Travel 2020: Flight from Germany (Munich) to Malta in December

Note: Travel during the restrictions imposed across various countries at this time mean that far more steps need to be taken in order to have a successful trip. In this case, do not use this post as a guide for travel at this or for any other destinations. The restrictions constantly change and it is up to you to know them yourself. This post also in no way encourages travel, do it at your own risk.

This is my second flight to Malta this year, the first being in mid-September and some things have certainly changed since then. The first one was the travel suspension for flights from the UK unless it’s a repatriation flight of Maltese citizens, residents, and any other pressing reason. The second was that a negative PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 must be presented before being able to enter the country. These rules are presented both by the airline (Air Malta) and the airport (Malta International Airport). There are also other requirements and Malta has had various other travel bans and the requirement that you have to be in what’s called a “safe corridor country” for 14 days before arriving, in which Germany was one of them.

Before you leave Germany

Since I’ve already been aware of all the rules and potential issues, I was already prepared with the following:

  • Having enough food in my apartment for the impending quarantine (10 days, or 5 days if you have a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR result).
  • Making sure the apartment is actually clean (nothing worse than coming back with a surprise that you forgot to throw away rotting bread).
  • A printed copy of my Anmeldung with me (the German residence registration certificate). The rules have changed or will change that you’ll need to show proof that you actually live in Germany if you are not a German citizen. I bring it with me in case that I lose my residence card, for example.
  • An up to date passport with more than 6 months validity.
  • Enough cash and a couple of cards, in case one is lost.
  • A packet of spare surgical masks (ie 10), hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes.
  • A couple of pens (extremely important with all the forms to be filled in…including surprise paperwork…

Pre departure

The airline (Air Malta) had passengers to fill out two forms – one is a printed, signed statement that you’re not sick and that you are not “actively positive”, not in contact with an active case, etc. This form is handed to the departure staff. It seems like even now a few passengers fail this part and they get taken to the side to fill in the paperwork. Mine was already filled in.

The other one is an electronic form, again attestation that you are in good health.

You will also need to be wearing a surgical mask, N95, FFP2 mask throughout the whole flight. In an earlier flight a couple of months back, cloth masks were used and even had people wearing bandanas that they later wear around the neck.

Another thing is to get a printed copy of the negative SARS-CoV-2 result. The airline staff don’t check this, instead it’s the Maltese airport upon arrival that checks for the test. Note: Actual rules may change, depending on the airline and destination.

Actual flight

I think the flight from Munich to Malta had about 20-30 people, each person taking up one row so it was very spacious. Airlines have filters for circulating air. Everyone is masked up, a dining cart service is provided still where you can buy coffee, tea, even beer or wine. You can also order a small meal. No cash is accepted, only cards.

We then start saying goodbye to Germany, meeting the Alps way above. It has actually been a long time since I last saw this scene, possibly on a flight to Italy mid 2018. I really enjoy peeking out and seeing which of the areas are villages.

The flight was pretty unremarkable. I took a laptop out to work, after wiping the desk with a sanitizing wipe.

Then we slowly made our way to Malta, being greeted and followed by this rainbow.

Arrival in Malta

On my first trip, we there was people in PPE collecting passenger locator forms before you can leave the airport, since at the time Germany was in a list of countries that did not require the negative PCR result. This time around the result is required and this was all done in an enclosed area of the departure lounge.

First they obtain a temperature check.

Then following that are two people with clipboards who’s task is to determine and check for paperwork. It seems that some passengers there had a rapid antigen test of some sort, which was no accepted. Without the test, you had to wait until all passengers left (that had the result) and then go to another area to do the test at the airport. In the testing area, your name and details are obtained and you provide your passenger locator form. No one leaves the area until you are let go by the staff who call out your name, then you are asked to immediately proceed out.

Berlin Christmas 2020

Massive Christmas tree at Tiergarten

Unfortunately, the new restrictions in place (then) had unfortunately wiped out nearly all forms of public life, except for worship (which even then, some services took place in the open air).

These photos were taken before new restrictions in place on December 16 which closed down non essential shops.

In the outdoor stall, you can buy Advent wreaths set in fir, acorns, ribbons, etc. The peak for sales is usually late November, before the first Sunday which is when the first candle is lighted.
A shop laid out in Christmas decorations over a long dining table. This was a pop up concept type of shop at the Bikini Berlin mall, where restauranters (which, had to be closed for dine in service since early November) could sell packaged food.
A fancy flower shop near where the embassies are at the Märkisches Musuem near Jannowitzbrücke.

I would have preferred to have seen open air markets or businesses like flower shops still open. Not only that, but biergartens and restaurants with open seating should have the opportunity to be able to set up winter outdoor seating.

Writing this in February 2021: I’ve been out of Berlin since mid December but based on what I’ve read in the groups, people still need to have that social connection so playgrounds have been full, people still going out for walks, also private gatherings but less. I still keep in touch with a group for the occasional virtual “Friday night drinks”. One person left for the UK and got affected by the travel suspensions, another went to western Germany to see their German family, another somewhere in the north of Germany, another went skiing somewhere in Switzerland over Christmas. For people that could, they left Berlin during the holidays period.

My First Bavarian Christmas in 2020 from Berlin to Munich

I spent about one week in Bavaria (near Munich) over Christmas. It was my first time in this region.

Bavaria by then had come into an outdoor mask mandate (must wear masks outside), a curfew from 9pm until 6am and shops only doing ‘click and collect’. The restaurants that are open are doing take-away. That is also in addition to other restrictions that has been going on in this region and in Germany. As a side note, the restrictions in place will depend on which Bundesland you live in, for example, the city-state of Berlin has different restrictions to Bavaria. However, overall by December, most of it seems uniform.

Train ride from Berlin to Munich – what is it like?

The booking for the train was fairly unremarkable. The seats were completely social distanced and very little bookings going on.

The train departed from Berlin Hauptbahnof. You can buy food and water, and you probably should since the dining cart availability is pretty minimal. They didn’t serve hot water, so no coffee or tea. A basic sandwich was on offer, so I had a chicken sandwhich. And a Twix, since I needed sugar in me.

Arriving in Munich Hauptbahnof, you can get your top up of fresh coffee.

Photos around the village

A coffee place where you can buy coffee beans and have it ground up, chocolates and more. There is also a café at the back doing takeaway coffee. The business owner opened the door, making a “Servus!” greeting.
This is a krippe, or a nativity crib. However the unique thing about this setting is that it is set in a traditional Italian-Napoli style crib called a “Prespi”
The Christmas Eve setting. One of the main differences with Australian Christmas is that the Eve is the most imporant event. Ingredients are also different – for example, a boar ragu sauce and schnappes after. Decorations are also different with the traditional Advent candle setting.
An actual dirndl shop. There were many dotted around the village. I didn’t actually realize the variety available out there. This one had a more wintry/festive look to it.
Not really a Christmas breakfast, but just showing a breakfast of liverwurst, salami, pretzel.