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Trip report from Spain

eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
Trip report from Spain!

First, I’m totally stoked to have made it here. It’s a real honor to be able to represent the USA in the Senior World Waterski championships.

It has been a difficult path to get here. Competing as a senior is quite different from my younger days. Managing the body’s decay and optimizing what is left is a challenge – both physically and mentally. I had a few good tournaments to get here, now we’ll see what happens.

The trip really started a couple days ago. Flights out of LA to Madrid were so much cheaper that we rented a car and drove from San Diego to LA via Bakersfield. Actually, I needed a practice ride behind the same boat as Worlds to test out my recovering hamstring. Good dinner with my son on the way there, good ski ride (I’ll be able to do an easy run) and a nice swim to loosen up for the flight. An hour delay for catering (they shouldn’t have waited – bad airline food) and we were off.

Madrid airport is pretty cool, they have enough customs people to make the entry experience easy. Tried to rent a Fiat Panda but got a VW instead. Bare bones, manual transmission and no GPS (we had Lisa’s phone set up for Europe so no problem). Followed directions perfectly through a very confusing drive to the airport hotel and had a nice night there.

Practice was early at the site so we dragged our jetlagged bodies into the car early. The embassy (McDonalds) next door wasn’t open yet and it was pitch black. We headed on the 40 minute drive to Seseena following our detailed directions. The GPS on Lisa’s phone wouldn’t work (we should have been aware, it didn’t work in LA the day before either, hmmm)

Somewhere I missed a turn. The road signs are quite different and we thought we were going right – until the sun started to rise and we realized that something was wrong. The rental car map was worthless. We pulled into a town and asked a guy for directions. Very confusing, especially when we went the wrong way. No turn around for several kilometers and the traffic circles made us feel like the Griswalds. After going nearly to Portugal, we got to the site 3 hours late.

Howling wind, a bit chilly, people stressing over practice and a travel weary leg – I’m better of without practice. Mediocre lunch at the hotel with a bunch of waterskiers and we had arrived!

To fill the afternoon, we went touristing to the Spanish Royal’s summer palace in Aranjuez. It started pouring rain so we missed the garden tour (sorry no pictures as cameras weren’t allowed inside). Beautiful castle meticulously maintained.

The rain stopped for us to get a nice swim and party in the room with some of the skiers. Nice afternoon.

Woke up jetlagged. Tossed and turned with the fight or flight adrenaline going whenever I thought about the morning’s prelims. This competing is tough. Maybe if I type a trip report I might be able to get a couple hours of sleep…



  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 4,360 Mega Baller
    Good Luck Eric - we're cheering for you !
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • EdbrazilEdbrazil Posts: 1,396 Historical Baller
    edited September 2016
    Heard from others about the difficulty of finding the site. One guy saying he could see
    the site, but still wasted over 2 hours actually getting there.

    As of this writing, the event has already started (6 hour time difference), and April Coble leads
    the W35+ in Slalom.
  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,398 Mega Baller
    live results?
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 842 Mega Baller
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 787 Crazy Baller
    edited September 2016
    If some one else will go there.
    - There is (? at least was) detailed driving directions on their home page.
    - There is a train from the airport to the village Aranjuez for approx 5 USD.
    Train takes about 1H 15 minutes.
    Taxi from Aranjuez to the site cost type 30 E, 20 minutes.
    Some locals bike there. Type 5-6 miles or so.

    The lake is an old mine that has been filled up and extended.

    I cheer for Eric (and the Swedes ;o)

    It looks like Odd Brådhe from Sweden is no1 in Trick 55+ at the moment.

    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • EdbrazilEdbrazil Posts: 1,396 Historical Baller
    Results, live and otherwise:

    Original poster Eric Lee just squeaked into his Finals after a subpar run in the Prelims.
  • andjulesandjules Posts: 836 Mega Baller
    Good luck, Eric.
    And yes, the last 3 or 4 miles to the site, once you get off the highway, is a bit confusing.
    Toledo is lovely and Madrid is very chic and fun. Enjoy your trip.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    What is Clark Griswald's wife's name? "Big Ben, Parliament, Big Ben, Parliament"
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 787 Crazy Baller
    Hope for a quick hamstring recovery.
    Keep up the writing. I enjoy reading your reports.
    Despite hamstring, I do hope you and Lisa will have a nice time in Spain.
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    The lake.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    Team USA
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    Typical Spanish road.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 787 Crazy Baller
    So you got a Panda! o:)

    Great car. ...

    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    edited September 2016
    I’m tired of getting lost. So we took the train into Madrid. Just got a little confused on the way to the train station but we made our train (there is one every 15 minutes). The train took us with not too many stops and a pretty short elapsed time directly to the heart of Madrid (Sol station). We walked to Plaza Mayor and had lunch just outside the plaza. Since we bailed on Tenerife, we ate at a Canary Islands themed restaurant, El Escaldon. Fun potatoes and sauce.

    We went shopping. I needed a navy blazer for the tournament banquet. Might have been better in Milan but I did find a jacket that will work.

    Off to the Parque de Buen Retiro. Stopped at the America’s house but it wasn’t the embassy (no McDonalds ice cream). Went in to the Palacio de Ciebeles but there were no paintings on the walls – yet. No shortcuts, I had to get cultured at the Prada.

    We walked through the beautiful park with the coolest giant overhead teeter totter to the Prada. Walked into the building that said Prada where the lady at the desk smiled and shooed us away to a huge building with people everywhere. It was busy but we walked up to the line to buy tickets and the ticket line control motioned us to the left. Hmmm, what are those people doing there? So we walked to the end of the line – which wrapped around the corner for at least a kilometer! Tapas and beer seemed like a much better idea. Saw most of the exhibits on paintings that the street vendors outside were selling. My kind of culture.

    Easy train ride home to Aranjuez and I made it back to the Barcolo hotel without getting lost!

    Fun touristy day – I hope I didn’t walk too much.

  • skibackwardsskibackwards Posts: 62 Baller
    Eric, thank you for the pictures and commentary from the 35+ Worlds
  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,222 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Nicely done Eric...great pictures and I enjoyed your stories...I'm picturing you as a waterskiing Anthony Bourdain!
  • DaveDDaveD Posts: 883 Crazy Baller
    Glad to see the flip flops and socks are also in style in Spain.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    Off to watch the finals today. Calm warm conditions, good for the performances. Walked to the far side to see Oliver Fortamps trick over 10,000! Very impressive! Most of the skiers did well. AWSA prez Jeff Surdej rocked his run. Kris LaPoint put on a slalom lesson to overwhelm the 4 way tie for second (their scores were pretty phenomenal too). Great skiing at a wonderful venue!

    Off to lunch in Aranjuez. Mark Shaw who wasn’t here (glad it was money and scheduling – not an injury!) told us of a must see bar. Closed… But just across the street was the best meal of the trip, gambon and ajuacate salad. Turned out to be shrimp and avocado over hunks of tomatoes. Yumm! Made it there and back with just one quick Uturn.

    A swim in the pool – what happened? When we arrived, the pool was nice and warm. Now it’s freezing. Winter is just around the corner. Maybe there will be snow when we go to Andorra in a couple days?

    Salad in the room for dinner as I’m stressing over my finals. Bed early - like an old jetlagged insomniac will sleep but that’s how the game is played.

  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    @Jordan I'm not going to take pictures of my food!

    @gsm_peter and @thompjs I'm worried that @Horton will give me a Panda because I didn't rent a Panda when I could have. I did try...
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    Prada 1 km line
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    Madrid plant wall
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    Jill and Christy herding cats for the team photo
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    Team USA!
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    Competition is tough. And I was recovering so well. Hamstring popped halfway through the first pass. Stood it up but was way slow. Barely got the toe harness on for the second pass and the toe tricks really hurt. Stood up but was dog slow. Didn’t score well, took fifth but I did 100% of what my body was capable of this day. Odd Bradhe’s run would have been tough for me to beat healthy, congratulations to him!

    I wanted to hang around and watch friends jump but my leg was pretty uncomfortable so we went back to the hotel. Just as I was pulling the curtains to curl up in the fetal position while sucking my thumb and crying, the maids came to clean the room. So off to the pool for full body ice therapy. This is the last day for the unheated pool to be open for the year (winter is coming) and it was realistically too cold for swimming. Still the leg felt better afterwards and we headed back to the site to catch the last of the jumping and the medals ceremonies.

    The gas light came on (how did we use so much gas going the 50k from Madrid?). Checking out the gauges I noticed that the compass display was giving weird numbers. Like going from 2 to 3 as I shifted up. Wait, that’s not a compass, it’s a transmission gear indicator. And five looks just like the “S” in south. And I thought we were always heading south on the freeways…

    Today’s weather was perfect. Sunny, warm but not hot, no wind and pleasantly dry. Spain is pretty nice. The neighborhood around the hotel is an interesting upscale recent development. A little weird that the huge business park is fenced off and completely empty. The houses seemed pretty suburban but were pretty densely packed with most being townhouses with shared walls. All of Spain seemed to favor big multifamily buildings with lots of open space around. The houses I thought were coolest were the remote houses – which all seemed to be abandoned. They weren’t particularly remote either, a few kilometers to the city. While there was a fair amount of farmland, it wasn’t as actively farmed as the multi cropped land in California. Interesting differences.

    For the foodies, today was tournament snack food, peanuts, cookies and big bottles of water. We are off to the banquet – we’ll see if the banquet food is worth reporting.

  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    The podium I missed
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas

    Stretching out
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