• Category Archives Spain
  • Traveling Back to the USA

    Monday October 25, 2021

    I traveled back to the USA yesterday, Sunday. It was a long trip. There are a few new wrinkles to international travel and where the creases are depends upon which country one is leaving from and transiting through.

    No matter which country in Europe anyway a US citizen leaves from, one must get an antigen (or PCR, but they are more expensive and the results take longer to receive) test within three days of travel. I traveled on the 24th, so needed to get a test on the 21, 22, 23 of October, or I suppose could have taken one on the 24th if I wasn’t leaving so early. I had a binax home test which is video proctored. I took it on the 22nd and obviously tested negative since I am back. I got both a QR code and a letter (PDF) with the date of the test and the result. Nothing had to be printed out.

    To transit via London I also had to fill out a record locator form online and received a pdf of the completed form.

    For British Airways, I needed to download the “Verifly” app, and upload the letter (the QR code, which worked for United in July didn’t work for American/BA but the letter did work) and the completed locator form. I also had to enter my passport and flight details and vaccination details. Shortly after that I received a green check from Verifly that all my documents were in order. For anyone without a smart phone, I think showing the negative test result letter, the printed locator form (this can also be filled out before check in at the airport, BA anyway handed out a lot of these) and your vaccination card. Verifly was easier though. I never had to show anyone my vaccination card on the return flight. But I did have to show a copy of my negative test result at check-in in Barcelona.

    I had a 7am flight. I arrived nearly three hours in advance as was recommended. I breezed through check-in (because I had my locator form filled out) and was the first one checked in. To get into security, I scanned my boarding pass. The line for security wasn’t very long. In Spain I had to take off my jacket and take out my camera, iPad and computer, and my smart watch (but not my shoes…that is just a USA security thing). Everything was closed so I went through customs (Great Britain is no longer part of the EU) and found a table at a closed Burger King and wrote my blog yesterday.

    We landed on time in London, into Terminal 5 which was the one we departed from for the USA. I had a five hour layover, so wandered around for a while doing a little shopping and window shopping (the same high end stores are in Terminal 5 as were in Barcelona…Gucci, Prada, Hermès etc…but were pretty empty. Harrods’ Christmas shop though had some browsers. In Europe the gate is not announced till 60-75 minutes before takeoff. Once it was announced we’d be taking off for “B” gates I headed out which entailed taking a train within the airport. 75 minutes before takeoff the gate was announced. I only had to show my passport, Verifly green check and boarding card.

    Flying from Spain; LHR Terminal 5 & Terminal 5 B Gates; SAN Arrival

    On landing in San Diego, the process was quick because I have Global Entry…while waiting for luggage I completed my Customs form at the kiosk, by which time my luggage was out. I cleared the Global Entry line, which wasn’t long. All luggage then had to be x-rayed and that was it. It took less time than collecting luggage did from a domestic flight.

    In summary, on BA/American returning from or transiting via London:

    • Download Verifly App
    • Get antigen test within 3 days of return (1 day for unvaccinated Americans I believe)
    • Fill out locator form online
    • Upload negative test result letter, locator form to Verifly app
    • Fill out passport, vaccination info etc into Verifly app as requested

    And that’s a wrap on international travel for 2021. It is not much more difficult than usual and it’s worth the effort!


  • World Championships, Mallorca: The End: Waldman, Fales/Corley Win Gold on Saturday

    Sunday Oct. 24, 2021

    Draws are here. 

    Photos are here

    The 40th ITF Super Senior World Championships ended with a whimper more than a bang as the final mixed doubles and men’s singles champions were crowned. The men’s 75 with Chris Ornstein and Antonio Claudi (who beat Michael Beautyman in the semis) was a tight three setter won 64 in the third by Claudi; the remaining finals were straight sets with one walkover and one retirement in mixed. It was super windy and quite cool yesterday which made excellent play difficult.

    Dan Waldman (USA, Washington DC) beat reigning world champion Frits Raijmakers (NED) 64 61, coming back from a 0-3 ad out deficit to win this fifth world singles title, one in each age division, 45/50/55/60/65. Frits was playing his third week in a row and was a doubles finalist the day before. Alfred Boekl of Germany beat Bruno Renoult (FRA) 63 61 to claim the 70s singles title. To no one’s surprise, including his doubles partner and final round singles opponent, Jaime Pinto Bravo (Chile) was too strong for the men’s 80 field, beating Peter Pokorny (Austria) 60 63, in a repeat of their final in the ITF 1000 in Font de sa Cala two weeks earlier. Pokorny actually plays on a league team with Raijmakers (Frits plays line one and Peter line 6) in Austria…Frits says Pokorny never loses at line 6. Herbert Althaus (Germany) won his first ITF World singles title over Herm Ahlers (USA, Las Vegas) 64 61. Ahlers said Althaus was just too fast and got to all his drop shots. Althaus doesn’t have the prettiest strokes but he is really speedy, which in the 85s is key. The 90s was decided yesterday, and France’s Henri Cruchet won the title.

    In mixed, Benedict LeGrand and Marc Renoult (Bruno’s brother, also from France) won the 65 doubles over Sabine Schmitz (GER)/Alan Rasmussen (DEN) 62 10 retired (pulled muscle by Rasmussen). The 70 doubles was won by Reinhilde Adams (Germany)/Jairo Velasco Ramirez (Spain) over Marie Anne Semester Ghisolfi/Daniel Montel, France 62 61. USA’s Donna Fales (Florida) and Dean Corley (SoCal) won the 75 mixed over Teische Andree (Germany)/Zoltan Fabian (Hungary) 63 62. The 80 mixed was won by Suella Steel (USA, California)/Pokorny by default. It was a three-team round robin, and the first match was last Sunday, the second not till the following Saturday for Steel/Pokorny.

    Liane Bryson (USA, California) won the 70 consolation to add to her 70 doubles gold.

    After the medal ceremony, I checked out of my airbnb and Donna Fales and I drove to Palma, where I dropped her off at her hotel there. I returned the rental car to Hiper and fortunately the rental car agent was insistent that a phone was left in the car. It wasn’t mine, it was Donna’s. (I got a hold of her at the hotel and she knows I have it, a relief to her.) Then I flew to Barcelona, arriving about 8:30 at my hotel. After dinner I walked down the Passeig de Gracia for quite a while…my hotel was near both the Gaudi House (Casa Batlo) and Casa Milo, another famous Gaudi building. The street is lined with high-end stores…Gucci, Bulgari etc (also Uniqlo though). It was busy even after 11pm…because it’s Spain, it’s Barcelona.

    Now off to USA via London (do NOT forget to fill out that record locator form if you are transiting through London! Many of the passengers in line this morning had no clue…so I was the first person checked in.


  • Survived Doubles Semi; Finals Friday (Weather Permitting); Semis Results

    Thursday October 21, 2021

    Draws are here. 

    Photos are here

    Today was a day off for singles but Sabine Schmitz and I played Hildegard Bruggraber/Christiane Deryckere. In contrast to our last match, everyone was from Europe except me, Sabine from Germany, Hildegard from Austria and Christiane from Belgium. We started well, winning the first set 62, and leading 53 in the second but from there it was tricky as our opponents started playing better and the sun became tricky. We had a match point at 54 and Hildegard actually hit the ball wide but I failed to call it, so we played on and eventually ended up in a tiebreak which we lost 73. So onto the match tiebreak which I don’t have much experience with. They had the momentum and forged 5-1 and 6-5 leads…maybe even 7-5. We then cut down on errors and went up 9-7, and as a loud altercation took place on the court next to us (it was an 85s match, so they probably didn’t realize how loud they were talking), I missed a shot and then it was 9-9. We finally won the match 12-10 in the tiebreak, though were never down a match point. Hildegard has improved a lot (she hadn’t lost a doubles or mixed match all year till today), and Christiane set her up nicely as the match went on. It shows how different singles and doubles are: I beat Christiane 61 60 in singles and Sabine beat Hildegard 61 61….In contrast to our meandering way to the final, Tina Karwasky and Pat Medrado won their semi 60 60. So we have our work cut out for us tomorrow. Singles is scheduled at 9am and doubles at noon.

    Nichols, Schmitz Bruggraber, Deryckere

    In other action: Men’s 65, Dan Waldman advanced over Italian Paolo Moscelli 75 retired. Apparently Moscelli is a tricky opponent, reading the ball well and dropshotting well. Dan faces a different opponent on Saturday in Frits Raijmakers, the top seed and defending champion from the Netherlands, who belts the ball. Doug Ditmer and Daniel Grossman beat the #2 seeds American Danny Shaw and Swiss Peter Heller to advance to the 65 doubles final against Frits and Alan Rasmussen. In 65 mixed, Schmitz/Rasmussen beat Shaw/Bruggraber and face Marc Renoult/Benedict Legrand in the final; they beat Steven Dance/Caroline Glaszmann.

    In the 70s there aren’t many Americans, but there were plenty of upsets. However, Reinhilde Adams was not one of them…the #2 seed took out Leyla Musalem of Chile and plays Heide Froeystock (4) who beat Micheline Van de Wiele (11th seed, who took out #1 Heidi Eisterlehner) 75 60. She was thrilled to reach the final. Eisterlehner did reach the doubles final, with USA Liane Bryson. They play Adams and Rotraut Spriess. In singles, Afred Boekl (2) beat Jorge Camina Borda in 3 sets and plays Bruno Renoult who beat Pedersen in 3 sets (Pedersen took out Andrew Rae yesterday). Rae is in the doubles final though with Velasco against Frans Norby/Kasper Rud of Denmark. The mixed final. is not yet set, there’s a semifinal match to be played still involving Adams.

    In men’s 75, Michael Beautyman fell to Antonio Claudi of Italy, who faces Brit Chris Ornstein in the final. However, Beautyman/Les Buck won their doubles convincingly to advance to the final against Claudi/Paolo Lazzari of Italy. In women’s 75, Eisemann plays Von Ende; Eisemann/Von Ende upset top seeded Heide Orth/Suzy Burgraff who take on Chileans Lilian Eisele Pardo/Alicia Salazar Garrido. In mixed, Donna Fales/Dean Corley (USA) advanced to the final, in a match tiebreak for the second straight match (against Roger Dowdeswell/Anneke Jelsma) and play Telsche Andree/Zoltan Fabian, who won their semis against an Israeli team 11-9 in the MTB.

    In the 80s, Donna Fales/Dorothy Wasser won their doubles semi 61 61 and play Germans Irmgard Gerlatzka/Elisabeth Van Boemmel in the final. Fales plays Gerlatzka in the singles final. In men’s play, Peter Pokorny and Jaime Pinto Bravo from Chile are in the singles final and doubles final (against Giovanni Argentina/Giancarlo Milesi of Italy. Mixed is a three team round robin & American Suella Steel is playing with Pokorny on Saturday (I think they played last Sunday…so it’s been a long week of waiting for Steel).

    King Van Nostrand had to default his Men’s 85 singles final to fellow American Herm Ahlers due to severe tennis elbow. Ahlers will play #2 seed Herbert Althaus who beat American Ned Buckman. The doubles final was set yesterday. Gallay/Marx play Loesl/Specht in the mixed final on Saturday as was the women’s singles final.

    In the first ever 90s event, Henri Crochet of France will take on Brit Leonard Lawrence in the final. They reached the final with the loss of only 1 game between them.


  • Alcudia, Formentor, Valdemossa, Soller, Deia

    Yesterday was a long day of touring…and I drove! I went with German Heide Froeysok and Aussie Stephen Dance.

    We started towards Cap de Fomentor a nearly two hour drive due to the narrow roads. The route sent us through Area where we saw from the car the Sant Salvador de Artà group of fortified buildings.

    The first stop was in Alcudia, which has a lot of Roman ruins. We were able to walk on top of the restored city wall that surrounds the old town. There are lots of narrow streets and of course lots of tourist type shops. I was there last June and the town was pretty deserted, but yesterday…on a Friday, it was packed.

    Alcudia

    After leaving Alucdia we went toward the Cap de Formentor, up a narrow winding road that was heavily populated with bikers, making driving very challenging, as they were often in the middle of the road. We stopped at the Sa Crueta viewpoint…just past it and hiked up to the walking path. The views from the top were stunning, especially since the sky was a blue as the Mediterranean Sea. After admiring the view we continued on to the Formentor Beach. We were intending to drive up to the lighthouse on the Cap de Formentor but the road was closed and no explanation was given. We visited the nice, small and uncrowded beach and plotted our next moves.

    Sa Crueta Viewpoint

    We decided to see more of Mallorca…I suggested Soller, Valdemossa and Deia on the west coast of Mallorca.

    Soller is a very pretty town with a lovely church in an active town square. The streets are narrow and old and feature the typical Mallorca stone facades with dark green shutters. There’s also a train that goes from Palma to Soller via Bunyola, and a wooden tram that goes down to the port, but we wandered around the streets, got a bite to eat and some ice cream and moved on to Valdemossa and Deia.

    Soller

    Valdemossa from the road is very pretty, terraced up the side of a hill. It’s famous for its Charterhouse, a palace in the center of town, surrounded by more narrow Mallorca streets on one side and pretty gardens on the other side. We walked around the Charterhouse, then, with the sun getting low drove on to Deia.

    Valdemossa

    Deia is a small town up in the mountains of Mallorca. Deia is perched in a ravine at the foot of the Teix mountain, with views out to the Mediterranean below, and is known as an artist colony. It also has some spectacular ancient olive orchards…the trunks of the trees are gnarled and really interesting. Robert Graves home is a museum there. The people we saw on the way to restaurants were dressed really nicely, much less casual than is typical in Mallorca.

    And then it was back to Font de Sa Cala…a long but fun day.


  • 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.


  • Successful Tournament Start in Barcelona

    Draws and order of play: https://itfseniorsbarcelona.com/en/cuadros.

    Yesterday, after I went to the club (via the tram) I went to El Cortez Ingles, a huge department store about a 10 minute walk from my hotel. It’s 4 or 5 stories…two of which are below street level. I went to the large grocery store in the basement. The Spanish love tinned and fresh fish, along with Iberico ham, sweets and fruits and vegetables. The milk aisle (unrefrigerated) and yogurt (refrigerated) were also large. I got some cooked mussels (delicious with lemon and a salad) and a couple of tins of shellfish…and of course a chocolate bar and apples.

    I played my first match in Barcelona at 6pm on Monday night, which is the earliest any matches are scheduled here. I got to the club around 4pm and it took me about 20 minutes to get practice balls and find my court. The kids camps were still going strong with hundreds of kids playing tennis, running through sprinklers on the soccer fields and generally seeming to have a good time.

    My practice court was court 38 which is a few hundred meters from court 37. I walked past courts and two field hockey (not soccer) fields to find it. There’s one hard court at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona and I could hear the sound of the players on that court…the sound of very good players hitting. When I got closer, I saw that one of them was Carla Suarez Navarro of the beautiful one-handed backhand club.

    I finally found my court and a pro with a bunch of students came on the court within minutes…but also moved to another court, maybe she was lost too. I hit some serves and bounced some balls and did a bit of running…that was my warm up yesterday. At 4:45, there were. still lots of people running around the tournament check-in site, setting up food trucks, the check-in area, etc, but by 6pm everything was fairly sorted out. There was a long line to pay entry fees. Everyone was given a nice shirt (v-necks for women, polos for men, lime green), and a mask from the sponsor. No one asked for the ITF form that everyone was supposed to fill out and show the tournament before playing. The only ask was for proof of payment of the entry fee (80 euros plus a 5 euro IPIN fee). When I left around 7:45, there was music going, champagne being handed out and the food trucks were operational, though things don’t really get going there till well after 8pm.

    I played Mireia de Gispert Talavera. I played her here 3 years ago and won 60 60 this time. We played on a court that went east/west, but fortunately it was cloudy or the sun would have been a problem. I was going to watch my future opponents play but ran into one of them…she said her opponent couldn’t play Monday so asked if she could play Tuesday…so I know I don’t play singles today. However, the order of play for today came out as I was writing this (at 10:22am) and I play doubles not before….10 pm!


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • Super Senior USA Cups Announced by USTA

    • Location: Mallorca, Spain
    • Team Event: Sunday, Oct. 10 – Friday, Oct. 15, 2021
    • Individual Event: Saturday, Oct. 16 – Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021