I’ve been a jai-alai fan since Bridgeport opened in the mid-1970s. The game fascinates. I saw many of the greats as a kid. Little did I realize back in the late 1970s the strength and skill of the Bridgeport lineup. Even though many were at their peak or past their prime, the skill level and action was fantastic.
A buddy and I would like to take a trip to the Basque area, to see where it all began and is still played with enthusiasm, as well as commercial and fan support. We would like to visit several of the frontons, whether in St. Jean de Luz, Biarritz, Gernika for matches. We would also perhaps see some of the variations in pelota (though the traditional “handball” version doesn’t look that exciting.) We could also visit where amateurs compete/develop.
My problem is that I don’t speak or read Spanish/French/Euskara and I don’t understand where/when the matches are held. Seems as if there’s a Partido here and there, mostly in Summer. Some of the sites refer to tournaments, but it’s not clear whether these are held consecutive days or whether there are gaps in between matches. We would like to put together a consistent schedule around which we could plan a “road trip.” If possible, we also prefer to purchase tickets well in advance to ensure entry to matches.
Can you direct me to an authority or source on the subject, who could explain which are the most important tournaments/sites around which we could schedule a week or potentially longer visit?
Thanks in advance,
This is an email I got about a month and a half ago.
I find it interesting because this is a “Bucket List” trip I’ve been thinking about going myself for the past few years. I’ve heard a few others that have mentioned about making a similar trip while out on the cancha over the years, too.
Ironically, I’m at a Yankee spring training game in Tampa that same afternoon with Pelota Press’s senior blogger Marty Fleischman and his wife Sue, a huge Yankee fan. I was also with an old college buddy, Wyatt Cook, from nearly 50 years ago. Wyatt and Marty were discussing Pickleball. I knew they were both avid players and swore by the sport. Marty’s pretty good – a top ranked player in Tampa, so they had a lot to talk about. After a few innings (games go quick now – thank God!) the discussion turned to jai-alai. Marty mentioned he was going to Spain in September and the trip included visiting former players and various sites in the Basque region.
I was thinking, with a little work and all the connections in jai-alai we have, a true dream trip could be planned.
Of course, Partido’s are one thing. Nothing beats a good Partido. You can’t bet on them over there, but who cares. I went to the Partido event last April at Dania, and it was awesome. There was no betting, but it didn’t matter. The play was a thrill to watch with a good enthusiastic crowd watching guys like Olharan trying to overcome an injury after getting nailed in the leg. Partido tournaments in Mexico City are amazing with 30-point games and that long, long court of over 200 feet. And of course, who could forget the numerous Partido’s in Miami, Tampa, Orlando and in Connecticut?
So, any trip would have to include some Partido events. As Pelota Press reader Jeff Russell mentioned, visiting the frontons and places where amateurs develop would be cool to visit, too. I’m sure the sightseeing would be awesome, the mountains, and villages and local restaurants.
How long would the ideal trip take? Where should one stay? These are all good questions.
Anybody out there got any ideas? Get together a big group? Email me with ideas guys! I’ll also get back with Marty and contact guys like Danny and Olharan, who recently visited the museum and certainly can answer all the questions.
Thanks, Mr. Russell, for your email. I’ll be in touch.