Keszthely (pronounced “Kes Kay”) Lake Balaton, Hungary
Yesterday was a pretty long and tiring day…travel can be stressful in new places and Hungary is definitely a new country with a confusing and difficult language, at least for me. It’s not as foreign as China, but the communication is nearly as difficult. Thank goodness for Google translate!
The train trip from Budapest was nonstop, but nearly three hours, and with outside temps in the mid-90s, it was a warm trip as there was no AC on the train (I know, first world problems..and I did have an open window). The owner of the apartment I rented picked me up. (I recommend the Dora Holiday house in Keszthely.) The apartment is is great and there’s Eurosport so I can watch some of the US Open, and a bicycle to get around…perfect!
The couple staying in the upstairs apartment are from Florida and the husband, Janos, is playing in the tournament and speaks Hungarian. He’s a nice lefty player, and was nice enough to warm me up today for my match, which as it so happened, was against a lefty. We are going to play mixed here.
Anyway, yesterday I set out to 1: find the Lidl before it closed at 5pm and 2: find a racquet stringer, as my strings were starting to look like Susan Wright’s strings did in Portugal…ie one racquet with broken strings and another an hour away from breaking (though I had three racquets with me, not two). I succeeded in finding the Lidl, though I’m not exactly sure how I got there. I biked by the Festetics Castle on the way to Lidl and down the market street (a pedestrian street lined with souvenir shops, restaurants and a copious amount of ice cream vendors) on the way back. The market street ended at the big church, “Our Lady of Hungary Church” set in a large plaza. So I pretty much hit the highlights of Keszthely in one bike ride, other than Lake Balaton. .
I next went in search of a racquet stringer. I went to the courts nearest my apartment, where I could see the ITF Seniors and Tennis Europe signs going up. But no one there really spoke English, though I did learn that the tournament office was in a hotel, not at either tennis venue. He said the Krystal hotel and pointed. I found the hotel, but somehow went to the back of the hotel, tried a door and it was closed, and the hotel from that side appeared to be closed. I never looked on the other side, which had a patio and was clearly open. I ran into a couple of Aussies, one of whom had been there before, and he led us to where the tournament used to be. So I did see the lake (it’s the largest one in Central Europe, about 50 miles long, and fairly shallow, so it warms up nicely in July and August). Finally I looked again at the fact sheet, entered the hotel name into the maps app, and we walked in a big circle to, you guessed it, the Kristal hotel, this time to the front side. We checked in (the tournament is giving each player a nice vest…nice for the men as they are not even unisex in size and the men’s small was huge, even on me…would be nice if they had women’s sizes too as we pay the same entry fee). I was told to go to the venue I first saw on Monday (venue #1) to get my racquet strung. And we also found out information about practice courts, and where the Fonix courts were (venue #1) so it wasn’t a wasted trip.
I warmed up today with Janos at venue #2, and then biked to venue #1, where I was to play, to try and get a racquet strung. At venue #1 I was told to go to venue #2. I went back to the hotel, and the referee again told me to go to venue #1…where after more confusion (apparently the racquet stringer was not answering), someone came to pick up my racquet and it was done by the time I finished my match. Stringing was 2000 HUF or about $7. As confusing as Hungarian is to English speakers, English must be equally confusing to Hungarians.
My match was at not before 11:45, but since the previous match was scratched, we were set to go on a bit early…..then it poured for about 20-30 minutes. And 15 minutes after it stopped raining we were playing! Amazing. I played Eva Bogar Szabo, who is a nice player, with a good attacking lefty forehand that was very effective on short balls (such as my second serve). She won the first game and I won the rest of them, but we had some deuce games and good points. The training in Spain was helpful. The other two 60s players had an occasionally dramatic match next to us, Sylvia Singer from Austria and Maria Faria from Venezuela. So our draw is small but quite international. I play Singer tomorrow not before 1:30.
After our match, we stayed for a while, and I offered to buy Eva a drink but ended up with Eva and her husband buying me a drink (cola zero of course) and strudel. The cherry strudel was good, not quite as sweet or rich as strudels in the USA.
Today I hit the Spar market. Judging by the aisles, Hungarians like ketchup and also like sweets; the fruit flavored soft drinks were in the same aisle as the hard liquor and wines across from them.
The weather has really changed, from the 90s the past three days to low 70s tomorrow for a high and very windy. Fall is in the air.
And that’s a wrap on Day 1 of the Hungarian Seniors…back to watching Schwartzman hit winners against Zverev (7-5 in forehand winners at the moment, midway through the second set).