• Category Archives Spain
  • Adios Mallorca, Hello Hungary

    On an airplane somewhere between Mallorca and Munich….

    I had my last training in Mallorca today, then quickly made it to the airport. I checked in and then went to the first security station I saw and was surprised it was so empty. I used about 4-5 bins for my various electronics, hats, etc…never having noticed it was the security for only the Balearic Islands…Mallorca, Menorca etc. So I packed back up and went upstairs to regular security. I picked the expedited security line, because I had Gold status with Lufthansa, and the gate opened…followed by an alarm! But the security person waived me through and I did quickly make it through security the 2nd time. Moral of the story: pay more attention to the signs and pick out the English explanation among the four languages shown.

    My trip to Mallorca involved a lot of tennis; 12 hours to be exact and not a lot else, partly because I rented the aftorementioned electric Renault Zoe which demanded to be recharged frequently and which took it’s time to recharge. It spent a fair amount of time at the Lidl charging in the evenings so I could get to tennis practice and back a couple of times the next day!

    Inca was a fairly industrial town in the center of Mallorca…not one of the lovely mountain villages of the west coast or one of the beach towns on the east coast. It was convenient but not noteworthy. I did go into Inca to do laundry once. I went in the middle of the day, thinking the laundry would be quiet that time of day, only to encounter someone washing load after load for some local hotels (small ones, with 15 or fewer rooms he said). He left one small machine open though so I got my clothes washed and dried them in the car and later, in my hotel room.

    I finally tried the surimi shaped like eels that I kept seeing in tapas and at the stores. It was in a garlic/olive oil mixture and was pretty good in a salad.

    I didn’t get back to watch Andy Murray because if I had I would not have had enough charge for the next day to drive to Global Tennis Team…needless to say, I’m not renting an electric car again till there are fast chargers galore and at all gas stations! Andy by the way lost in the quarters 76 in the third and cramped in the third set, so for him it was a successful venture I imagine…he got matches and knows where his fitness level is.

    I had a great time practicing though and learned a lot. I watched the kids hit more this time. They work so hard, and the instructors do not let them get by with anything less than 100% effort…..those who put in less effort find themselves running laps at a minimum. The instructors never have more than four players to a court and often have more than one instructor on court for 2-4 players. And they are watching intently or feeding. The players are the ones doing the work and hitting. One warm up involves cross courts with 3 players and one ball..hit it into the net and the player runs to pick it up. A player not hitting is shadowing a stroke. The two players alternate for a certain number of balls or time, then one goes to join the solo player and the remaining player hits solo for a while. It’s high energy.

    Next up for me is a tournament a couple of hours outside of Budapest…but first a couple of nights in Budapest, in Hungary, a country I’ve never before visited. It’s a part of the European Union and Schengen (unified passport) area but still uses its own currency. The exchange rate is $1 to 300 Hungarian currency, so I’ll be doing math in my head a lot this weekend.

    Hopefully I’ll have wifi this week in my room. However, the sim card I bought in Madrid, $20 from Orange for 20-25 GB of data for a month really came in handy this week. It works as a hotspot too, so I can write my blog on an Ipad and upload it by connectiing it to my phone’s data via wifi. Not a new thing but magical anyway.

    And that’s a wrap on Spain for this year.


  • Rain in Spain (Thunder and Lightning Too)

    Inca, Mallorca, Spain

    Wednesday Morning, August 28th

    Monday it was nearly 100 degrees in Mallorca and sunny. Then yesterday, Tuesday, a “cota fria” hit Mallorca (a cold front) and it rained on and off most of the day. Nonetheless, I managed to get in two training sessions with only a 10 minute break when it poured. In between sessions, I went to charge my car for a couple of hours at Lidl. I’d planned on leaving it there while I walked to the hotel and back, but the sky absolutely opened and poured buckets. I got soaked just walking in and out of Lidl and plugging in the charger. So I had lunch in my car and read instead, and in two hours the car didn’t reach a 50% charge…

    The tournament in Manacor, where Andy Murray is playing was delayed for much of the day and several matches were moved indoors. I didn’t drive over to watch partly because Andy’s match was delayed till after 9pm, but mostly because it takes soooo long to charge the electric car I rented that I didn’t have enough range to drive to Manacor and back safely. I haven’t figured out where a fast charger is, so I ended up parking it at the Lidl when I came back around 7:30 from tennis and (after someone without an electric car moved her car from in front of one of the chargers) and leaving it there for nearly three hours, and walked to and from Lidl from my hotel which is only about 15 minutes. So it’s charged and ready to go today. And Andy won against the 3rd seed so maybe I can watch him again this week.

    Today’s adventure looks to be going to the laundromat here, probably while the car is charging, and of course playing a lot of tennis. I think renting an electric car has been a good learning experience but one I won’t repeat till fast chargers are everywhere and the range is better. It would be better as a 2nd car for around town than as a primary vehicle.


  • Mallorca Encore: Training and Watching Andy Murray

    Mallorca, Spain

    This trip I am staying in a completely different area from Bunyola, north of Palma in Inca. However, the hotel is in the middle of orchards and very quiet (completely the opposite of where we staying in Madrid for sure).

    I got to the airport and found out I’d reserved an all electric vehicle. It took Hertz a while to put in the SD card that had the navigation and for someone from Hertz to explain how to charge it. It had a range of 180 KM and they said no problem, Mallorca is small…well, it’s down to about 80km and that included a 30 minute charging stint at Lidl today, so I’m going to have to leave it there for a few hours tomorrow in between practice sessions. I don’t think I’m quite ready for a full on electric vehicle as range anxiety is real. On the other hand, the cost to refuel it this week is zero.

    I checked into my hotel…my room wasn’t ready but I was able to change and get ready to practice for 90 minutes. Then I charged the car a bit and shopped at Lidl more before getting ready to go watch Andy Murray. Murray has been one of my favorite players since I first saw him playing Clement at the US Open when he was 18. He is playing the Mallorca challenger this week in Manacor at the Rafael Nadal Academy. It’s about a 30-40 minute drive but it was a zoo parking. Entry is free and the center court was SRO. I got there about the middle of the first set but the match was quick. Murray was playing a 17 year old, Imran Sibille of France…with career earnings of $150. He was overwhelmed, couldn’t handle the pace of Murray’s shots and hit a much lighter ball than Murray. Murray looks a little rusty on the short balls, but then it was such a lopsided match, it was hard to tell. The crowd was very vocal every time Sibille won a point and when he won his only game…at 06 05 down, the crowd really roared! It was a fun atmosphere. Murray plays again at 6pm CET tomorrow.


  • Adios Madrid, Hola Mallorca

    Madrid Airport, Monday August 26th 2019

    And then there was one…today Tracey and I took an early cab to the airport, which wasn’t far from our apartment (I woke up at 4:30 and was at the airport by 5!). Madrid has four 1/2 terminals (1-3, 4 & 4S). Terminals 4/4S are about 10 minutes by car from the other three. We dropped off Tracey at 2 and I continued to 4. Susan & Tim leave a few hours later, while I am going to Mallorca for a week of training before my next tournament.

    Andy Murray is playing a challenger this week…at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, so I hope to see him play this week. He’s one of my favorite players. And entry is free to the tournament.

    Yesterday was a pretty mellow day. Tracey tried to check in for her flight and somehow, after calling the airline and being put on hold for a long time, we were told her reservation had been cancelled. Fortunately there were several alternate flights which were only a few dollars more, but that took up a good part of the morning. Travel is fun but there can be bumps along the way.

    We had decided to go to the El Rastro Market, the biggest Sunday market in Madrid. It was a pretty typical street market…jewelry (lots of silver), leather goods, t-shirts galore, but no food, though shops were all around selling food. We walked through the market for about 45 minutes, found a good bakery and had empanadas for lunch (sort of a turnover except with bread instead of pie dough for the crust).

    Tim then went to a museum and Susan, Tracey and I wandered the streets looking at small shops (most were open in Madrid on Sunday, unlike Barcelona, though some smaller shops were closed). We ended up at El Cortez Ingles’s grocery store for our final stop, fitting, as that’s where I started in Lisbon, weeks ago. I got some Spanish sweets..turron consisting mainly of almonds & honey) and some curry mango sauce (like a mayonnaise) and manchego cheese to go with bread I got earlier.

    We returned to our flat, had a Spanish tapas sort of dinner with olives, ham, cheese, crackers and some carrots and salad, very tasty for a last supper so to speak.

    And now we scatter to the East and West Coast and Spain…it was a terrific trip, to be continued solo for me. Thanks for reading!


  • Getting Lost in Holy Toledo

    Madrid, Spain, Sunday Morning, August 25th

    I think there must be a lot of people with hangovers in Madrid today judging by the noise that was still emanating from the street at 4am. We are near the Puerta del Sol plaza and even at the relatively early hour of 8:30pm it was wild, which protestors (animal rights or the environment I think or both) chanting, street artists performing, music blasting.. I had to go to get a new SIM card for my phone (out of a vending machine basically…easy and inexpensive and lots of data) and had to dodge people right and left. My room is just above a street a block from the plaza and all night long there was music, singing, etc. It stopped I think around 5am.

    We took the fast train to Toledo from the Atocha station in Madrid, walking distance from our apartment. It took about 30 minutes but one needs to arrive a little earlier as there’s security to go through. And liquids (open ones anyway, such as a cup of coffee or tea) aren’t allowed through. Bottles of water are though. Tracey and Susan had their tea and coffee confiscated. The Toledo train station was very pretty inside and out.

    But Toledo…it really is Holy Toledo, filled with churches and a monastery. It’s also a world heritage site. The old town is partially walled, dominated by the church, the Alcazar (palace, now a museum) and monastery. There are lots of other churches sprinkled throughout the city. Toledo has narrow, cobblestones streets lined with plastered and stone buildings with shuttered windows and barrel tiled roofs. Even in the midday sun, many of the streets are so narrow that they were shady and cool.

    We visited the magnificent Gothic cathedral, again built, as many in Spain seem to be, over the site of a mosque. The Toledo Cathedral has a beautiful choir with carved seats and two organs, one much more ornately decorated than the other. The high alter was even more beautiful I think than the Seville Cathedral, which I didn’t think possible and also tells the story of Christ from the birth to the crucification. There’s also a painting gallery which has 19 Goya paintings, like a mini Prado. We spent over an hour looking around.

    The painting on the bottom is of the 7 deadly sins. Can you pick them out?

    We also went into the Alcazar, which is now a military museum. It was interesting but not a highlight of Toledo. It’s built over the remains of the Roman fort that was there and part of the cistern (water system) is still visible inside, and the views were good.

    After lunch we went to the Goya museum and house. The house was typical of the times with an interior courtyard surrounded by rooms on the ground and first floors and of course there were more Goya paintings there.

    The painting is of Goya’s family.

    We did a bit of souvenir shopping…Toledo is famous for its metal works, swords, knives and leather. So now I have a letter opener that looks like a sword..not made of silver though.

    After the Goya visit I went one way and Tracey, Susan and Tim went another. One thing the guidebooks said was to wander the streets of the old town and get lost…I didn’t mean to get lost but at one point I walked down a narrow street and ended up in at a dead end…I did get lost.

    I left the old city after that, walked to the train station to get a taxi to take me around to a viewing point I was searching for. I was going to walk there but ran out of time for that. The taxi driver took me to the Mirador del Valle and various other spots to see the city from afar which was great.

    We all met up at the train station and returned to Madrid. Today we’ll wander around the city on our last day here.

    Robin left yesterday at 3:30am and just got home around 8:30 am Madrid time to California. So our party of six is now scattered to three continents!


  • Madrid Day 2: Gran Via, Retiro Park, Mercado de San Anton

    Madrid Spain

    August 23, 2019

    Today was a busy but relaxing day at once. We started by doing some shopping along the way to the Gran Via, the 5th (or perhaps Madison) Avenue of Madrid, lined with beautiful buildings.

    We detoured partway down to the Temple of Debod, an Ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and moved to Madrid. However, the lines were very long so we didn’t go in but instead went on to the Mercado de San Anton. We walked through a bohemian area with vintage clothing, lots of graffiti, plants growing in pants and shoes and a really nice organic bakery which had warm bread.

    We reached the market and found something for lunch…I had a potato torta, ie a Spanish omelette, similar to a fritatta, which was quite good.

    Next Susan and I wandered through some shops and eventually reached Retiro Park, the Central Park of Madrid. We walked past the famous Prado Museum into the park and met up with Tracey and Tim at the Crystal Palace, in front of a pond. There were turtles (sunbathing) and ducks (in the shade) and both in the water at times. We wandered back out of the park via the avenue of statues of famous Spaniards, and walked back towards the Grand Via. Susan and I shopped for a while and eventually went back to the apartment for dinner.

    After dinner we wandered around. At 9pm, the place is really hopping…even at 10pm the Puerta del Sol is crammed.

    Robin leaves here tomorrow around 3:30am, so that will leave just the four of us…we’re going to Toledo tomorrow for the day. Jenny has arrived safely back in South Africa and already back at work.


  • Fast Train to Madrid to See Royal Palace & Church: Madrid Day 1

    Centro District, Madrid, Spain

    Early AM, August 23

    We started the day with a quick walk to the nearby tower and walked up as high as possible, where we could see the river and the oldest metal bridge in Europe.

    Then it was off to catch the fast (AVE) train to Madrid…only a 2.5 hour ride and a very pleasant one. The Seville train station was quiet, but the Madrid station was huge and busy.

    We caught taxis to our hotel (which is on a pedestrian street, so we had to walk a few blocks with our luggage.). Each apartment has been a bit smaller than the last…this one has one bedroom with no window and one which literally fits 2 twin beds (has a window though) and nothing else, no closet, no room to walk from one bed to the next (crawling over the first bed is recommended) and the smallest half bath we’ve seen! With only one full bathroom (and a small one at that) we have to organize a bathroom schedule…feels a bit like the Big Bang Theory! However, it’s clean, has a kitchen, AC and a washer and the location is perfect, walking distance to the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor and Retiro Park and the Prado.

    After getting situated we walked to the Royal Palace and the church next door, the Almudena Cathedral. We first went to the Cathedral which was beautiful, especially the painted ceilings. It was only finished in 1993, and though originally designed to be Gothic in style ended up in a more simple Baroque style to blend with the Palace next door.

    Next we visited the huge Royal Castle, and walked around the entire ground floor…..there was one room entirely made of porcelain, and one that was so ornately decorated it took over 50 years to complete. The chandeliers were magnificent and there is even a beautiful chapel in the church, which has a very high ceiling, ornately painted. The palace is home to the Royal kings from Charles III to Alfonso XIII. It was built somewhat along the lines of Versailles in the 1700s and has over 3000 rooms.

    We had dinner on the way back (again early for Madrid, only 8:00 or so) and when we finished, the plazas which were so sleepy and empty hours earlier were bursting with people and music. We hit the grocery store, barely arriving by its 10pm close and returned to our apartment.


  • Plaza Espana, Santa Cruz Barrio & Sevilla Fan Club

    On the AVE train to Madrid..

    August 22, 2019

    I wrote this blog yesterday…and then the internet ate it so we’ll never know exactly what I said then…today we are on the fast train to Madrid, stop three on our Spanish tour. Jenny Cerff left yesterday for South Africa so Robin, Susan & Tim and Tracey are with me on the next adventure.

    We started yesterday on the Plaza de Espana, which was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It’s a combination of the Renaissance Revival and Neo Mudéjar styles of Spanish architecture. Mudéjar is the style of the Real Alcázar. We approached it from the Parque de Maria-Luisa and walked by some beautiful buildings of the University of Seville including the science building. There was a lot going on…there’s a small waterway built going around 80% of the plaza which is arranged in an oblong semi-circle. There’s a huge fountain there where we took some photos and towers on each end (we tried to find a way to climb up one but it was closed to us…most of the edifice is used as government offices including immigration. There were singers and flamenco dancers and scores of people selling fans and the clickers flamenco dancers use. Tracey and I decided to buy fans for the myriad of photos we planned to take. Gayle Prejean from Dallas, another tennis player, joined us for this trip. The fans were a hit and the photos were fun.

    After leaving Plaza de Espana we headed back to the old town. Robin and I walked to the store for lunch and others took naps. Susan and I then headed out to go shopping. We ran into Gayle and headed off for the shopping area, where we meandered for a while and I shopped for eye glass frames. Susan found a cute flamenco apron too.

    After shopping we set off for the Santa Cruz Barrio which is home to the Jewish Quarter. We wandered through the narrow streets, most only one car width wide and some which were only for bikes and pedestrians. The buildings were old, with shutters on the windows and some with peeling paint. The streets were mostly of cobblestone.

    We saw this “Taste of America” Store on our way back. Apparently it’s from the 1960s judging by what it was selling! (We didn’t go in).

    We finally met up around 8:15 for dinner with everyone…and we were of course the only ones in the restaurant so early! It was a very fun visit to Seville and I highly recommend visiting it. There’s a lot to see and the prices are very reasonable.


  • 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


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

    Barcelona, Spain

    Monday August 19, 2019

    It was a long and fun day in Barcelona today. We started early, leaving at 7am for Park Guell. We took the Metro, which stops at the bottom of the park. We took escalators and stairs up. Robin Harris hasn’t decided yet whether the tennis the last two weeks, or the sight seeing is more physically difficult…all I can say is that yesterday she cramped after sight seeing…..I took around 25000 steps, over 10 miles and climbed 45 flights of stairs today. It was a really nice day too, not so hot and humid as yesterday.

    Park Guell was originally intended to be an exclusive suburban area for families and Guell commissioned Gaudi to design the estates in 1900…the location eventually proved untenable for families (too far out of town), and Guell closed the area 14 years later but not before Gaudi designed aqueducts, walking paths, and put his mark on the property, which is now owned by the city and is World Heritage site. We enjoyed seeing the lizard, the entrance and porter’s lodges and the undulating bench of the Nature Square and of course all the mosaics. The views were good too, of Barcelona. We also climbed up to the crosses after we left the Monumental Zone of the park (the only area requiring a ticket for entry).

    After we left the park area, we went to shop…Uniqlo, Decathalon and Uno de 50. Tim, Susan’s husband, went to visit the Gothic Quarter. We met up at 2 to go down towards the water for lunch via the Metro again (the T-10 card, good for 10 rides, and which can be used for multiple people is a bargain at 10,20 Euros). We found the recommended place in a quiet square off the main drag and had a Spanish lunch…Seafood Paella for Susan, Tim and Tracey, Hake for Robin, veggies for Jenny and I had good octopus and sardines (small plates and shared). We all had some Patatas Bravas, which were excellent (chunks of fried potatoes, served there with the sauce on the side). Susan even tried a bite of the octopus, and had some paella. About half way through, I told her that she was eating squid with the rice (along with shrimp). She was quite surprised (I think she thought it was chicken). The sardines aren’t like the ones in the USA, they are small, whole fish, grilled (and very tasty).

    In the evening we went to Casa Mila, which was designed as an apartment house by Gaudi for the Mila family who occupied one entire floor. It was so interesting…modern with lots of light and the details…the molding around the doors and windows, and the roof where the chimneys are disguised and become works of art were fantastic. The view from the roof was great too.

    We are off Tuesday to Sevilla where more fun awaits.

    Sagrada Familia & Gothic Quarter


  • 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.


  • World Championships: The End; Barker Wins EIGHTH! Singles Title & Wright Wins 7th Doubles Title in Portugal

    Somewhere between Lisbon & Barcelona

    Saturday August 17, 2019

    The World Championships ended in Portugal today. They were a great success. This is a partial overview of the final day; I’m on an airplane en route to Barcelona…no internet. All matches described were finals.

    60s:

    Diane Barker played a near perfect match to beat Susan Wright 62 63 and win the 60 singles.

    Robin Harris and Ross Persons lost to Ros Balodis/Peter Hampton in 60 mixed. Ros and Peter played an excellent match.

    Mark Vines and Glenn Busby fell in the doubles final in a match tiebreak 10-8 to Aussies Peter Hampton & Michael Ford, and Glenn won the singles in men’s 60s.

    Wright/Pat Medrado beat us in the women’s doubles final 63 75; we nearly mounted a successful comeback in the second set because we were down 40 and just trying to get a game…we got more aggressive, I served and volleyed and came into net all the time (Robin already does that) and it changed things. Susan was a rock, didn’t really miss a ball all day and Medrado was also solid and mixed things up. It was again extremely windy…we were both covered in red dirt by the end of the two hour match.

    55s:

    Klartje Van Baarle won the 55 singles, dismantling yet another opponent with the loss of only four games (Marie from France). She added the 55 doubles with Mary Dailey,
    USA, 63 76 over Fran Chandler/Shelly Works.

    Brenda Foster and Berend Betz won the 55 mixed. I don’t know who won the men’s singles but I believe he was from Germany. The 55 men’s doubles was ongoing when we left, with Polo Cowan/Dan Grossman (USA) winning the first set 76. UPDATE: They won 76 75, so Grossman has a 55 doubles world title to add to the 65s world title he won two years ago in Orlando.

    50s: Taras Beyko won the 50 singles, his second world title. He’s a Canadian. Theresa Catlin from GBR won her first singles world championship. Later in the day she won the doubles too with Siobhan Nicholson over former world champions Lesley O’Halloran/Olga Shaposhnikova.

    The day was hectic; it started with getting all of our luggage out of the apartment and to the club via Uber. We had a super nice Uber driver who went out of his way to get our stuff close to the office where we stored our luggage for the day. Jenny Cerff and Susan Wright went earlier because Susan had to play her singles. Then Susan played singles, Robin played mixed and Susan and Pat played Robin and me. As soon as we finished, realizing it was 5pm, we showered and then had photos taken and booked out of there via Uber.

    Jenny’s Phone Update: Jenny got the Portuguese tennis federation and Uber involved in retrieving her phone from Gabriela, the Uber driver who had it. She was to return it to the tennis club but in the end Jenny’s friend from So Africa who lives in Portugal had to go to her apartment and retrieve it. Jenny does now have her phone and is not letting go! She was politely persistent and it paid off.

    We arrive in Barcelona sometime around midnight (plane delay currently).

    And that’s a wrap on the 2019 ITF Seniors World Championships. I’ll update this with final results soon.

    Draws/Result are here.

    2019 ITF Senior Team & Individual Information, Draws, Results, Photos


  • Deia, Mallorca & Driving the West Coast

    Mallorca, Spain

    After six days and nine practice sessions, I had a much needed break from tennis. I decided to try and book a massage and ended up booking one…at the Palma Sport Tennis Club. I didn’t even know it existed, even though it was not far from the hotel I’d previously stayed in when visiting Mallorca. It is 100,000 square foot parcel in the middle of high rises, with five clay courts, a center court (where the men’s Legend’s Cup tournament is held), a gym, spa, restaurant, pool and small grassy area. It was a nice place to spend part of a Sunday afternoon. The club seems to cater to a lot of international guests and I heard English, Spanish and German spoken.

    After lunch, I decided to drive to Deia, which overlooks the sea. I haven’t seen much of the sea this week and missed it. The drive took me past Valdemossa again (I still didn’t see a safe spot to pull over and take a photo..) and along the coast, which is spectacular…and the road was narrow with no shoulders. The views I could see (the road was narrow and curvy, one had to be cautious driving) rivaled that of Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur (imagine driving that road, but with no turnouts at all and being much narrower and windier and you have the feel). On the east were lots of trees, both cultivated (mostly olives) and wild (mostly pines). One the coast were impressive drop offs to a deep blue sea. There were signs at regular intervals to be wary of falling rocks from the cliffs above.

    As I approached Deia, there was actually parking along the side of the road. I parked and walked up towards the town, which is pretty small. However, judging by the prices I saw outside a real estate business, the prices are high. Some of the houses have views of the sea and the mountains, both of which are spectacular.

    One of the draws too, is the house where Robert Graves lived, which is on the outside of town. It’s a pretty place, from the outside (it was closed on a Sunday).

    There were a lot of olive orchards, old ones (not very productive ones either judging by the paucity of olives on the trees, but they were quite interesting looking, being old, gnarly, and windswept.

    The drive back took me again along the coast, which again was spectacular, then inland past Soller. I was able to take a couple of photos from a turnout by a bus stop…and this doesn’t do the coast justice.

    I’ve been to Mallorca many times but mostly to the east side and Palma. The East side is mostly beach resorts and pretty flat. The southwest and west coasts are amazing and I have a lot yet to see in future trips.


  • Valdemossa, Mallorca & Training on the Dirt

    Mallorca, Spain

    Today was the last day of training here in Mallorca, at least for this week & I think I worked hard, at least I’m tired…not even sore, just tired. The kids who train here though seem to have boundless energy, and they train three hours a day on court, do fitness for I suppose an hour or so and then have tournaments on the weekends. It was pretty quiet when I finished today. Normally the courts are packed, but Saturday afternoons and Sundays the facility is closed.

    After I practiced today, and had lunch, I watched the third set of the crazy match between Sasha Zverev and Basilashvili who were playing a clay court tournament in Hamburg, Germany. It was a crazy set…Zverev goes down 3-0, (then up 5-3, 40-15, and at 40-30 on Basilashvili’s serve makes a bad decision to hit a drop shot, loses the game, and eventually the match in a tierbreak…Zverev hit 9 winners (other than serves), Basilashvili made almost 80 errors.

    So after finishing that match, I decided to drive to Valdemossa, another small town on the west side of the island. It was an easy drive, past almond orchards (which looked better than the ones on the road to Orient), which had trees planted much farther apart than is the case in California. In the background, mountains loomed with ominous looking clouds. From the road the town of Valdemossa is pretty and quaint, with stone buildings layered up the mountainside. There were no turnouts on the narrow road, so I’m showing a photo of the city (see the credit below the photo).

    There was some sort of festival going on…lots of red blankets and banners showing in windows, along with Spanish flags, and a band was marching through the town. There’s a Carthusian Monestary (closed already when I arrived), lots of quaint narrow streets lined with stone houses, whose front “gardens” were comprised of potted plants attached to the walls. Valdemossa is located in a small valley near the Tramuntana mountains. It’s famous for Chopin and George Sands (the female author) wintering there (and for Sands’ book, “Winter in Mallorca”).

    Valdemossa is also famous for a pastry, Coca de Patata, which is a cross between Hawaiian sweet bread and a beignet I think. It’s clearly made with potatoes, and normally has pork fat and sugar. It’s normally topped with powdered sugar.


  • Mountain Driving to Orient & Alaro Mallorca

    Mallorca, Spain

    Thursday was another sunny, hot day in Mallorca. I have only an evening practice today so I took a drive to a couple of mountain villages.

    From Bunyola to Orient is only about six miles, but it’s an intense one, starting with leaving Bunyola. Most of the roads were about as wide as a freeway lane..some were narrower…but all had 2-way traffic. And the entire drive was full of pinwheel curves. Fortunately, there was hardly anyone on the roads as I chose to leave around noon. And it was in the high 90s.

    The road to Orient is very pretty, with lots of trees and very steep mountains in the background. I passed more bikers than cars, and there were frequent signs admonishing bikers to ride single file, not parallel (though not all groups of bikers obeyed those signs). There were also more small orchards, with trees set far apart, almonds, apples, olives. Later on I saw a few grapes too. I have no idea how people build houses up there, the roads are so narrow, but I saw a very large building under construction behind Orient.

    The town of Orient is tiny, not much longer than a city block, but nonetheless had a 3 star hotel and a couple of restaurants. I walked up and down the street, then left for Alaro.

    The road to Alaro was straighter and mostly a bit wider. I saw a lot of terraced hillsides, with the levels delineated by rocks. Mallorca must be full of rocks, all the fences have a lot of rocks as the base and most houses are some combination of plaster & rocks with barrel tiled roofs.

    I passed the sign to the Castell d’Alaro on the way in and contemplated taking it. But it was a 45 minute walk up to the castle in 100 degree heat, so I passed. Plus it was a bit hazy with all the heat of midday.

    Alaro is a pretty typical Mallorcan village. It has a big square by the church (and conveniently, the police station), and rows of plaster & rock houses, mostly with green shutters, a grocery store and a pharmacy. I walked around the town, which at 2pm was basically dead other than a few cafes, hit the Bipa grocery store (which had two full freezer compartments of frozen fish, from mussels to calamari to shrimp), and drove back. Tennis training is later in the evening.

    Training tomorrow and then on the weekend, more exploring of Mallorca awaits.


  • Tren de Soller; Soller and the Port de Soller

    Bunyola, Mallorca, Spain

    Since my tennis was scheduled for the evening yesterday, I decided to take the antique train (Ferrocarril de Sóller) to the little town of Sóller, north of here, and then the antique tram to the Port de Sóller . The decision was made easy by the fact that I’m staying about 30 seconds from the train station.

    The train goes from Palma to Bunyola to Sóller and back about half a dozen times a day. It’s an old wooden train with wooden seats. We went past a lot of desiccated-looking olive, almond and citrus orchards. I saw goats in a couple of olive orchards, munching away (I kid you not.). The young ones ran from the train while the older ones paid it no mind. We went through several tunnels and past some nice scenery of valleys and mountains.

    Sóller is a small town with a pretty church, a nice shopping street and hoards of tourists. I heard French, British English, German, only a bit of Spanish, Italian and some other languages being spoken, with German and English being most prevalent. There were ice cream shops everywhere, I think that’s one of the main attractions in Sóller. I had mint which was refreshing on such a hot day (mid-high 90’s).

    I took the tram down to the Port of Sóller, which features a nearly circular port full of boats and lined with a small, packed beach (it was hot). I climbed up a bit to see the Port better and also saw the Mediterranean on the other side of the Port. It was a cloudless day with the blue sky and blue water looking so beautiful.

    You can take a boat ride from the Port but after taking some photos and walking around a bit, I took the tram back to Sóller and walked around there for an hour, seeing the church, shopping street and watching the groups of tourists.

    I took the 2pm train back to my lodging and then trained at 7:30 pm and again today at 9:30am. It’s interesting watching the kids training, they have some different drills. Mainly of course, they are always moving and are hitting with each other, not with the pros. They were doing 2 on 1 drills today for a while and even in warm up, when one of the kids on the side with 2 hit a ball, the other shadowed the stroke. They were using only one ball per court so any misses meant the kid who missed into the net had to run to pick it up. The next drill involved cross courts and one of the kids on the side with two then running from one end to the other after so many hits. Then I left, it was 95 by noon.

    Hola Mallorca…Hace Caliente!

    Tennis on the Spanish Clay & Seafood is Popular in Mallorca


  • Tennis on the Spanish Clay & Seafood is Popular in Mallorca

    Bunyola, Mallorca, Spain

    Today I trained twice and in between went to three grocery stores (they were adjacent to each other). In other words, it was a fun day!

    I trained an hour and a half in the morning and also in the late afternoon. It was very hot at 4:30pm but pretty dry so not unbearable. I hit a ton of balls and picked up a few tips…and all day long heard the instructors saying “feet, feet, move”. Spanish tennis is constructed from the ground up. I was of course the oldest person around by decades and that included the parents of the students who were observing. There seemed to be a fair number of British kids. Very few instructors or kids were wearing hats or sunglasses…hmmm. The clay here is much thicker and slower than Bordeaux. The balls are heavy. I like it.

    After my 9:30 hit, I stretched then went to find Aldi. The navigation system in my car is good, so it was a smooth ride on the narrow Mallorcan streets. Aldi was next to Lidl (both are discount grocery stores) and across the street was a normal grocery store. I started with Lidl, which was the most popular of the three. Lidl had great bread, nice apples and tons of seafood. Since it was my first stop and I had no cooler, I didn’t buy any, but maybe next time. There was tons of fish, and shellfish…mussels, clams, squid seems popular and octopus (pulpo) too. Lidl had nice lambs lettuce (mache in French, Felt Salat in German), which is so good and hard to find at home.

    In Europe, all the grocery carts have a system where one puts in a 1 or 2 euro coin, releases the cart…then upon returning, reattaches the cart and gets the coin back. It works pretty well. Aldi does this in the USA but it’s only a quarter (since that’s pretty much the biggest coin in common circulation).

    I went to Aldi next which was similar, though the bread didn’t look quite as good, nor did the apples. But I got the basics there and Aldi also had tons of shellfish and fresh fish.

    Last stop was the regular store, for curry mango sauce for sandwiches and jam. Heinz makes the curry mango sauce but apparently doesn’t sell it in the USA. I was looking for peanut butter and found some in Lidl but no natural. I’m hoping in Lisbon we have a blender and I can just make some!

    I had a good sandwich for lunch and at 4:30-6 trained again. After that I was beat.

    Tomorrow I only train once, in the evening so am going to see where this wooden train is going every day.

    Hola Mallorca…Hace Caliente!


  • 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.