This week I have been practicing on the red clay both with teammates and with players Sabine (the captain) has organized for me, which has been great, though the weather was a bit cold on Tuesday and Wednesday!
I hit at ETUF Essen (on the Baldeneysee) a couple of times on Tuesday, hit Lidl (the stores were closed on Sunday/Monday) and took a racquet to the large Tennis Point store in Essen for stringing.
Wednesday I drove to Meerbusch, a small area (under 60,000) near the Dusseldorf airport and not far from the Dutch border to play at a club there. The club was seemingly in the middle of a suburb but had eight really well maintained clay courts. I hit with Reinhilde Adams from the team. It was pretty cold but sunny. Thank goodness for Apple CarPlay! I picked up my racquet on the way back too.
Today, Thursday, the weather was great, mid-70s and mostly sunny. I hit with both Gabi from the team and Anne from the ETUF 40s team. After lunch I wandered around Essen. It wasn’t a holiday weekend so was not as crowded. I was trying to find a car rental return spot at the Essen HBF (never found it), but the train station, though not huge compared to say Frankfurt, is full of German fast food eateries (and McDonald’s and Starbucks of course) and a full size Lidl. The fruit and vegetable stand outside the train station still had strawberries…but the white asparagus was the big seller as far as I observed.
After leaving the train station, I wandered around the city center area…Essen seems to have a lot of banks and modern buildings, I saw a few churches and even smoke stacks from long closed coking and coal plants. Most of the buildings are post-WWII since 90% of the center and 70% of the suburbs were bombed since Essen was a center of weapons manufacturing in the mid-20th century. It was also a big coal mining city from the 1400s to the late 20th century. It’s located in the center of the Ruhr valley.
There also seem to be lots of theaters (including the GOP Variety Theater Essen).
Today Essen has a population of around 580,000, down from a peak of 720,00 in the early 1960s. It is a center now for green energy, services, universities and businesses. It’s about 30 minutes north of Dusseldorf and not far from the Dutch border in north west Germany. It’s also a green city (meaning lots of parks and green spaces).
Tomorrow I practice then Saturday we have another match. I’ll write after that match, which is in Essen this time.