• Tag Archives Decathalon store
  • Traveling to Germany

    It was a “hurry up and wait” sort of morning Saturday. I left my Airbnb early, before 6 am (finally saw a sunrise in Spain). Luckily I bought fuel the day before because the gas station at the airport was packed. My fuel gauge was still close to full so I passed. Good thing because I followed the GPS (google maps), not the rental car signs to the airport and ended up first in the drop off area, then in the parking garage (and it was tricky to exit… I owed 65 cents and the credit card payment wouldn’t process at the exit gate.. it took 15 minutes to exit). The rental car return signs are small but once I abandoned GPS I found them and returned the car.

    I flew Eurowings to Düsseldorf. It’s a discount airline owned by Lufthansa. I don’t really pack well to fly discount airlines but after figuring out where to check in (tip: take the elevator outside the terminal to the 2nd floor to check in. You won’t be admitted into the arrivals area.) and showing my vaccination card and passport (and paying a bag fee, since one small carryon only is allowed), I was good to go through security. FYI there was a COVID testing spot at the airport and the line was long. Take a self antigen test with you if you aren’t vaccinated or are returning to the USA and take it the day before flying.

    Another tip: go upstairs to go through security unless you are traveling to another Baleric Island. There’s an escalator by the front of the terminal.

    Once in the terminal the waiting began. We left the terminal 30 minutes late. As is common in Europe, buses took us from the terminal to the plane. In this one terminal there were so many airlines: Eurowings of course, Lufthansa, Ryan Air, Lauda, Norwegian, Wizz Air, Easy Jet and more. Europe feels like one country in some ways but this was definitely an international terminal.

    Crowded restaurant at PMI, walking through duty free is mandatory to get to the gates in Palma, varietal of airlines at Terminal C in Palma

    Upon arrival in Germany, unlike in Spain, I didn’t have to show any proof of a covid test or vaccination which surprised me. So the check-in personnel at the airport are the ones validating vaccination cards or covid tests, at least traveling from Mallorca to Germany. And no one asked me how long I had been in Spain. Mallorca is considered a low risk area.

    In Dusseldorf is in the North Rhine-Westphalia state, about 45 minutes north of Cologne, is not really a big tourist destination. The airport wasn’t super busy, but was not empty. The rental car pickup is on airport ground but quite a walk. I rented from Alamo and it was on the 7th floor of the parking garage and was pretty much deserted. There were only a few cars there and no line for once.

    After driving to Essen, (30 minutes north of Dusseldorf) and I checked into my hotel (and there I was asked for a negative covid test…I showed my vaccine so I was ok). I then went to get my racquet strung at Tennis Point (which recently I believe bought Midwest Sports, an online retailer in the USA..or the other way around). This is a big retailer what sells lots of racquets, balls, shoes, accessories, bags, and clothes. There are different brands than we normally see in the USA, such as Bidi Badu, Ellesse, Lotto for clothes, and there were large numbers of clay court shoes and even some indoor shoes (smooth soled). In the USA K-Swiss doesn’t normally sell clay shoes but there were a large number of them in the store. I bought a can of balls and paid for my racquet and it was on the next stop.

    I went to Decathalon to get an exercise mat (about $3), and came across a large grocery/variety store, so of course I had to check it out. It was another large store like the one in Spain which sold everything from washing machines to candy bars, but not quite as nice, particularly the produce. There was more bread but less ham (still a lot) and of course a huge number of yogurt and quark options. The chocolate and candy aisles were larger too. Since I was in Germany I bought some Ritter Sport bars, which were present in large quantity, variety and low in price (about $1-2 for a 100 gram bar).

    All the eggs including colored ones, on display in Essen; every American fast food place here in Germany (Subway was around the corner too)

    After dropping off the items at the hotel I walked to a nearby Lidl which happened to be at the train station. I am also near the center where there are some pedestrian streets full of shops and people who were enjoying their Saturday afternoon.

    Later today I am hitting at ETUF-Essen where the tournament is set to take place. Weather permitting…looks like there will be some thunderstorms in the afternoon.


  • Mallorca Spain Day 1: Tennis, Food, SIM Card Search

    After a mostly sleepless night (jet lag…I didn’t miss you), I hit on the red clay for the first time in nearly two years. I went to a small club, Global Tennis Team, where there are mostly kids and teenagers training and training hard. I hit with Rafael for 90 minutes…(no sitting down) and then watched the kids train for a while. There were a lot of 3 person drills…two on one from the baseline (one ball…a ball goes in the net, the player has to run and retrieve it), another drill where two players hit cross court while the third runs from one end to the other…when he/she arrives, the other player runs to the opposite end and starts hitting cross court…constant movement.

    Training Center

    The weather has been great, highs in the upper 80s to low 90s with a breeze.

    After hitting on Friday I decided to find a phone store to buy a SIM card for Spain and Germany. After a quick internet search, I drove to the phone store which was in a small mall that contained both Vodafone and Orange cell stores, and a huge store called Al Campo, some eating places and a Decathalon sports store (sort of like a discount Dick’s sporting goods store).

    I only went into the grocery portion of the store…it was bigger than a Costco (the whole store was)..I got a walking workout just looking around. The Spanish certainly like their meat and fish…both areas were huge, lots of leg of beef and tons of sausages, shell fish, live lobsters, squid, whole fish, acres of cheeses, one row devoted to chocolates…and good prices. Food in general seems inexpensive here but then I’ve only been to Aldi, Lidl and Al Campo.

    Fish, Sausage, Apples, Nuts Galore
    Cheese, Ham, even natural peanut butter, and chocolates in this enormous store.

    I did get my SIM card, at Vodafone, (20 euros for 70 GB of data which is pretty good, good for 28 days which was perfect). The phone works and took me to training the next day using the navigation program.