Sue's Spanish certainly came in handy because almost everyone spoke Spanish here in Barcelona although the semi-official language is Catalán. We noticed that all the subway station names are in Catalán but much of the signage was in all three languages. During the week, we enjoyed the wide avenues in much of the city as well as the narrow streets in the older neighborhoods opening up to small plazas dotted with cafes where one could eat several dishes of tapas and drink a beer or two for around $15.
We love the idea of tapas ... eating small portions of lots of different things. Mas loves it because that is the way Japanese eat and Sue because she is small ;-). The weather has been spectacular with warm days and cool nights and we as a team have been successful on the tennis court.
In the semifinals, Sue played the #1 seed, Heide Orth from Germany, ITF World Number 1 in 2001 and currently ranked #6 in the 70+. Sue played a strong first set, coming from 1-4 down to bring the score to 5-5 before Heide took the set 7-5. Then Sue lost the second set 2-6. In the "after match interview”, Sue said she felt she could win the second set after coming from behind in the first but then proceeded to make too many errors. She’s looking forward to playing Heide again and thinks she can beat her next time. How’s that for confidence!?
In the mixed doubles, we took the quarters from a Spain/Ireland team 6-0, 6-1. In the semis we played an Austrian husband and wife team (seeded #2) and won, also 6-0, 6-1. The finals proved to be almost as easy as we took out the #1 seeded French team, giving up two games with a score of 6-1, 6-1. We were rewarded with by being presented with a brand new tennis bag each and yet more trophies on Saturday night at the Awards Dinner where we sat with more newly acquired friends.
Because the matches were all played at night (in fact, one of our mixed doubles matches didn’t start until 10:30pm) we got to do quite a bit of sightseeing. On Tuesday we went to see La Sagrada Família, a basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi in the 1883 which has been under construction ever since! It is projected to be completed sometime in the first third of this century. We wouldn’t hold our breath!
Since the doubles didn’t start until Wednesday, we decided it would be better to celebrate Mas’s Thursday birthday on Tuesday night. So, off we went to the Barceloneta area where very small streets were organized in a perfect grid. Mas finally got to have his favorite Spanish meal … Paella! Mas also loves that olives are served with nearly every meal and in so many varieties - this restaurant had a wonderful assortment. It was a great meal at a beautiful restaurant near the sea.
As we have been warned, pickpockets proliferate. There are announcements in the subways about being mindful and most people hang their pocketbooks and backpacks in the front of them. Having lived in New York for many years, we were old hands at knowing what to do in such an environment. We haven't seen any pickpockets in action yet!
On Friday, we took the subway to Av. Tibitabo to take the Tramvia Blau (Blue Tram) to a restaurant perched on a hilltop which overlooked all of Barcelona. Again, the language got us and we ended up walking to the top. Sue was concerned because she had a match that evening and didn’t want to get worn out! But we made it, saw some magnificent houses along the way and were rewarded with a terrific meal at Restaurant Mirablau. It was the best tapas we've had so far with a spectacular view of Barcelona. Needless to say, we took the Tramvia Blau down.
Since we finished our tournament on Friday, we used Saturday to tour around the city. We saw some more examples of Gaudi’s work, music in the streets, lovely walks down narrow streets, music in the squares, music at the beach (having put her feet in the Adriatic, Sue just had to put her feet in the Mediterranean). We loved Barcelona!!
Mas Kimball has been a pro at Farm Neck since 2006. He & his wife, Sue, have traveled throughout the United States and internationally ... mostly to play tennis.
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