Goodbye Finland, Hello Germany

Draws from Bad Breisig tournament are here.

Sunday I traveled from Finland to Bad Breisig, Germany. It took a while. The Helsinki airport terminal is new since I was last there and is very nice and very easy to navigate. In the terminal there are lots of eating options including a grocery store with normal (not airport-inflated) prices. I was staying only 10 minutes away by foot and arrived at the terminal about two hours before my flight, which was plenty of time. I had expedited security, which meant there was no line. In Helsinki, you can take liquids of any size through security, so no need to throw away that bottle of water! And no need to take out electronics from bags or take off your shoes…very easy. I went to the Finnair lounge for breakfast (near gate 24, the signage was not good, but I asked a flight attendant while I was wandering around).

The flight to Frankfurt was on Finnair (part of one-world, affiliated with American) and it was an E190, a regional jet, 2/2 configuration, new and clean. The flight was under three hours and arrived early, but luggage took a while. I decided to take a noon train, which meant I had about two hours, some of which was eaten up by waiting for a bus to transfer us from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1, where the long distance train station is located. At Terminal 1, signage was pretty good. There are escalators and elevators to the train station. I went up, then down to the platforms. There’s a REWE market in the train station, so I went there to get a Germany bread roll (the best!) and fruit. Fortunately it was laid out so there was room to roll my suitcase around.

The train was on time and for this train there was a map showing above the train time and destination showing where the various cars stopped…I was in number 9 for example, which was in the “B” area (you wouldn’t want to be waiting in the “E” area and have to walk through many train cars to reach your seat).

The train did not remain on time, but the journey was pleasant and scenic, since there are many castles along the Rhein Rive between Frankfurt and Koblenz. But the train was late by about 30 minutes so I missed two connections. However, the connection train was also late, and I got onto a train that I thought was the correct one (the time was right)…but it was a Flix train (owned by the company which owns Flix buses) and not the Deutsch Bahn train. The ticket taker was very irritated and kept telling me I had to get off…while the train was moving at high speeds. I got off at the next stop, and waited another 20 minutes for the correct train…which was PACKED! I barely squeezed on. The thing is, the German government is subsidizing train travel on regional transport…9 euros for a month (and 9 euros for the trips after the 9 euro month is over)…but didn’t allocate funds for more trains or staff for the demand the cheap fare has created. The train kept getting slower as 1 minute stops turned into 2-4 minute stops (it takes longer to get on and off a crowded train, just like it takes longer to pack a full suitcase than a half empty one). I finally made it to Bad Breisig an hour late.

Rhein River Castles

I’m staying at a place that used to be a hotel, but during the pandemic, the owner transformed it into something akin to a Residence Inn…all suites, during the pandemic, and self catering, no more breakfast for example. And she opened an ice cream shop too which is doing well. It was about a 12 minute walk from the train station, all level so pretty easy. After settling in, I walked to the tennis club here in Bad Breisig and hit some tennis balls, which felt good after a long day.

On Sundays in Germany, pretty much every store is closed other than gas stations and restaurants.

Bad Breisig is a small town but right on the Rhein, on a bike route. The small area on the river is blocked off to all but foot traffic, lined with restaurants and ice cream shops and very quaint. There’s a view from most of them of the river and the medieval castle on the opposite bank. It has a nice church too on the Main Street through the town.

Bad Breisig Church

Today, Monday, I hit a bit and acquired a bike, went to the grocery store and biked along the Rhein for a while. The think that struck me at the Edeka was how much it had changed since 2015…expanded, and the cereal section replaced the drinks section, which is now way in the back; lots more prepared foods too. And the prices were much lower than in Finland!

My first match is tomorrow at 1:30 against the winner of a late match today (a 6pm match). I also checked into the tournament…the player gift here is not a t-shirt but a small bottle of wine the size of a glass or two, and there’s a player dinner on Wednesday. There are a couple of Americans in the 80s division playing here.

Bad Breisig waterfront, my ride for the week, and a castle dating from the 1200s (which has hotel rooms for rent).

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