When the EU downgraded the US from a “safe” country just one day before my planned trip, I’ll admit, it made me nervous. It was not at all clear how or how quickly national policies might change. What if they require a negative test in addition to a vaccination card… do I even have time to get that? Or a quarantine? It turned out I didn’t need to worry.
I did get a test before flying to Switzerland on September 1st, but nobody has cared to see it (although Italy has recently added a recent negative test as a requirement in addition to being fully vaccinated). They checked my CDC card at the airport before printing my boarding pass, and again at the gate before I boarded the plane to Zurich. I filled out the Swiss entry form on my phone while waiting for the plane, which took 5 minutes, although the plane staff also gave out paper forms on the plane to those who hadn’t done it online. The QR code generated by this form was needed at passport control in Zurich. People were masked at the airport and on the plane the whole time (well, ahem, most of us), but other than that, the process was basically what it’s always been.
It sure feels good to be back! My first stop was Trient, a place I never even loved before, if I’m being honest, but a necessary stop on the TMB. And, hey, I really liked it this time. Fresh air, soaring mountains, gleaming glaciers, the cling-clang of local cowbells… the scenery is epic and bucolic at the same time. I’ve missed this.
I went for a hike, grazed on wild raspberries, took in the sounds of cows and waterfalls, and drank from the fountains coming straight out of the ground. This feels good. In the Alps, you find yourself standing a little taller, breathing a little deeper, worrying a little less. It’s amazing. I stayed at our simple but friendly inn, the Grand Ourse, met some other tired but happy hikers, got to bed early, and woke up ready for France.
I had applied for the French health pass 2 weeks ago and, of course, heard nothing, so I was coming in without a health pass wondering how much it is really needed. Arrival was smooth, checking in to my hotel, no problem. Chamonix has a mandatory mask policy while you’re walking around town. I’ve heard at first they were pretty strict, but right now, perhaps half the people outside are masked. I could get a health pass QR code by stopping at a pharmacy to be tested but I want to see how it works without that. I’ve stopped at 5 different shops. Three of those times I’ve been asked for my health pass, and in each case, the CDC card was automatically accepted. This agrees with what I’ve heard… that at first people didn’t know how strict to be, but for the most part, the vaccination cards are now enough.
So, it’s a beautiful day. Mont Blanc hovers outside my window. I have some hiking and video filming scheduled tomorrow. September is a beautiful time in the Alps, when the crowds have thinned and the pace slows, but everything is open still. It’s a great place to be.