• Category Archives Barcelona
  • Travel » Barcelona
  • Return to USA from Barcelona

    Barcelona (BCN): The check-in process at the airport was quick. I arrived quite early..nearly 3 hours before my flight.

    Note that at BCN you will need a boarding pass, electronic or paper, before being allowed into the airport. So make sure you have taken a covid test within 3 days of flying, tested negative, and that the airline has reviewed and approved the test, and issued a boarding pass BEFORE you go to the airport! I suggest purchasing a few quick test kits before leaving the USA.

    Security was quick and for the first time on this trip my bags weren’t flagged by security. 👍

    When flying out of the EU you will also need to clear passport control. So allow time for that. Once past passport control (which was quick today, under 5 minutes), there aren’t many services and shops, though there were a couple of places to eat and buy water.

    Arrival in USA at Newark (EWR): Arrival at EWR was the usual “hurry up and wait“ scenario..quick passage through passport control because I have global entry (highly recommended, includes tsa precheck), then a long wait for bags, another for rechecking bags, another for the train to a different terminal…then going through US domestic security (TSA PreCheck helped but there was only one security check line open). I still had a couple hours to kill..and an extra one since the plane boarded an hour late. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

    Masks are mandatory at all airports and on planes..for the most part people comply but in the airport many do not. Or they wear their mask below their nose.

    Arrival in California: Bags arrived quickly. It was very crowded. Uber and Lyft prices were double or more what they used to be..at least for this trip. Plan accordingly.

    Leaving near dawn; “shopping” in the international part of BCN; crowds at the airports; Which airport?

    And that’s a wrap on this trip. More to come in the fall. Have a great summer everyone.


  • Last Day in Spain

    July 19, 2021

    I started my day with the “new normal” for international travel…a covid test. I had an antigen test I brought with me…you connect online, and the proctor goes through certifying your ID, date of birth, and putting together the test…the regent for the test, the nasal swab, followed by a 15 minute wait, then reconnecting with a proctor to view the results. Mine was negative (vaccinations do work), so I was able to check in and my test was approved.

    Next I played tennis with Lisa from Florida at the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona. It turned out that we’d been staying not 5 minutes apart all week and I was a 9 minute walk from the club. The club, established in 1899 is the site of the ATP 500 event which Nadal won this year. Members there include Feliciano Lopez, Karen Khachenov, Carlos Costa, Andrei Rublev and more…tons of good players. There are lots of courts, a restaurant, gym, padel courts and more.

    After tennis we went shopping, me for chocolate and Lisa for gifts for her friends. The walk took us past another Gaudi creation, the Guell Pavillions. It’s closed for restoration but the main gate is on the Pedrables street and quite interesting, with a dragon on the front. The classic Gaudi mosaics and undulating waves.

    And that’s a wrap on this European adventure…thanks everyone for following along.


  • Montserrat

    Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain range not far from Barcelona. It’s known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Montserrat in Catalan means serrated mountain, and the mountains appear to have sharp edges. The Monastery of Montserrat which houses the virgin that gives its name to the monastery is also on the mountain.

    To get there I took the Metro to the Espana (also the stop for the circular Plaza de Espana and Montjuic castle) on the L3, then got lost long enough to miss my train…what I needed to do was go up into the Plaza and follow the signs to L1 Metro line (and the green/white swirly icon below)…when I finally did that there were signs for the R5 train which goes directly to Montserrat. Tickets can be bought at a ticket machine there…you have to decide whether you want to take a funicular train up to the monastery or a cable car. The cable car is quicker so I chose that option.

    After I exited the train, I took the cable car up to the monastery (and it’s straight up the sharp face of the mountain, a five minute ride), then another funicular, St. Joan, up to the top of the mountain. At the top there are some hiking options. I took a short hike which had very nice views, to St. Joan. There is a further 15 minute hike to Santa Magdalena, which is pretty steep…I went part way but stopped at the bottom of the stairs…they were pretty crumbly and I didn’t have hiking shoes on. I went back and then part way up the other side before taking the funicular back down and viewing the monastery.

    The monastery is right on the edge of the mountain…it’s amazing that something was built so long ago in such a seemingly inhospitable place. The outside was not too fancy, but the interior courtyard was pretty and the church was gorgeous. Beautiful lanterns on either side, and gorgeous stained glass windows.

    The trip back was easier but still took a while…cable car to the train, wait 30 minutes, then a one hour plus ride back to Espana, then Metro back to my stop and a 10 minute walk

    Montserrat is a special place. It’s worth a visit…preferably with a friend who owns a car! (By car. it’s only 40 minutes to the bottom of the cable car).


  • Girona & Barcelona Gothic Quarter

    Today I went to Girona, about 45 minutes NE from the Barcelona Sants station by fast train. I just missed the first subway train at Maria Christina, so had only 10 minutes to make the train when I got to Sants…I had to run and made it by seconds. On the AVE and AVANT trains you have to show your tickets before getting on the train and put any bags through a metal detector…good thing I sliced up my apple instead of taking a Swiss army knife on the train! Tip: you can buy the tickets using the RENFE website or app and then showing the ticket (with the QR code) to the ticket taker from your phone…no printing necessary.

    Girona is a town of about 100,000 people and is an ancient town..and it’s been conquered seven times. It was founded by Romans, and conquered by the French. There’s part of an old city wall still intact and a famous cathedral, and many museums. Many of the streets are mostly pedestrian and quite narrow. The Onyar River flows through the town and is lined by colorful buildings.

    I walked from the train station down some pedestrian shopping streets. When I got to the bridge, one of several which cross the Onyar, I saw the colorful buildings and church spires. I crossed the river and meandered towards the cathedral…which has 90 steps to the entrance. I bought a ticket and walked into the cathedral. It wasn’t as spectacular as the one in Seville but was still impressive with a huge nave, some stained glass windows and lots of carvings. There was also a nice courtyard, and a small museum.

    After leaving the cathedral I went to the art museum which was mainly full of religious art depicting lots of suffering.

    I next wandered through some of the old town and also went to most of the bridges to take photos of the buildings in the changing light. I walked in and out of some shops and then headed back to the train station to catch the 4:15 train. This time I was early and easily made the train.

    Once I was back at Sants I decided to go to an eyeglass store in Barcelona which was in the gothic quarter…which was pretty crowded. I got off at Liceau in front of the theatre, on Las Ramblas, a tree lined boulevard that was packed with restaurants and people, though not quite as packed as I’ve seen it in the past. It was about a 15 minute walk from there. I came across a gathering of supporters for Cuban freedom in front of an official building.

    The street turned into the Gothic quarters, lots of very narrow quaint streets. I found my eyeglass store and looked around for a while. Then it was back to my hotel which I reached before 8pm for the first time all week!


  • Barcelona Singles Champion

    Saturday Morning July 17, 2021

    I played my final tournament match in Barcelona last night. I had the “early” start time of 6pm, and we started right on time. I played Carmen Chilleda-Belzunce and played well to win. I played on a sunny day on an East/West facing court and it was tough to see on the side facing West!

    After winning the singles, I watches several matches and had dinner. I watched a few games of the 60 singles final between American Veronica Lima De Angelis and Giovanna Tortorella of Italy. Tortorella is a very good player…smooth, accurate strokes and good anticipation. That match went pretty quickly, in contrast to the one between 55s players Sophie Orsini (FRA) and Elisabetta Morici (ITA). Orsini was the more expressive of the two, and she started the match very frustrated, losing the opening set 60…Orsini though found her range on drop shots and steadied her shots from the baseline to finish the mach 64 63. Both players have loopy western forehands, but Orsini has both a slice and two-handed backhand; Morici has a very good one-hander.

    I finished the evening watching Lisa play mixed…it was a good match though tough to see the ball, especially high balls, under the lights…both guys had great forehands; the opposing woman had good court sense and cutaway volleys, and there were far more winners than errors. I finally tried one of the crepes being sold at a food truck and it was very good (goat cheese, spinach and walnuts in case you were wondering). The match finished within 30 minutes of the end time for sporting events due to the curfew. Susana Amelia Diaz and Ramzi Shuaibi-Morales won 64 63 over Lisa and Martin. I ran for the tram after the match finished (and made it).

    And that’s a wrap on the ITF Seniors Barcelona 2021. Draws and results are here.

    Tomorrow will be a sight seeing day somewhere…more on that tonight.


  • Barcelona Doubles Success; Singles Final Tonight

    Draws and order of play are here.

    Last night we were scheduled for doubles at 9pm but our match went on about 15 minutes early.. I was scouting my singles opponent for tonight…their (not before) 7:30 pm match started around 8:30, so I didn’t get to see much before doubles. Kim Reed and I played a decent team, the #1 seed in 60 singles and her partner. We had some nice points but won 62 61. Playing under the lights was a bit challenging, though the lights are decent. As we were warming up an official came out to tell us the scoring for doubles had changed to no-ad and a 10 point Match Tiebreak for a third set due to the new curfew (of 1am).

    Kim is to my right above and our opponents are on either side of us. Kim just switched racquets and as it turns out we play with the same Volkl model, the V Cell 4. We play rather similarly so that makes sense.

    After we finished and took photos, it turns out the match I was scouting (which was on an adjacent court) was till ongoing. Carmen Chillidea-Belzunce, who I play tonight, won the first set 60 before it got dark, but the second set was turning into quite a battle. She was playing Mireia de Gispert Talavera who I played Monday night. Mireia was playing a lot of high topspin balls and coming to net behind some of them, pretty successfully, and pounding some two-handed backhands to good effect. She held off some match points at 5-6 and got the match into a tiebreak, which was even to 3-3…then Mireia stopped hitting high balls and lost four straight points and the match. Carmen stayed pretty calm to finish out the win.

    This morning I practiced again with Lisa for about an hour, then took the tram back to the hotel. Just before we started the club had all the kids from the camp on our court to take a photo…there are a lot of them of all ages, from about 3 years to teenagers. She plays mixed not before 10pm. It’s not bad playing at 6 and even 8:45 wasn’t terrible, at least it was light during warm up, but 10pm is tough!

    My tram stop going back to hotel.


  • Into the Singles Final; Doubles Final Under the Lights Tonight

    Thursday July 15, 2021

    Draws and order of play are here.

    Yesterday I practiced in the late morning (the earliest practice times are 11am) with Lisa B, then went back to the hotel to write my blog and relax before my 6pm singles match. There aren’t many people practicing in the mornings, Reinheld Adams and Michelle Bichon have been out every morning at 11am though. I played Magdalena Gual Pascual, a club member whom I have played her a few times before. She’s very nice and we had a pretty good match. I won 61 61. She whacks her forehand if it’s in her strike zone…but didn’t like my drop shots so much. The other RR match will be played tonight at 7:30 so I’ll go and scout the players.

    On the way into the club I watched some of the kids activities…some were learning to ride horses and others were learning to hit a golf ball. I saw yet another big hockey field (and no soccer fields)…hockey is the big game at the Polo Club.

    Top, the view from my room; bottom left, the large polo field being used for camps, golf and riding lessons; bottom right, part of a massive hockey field

    The order of play for the evening only comes out the morning of play…till then players don’t know from one day to the next if they have a match. Luckily for me, the referee told me my schedule yesterday, so I knew I was playing the doubles final tonight, and not singles. We play doubles at 9pm against the #2 seeds (one of whom is the #1 singles seed in 60s), and Kim Reed, my doubles partner, plays her singles semi at 6pm. There are matches scheduled till 10:30…one player has a 9pm and 10:30 pm match. However, due to new curfews in Barcelona from tonight, all sporting events have to be finished by midnight and the club will close at 12:30am.

    I practiced with Lisa again today, and we got in nearly two hours before being bumped. Again, only the 70 women were out practicing till we were bumped by two guys around 12:45. We did move courts after an hour and the second court was much drier and faster than the first one, even though they were side by side in the stadium.

    After practice I made another trip to the grocery store, for apples and snacks. This time I found the bakery and gourmet part of the grocery, and a Lindt store. I looked at the fish department because it’s so extensive and different from those at home. Normally one doesn’t see three types of squid for example.


  • Tennis Under the Lights in Barcelona

    Wednesday July 14 (Happy Bastille Day), 2021

    Draws, schedule of play and tournament information is available here.

    Last night I caught the tram just before midnight back to the hotel after a “not before” 10pm start for doubles. The tournament was behind schedule but fortunately our match was quick. I played with Kim Reed, a Brit who lives in Marbella, and she’s a solid singles and doubles player.

    Earlier in the day I went to the club to practice serves again, and Kim and her husband ran into me. So I had a good hit with Kim which was great. We warmed up on one of the two center courts which are very deep…good for running, not so good for walking to pick up balls.

    After tennis, I took the subway to the L3 Diagonal stop on the Passeig de Gracia, a broad tree-lined shopping street. My destination was Tennis Point Barcelona. I was on the hunt for tennis balls and practice balls for the tournament. I found the latter Wilson French Open balls but no Head tour XT balls. The shop also had a huge selection of Padel racquets which are large thick paddles with holes in them and brightly colored. There was also a large selection of clay court tennis shoes.

    The subway stop was also near La Pedrera, a Gaudi designed apartment house which I toured a couple of years ago. There weren’t many tourists around compared to August of 2019.

    After that adventure, I returned to my hotel for a late lunch, late because my doubles match wasn’t till 10pm. I returned to the club around 7pm, so I could scout my next opponents. I got there just in time to see the last 20 minutes of the match. Then I waited three hours or so for my match, but ran into some Brits, Alex, Liz and Peter and also an American friend of mine from Florida who was playing mixed. Alex practices with Sue Bartlett of GBR (and Tennessee) when she’s there and just played American Michael Beautyman in the final of the European Championships…both Lisa and I practice with him. Tennis is a small world.

    By 8pm, the food trucks were open, champagne was popped and there was a musical entertainment (a woman singer who was pretty good). By 9:30 Lisa and I were both yawning.

    Kim and I played our match under the lights. It was pretty dark, but since our opponents were not very experienced, it was ok. After the match we walked to the tram station and got one of the last trams of the night back to our respective stops.

    Today I play singles at 6pm. But that’s an article for another day.


  • Hola Espana

    This morning I left rainy Essen, Germany for sunny Barcelona, Spain. I flew Vueling airlines (affiliated with Iberia), a discount airline that had the best nonstop flight today to Barcelona from Dusseldorf. I think Sunday may not be a great day to fly in Germany in particular. There was one woman at the check in counter for the entire plane full of people. And the way some of the fares work, is that a cabin bag (such as a small roller bag…anything that won’t fit under the seat) has to be checked. I got there early when there were only 30 minutes of people in front of me. But the check in counter only opened a bit less than two hours before the flight was to take off. By the time I’d checked my bags, the line was several hundred feet long. On the other hand, there were few people at security, most of the TSA equivalents were standing around. The security guy though where my bags were inspected decided to check everyone’s bags for what I assume was explosive residue. I still had plenty of time though and the flight was on time. By noon I was in warm Barcelona and at my hotel by 1pm.

    Long line to check in this morning in Dusseldorf
    Plane to Barcelona is at the gate

    After checking in and organizing my stuff, I walked to the Reial Club do Polo de Barcelona to meet the Guille, the son-in-law of members of my club at home. We’d hit once before when his family visited there, and they’ve since moved back to Barcelona. We had a good hit. The tournament is using the same Wilson balls as were used at the French Open and they were good to hit with, a little less flighty than the heavy duty Wilson US Open balls used three years ago. They seemed more durable too.

    After hitting, I walked to a gas station to get more water and snacks (all other stores are closed on Sundays) and then back to the hotel.

    Avenida Diagonal, Barcelona on a quiet Sunday afternoon

    I play my first match tomorrow at 6pm.

    Draws and results are here.


  • The Seville Cathedral, Real Alcazar: Sevilla!

    Sevilla, Espana

    August 21, 2019

    Yesterday, Tuesday, was Day 3 of our Spanish tour and it was another long, fun day…though Robin did comment that touring was much harder and more exhausting than playing tennis! We had an early start with a 6am taxi ordered, since there was a warning of a security personnel strike in Barcelona. The check in and security though went smoothly there. We flew Vueling, a discount Spanish airline and again were bused from the terminal to the plane…then back as there was a mechanical problem. We got going though only about 90 minutes late and were in Seville by about noon.

    After dropping off luggage and getting a picnic lunch, we headed out to the Seville Cathedral, the larges gothic church in the world, and the biggest cathedral (previously the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was the largest cathedral in the world). It has a massive footprint (to completely cover the mosque that stood there before the cathedral). It was built starting in 1434 and finished in the early 16th century. It is so massive…it’s hard to imagine how it was built, obviously with manpower only. And it’s beautiful…the choir room, the organs and the massive nave and the Gothic retalbo carved in wood of scenes of Christ (it looks like gold). Christopher Columbus and his son Diego along with Kings are buried there. I spent 90 minutes walking around it, before we climbed the tower or Giraldo or bell tower. Unlike other churches in Europe I’ve been in, there’s a ramp up to all but the last floor, wide enough for horses to carry supplies up. There were 34 turns before we reached the staircase, each numbered. the tower is 343 feet high, and the view from the top was great. It’s hot here and I saw a lot of people enjoying swimming pools yesterday. We could also see the bull ring (for bull fighting).

    After visiting the church we had a half hour break then went to the Real Alcazar, a Royal Palace, which, like the cathedral, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jenny Cerff had to leave today so we maximized her time here. Gayle Prejean, a Texas player, joined us later in the day in the palace gardens. The architecture is in the Mudéjar style, a blend of Muslim and Spanish style. The interiors have lots of carved plaster and tile which are very interesting and beautiful, even the ceilings, and an interior courtyard with a long rectangular reflecting pool. The gardens are extensive and include a maze, fountains and peacocks.

    I went exploring and eventually texted Susan to ask where she was…her response…in the garden…well there are 13 gardens at the Alcazar. Eventually Tim and I found them because I asked Gayle to text us a photo of where they were.

    By the time we exited it was 7:30…and I’d exhausted everyone except Tracey. We checked in, got some food and today will have a more relaxing day checking out Seville (and it’s going to be 100+ here today…feels a lot like the Central Valley of California).

    Sagrada Familia & Gothic Quarter

    Guell Park, Casa Mila, & Susan Ate Paella: Barcelona Day 2


  • Sagrada Familia & Gothic Quarter

    Barcelona, Spain

    Sunday August 18, 2019

    Barcelona…hot, muggy, crowded and wonderful. We had a late start to the day since we arrived here about 1:30am from Lisbon. Susan’s husband Tim flew from the States and arrived early in the morning and let us into the apartment we rented.

    In the morning Tracey & Robin and Susan & Tim decided to go to the Gaudi House, Casa Batilo today. I strongly recommended it, but as I had been twice, didn’t go a third time. Jenny and I instead headed out in search of the Gothic Quarter and eventually found it, and the Barcelona Cathedral. It was closed to tourists in the morning, since it was Sunday, but the outside, with its Gothic and Gaudi influences, is impressive.

    We wandered back a different way, visiting some small booths of handmade items and past Placa Catalunya and some fountains, to meet up with the rest of the group. We wandered back as a group to the Gothic Quarter and had a tapas lunch (yes, even Susan, a hmmm how to put it….less adventurous eater than most.

    We then taxied to the Sagrada Familia where we had a 4:15 entrance. Sagrada Familia is an amazing church, unlike any other. Gaudi saw things so different from normal mortals…I think he saw the world of architecture like Federer sees and tennis ball and court…differently from mere mortals. We went up the Nativity tower and the views were nice, and we could see part of the cathedral’s decorative elements up close. The light both before and after that excursion was really good that time of day and warm, with the sun coming in the warm colored stained glass windows.

    Tomorrow we get another early start, so that’s all for now.


  • Hola Mallorca…Hace Caliente!

    Bunyola, Mallorca, Spain

    Today was another travel day. I flew from Bordeaux (did you know that in Europe, some airlines…looking at you Vueling…charge for bags by the leg, not by the trip?).

    My bags and I made it from Bordeaux to Barcelona to Mallorca. The flight from Barcelona to Mallorca takes about 30 minutes but we sat on the runway for a long time so arrived just a bit late. Vueling runs planes back and forth about every hour, so by the end of the day the planes are usually late. Flying early in the day paid off.

    I picked up a rental car, successfully changed the language from German to English and found both my airbnb and the tennis facility, which are only about 10 minutes apart.

    It was Sunday afternoon when I arrived so naturally most stores were closed, though I got water and sandwich makings at a gas station. And a very fresh baguette, something one doesn’t see in a gas station convenience store at home.

    Mallorca is a pretty island…lots of coastline of course but also lots of hills. From the “outskirts” of Bunyola (it’s a one street town) I could see the sea, and the mountains were back up against the town on the other side.

    It was really warm when I arrived, in the upper 90s at 2pm, but cooled off to the 80s by 8pm. I walked down the street and there were a lot of people at outdoor restaurants and cafes (not eating yet…too early), and quite a few bicyclists, motorbikes, and a few pedestrians.

    Bunyola has a small train station and I saw a wooden train stop. Hopefully I’ll have time to take a ride on it into the mountains later in the week.

    Tomorrow I’m off to train, getting ready for the worlds in Portugal which start in two weeks.


  • Saturday Success in Spain

    The Barcelona tournament came to an end yesterday, with finals played in most divisions followed by an awards ceremony.

    I won my singles over Carmen Chilleda from Madrid and was successful. The tournament had pretty glass trophies to go with prize money for the winners and losing finalists. For doubles three was a trophy.

    I watched Heide Orth play Michelle Bichon (Bichon won) with Ellen and Lutz Neumann, then packed to get ready for an early flight to Bordeaux where I play Monday.

    Adios Barcelona, Bon Jour Bordeaux.


  • Friday Night Doubles Under the Lights

    Kerry Ballard and I won the doubles last night under the lights. It was the day that Isner/Anderson threw off the Wimbledon schedule and people were looking at the live scores on their phones. We played just before dusk, around 8pm against Ingrid Bruckner and Sylvia Singer from Austria. Kerry is a superb doubles player and hit winning volleys all night long. I hit a few and some forehand angles. Our opponents were very vocal, commenting on our shots mid point, but we won 60 60. Kerry was literally hungry and went straight to get some pasta when we finished.

    Here is a photo of Kerry, Ingrid and Sylvia with me.

    Andrew Rae and American Dan Grossman were in action here:

    I watched the end of the 50s mixed semis which ended up 8-6 in the tiebreak. Ellen Neumann of Germany played with a Swedish player against two Italians. The Italian woman, Scola, is the top seed in singles and never went to the net. When her partner served they played 2 back Australian style, since she never wanted to hit a backhand. She drove her forehand well though and is quick; she hid her backhand but lobbed well when necessary and the Italians were the winners.

    Yesterday I finally went into the city on the subway and got off right by Casa Batillo where there were hoards of tourists. I was actually going to Uniqlo and wanted to go to Unde50 but ran out of time…beautiful buildings in that area though. 

    I practiced this morning and then walked by the horse jumping area. On the opposite side are the Padel courts of the club.

    I play my singles final at 5pm and tomorrow morning early am off for Bordeaux where I play Monday afternoon with much heavier balls in the daylight!

     

     


  • Barcelona Finals

    Today was a mellow day. I warmed up, practiced with Heide Orth for an hour at 11:30, iced, stretched, washed clothes in the sink (I am going to hug my washing machine when I get home), and took the subway to El Cortez Inges for some fruit and chocolate. Then after a late lunch it was time to warm up again and play my 6pm semifinal, which I won 61 60 over Mireia De Gispert Talavera (she said to call her Mary). Not an exciting day but a nice one.

    After my match, I scouted my potential opponents who ended up playing three sets, and saw the end of my doubles partner’s match. Kerry Ballard won 61 61 but the rallies were tough. My opponent is the woman at the far end in this photo.

    There are a few Americans here…I spotted Polo Cowan and Daniel Grossman, who play in the 50s and Grossman also plays in the 65s with Andrew Rae at times.

    Julie Dybendahl, an Aussie who lives in the USA is here too.

    One thing nice about this tournament is that people come out in the evenings to watch matches and have a bite to eat from one of the food truck’s in the courtyard area outside the tournament office. So it’s a good chance to see other players and have a chat.

    Kerry and I play two Austrians tomorrow for the doubles title and we play our respective singles finals Saturday.

    Draws are here.


  • Barcelona!

    I left Düsseldorf Monday afternoon for Barcelona. I took Norwegian Airlines and it was fine full of vacation goers and families. We left a little late but arrived on time and my luggage arrived as well. As you can see, there are not one but 2 languages to consider here, Catalan (at the top, a blend of French and Spanish) and Spanish. L;;

    It’s hot in Barcelona! In the high 80s and humid. It’s a much more casual atmosphere than Düsseldorf or Essen.

    There are a lot of differences between this tournament and Essen. Both are played on red clay but the clay here in Barcelona is harder and higher bouncing. The Club is huge and has soccer fields, Polo Fields (it is the Real Club de Polo after all), a pool and extensive lockers, and Padel (a paddle sport played in a cage on a carpet with sand) courts. Here the lines are painted onto the courts and the bounce when the ball hits the line isn’t as variable as in Essen where there were nailed on lines, but the ball skids when it hits the line, the difference between hitting a slow clay court and a fast hard court. . The balls are quite different. We used the Dunlop Fort Germany in Essen, which is a heavy ball. Here they are using a Wilson US Open heavy duty (hard court) ball which feels quite light in comparison, plus it’s warmer. The style of play of the Spanish is different too, much more topspin, and fewer continental grips observed.

    I played yesterday. The tournament begins at 6pm every day (5pm on the final day) and the last matches are scheduled for 10:30pm. I played at 6pm against a Spanish player who was very fast but not very experienced. She came from Padel and ran for everything but couldn’t finish a point very well and I won 60 60 in just over an hour. I am playing doubles here because the draw is small..8 in singles and 4 doubles teams, spread out over 5 days. However, we did have to play doubles Tuesday night at 10:30! That was pretty weird and I was pretty sleepy. Kerry Ballard (Australia 65s) and I won 61 60 against my singles opponent and her friend. It was fun, they tried hard and Kerry played great.

    This club is enormous with tons of courts, soccer fields, a polo field, swimming pools, restaurants and more. At night the tournament really wakes up. There are food trucks and kiosks and lots of people sitting around chatting and waiting to play.

    The “no coaching” rule doesn’t seem to apply to this tournament. My opponent was talking to her frie