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  • Adios Mallorca

    Today was my last day on this trip in Mallorca. It didn’t start out very promisingly…I drove to play tennis and got there (10 min walk plus 30 min drive)…and realized my shoes were back in Sa Pobla…I’d taken them out of the car for the first time, thinking I’d pack them and wear my other shoes today. So I got in a shorter hit then watched the kids at the academy hitting some. They were doing a drill where one player was in the alley on the deuce side, the other next to the fence on the other end on the deuce side and the pro fed a ball by bouncing it on the ground, wide to the first player’s backhand. The first player also had to do a 360 spin as the pro was hitting the ball then run to hit a difficult ball and try to hit it wide cross court. Apparently you have to be young to do this, players even in their mid-20s who try this get dizzy after a few times. After a while the twirl was left out of the drill.

    After tennis and lunch I walked a bit around Sa Pobla. I figured out why the parking changed on the street nearest to me…in even months (June) parking is only allowed on the left side of certain streets and in odd months, only on the right side. I watched an ambulance try to navigate one of the narrow streets and it was tricky, even though most of the cars were parked partly up on the sidewalk and the ambulance as well had to go up on the sidewalk to get past the cars. It made it but I think bumped a pipe in the process.

    The streets in old Sa Pobla are really narrow.
    No parking on the right in even months; no parking on the left in odd months.
    Old buildings in Sa Pobla and Hollywood-worthy pedestrian streets.

    There’s really not much in the way of stores other than pharmacies in the old town area, and of course several restaurants and bars, mostly near the central plaza. I also found out that the mask mandate outdoors was terminated here on June 27th, which explains why pretty much everyone was masked when I arrived but I noticed few were as the week went on.

    Tomorrow I’m off to Germany. I think I only need a vaccination certificate (and passport) to get into the country. We’ll see…stay tuned.

  • Sunny Spanish Sunday: Morning Market, Tennis & Monastery Visit

    Sunday in Sa Pobla means that the central square, which yesterday was mostly deserted becomes the busy market hub, selling everything from Mallorcan cherries and apricots to Mallorcan cheese, and from local olives to live rabbits, chickens and even parakeets. There were a lot of chickens roasting when I went by around 10am…people could reserve one while it was cooking.

    Sa Pobla Sunday Market

    After the market visit I went to hit tennis balls. I was the only one there, as the club is mostly closed on Sundays…those kids (and instructors) need a day of rest…they work and train hard Monday-Saturday. We are using Head balls (the ones that will be used in Croatia for the Seniors and Young Seniors World Championships. They are quite heavy and slow. The nearest thing to them in the States that one can find is probably a Dunlop Fort ball. A “clay” ball in Europe is different from one in the States in general, heavier and longer lasting. I hit with a freshly strung racquet and 45 minutes in my string was fraying badly. I think I’m going to go through a lot of strings this trip.

    After lunch, I went to the Monastery near Lluc, north west of Sa Pobla, west of Pollenca. The last half of the trip was on another narrow and winding road. The views were beautiful, but there were no shoulders and no turnouts where one could stop for photos. I wandered around the courtyard which had many interesting statues, some from a temporary exhibit. I also walked into the Basilica which is quite ornate and pretty, updated in the style of Gaudi.

    Statues in Lucia Monastery Courtyard
    Basilica at Lluc Monastery

    Every day except (unfortunately for me) Sundays, there’s an afternoon boys choir which is quite famous.

    The monastery is located at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana and is slightly elevated above a pretty valley..to view it there is about a 400 meter uphill walk to where a large cross is embedded.

    View of a pretty valley near the Monastery

    On the way down I could see the Port of Pollenca in the distance, a pretty bowl-shaped port. It was a gorgeous view, but not one where a driver could take any photos!

  • Sa Pobla, Spain

    Sa Pobla is a small town in the north central part of Mallorca, about 10 km from Muro beach. The downtown is very quaint, densely packed, with a central square and narrow streets lined with typical Mallorcan buildings (stone facades and green or brown shutters). The population is about 12,000. I’m staying near the center but only a 10 minute walk away I was in the countryside, which has old stone farm buildings and fields of hay, corn, olive orchards, and I even saw a field of artichokes.

    Farming outside Sa Pobla.

    The streets in the town are very narrow and mostly one-way. Most don’t even have room for parking.

    Sa Pobla

    I walked around the town today, Saturday and it was very quiet, even the town square was mostly empty. There was a sermon going on in the large and pretty church. But tomorrow is market day so it should be bustling then.

  • 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.

  • International Travel is Back and It’s Different

    Remember pre-9/11 air travel? (This is a Senior tennis blog after all.) It was easy..shoes stayed on, liquids were allowed through security, as were Swiss Army knives. Then we all got used to taking off shoes, emptying water bottles and pre-slicing apples (ok, the last one might just be me). But we could travel internationally with with just a passport to most countries. And no masks were required!

    Now, entry requirements seem to change weekly..sometimes daily. There are forms to fill out. QR codes to find. Vaccination records or Covid test results to upload ( but not too far in advance). United texted me that my documents were fine..then they weren’t. Then they were. (So far so good). Lufthansa says they aren’t but United gave me a boarding pass.

    Cloth masks are ok on United..but not on Lufthansa where N95 or KN 95 are required. Confusing!

    So plan ahead, get vaccinated (last shot must be 2 weeks before flight), or get a rapid test (no more than 48 hours before arrival.. unless it’s a PCR test..then 72 hours max. Or possibly 48 hours…depends on the country.

    Flight 1 to Houston: passport and vaccination card or negative covid test and Spain entry card glanced at

    Flight 2: Everyone has to show passport and vaccination card or negative covid test AND has his/her picture taken (for tracing I assume). United vouches that every passenger has the correct documentation. The real yeast will be in Germany when I am jet lagged!

    San Diego/Houston/Rainy Frankfurt