Travelling in the post-vaccination period is markedly easier than it had been in the early part of 2021. Now, a proof of vaccine (or recovery from Coronavirus) is enough to get an exemption from most of the most annoying hassles of travelling in this new era. Gone are the days of endless testing and a million locator forms for every bloody country that we enter... instead, there is just a locator form for certain entries (generally if you stay a long time in one country or if you are entering from a particularly high-risk area).
Of course, the vaccines don't make you invulnerable to catching coronavirus, but they do lessen the effects if it progresses to COVID. Plus, it reduces the contagious period, so that is also beneficial to everyone.
For the past week or so, I have been travelling with a performing group... and they had to stop off for an hour or so in Paris so that they could cast distance ballots in their national election. It turns out that the embassy was pretty near the Eiffel tower... given that I wasn't a citizen of that particular country, I wasn't allowed to vote and so I had to pass an hour or so in this surrounding.... well, it could be much worse! At least the weather was sunny, even if it wasn't exactly warm.
Like many of these tours, the entire thing kicks of with an early morning train ride to the airport. I have long gotten into the habit of packing everything the night before, with all the stuff I need ready to go in the living room. So, all I need to do is to sneak out of the house without waking anyone else up...
...plus, having everything ready to go means that my early morning, "just woken up with not enough sleep" brain isn't overloaded with any more details than staying standing and making a quick coffee!
The Netherlands has been pretty relaxed with coronavirus restrictions in comparison to other countries. On public transport, it is necessary to wear a mask... but any mask is okay. In most other countries it is required to have a decent N95 standard (or equivalent)) of mask. One thing that I have enjoyed about masks is the fact that they keep your face warm in the cold autumn mornings before the Sun has risen!
Schiphol (Amsterdam airport) has always been one of my favourite airports. Lots of space to walk in and a very familiar place for me, it will be a place that I will miss when I leave Europe. One of the best things that I have found with Schiphol is the security line. Now, it seems weird to point out one of the more annoying bottlenecks of travel as a key highlight... but in comparison to many other airports that I have travelled from, Schiphol is really quite hassle free. They even have decent scanning equipment which means that you don't have to take everything out of your bags... so, laptops and electronic equipment can stay inside... which makes for less of big unpack and repack!
Again, the good use of room is pretty important as well... there is lots of space for people to wait for their gear, or to just put their belt back on before their pants fall off!
Anyway, on that sunny but cold day in Paris... I wandered a little away from the bus and the tourist crowds. Honestly, I just wanted to sit down somewhere and read a book... and not being bothered by hawkers selling tourist stuff was a big priority! Plus, if I could find a proper place to sit down...
... ahhh, my home base for an hour! Within sight of the bus, and not too many other people!
Which brings me around to this morning and the end of the tour. Unfortunately, I don't get a nice decent hour flight back home this morning... I have to be at another concert with a different group this afternoon. That meant that the only possible way that I could find was an early morning (4 in the morning) series of ICE train connections. Well... it could be worse, as long as the trains are running on time, the ICE (German high speed) trains are actually quite comfortable and have mains power supply on the seats as well. I am debating whether or not to stay awake on this one... or just sleep a few hours. I think sleep is better... I can already feel my brain slipping away!