Friday, August 2, 2013

Barcelona Ahtletica

A Visit to Camp Nou

Roadboy's chums know I am sports challenged. Totally missed the jock gene. I love riding my bicycles and that is about it. 

Not sure what family is filled with exceptional athletes.

So the world of sports and athletics mostly remains a mystery to me. When friends assemble for brunch and the conversation naturally moves to the activities of the PHX Sun's, Mercury, Diamondbacks, Coyotes or Cardinals, well I'm kinda clueless.

Lately the talents of a friend find me fascinated with professional tennis and on this visit to Barcelona I am enjoying the company of my artist daughter and my son, a devout follower of all things soccer. So when Bryan expressed an interest in seeing the Football Club Barcelona's (FCB) revered home Camp Nou I welcomed the opportunity.

Soccer in Spain is a birthright. Peering out my hotel window I can count at least 3 soccer fields within a few blocks. I believe Barca residents endure highrise living to preserve precious urban land for those cherished fields.

As an aside Barcelona can be intimidating to mostly sedentary folks (like moi) as many of its residents are tan and carry zero body fat. Clearly beach time and a Mediterranean diet works. Heck, the day we arrived the best swimmers in world were here competing in the Fina World Championships.

But back to FCB.

I found out FCB offers a "Camp Nou Experience" which includes stem to stern tours of Camp Nou, plus a pretty amazing museum and multi-media center.

The L3 Metro zipped us up the mountain to Camp Nou where we waited in line to buy our $31 tickets and we were off.

I have to admit that even Mr. Sports Challenged enjoyed the whole day. I now know that Swiss National Hans Gamper while ostensibly traveling through Barcelona on his way to Africa, fell in love with the City, abandoned his Africa trip and ultimately founded a futbol club as a means to "exalt human spirit, open to everyone, regardless of origin". Not owned but a democratic society freely governed by its members.

His club has come to represent far more than arguably the best soccer team in the world. Its history parallels the history of Barcelona itself. FCB has become an enduring symbol of Catalan unity, strength and pride enduring dictators, civil wars and times of economic distress.

The First Trophy

And A 100 Plus Years of Trophy's to Follow

I learned how the club lost in a year when its star striker was kidnapped during key matches. How its long standing alliance with UNICEF contributes millions annually to relieve the suffering of the worlds poorest children.

Mr. B and Ms. M on FCB's Soccer Field

Extraordinary Hands-on Multi-Media Center

I even marveled that its museum describes its support for Catalan poet Espriu during Spain's years of political crisis.

Catalan Poet Espriu


So if you visit Barcelona, and you should....

Take that soccer fan to Camp Nou. After a visit there residents and visitors alike are "Mes Que Un Club".

Roadboy's Travels © 2013

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