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Tense Tennis in Valencia

oleI'm back to my favourite topic - Valencia. It's my closest city and I just love the place. Meandering the beautiful old town, biking down the dry river bed of the Turia, a bit of Spanish culture, cuisine, shopping and sunshine...and possibly most of all the Valencia Open 500.

This year we pushed the boat out and booked tickets for the final. Oh my, that was money well spent. For €45 we had a great view from one end - much as you would see it on the tellie - but close enough to feel the effort and strain that the players go through. And we got Andy Murray v Tommy Robredo. What a match it was! Every point was a fight to the death - every 220 minutes of it. The tension was immense. Being a British tennis-fanatic expat living in Spain, for me it really was win-win. I had one hand on each flag the whole time.

 

 

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This is a great tournament to visit. The architecture of the City of Arts & Sciences buildings couldn't be more futuristic and unique. We brought in a picnic however as the food outlets and service could be improved upon. This is not Wimbledon. But low-cost up-close seats make it accessible for all, yet still there are many free seats for mid-week matches. Next year I suggest you fill them. Flights to the city can be very reasonable if you book a bit in advance. And eating out if you keep away from the more touristy plazas can come in at under €10 for a 3 course Menu del Dia. (See my previous Valencia blogs for more information.)

albuferaI've also seen impressive play from Ferrer, Isner, angry Fognini and Haas... to name a few over the last 3 years, and will continue to mark the end of October in my diary for future ATP tournaments there.

The final on Sunday 26 October 2014 between Murray and Robredo was mindblowingly inspirational. I felt privileged to be there. How they repeatedly throw so much energy and expertise at a ball I will never know. (I usually end up distractedly thinking about whether I've hung the washing out when I'm playing!) Yet Murray, despite looking totally finished, kindly signed our homemade flags on his way out.

En route to the match we stopped off for lunch in the Parque Natural de la Albufera 10kms outside the city. This area, home to the paella and a rather horrible eel stew, is surrounded by rice paddies and waterways - great for bird watching. As we have had such a dry year, or perhaps its always like that now, the water level was low and it wasn't so striking as it can be. Before now, at Christmas, we have seen a total mirror effect on a still day that had my camera clicking madly to capture it. This time we lunched by a small canal, outside in the 28 degree extended summer heat, at Restaurante Maribel in El Palmar amongst the Sunday buzz of this popular Spanish family outing.

For an alternative place to stay see Valencia Mindfulness Retreat.

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