Travel Day 1: To Frankfurt
Thursday, January 20, 2022 9:22 pm
Location: Frankfurt, Germany

Travel in pandemic times is so much more complicated and uncertain.

I had hoped that the largest impact to our upcoming hike on the Canary Islands would be incidental things, such as face mask mandates and reduced capacity at restaurants. As we were planning our hike, though, we found larger restrictions.

On Fuerteventura, the second island of the GR131, all of the public campgrounds are closed, making it a bit more difficult to actually camp. On Tenerife, the campgrounds are also closed, but more importantly for us, the Refugio Altavista on El Tiede, the highest peak of the Canaries (and Spain), is closed, making it somewhat unlikely we’ll be able to hike up to the summit. But that pales in comparison to the unexpected (and almost hike-ending) uncertainty that befell us last night and this morning.

We had understood Spain’s entry requirements to be that entry was allowed if you were vaccinated and boostered for Covid-19, and since we were, we didn’t think too much more about it. Then, yesterday morning, CareFree got a call from a friend of hers she had dinner with on Saturday before picking me up at the airport in Frankfurt. Both he and his wife were feeling ill and had tested positive for covid. This caused CareFree to re-verify Spain’s rules for entry, and last night, she found conflicting information between Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, and two different places on Spain’s travel health website.

It seems that in the last few days, a new policy had gone into effect, and travelers from “high risk” countries (basically, everywhere but about a dozen countries that have done really well in managing Covid) were required to also have a negative covid test before entering Spain. One set of information implied that a rapid antigen test was sufficient, but one place on Spain’s website said that they weren’t accepting rapid tests because of a lack of agreement among European Union countries over which rapid tests to accept, and instead, a PCR test was required.

Getting a PCR test wouldn’t have been so bad (save for the cost to get one), except now we had less than 30 hours between when we figured out we needed a PCR test, and when we were going to be boarding our airplane to Lanzarote. And, there was the risk that one (or both) of us would test positive, as a result of her possible exposure. We lucked out on testing, though, and found a pharmacy relatively nearby that we could go to and get a PCR test, with expedited results in six hours. With an 8 am appointment, that would give us results before we’d need to leave this evening to head to Frankfurt for our flight tomorrow.

This morning, amid light snow, CareFree’s father drove us to the pharmacy, where we got tested. We got there shortly after they opened; I think we were most likely the first people tested today, which is probably why our test results came back two hours later: we were both negative, safe for travel.

With that weight of uncertainty lifted, we finished packing and later this afternoon, departed for a two hour ride across four different trains to make our way to a hotel in Frankfurt, for our morning flight tomorrow.

CareFree and Longstride on a train to Frankfurt.

This being my first stay in a hotel in Germany, the room had some unexpected features. For example, all of the electricity in the room is gated through a switch at the door to the room, activated by inserting the room key. I suppose that does make for fewer lost keys, and saves power by not allowing anything to consume electricity unless you’re actively in the room, but it also just seems like unnecessary nickel-and-dimeing (similar to how most of the public restrooms require a small charge to use).

We walked to a nearby supermarket to get sandwiches and salad for dinner, and after our much earlier than expected start to the day this morning, retired to bed early — we have to get up early again tomorrow to catch our flight.

Tomorrow, we’ll make it to Arrecife, Lanzarote, and the day after that, we’ll begin our next adventure!