Summer of Racing: Trains, Planes, Automobiles… Ferries and Buses: A Journey from Oregon to Germany

A morning flight from Portland International Airport (PDX) in Oregon took me to Washington Dulles (IAD) in Virginia landing just before 4 p.m. local time. The next step in my journey was the most critical; do not miss getting on the plane for the international flight. Upon arrival at IAD with just an hour and a half layover, this seemed easy enough but I needed to cross two terminals on foot, grab some airport food and find a currency exchange booth to get some Euros in my pocket before landing in Europe. Time seems to move faster in airports, especially with relatively short layovers. With these tasks accomplished and time to spare, I awaited at the gate for boarding; preparing myself for an eight hour flight. My next flight would take me across the Atlantic Ocean and put me in a time zone nine hours ahead of where I started, eventually taking me to my final flight destination: Zurich, Switzerland.


There is something amazing about being able to travel across the world with ease and in such a reasonably short time. The ability to travel between different countries is incredible and something we should all enjoy at least once in our lifetime. Even though the jet lag may be difficult to overcome and everyone around you is speaking a foreign language and it seems impossible not to get lost once you land in a foreign country, it’s still worth every second of sitting on that trans-Atlantic flight. After traveling over 17 hours on two flights, it was time to find my checked bag, go through customs, and buy a train and ferry ticket then make way to the correct platform to take a train to Romanshorn, a water front on the southern shores of the Bodensee Lake between the borders of Germany and Switzerland. The train is just under an hour to the harbor where there are multiple ferries waiting to take passengers to various places along the lake.


My ferry would sail directly north across the beautifully calm Bodensee to the city of Friedrichshafen, where Global Formula Racing is headquartered in Europe, at the DHBW Ravensburg-Friedrichshafen campus. The ferry ride is my favorite part of the entire journey. The water is so calm, the bustling of the locals on the outside decks of the ferry and the hum of the engine sooths the mental and physical exhaustion of traveling for nearly a days’ time.  It is a relaxing and rejuvenating hour ride across the water to the Friedrichsafen Hafen (Harbor).


Landing on the waterfront of Friedrichshafen is such a wonderful sight to see. From here, there is one last bus connection to make until you can finally set your bags down and see some familiar faces. Time to take a breather, kick the jet lag and prepare the electric and combustion cars for GFR’s first competition this summer at Formula Student Germany in Hockenheim.