• Tag Archives global Tennis Team
  • Tennis & Hiking, Fornalutx & Biniaraix, Mallorca

    Mallorca, Spain, July 29, 2019

    This post was lost in the Ethernet the last month.

    My last day in Mallorca was a busy one! I hit tennis balls or 90 minutes, all was good, so I decided to visit Fornalutx, another mountain village near Soller.

    I did some research and read that the hike to Fornalutx was a pretty easy one, about 45 minutes. I parked about 15 minutes outside of downtown, adding to the walk, but it was an easy place to park and not a bad walk into town.

    I apparently missed the route that wasn’t on the main road. The walk, though pretty, wasn’t particularly relaxing because the roads are so narrow, there’s no shoulder at all and no sidewalks. So I stayed quite alert and avoided being hit by a car or more likely, by a motorcyclist, they ride fast and loudly here.

    The scenery was pretty, orchards, almonds, olives, lemons, oranges, and even a few pomegranate trees were nestled up against the dramatic mountain background.

    When I got to Fornalutx (it was well over and hour, since I stopped and took photos and was meandering), I found the main plaza, got some water, and found the route for the next part of the walk. It was an uphill route for a long ways, up uneven and rough stone steps. But the views were beautiful. At the top I was on a main road for a short while, then found the path down, which wound through olive orchards mostly, and was quiet and free of cars.

    On the way back, I detoured through the tiny village of Biniaraix, which still hard a small plaza by the church. There weren’t many cars on that detour either, and once I was past Biniaraix, I was only 20 minutes from Soller.

    Soller was really hopping at 8pm, the plaza was packed with people having drinks (a bit early yet for food, though some were eating). I walked through the main shopping street and back to my car.

    I leave Mallorca tomorrow for Lisbon. It’s been nice getting to know a different part of this diverse island.


  • 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!


  • 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


  • 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.