Trina and I have been to Barcelona before. The sole purpose of this detour was Dominc’s desire to see a game of football, in particular Barcelona Football Club and Lionel Messi. He knows he is the worlds best player, and in typical Dominic fashion always wants the best or to see the best. We rented an amazing apartment. It was massive, stylishly furnished and in a great location. It’s always uplifting when your pre booked accommodation exceeds expectations.
After searching for match tickets for Barcelona vs Sevilla on the Barcelona official club website without success we panicked and ended up purchasing via an online sports booking agency. The tickets were legit however a premium was paid for the privilege. At the time we were just happy to secure the tickets, but the disappointing thing was upon arrival to the official Barcelona club shop on Las Ramblas (the main shopping precinct) to purchase shirts for the boys to wear to the match, we discovered we could have purchased tickets there at market price, saving quite a few Euros. Never the less, we were glad to have tickets.
Match day at the Camp Nou. All was going to plan and the boys were thoroughly enjoying the game. It was 2-1 to Barcelona (Messi had scored) and only a minute of normal time remaining. Happy punters everywhere until Sevilla scored to level things up. Queue mass exodus from the 90 thousand fans in attendance. The loyal ones who stayed to the bitter end (like us) were about to be rewarded with the winning goal for Barca in the 94th minute, mass celebrations!! A great experience whether you’re a football fan or not.
We enjoyed the night so much we were back at the Camp Nou the following day for a self-guided tour around this magnificent stadium, which included access to the players’ dressing room (visiting team only), prayer room, press box and players tunnel where you can walk out to the pitch to the sound of roaring masses. The entrance fee for this was EUR62 (NZD100) for the 4 of us but did also include access to their excellent and very interactive museum (great for little hands to be kept busy!!). Money well spent and the boys loved it. Both trips to the stadium have been a talking point since and the shirts have hardly left their backs.
Every night was a late night. Dinner at tapas restaurants didn’t start until 9pm then of course it was a walk home via a gelato shop. We never felt unsafe here, even late at night. It was still warm so there were plenty of people out and about enjoying this fantastic city. Of the 3 nights spent here, the boys didn’t go to bed before midnight – stamina plus! One particular evening when strolling home from dinner Callum totally amazed us by rattled off all the sights he’d seen, which country they were in and his thoughts on each one of them – we were blown away with his ability to recollect and articulate his experiences thus far, something we never expected from him, we had always expected for Callum not to get much out of this adventure purely because of his age. It reaffirmed to us that this trip will be of some benefit to us all in our own individual way.
We walked from our apartment to Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia but didn’t venture in. The queue was long, it was hot and not much for the boys to appreciate (it was covered in scaffolding anyway – building is still going on even after 130 years!) but they did enjoy running around Gaudi’s other famous Barcelona landmark, that being Park Guell.
A must do in Barcelona for kids (on weekends in the summer months) is the Magic Fountain at Plaza de Espana. The sound and light display which was constructed for the 1929 World Expo is still a draw-card, there were people everywhere but somehow we managed to get to the front (and got soaked) – I think the locals knew not to venture so close, no wonder it was easy to get the “prime location”.
The gothic quarter is just off Las Ramblas and it’s a great spot to get lost and explore. Little alleyways heading off in all directions populated with quaint shops, eateries and cosy bars perfect for a jug of sangria and a couple of tapas.
Barcelona is a brilliant, brilliant city. This was my third time there and it still amazes me. It has a vibe that no other European city has. The people are open and friendly and staunchly proud of their city and are still working hard towards independence. Football was the reason for the visit but it gave us a heck of a lot more than that.