Isn’t Travel All about Planning?

A view of the iconic Erasmusbrug in Rotterdam, Netherlands

It was that time of the year again. All the compulsory leaves planned for the end of the year were begging to be utilized. They dreamed of new destinations.

For a couple that loves to travel —albeit not the touristy kind — it is usually this period ofthe year that we cherish the most. In the best of times the period in the lead up to the Christmas until the first few days of the new year is the only trip we indulge in some planning, keeping the crowd factor in mind. Otherwise every two months we simply set off to a new destination sans any planning. Truth be told, it is possibly the best way to surprise oneself.

But these are not the best of times. A disgusting virus, and its many variants, have ensured things are anything but normal. And travel is arguably one of the most affected. For those who love to travel and explore this is possibly the worst suffering, even worse than the virus itself.

Suffer we did, in 2020. We had returned from Costa del Sol in southern Spain in early January before the coronavirus situation was declared a pandemic. The whole year was spent thinking what could have been. While other possible travel opportunities could have been forgotten what was more painful was this year-end plan going kaput. To spend both Christmas and New Year at home is something we hadn’t done in years. But the virus, and the resulting lockdown, had ensured just that.

However, things did change in 2021, especially towards the second half. Let’s at least accept that it was a lot better as compared to the previous year. For starters, we got ourselves the double dose, and as soon as the vaccine certificate got activated we were on our way, to Denmark — which had by then lifted all the restrictions. It felt like a blessing to roam around sans a mask, from bigger cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus to quaint little towns like Roskilde and Ringsted it was a pleasure going back to this tiny Scandinavian country.

While we did enjoy getting out after so many months it came at a cost. For the uninitiated, and budget travelers please note, you cannot enjoy Denmark with a restricted budget. Not that we were complaining. In fact we were already planning our next trip on our way back.

With the virus refusing to go away altogether it was any ways about making the most of the available time. So in the next month we planned a lengthier trip, to the Netherlands on this occasion. We have been to this tiny little country many a times, yet we keep coming back. There’s definitely something Dutch in both of us.

A few years ago we had decided never to make Amsterdam our base, as it is too crowded and touristy. Make no mistake, Amsterdam remains one of our absolute favorites but years of travelling makes you smart enough to realize the do’s and don’ts. So Rotterdam and Haarlem became our bases on this trip, as we revisited many of those beautiful little towns like Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda and Leiden. Soon after our return news about the Omikron variant was doing the rounds. The Netherlands also went into a partial lockdown.

Our December plans was in disarray for a second year running. Going out of Deutschland was out of question. Even within the country the options were limited. The situation wasn’t very good, and kept getting worse with each passing day, in many states. The need of the hour was not only to double check but to triple check, to be fully convinced. There was also the satisfaction of having had back-to-back vacations if this one didn’t work out.

Considering its worsening situation Saxony — both Dresden and Leipzig are beautiful cities — was out of question. Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia are too crowded. We have been to Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg quite a few times in the recent past. Establishments in Schleswig-Holstein demanded 2G-Plus while Mecklenburg-Pomerania usually has the toughest state of rules for any German state, at times even for its residents.

It was back to the drawing board then. Eventually it was decided instead of going on one lengthy vacation it was a smart idea to break it up into two, one during Christmas and the other coinciding with the New Year, with a small break in between.

That we usually don’t opt for aggregator sites always makes things easier. In these times of Delta and Omikron it was imperative that we called up the hotel directly to enquire about the rules in place, and the necessary precautions being taken. We usually avoid crowded places, so were confident that we could evade any infection. Besides, we have always been responsible, not only as travelers but also as human beings. Over the last two years we have meticulously followed all the required rules to ensure both our safety and of those around us.

So Bremen it was during the Christmas period while we opted for Hannover in the lead up to the New Year. Surprised? So were our colleagues and friends. “Are you going to meet someone there?” we were asked.

Hannover isn’t exactly on a tourist’s wish list of places to visit. But like I mentioned before we aren’t tourists. Have never have one. We are travelers, and travelers love to explore the unexplored. They are always game for an improvisation. One plan going awry doesn’t leave them desolate, as they always have a back up option ready. The result may not always be as per expectations but it adds to the experience nonetheless.

A call to the hotel, prior to making a booking, helped us double check on the current rules applicable. Once the bookings were made it was time to chart out the plans. Yes, Hannover wasn’t the plan, but it was part of the plan. Over many years of travelling we have always cherished travelling to the quaint little towns across Europe, and still there are so many that we are yet to visit.

Hamelin was one of them. Yes, the one best known for the tale of the Pied Piper. It was definitely on the bucket list but since the town is relatively closer to where we currently reside it had been conveniently neglected. Do I say it was reserved to get the time it deserved? Jokes apart, it was perhaps destined that Hamelin will be our go to option in these dire times. So happy that finally we have managed to tick it off.

We welcomed 2022 in the old city area of the fabled town. Needlessly to say it is an experience to cherish for a lifetime. More about Hamelin in another blog.

In the final analysis it took us a lot of planning, and re-planning to ensure our year-end vacation didn’t go to waste. Isn’t traveling all about planning? Or is it about proper execution?



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Vickey Maverick

Vickey Maverick

‘Ditch the Niche.’ This is a humble effort at providing short insights as also detailed narratives on an array of topics to those readers who like some variety