Sunday was travel day #2 on my journey from Mallorca, Spain to Hanko, Finland. I arrived about three hours before my flight and though there was a long line, it took less than half and hour and security was pretty quick. In Barcelona the rules are: shoes on, hats off, tablets and laptops out, liquids in a 1 quart bag (which can be put into the same tray as the laptop and tablets), all carryon items need to be put into a tray even roller bags. I had a 10:45 flight on Norwegian Airlines, which was delayed by an hour, though I didn’t really know that till I boarded an hour late. On the plus side, we were assigned a gate and that was the one we departed from. Other than the delay, the flight was fine, about four hours…Finland is very far north. It’s also an hour ahead of continental European time, so +10 from California, +7 from the East Coast of the USA.
I landed close to 5pm and my bag arrived wet…my first inkling of the Helsinki weather (I had seen my bag on the cart being driven out to the plane which was reassuring…it’s nice to have a maroon bag, it stands out). As an aside, I was in an exit row and in Europe everyone in the exit row has to stow all items overhead, even jackets one isn’t wearing. This is not the case in the USA.
I was lucky that Arthur from the tennis club in Hanko picked me up and it was a two hour drive to Hanko (otherwise 2 trains, and a bus). In Hanko the weather was really nice. I arrived around 7pm, checked in and then walked to the courts to scope out practice courts and the venue. I walked past old painted houses on the way to the courts where I ran into Joakim Berner, the tennis director there. He helped me get a practice court and I ran into Rosemary Everett, my doubles partner this week.
After leaving the courts I visited a nearby grocery store which was open on a Sunday till 9pm! I had googled grocery stores and they did appear to be open, but in Spain Google sent me to quite a few closed grocery stores last Monday so I was skeptical. The things I have noticed so far are that packaging seems quite different, very few cans, more boxes (like juice boxes…but for things like beans); lots of peanuts (and natural peanut butter), lots of salmon, lots of potatoes. Also, the tomatoes and avocados were refrigerated which is interesting and concerning! At the entrance to the store is a spot where one can return plastic bottles and get the deposit back in the form of a credit to be used at the store. The deposit is pretty large, for a 1.5 liter bottle it’s 40 cents. There also seems to be some sort of recycling for batteries etc.
And that was Travel Day 2 and Day 1 in Hanko. Sunset was at 10pm. Dusk was long.
Day 2 in Hanko was tennis, grocery store, going up the water tower, biking along the sea, more tennis and back to the hotel.
Peter Gard, Rosemary and I practiced at 9am; Rosemary was done around 10 and Peter and I practiced serves and returns another 30 minutes or so. The courts are a bit quicker than Lugano or Mallorca and a bit more slippery, but nice. The lines are thin with ridges, unlike the painted ones in Spain or the solid ones in Lugano.
After practice and lunch, I decided to go up the water tower, which is orange and dominates the landscape…Hanko is very flat. The view was very nice from the top, and I could see the southernmost spot in Finland from there. The cost is 5 euros and you pay at the top, card only, no cash.
After returning to the bottom, I rented a bike for my stay (the lock is built into the bike, convenient but uses a key) and biked back to the club for practice number 2, which was shorter. I ran into some players I knew from Germany, Finland and Australia, always nice to catch up. On the way back, I took photos of the Casino (which is not for gambling but a restaurant) and the cabanas by the beach which appear on many Hanko postcards.
Tomorrow we practice for an hour early, then I’ll scout my first round opponent.