Europa League? Bah! Summer Vacation Planning Starts Now!

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Everybody sing along!

“Erste Woche Bad Tatzmanndorf , test match Osnabrück
in Habbelrath Fortuna will have no luck.
Perhaps east to Poland
Perhaps back to mountainous Alpine,
Perhaps to Kitzbühel for a week of skiing!
Europapokal!
er . . .  training camp!”

Okay, I’m no song-smith, but I do know that the lack of a trip to the Europa League does not mean there is no opportunity for putting football and vacation travel together.

The 1. FC Köln have made public the summer schedule (link to English version . . . not that you couldn’t handle dates and cities auf Deutsch, of course). If you had your heart set on chasing the Rut un Wiess while escaping town, it won’t be for a playoff leg in Latvia this year, as you’ve likely already lamented, but there are several nice options available.

Bad Tatzmanndorf, Austria (June 28 – July 3)

Summer training begins with camp in Bad Tatzmanndorf. In addition to the football stadium where the team will start preparing for the 2015-16 season, you could enjoy all the features of what appears to be a bit of a spa-resort town. It appears to be a very scenic locale with opportunities for gentle hikes and hot-bath relaxation after the hard work of watching top athletes going through conditioning exercises.

You could probably be okay with relaxing here, yeah?

Osnabrück (July 11)

Test match!

If you didn’t want to go all the way to Austria and/or would prefer game action to training, your next good opportunity lies just a few hours from Köln in the form of a test match with VfL Osnabrück.

If you keep tabs on the 2. Bundesliga relegation playoff round, you may remember the VfL Osnabrück from the 2012-13 season when they were unable to maintain a 1:0 lead from the first leg to climb over Dynamo Dresden to win promotion.

Osnabrück’s trainer and sporting director that season was former EffZeh player Claus-Dieter “Pele” Wollitz, though not for the season finale when the club won 4:0 to finish third in the table after a one-week drop into fourth, nor for the shot at promotion that last victory earned in collaboration with the season-long efforts. Would you believe that the man quit the club at that juncture? Well, he did.

‘Pele’ spent some time training fourth-division FC Viktoria Köln since then, but is currently training nobody, leaving him free to occasionally pop-up on SKY Bundesliga broadcasts.

Anyhow, it’s a test match, if that’s what you want, with some tangential connections to the club and city, as tenuous and historic as they may be. Plus, the city itself has plenty to offer the curious tourist. Might I suggest the Felix Nussbaum Haus? Some of the subject matter might be a bit depressing, but that can happen. Still worth it to check out some work of the German-Jewish surrealist.

Skeletten (1944) by Felix Nussbaum

Frechen-Habbelrath (July 15)

Rail strike still going, leaving Osnabrück out of your reach? Or, back in Köln after that one and jonesing for more? Perhaps with a slight flavor of a derby?

You’re in luck!

Not far outside the Köln city limits lies Frechen. On the west side of Frechen, you’ll find Habbelrath, which is where the EffZeh will have their second test match of the summer against Fortuna Köln of the 3. Liga.

Tychy, Poland (July 18)

Time to hit the road again for another semi-distant land.

The EffZeh will face Polish second-division side GKS Tychy in the next test match. The club (at the time, called Sokol Tychy_ was once home to goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, one of Poland’s most-lauded players. While playing for Liverpool, Dudek made himself a finalist for the 2002 UEFA team of the year, but settled for commendation alongside Gianluigi Buffon while Oliver Kahn took home “goalkeeper of the year” honors.

While not attending football, you might even swing by the GKS Tychy ice hockey offices to see whether you can catch a glimpse of the current Polish champions.

Polish hockey champions know how to celebrate!

Kitzbühel, Austria (July 19-26)

Kitzbühel Postkarte

postcard signaturesBack to Austria?!

Yes! Back to Austria!

But it’s Kitzbühel, where you almost can’t help but take postcard-like pictures. The whole place is a giant collection of gorgeous scenery!

And while you’re there, why not send an actual postcard to your good (virtual) friend stuck in Seattle, decidedly NOT touring Europe with you on all your EffZeh vacation adventures?

You do not have to necessarily secure autographs for your non-travelling American fellow member, of course, but I definitely will take the opportunity here to again shout my word of gratitude to @zumsellkoln for having done so.

Vielen Dank, hoss!

To be determined . . . (August 7 – 10)

You may as well hang out in Köln for a little bit and await the first-round DFB Pokal match, yeah?

The draw of opponent is yet to come, but the EffZeh will definitely be playing on the road. That’s just how the tournament is structured, not to mention the club hasn’t received a home match in the tournament in years, even in rounds in which it was eligible to host.

There is hardly a better weekend for the Fußball romantic than the first weekend of the DFB Pokal. If you plot your course strategically, you could see several matches over the space of four days, all in smaller grounds where lower-tier sides will hope for the sensation of knocking-off a top-division club. It happens every year, but you can’t always be sure to pick the right fixture.

We’ll just hope that the one featuring our beloved club is not also one of those featuring the thrill of an upset.

Safe Travels!

I just didn’t have a better idea for a way to end this, so I thought I’d wish you a safe journey. I’m certain you’ll have loads of fun. Send pics via the interwebs, would you?

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