HOW I GOT THERE IN TIMES OF CORONA:
- 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.
WHERE I STAYED
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!
WHERE I ATE
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!
FISCHHAUS OBST @ CARLSPLATZ MARKET
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!
BRASSERIE HÜLSMANN BECAUSE IT NEVER FAILS TO IMPRESS
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.
WHERE I DRANK
EN DE CANON FOR GREAT GERMAN WINE
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.
BAR CHERIE FOR AFTER DINNER DRINKS
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.
THE RHINE PROMENADE
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.
WHERE I SWEATED IT ALL OUT
THE BEST SPINNING @ BECYCLE
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!