Monday, 1 August 2011

Camp Nou – Barcelona FC

Camp Nou – Barcelona FC

I have never really been a great fan of these stadium tour things.  Although, to be fair, I think my view may have been slightly jaundiced by my first experience - the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg back in 1995.  On a touring holiday in Scandinavia we pitched up in Gothenburg for a few days and, at a slight loss for things to do, I decided Wife would enjoy a visit the scene of Aberdeen’s European Cup Winners Cup triumph.

Unfortunately, upon arrival we discovered the only tour that day which suited our timetable had been booked by the Swedish equivalent of the Womens’ Institute – they were happy for us to tag along, but made it clear they had already arranged the tour commentary to be in Swedish only.  No English allowed.

So we trailed around after this group of old biddies, listening baffled to our guide yammering away in her mother tongue.  The only time I understood anything was when she, quite surreally, suddenly launched into an impromptu jig, and interjected the phrase “Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark” into her spiel, before drifting off into unintelligibility once more.

Son and I had “done” both Hampden Park and Old Trafford last year, and whilst the experiences were mildly diverting, ultimately I felt both were a bit like going for a tour round an empty cinema or theatre.  So how did we end up at Camp Nou?

You will find pretty much any organised tour of the City of Barcelona takes in the Camp Nou, whether you wish it to or not.  This being, I suppose, partly responsible for the fact a whopping 1.2 million folks visit the place each year.  Where this tour differed from the others I had been on, is that you are not allocated a guide (or at least we were not), but are pretty much left to wander along a clearly defined, but well policed route.

The press conference area came first, where one could (for an eye-watering sum) get a pic taken with a replica of the Champions League trophy, before we popped our heads into the rather dull dressing rooms.  Out pitchside, I felt we had been cheated a bit as the turf was in the process of being relaid, and we had to make do with a close-up view of acres of bare earth.  

The stadium bowl itself, although inevitably impressive by dint of its sheer scale, impressed me less than Old Trafford, and it was only later I worked out why.  It was the roof, or lack of it at Camp Nou which made it seem somehow smaller and less imposing than OT. 

Son does his best to look like Cesc Fabregas
in the hope of being offered a contract.

Panoramic view from the press gantry.

We had our packed lunch sitting in the stand, feeling just a bit self-conscious, before climbing the stairs inside the stand to the topermost levels where the press gantry was situated.  Passing by the refreshment facilities, I was keen to see how much they charged for a Scotch Pie………..but they did not seem to do them.  Odd, that.  A Spanish (of course) omelette would set you back 4 Euros.

After leaving the gantry we were funnelled back to the museum, the experience of which left me just a bit unsettled.  I am sure there is something in there covering the club’s early history, and its role as a focus for Catalan nationalism in the face of Franco’s madness, but could I find it?

Instead there was what seemed like a hundred cabinets housing trophies and trophies and more trophies.  One whole wall was covered in very large video screens showing Barca’s recent triumphs, endlessly replaying goal after goal, all seemingly scored against Manchester United or Real Madrid.  

There just seemed to be a bit too much smug triumphalism for my liking, and it made me think were I a resident of the city of Barcelona, I could probably be found watching city rivals Espanol every second weekend.  Although perhaps that says more about me than it does about Barcelona FC.

I am sure there is a more inspiring external aspect to Camp Nou,
but time restraints prevented me wandering around the stadium to find one.

Panorama of Camp Nou, Barcelona.

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