Friday 13 August 2021


It only took 10 months, a cancelled Christmas (thanks Boris), a missed 60th birthday (my mum's) and quite honestly a lot of pretty mentally challenging days for me to finally make it back to Düsseldorf and be re-united with my mum.

If you have read my blog for a while you will know that I don't exactly have a big family (dead dad, only child, one cousin - you get the idea) so not seeing my one woman family unit because of this god damn pandemic was incredibly, incredibly hard - harder than I could have imagined.

Pre the big C it was so easy to pop over for a long weekend to my home city and spent some quality time with her, a 50 minute flight into Europe about as much as effort as getting on a train to Leeds, a freedom of movement and travel which was quite literally obliterated as the entire Europe pretty much closed it's doors to the UK (once again, thanks Boris!).

I remember when two days before Christmas every single flight between Germany and the UK got cancelled, and, faced with a Christmas alone, I was pretty uncertain when I would see my mum the next time.

Indeed that sense of uncertainty remained firmly in place for most of 2021. Whenever I thought there may be a chance to visit, there suddenly was another hoop to jump through: 10 day quarantines either side, a need to be fully vaccinated, ever changing test requirements - it felt that like everything was working against me seeing my mum (and trust me I became more than a little bit obsessed with checking the news and latest travel developments every day and every hour).

I had always hoped that by August there would be chance to make it finally over to see my mum, not that it was easy in the end! If you want freedoms, the chance to travel and are not a total idiot GET VACCINATED!!! I refreshed the NHS website every day until it was the turn of 29 years to get the jab and then managed with a little clever research to cut the time between my jabs from 12 weeks to 21 days which meant that by the time August came around, 14 days have to pass after your second jab for it to become "valid", I was officially fully vaccinated with certificate which opened up travel and made the trip finally a realistic possibility.

Of course there were still some tests to book, forms to fill out (more on that below) and actual planes to book, and honestly until I was sat on the plane I was still fearing some freak mutant strain suddenly breaking out in the UK, I mean we've done well with the "Kent" and Delta variant in the past, BUT it all worked out in the end and it never felt better to be back in Germany and with my mum. 

I so dearly appreciated every Düsseldorf favourite I had missed and finally got to re-vist, treasured staying at hotels after being confined to my own four walls for so long and most importantly valued my mum more than ever. After all we have been through there just wasn't time for petty arguments, instead only time for making amazing memories to make up for the last year and a half of cancelled trips and teary calls.

I really truly hope this will be the longest gap in terms of my visits but I will never take for granted the freedom to travel freely and to call two countries my home. 

It also made me realise you don't always need to fly 12 hours to an exotic location for a real holiday, going to a place so close to my heart that I had missed so dearly did much more for my mental health than any beach in a place far, far away would have done. 

Yes, travel has become a lot more complicated, stressful and expensive but don't wait to see your loved ones abroad, go now while you can - if I have learnt one thing from living with Corona it is that it is not predictable and we are still some time off from fully mastering and managing it. 


  • Get vaccinated. Being double vaccinated will allow quarantine free travel into most European countries and will also enable you to not quarantine once you are back in the UK.
  • Get proof of being vaccinated - this means downloading the NHS app (not the track and trace app) on which you can download a PDF proof of vaccination with QR code which you will be required to show at check in. 
  • Get your fit to fly test done (if your final destination requires you to). Germany required a proof of a negative lateral flow test with an official certificate which means your at home tests WON'T do the trick. There are a few places like QURED that will send you the test to do at home which you have to take via a zoom call so it can be verified as being done correctly. On this occasion I did a walk-in test instead with DocTAP which was a little more expensive (£49 for a rapid antigen) but meant no worrying about lost mail / not getting the results / certificates on time before the flight - something to bear in mind especially during holiday season. FYI there are a few dodgy companies out there when it comes to testing so if the offer seems to good to be true, it probably IS too good to be true!
  • Make sure you do a test BEFORE you board your plane back to the UK or you will not be allowed back into the country. A rapid antigen will do the trick (taken within 48 hours of departure) and most European airports have testing facilities on site! I simply showed up 3 hours rather than 2 hours before my flight, did the test (€29 euros for a lateral flow test), grabbed a coffee and had my negative test certificate within half an hour. It is however worth researching this a little ahead of time just in case your airport does not have the facilities, you don't want to end up a few hours before take off with no way of doing a test!
  • Also make sure to purchase the right test package in advance for when you get to the UK. If you are full vaxxed you will only need a day 2 test, if you are not vaccinated or only had your first vaccination you will need a day 2+8 bundle - THERE IS NO WAY AROUND PURCHASING THESE as you need to enter a unique code which you receive after purchase that needs to be entered into your passenger locator form. No code = no completed form and without that NO entry in to the Uk. I used Randox who had a super cheap day 2 test for £49 which I ordered the day before my flight, in time to take it on day 2 of being back in London.
  • Save yourself the stress at the airport and if possible fill out the UK passenger locator form once you have checked yourself in online as it can take a little time and you don't want to be making mistakes as this form is what will get you back into the country!
  • With all these forms and certificates to consider I emailed myself a little schedule with everything attached which came in really handy as I had everything in one place!
  • LASTLY! These requirements are very country specific and are constantly reviewed and changed (sometimes with less than 24 hours notice) so if you want to be sure about the most current and up to date rules for the country you are travelling to check their government or embassy website.



If you are after a cheap yet stylish and clean hotel in a super central location in Düsseldorf, Motel One is a total winner! Literally a minutes walk away from the main station and 10 minutes walk from Düsseldorf's city centre it may be no boutique hotel but rooms a modern, clean, bright and a total bargain at €69 a night! I am not a massive hotel breakfast fan anyway so love the idea that you aren't forced to having it included in the price and overall was very impressed by friendly and efficient service plus the hotel bed was INCREDIBLY comfortable and had me sleeping like an absolute baby after a day of travel!


The Fritz is a decent small boutique hotel option near Düsseldorf's version of Bond Street. My room could have been a little bigger and brighter but I did like the thoughtful interior design touches and it felt like a treat to stay here for one night! 



As much as I am a creature of habit when it comes to my culinary choices whilst in town, I am also always keen to find out what the new hot place to eat at is (especially when I have not been there in a while) and THE KITCHEN came highly recommend by my stylish and always in the know friend Marcel and it did not disappoint! Creative small plates, fantastic flavours, great wine and attentive service. It's not cheap but worth every penny and a real treat!


Carlsplatz is a wonderful spot for a little snack or afternoon drink as this daily covered market ,with ample outside space if weather allows, has just about every fresh food on offer ones heart could desire, from classic German meaty dishes like the currywurst, to a plethora of bakeries and of course this little gem of a stand that sells plenty of fresh fish and seafood and some great food eat right there! 

I went for a sort of battered fish on a bread roll, served with the most wonderful remoulade, while my mum went for a generously stuffed smoked salmon roll, accompanied by a glass of ice cold white wine which you can have on the side for scandalously affordable €2.50 a glass. The fish was first class, the wine just what we needed and perched on one of their outside benches it was the perfect spot to people watch on a sunny Saturday afternoon!


No visit to Düsseldorf is complete for me without a dinner at Brasserie Hülsmann, a proper local culinary institution that is always packed with locals and never fails to wow with its food! It's a 10/10 every time I go -  atmosphere, menu, staff - you cannot go wrong here and I will be returning for many years to come.



One of my favourite places to go for a drink, this wine bar by the Rhine promenade serves a fine selection of German wines. The food served is great and staff even greater plus being a little tucked away from the main "tourist strip" you won't be surrounded by obnoxious day trippers and are always likely to secure one of their lovely outside tables.


Tucked away on a side street of the bustling old town, Cherie is a quirky little bar with plenty of outside space which is perfect for after dinner drinks and cocktails and offers a great starting point for some bar hopping afterwards. 


If the weather is good, there is nothing better than grabbing a bottle of cremant and heading to Düsseldorf's lovely Rhine Promenade. If you are lucky enough to find an empty to bench watch the world go by and relax! It doesn't get much better for me.



I adore this state of the art spinning studio which I have never failed to make a stop at since it opened a few years ago. It's founder Jennifer isn't only one of the most welcoming people you will ever meet but she has also managed to built an incredible studio space that offers some of the best spinning classes I have ever enjoyed, and I have been to just about any hyped spinning class there is! They have not had the easiest time with Covid but she still hosted me in the most warming way as I arrived and then preceded to have one of her world class instructors truly kick my ass at 9:30am on a Saturday morning after quite a few wines the night before!

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