We just got back from a 2.5 week trip to Germany to visit close friends over the holidays. First for the COVID stuff, both my husband and I are double vaccinated plus boostered. Our 12 and 9 year old boys are double vaccinated. When we flew over on Dec. 17th the US wasn't listed as a high risk country, so we just had to upload our proof of vaccination to Delta's website. We weren't subject to any other paperwork or quarantines at that time. Rules are a little different right now because the US is now considered high risk.
For the most part we felt really comfortable traveling. Boarding on/off the plane was a little uncomfortable because everyone is pretty much crowded up together. Otherwise though we were able to keep our distance and felt safe. We originally were going to start off in Austria, but because of the changing COVID rules, we decided to stick to only Germany. I'm glad we did because it really simplified things.
Once in Germany, things honestly felt much like being here. Everyone is living life as best as possible. We had a really nice time with our friends. Originally we were going to start off in the Nuremburg area, but because of "well known reasons" (as our friends would say) we ended up staying mostly with our friends in the Frankfurt region and did day trips. While with them, we did not eat out at restaurants. We primarily did outdoor activities such as Christmas markets, a walking tour with Ms. Jo's husband (I highly recommend) of Frankfurt, hikes around our friends' village, and a trip to the reconstructed fort Saalburg, We also took day trips to the town of Büdingen and to Marburg. Both are gorgeous towns and well worth a visit! Over the actual holidays we were able to go to a Nativity play at our friends' village church and a Christmas concert on Christmas day.
After Christmas, our family of four did take a side trip to the Harz Mountain region. We rented a car so that we could avoid public transportation (in non-pandemic times public transportation would be our preference). We stayed for four nights in Quedlinburg. That was such a neat area. About six years ago, I went to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which is also really nice. This area was similar. Loads of wonderfully preserved half-timbered houses. In fact, I believe it has the most of any other town in Germany. You really felt like you were set down in medieval times.
We spent one day walking around with the kids in Quedlinburg and toured the Stiftskirche St. Servatius. The 2nd day we went to Wernigerode and toured the castle. I'd read the English version of "The Little Ghost" to the boys and then we watched the movie. The film was recorded at that castle. So the kids had a blast trying to remember certain scenes from the movie. Wernigerode's Old Town was beautifully decorated for Christmas and vibrant. We enjoyed good food and shopping there. On the last day, we went to Thale, took the chairlift and then hiked up to the summer tobbagan ride. Kids loved that and it got a good amount of energy out of them! That night we ate at an amazing restaurant near Quedlinburg recommended to us by our AirBnB host called Historische Gaststätte & Pension Bückemühle Fischspezialitätenrestaurant (translated it means Historic restaurant & Pension Bückemühle fish specialty restaurant). That was a highlight!
All in all, we loved the Harz Mountain region and could easily have stayed longer because there was so much to do. I will say that we struggled a bit with the language barrier. Our friends said that because it used to be Eastern Germany, English is not so widely spoken among the older generations. In fact, we only ran into a couple other tourists who spoke English and offered to try to help us when they realized we were struggling to communicate. All signs were in German and during the Christmas time of year there were no tours offered in English. Maybe that's different in summer. I think the area is more of a German tourist area though.