are open and welcoming guests.
My main reason for visiting Germany is always to see friends...and it was especially exciting to see them this time since I hadn't been to Germany since December 2019. A long time for me... Germany is a beautiful country and I love being outside and being able to walk nearly everywhere. I can't post Germany photos without at least one of cake :)
After spending a few days with friends, I flew to Santorini, Greece. I have wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. Somehow, it never worked until now.
Normally, when you fly within what is called the Schengen Area (many countries within the EU), there is no immigration or customs. You can land and walk right out of the airport. However, now that each country has its own COVID entry requirements, there is an additional step. For Greece, each passenger had to show proof of vaccination OR a negative COVID test. Each passenger also had to fill in a passenger locator form (PLF) on-line at least 24 hours prior to arrival and show a QR code as proof.
I had only one night in Santorini and I was hoping for a beautiful sunset. Oia, a town on Santorini, is known around the world for amazing sunsets. There is hardly any rain during the summer on Santorini, so my chances of seeing one were pretty high. The sunset did not disappoint....and the surrounding area was gorgeous! I could have sat and watched a hundred sunsets and not been bored. I would certainly recommend spending more than 1 night on the island---3 or 4 nights would be my recommendation.
I had most of the next day to explore and I hired a guide to show me the island. Efi was an excellent guide and she truly showed me nearly every part of the island. I was gathering intel to help me plan trips for you---it was a bit of a whirlwind---I didn't get to spend much time in any one location and to truly see the island would take a few days.
There are beaches, but they are all black sand and while a couple of towns have beach clubs, Santorini isn't the best location to visit if you want to stay on the beach all day, every day. A beach day or two is great, but Santorini is known for its wines, views, food, architecture, and the ancient city of Akrotiri. A volcanic eruption buried Akrotiri in a similar way that Pompeii was buried in Italy...except Akrotiri was buried much earlier and is sometimes referred to as the lost city of Atlantis.
Each village on Santorini has a different feel and it is important to understand what you hope to see on the island before choosing where to stay. After seeing how narrow and windy the roads are on Santorini (and how difficult it is to find a parking spot!), I would strongly encourage you to not rent a car, ATV or moped.
From Santorini I headed to Athens---it is a quick 30 minute flight. I had been to Athens before and had seen the most popular spots (Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, etc). For this visit, I hired a guide for a culinary tour. We walked all over Athens and I saw neighborhoods I wouldn't have normally seen. It was fun not knowing what I was going to taste at the next stop.
I stayed about a 10 minute walk outside of Plaka---the main tourist neighborhood of Athens. It was nice to be so close when I wanted to visit, but far enough away that the neighborhood wasn't crowded and it was more locals at dinner than tourists.
Not all of these photos were taken on the culinary walk, but thought this was a good place to keep the food together. I had amazing food and looking and these are making me hungry for more Greek food!
Like all international destinations, I had to get a COVID test before I could return to the US. Greece has many testing options--including a testing site at the airport. I got my test at a pharmacy in the middle of a pedestrian only shopping street about a 5 minute walk from my hotel. I paid 20€ and had my results in less than 5 minutes. It was very simple. There are even companies that will come to you at your hotel---that price was 40€ for the same test.
I had an amazing time and wish I could stayed longer than 9 days, but I loved every minute. Hoping I can make another trip back to Germany this winter (crossing my fingers!).
I am here to help you plan your return trip to Europe. While restrictions and entry requirements are different for each country, more than 60% of European countries are open. River cruises are starting and ocean cruises have been sailing in Greece and Croatia since those countries opened earlier this year. This isn't the year for a large tour, but private guides are eager to show you their countries and many, if not most, tourist attractions are open for business. Please get in touch when you are ready to start planning.
Tracey is the owner of Unraveled Travel and has traveled to every continent except Antarctica.