From a fairy-tale castle to the uber-luxury hotel Chelsea stayed in after victory in the Champions League final:

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‘Hello? Is that the German Embassy? Can I check your quarantine rules and digital entry registration, please?’

Forget planning a holiday, it was more like staging a heist. In a global pandemic. With George Smiley for a travel agent. But then it’s funny what the prospect of a second summer at home – and two weeks of rain – will do to you. No moving goalpost or impenetrable government website seemed too much in our quest for the Great Escape.

And not just any old escape to a soulless fleshpot with a pool. A 2,500-mile road trip through the historical and cultural riches of Germany. With a family of five. From three different starting points. On three different dates.

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