We had hoped for 2021 to turn out better than 2020. And for a few weeks, after the second vaccination, things looked a bit brighter in the travel industry. We got around a bit in 2021, but just as in 2020, our travelling in 2021 was limited compared to “normal” pre-Corona years. Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 early on made it definitely a bit easier. That way we could travel more safely and with fewer restrictions. Iceland, for instance, had a strict 2G rule for issuing visas when we travelled there.
We had left Germany in November 2020 for a short climbing trip to Gran Canaria. During the German Winter lockdown we prolonged our stay several times and thus stayed on the Canary Islands until the end of January 2021. We did a lot of climbing but also some sightseeing, and we started the New Year on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura.
Back in Germany, we continued to train at the indoor climbing gym. By the end of 2021, we are climbing as hard as nearly 20 years ago! (Still not very hard, though.)
When we came back to Germany we had to quarantine and Natascha celebrated her 50th birthday with an Online Party. It was the first one of a string of 50th birthday parties online as many of our friends are of the same age. We stayed in Berlin until May and did some day trips in the area.
And we finally moved our blog from Typepad to WordPress after 15 years of travel blogging. It was a lot of work and stress, but it was worth it. So far we are quite happy with the new design and the new possibilities.
All our long-distance guidebooks and guiding work being cancelled, we had an offer to write a travel guidebook about the Valais/Wallis Region in Switzerland. Two trips in early summer and summer led us to Switzerland for research. On a first trip we went to the Lac Leman region covering Geneva and Lausanne, with an extra stop in Neuchatel. During another five-week long trip to the mountainous regions of Valais in June and July, there still was a lot of snow on some of the hiking trails. Nevertheless, we had a great time exploring isolated mountain valleys and their unique cultural traditions.
Non-travel-related summer highlights were the first visit ever at a drive-in theater. Thanks to our friend Beate we could watch the wonderful Czech movie “Tausendschönchen” (Sedmikrásky) from the seat of a car. Another “first” was riding our bicycles topless during a political bicycle demonstration in Berlin. Less scary and much more fun than anticipated. We found out there is even a nude bicycle parade in London every year …
When Iceland opened its borders to vaccinated travellers only, and we knew our vaccination schedule, we booked a flight. Iceland had been on our wish list for some time, but we were wary of the crowds. Travelling in 2021, Iceland was certainly less affected by overtourism than in recent years. We took our time (three weeks) travelling the country, and visited some rather remote areas, too. But still, there were massive crowds in many places. The nature was fantastic, but Iceland did not become one of our favourite countries.
In early autumn 2021, we spent most of our time in Berlin, writing the new Valais guidebook and some other articles for a Lonely Planet guidebook about legendary cycling trips in Germany. And we went on a one-week cycling trip along the Industrial Culture Cycling Route in the Ruhr Industrial Area in Germany.
The Industrial Culture Cycling Route connects former mining towns and museums and other industrial heritage sites. Besides, the area is famous for greasy fast-food like Currywurst, fries and doner kebab.
A final trip in 2021 led us to Malta, one of the smallest countries in Europe. In the southern part of the Mediterranean, Malta was a good travel destination for November. As the island is very small and densely populated, Malta is clearly a sightseeing destination. We decided to travel around instead of exploring the country from one base (which would have been possible). Travelling in 2021, under Corona conditions, probably meant that there were fewer tourists, but Malta, too, was a very popular destination. We tremendously enjoyed our 10 days there, visiting a lot of Megalithic temples and cute old towns.
We spent the rest of November and December in Berlin working and meeting up with friends. Shortly before Christmas we got our booster shot and spent the holidays with family in Cologne. Overall, travelling in 2021 was not always easy due to some anti-Corona measures, but we managed to see a few new places and meet some friends in Europe.
Our publications in 2021
Finally, our postponed Tirol guidebook went into its second edition in spring 2021. We had just prepared the new edition a year earlier when Corona hit. All was ready, but it never got printed. The 2021 version required another update because so much had changed. In addition, we had a number of hiking articles in the German-language Lonely Planet Guidebook “Legendäre Wanderungen in Deutschland“.
Plans for 2022
Right now we are working towards another deadline in January and have flights booked to Southern Spain for some climbing and sightseeing. We do not expect the Japan tours to pick up before summer, and we have lots of ideas for the spring and early summer. Nothing is fixed yet, though.
2021 wasn’t bad – may 2022 be better!
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Great to hear you managed so many great trips during 2021. It seems you were kept busy with lots of stuff to look forward to throughout the year. A trip to Malta was a wonderful idea to finish the year off.
Dear Angela, yes, we were quite lucky that we could travel a bit during 2021. We really enjoyed our trips to Iceland and Malta with less tourists than in pre-covid times.
Glückwunsch… for turning 50 (me too), revamping your blog, and your guide getting published! It sounds like you had a great year, despite some of the restrictions. I’m curious why Iceland didn’t make it onto your favourite list. Alles gute in 2022!
Dear Renee, Happy Birthday to you too. 50 is a good age! Iceland was nice and had spectacular nature. What we did not like was that a lot of things are geared to a lot of tourists. Huge parking lots everywhere, broad paths from the parking lot to the waterfall. People clambering over fences to take some selfies. I guess it was just too touristy for us. And it was quite difficult to actually meet Icelanders. Most people were other tourists or foreigners working in the tourism industry.
Yes, I agree the first part of 2021 looked better than 2020 but then we did have a terrible second wave in our part of the world. Slowly and steadily we are healing and yes, I hope we have a better 2022. Am glad you vaccinated early on and took advantage of it to travel. Happy new year to you and good luck to all of us.
Reading ‘nude bicycle parade’ in London really woke me up, wow! I will check out your post on Iceland, since it is also a dream destination for me and I was excited when I heard vaccinated individuals may enter, so I’m curious as to your experience. Happy New Year!
Dear Alice, I would say now is a really good time to visit Iceland. Less visitors and everything is quite relaxed. We did not attend the nude bicycle parade, but had fun at the topless ride in Berlin – so I was researching other options for the future!
Way to persevere! And pick up some great writing opportunities along the way–I’d love to learn more about that gorgeous region of Switzerland. And why we haven’t been to Iceland, I just don’t know. You reminded me how stunning it is!
Dear Anne, if you like the mountains, I would say the Valais region in Switzerland is the best region in the Alps to go to – at least in summer. I do not ski – so cannot say anything for the winter season. For Iceland – I would recommend going soon. Now is a good time without all the Asian tourists.
There’s always a first to everything and it makes the experience unforgettable just like celebrating birthdays virtually, shifting to WordPress, and being topless on a bike. The world is changing and remaining just as onlookers is tough. We’ll always find the best ways to see the world despite and in spite of the pandemic. Have a blast in 2022!
Dear Trisha, very wise words! Wish you all the best for 2022 and a lot of travels!
You managed to put in a lot of trips in a bleak year…plus a new travel guide!
You certainly took advantage of breaks in pandemic restrictions to get some exciting travel it. Even though we loved our long Canadian road trips, it meant we sadly missed the chance to get to parts of Europe when they were open and the risk was lower. 2022 will be another interesting challenge.
Congrats on the Valais/Wallis Region in Switzerland, it’s an honor to be asked. The bicycles topless during a political bicycle demonstration in Berlin made me laugh, that will be a great conversation starter for years to come. I have lots of post-its on my calendar for 2022 and am hopeful!
Dear Sherianne, all the best to you for 2022! Yes, the Valais guidebook was a lot of fun – but also a lot of work.
Your travel highlights through out 2021 looked interesting.Traveling in 2021 was easier compared to 2020. Nice to know about your travelogue and good luck with your Lonely Planet guidebook.
Very inspiring – and encouraging – ladies! I’ve also been to Gran Canaria where after 23 hours on the island I broke a leg. This way, I spent a week in Las Palmas, however, not in accommodation of my liking. Nevertheless, travel felt much better than the year before – and I’m planning on going to give the Canary Islands a second chance next month 😉 All the best to you – and congrats to that publication 😀
Dear Renata, all the best for 2022 for you too! Hopefully the leg is good again. Gran Canaria is beautiful – we have not been to all of the Canary Islands, but so far El Hierro is our favorite!
Malta and Berling look amazing! I have never really been interested in going to Berling, but I think I am adding it to my bucket list after reading your post. My husband would like to go anyway so that we can go together. You did a ton in a year. I barely did anything last year. But I am definitely getting inspired by you. That’s why I love the traveling community. It gives me life. Thanks for sharing.
Dear Francia, let me know when you come to Berlin – we can go for a coffee or a beer – if the Corona rules are fine with it…..