Today I took the train to Dusseldorf. Parking here is difficult, and there is tons of traffic. The Essen Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is only a few minutes walk from my hotel. So theoretically it’s an easy trip. I bought a ticket and got on the first train I saw to Dusseldorf HBF. The ticket taker was blowing her whistle and the doors were closing as I hopped on…but it was an ICE (faster) train and my ticket was only good for RE (regional, slower) trains, which I didn’t realize. She kept asking me why I didn’t ask her if I had the right train…(answer: no German, doors were closing, she was blowing her whistle, I didn’t think of asking)…after she finished berating me to her satisfaction, she decided that if I agreed to get off at the next stop, she wouldn’t make me buy an ICE ticket…I did and about 3 minutes later was on a RE (slow) train to Dusseldorf. There I bought a ticket for the subway, and naturally got on a train going the wrong way. But I realized it after a couple of stops and got off, crossed the RR tracks, and got on the right train to my destination in the old town of Dusseldorf.
Despite my train woes, the decision to take a train was a good one, the city, at least in the old town, along the Rhein River (which goes through Dusseldorf) and the main shopping street was extremely crowded. I got off the subway into a Galleria Kaufhof and wandered around for a while. I found the chocolate area, which in Kaufhofs are extensive. I got a few small pieces, and meandered through the store before going outside. I had a destination in mind, the “Think” shoe store. It is in the old town. The streets were lined with restaurants, all of which had large outdoor dining areas. Both the restaurants and the streets were full of people, eating or wandering and pretty much any type of cuisine you can think of was available from Vietnamese to German to American to Mexican to Turkish. I found the shoe store…then walked down to the Rhein River which had quite a few barges going down the river, and more restaurants lining the promenade. I also walked into a market at Carl’s Plaza which had lots of fruits and vegetables, sausages, cheese and bread, flowers, and a few craft type places.
After leaving the river I walked slowly back to the HBF and took the correct train back to Essen.
I leave early tomorrow for Barcelona and I play in Barcelona on Monday night at 6pm (the earliest time slot for the tournament). Hopefully I will find a doubles partner…I had one but she had to pull out of doubles. The draws are pretty small, a combination of Covid and the ranking changes this year which made this tournament an ITF S700, of which there seem to be two or three every week instead of a more special ITF Grade A of which there were few. Plus ranking points for some tournaments including this one will stay on players’ records for three years.