Exploring Germany: Marketing manager Francesca Stumpacher takes spontaneous 'workation'

Ms Francesca Stumpacher at Munich's Nymphenburg Palace. PHOTO: FRANCESCA STUMPACHER

Who: Marketing manager Francesca Stumpacher, 32

Her trip: Vienna, Barcelona, Munich and Frankfurt, from July 31 to Sept 24

Ms Stumpacher spent a month in Austria and Spain, then spontaneously added a 23-day "workation" in Germany while she was still on the move.

The Austrian national works in Singapore for a regenerative food company, and discovered during her trip that re-entry approval from the Ministry of Manpower would take longer than anticipated. That was not the case when she travelled to Austria in October last year.

"It was very stressful this time," she says. So when news of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Singapore and Germany emerged in August, it was a glimmer of hope.

She decided to spend the requisite 21 days in Germany on a "workation". She reasoned that her company, WhatIF Foods, already works productively with remote teams in Hawaii, Vietnam and Australia. Her boss agreed, thankfully.

Swiftly, Ms Stumpacher and her Spanish boyfriend, who also works in Singapore, booked serviced suites in Munich and Frankfurt. They also snagged VTL flights out of Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines (SIA), using frequent flier miles.

Stress over, she could chill in Munich's beer gardens.

"There were mainly locals, including families with kids and groups of friends. We were in huge outdoor spaces and it didn't feel overcrowded. I liked the atmosphere. Live bands played music. It felt like normal life."

After work and on weekends, the couple walked in the city centre and around their cool neighbourhood dotted with little parks. The days were still long and summery last month.

Previously, she had visited Berlin and Hamburg, but Munich and Frankfurt were new experiences for the travel lover.

She spied few tourists in these early, hopeful days of postvaccine travel, though she heard Singaporean accents in one hotel.

Ms Stumpacher at one of Munich's beer gardens. Munich and Frankfurt were new experiences for the travel lover. PHOTO: FRANCESCA STUMPACHER

Ms Stumpacher, who speaks German, says: "Germany is very respectful of rules. Singaporeans will feel comfortable here."

The country is big, she adds, and Singaporeans can journey beyond its cities to mountainside villages and wine regions.

Friends in Singapore have asked excitedly about her trip and she wants to inspire globetrotters still uncertain about travel. "Normal life is slowly coming back. It's possible to travel during the pandemic."

Tips to explore safely

Ms Stumpacher on a visit to Munich's city centre. PHOTO: FRANCESCA STUMPACHER

• Read up on Germany's latest Covid-19 rules and ask hotel concierges or locals for more clarity if needed. In essence, Germany requires people to show proof that they have been vaccinated or tested, or have recovered from the virus.

• This may be an opportune time to redeem frequent flier miles. Ms Stumpacher used 38,000 miles for her one-way SIA VTL flight from Frankfurt and says this was good value. She paid $160 in airport taxes.

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