Camp Nou

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Sep 17, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Sunday, April 17, 2011

It was a day long awaited for myself. I finally had the ability to get off the ship in our home port of Barcelona, with money. This means instead of lazily walking around, not looking at anything specific, shooting random pictures, I actually get to experience an exciting day in Barcelona. I was also very gun-ho about this 12 day itinerary due to the fact that I had the port day in Civitavecchia to go back into Rome. As well, the infamous Istanbul overnights are something every crew member looks forward to on the 12 day run.

Well my schedule for the cruise is pretty sick. Civitavecchia, Izmir, Istanbul, Malta, all ports I have off. The only one I do not have off is Piraeus. I don't object to working while we are in port in Greece. It is simply due to the fact that I have 4 months touring the Greek Islands, Croatia and more.

Embarkation day off -- phenomenal. Even though I had to be awake for 8:00am training, it was chute training. Chute training is the prom queen of all training's. What we do is practice the evacuation of the ship by jumping overboard. Really what we do is jump down a chute/slide that is located on deck 7 into a life raft onto the water. Now this chute is not angled whatsoever, the inside of it is a bit constrictive. This allows you to place your hands directly in front of you slowing the speed at which you fall. Now my hands did get a little hot as I was flying down the chute landed at the bottom then got tossed like a bouncy castle. I couldn't imagine I was in the chute for longer than 2 seconds. The 20 or so people that had gone down before me had a huge laugh at my expense watching me do that. There were some crew members that backed out of going down the chute, Filipino women, who probably have never even been to a water park. That is what this ultimately reminded me of, a water slide. Great morning, tons of laughs and I got a certificate too, along with some photos and videos of the training.

After having an absolute blast during the chute training I went back to the cabin looking to sleep for an hour or so before taking off to Nou Camp. Well, I did not sleep one wink. I was so pumped up off the adrenaline from the chute training that for the first time without a tour, my buddy and I were off the ship before 10am. We also had the opportunity to meet up with one of the YC's that had signed off the cruise before. He took off to Paris, Amsterdam, etc. A quick backpack/ celebration week after finishing a contract. We met up with him for a bit, grabbed some lunch at a local hole in the wall off the main walking avenue near the bus terminal where the shuttle drops off its passengers. After lunch it was decided that the group was going to split into two. A few of us were going to go to Camp Nou, check out the stadium grounds and the others head to the beach. Well considering I am freshly peeling like a snake, I chose Camp Nou. Myself, Bungee, Crash and Chris took off to the subway and started the venture.

The subway adventure is renowned for pit pocketing, luckily we were traveling on a Sunday, with less people on the train. We made it to our stop, got off, then walked for about 10 minutes before arriving outside the stadium grounds of Camp Nou. Now the stadium itself is not the largest I have seen, yet the grounds are so well designed you have proper direction in large crowds. Two major bridge/walkways connected the FCB Football team and Nou Museum with the FCB Basketball team and FCB Megastore. The ticketing building is attached to the basketball team and sells tickets to everything that is inside the grounds. Whether it be tickets for football, basketball, tours of the stadium or the museum, it can all be be bought in one location. The original plan was to end up taking a tour of the stadium, going through the museum, and walking on the field. Well, as with any group it takes a long time to get people going and on track. This day was no different. Due to the stalling, lack of knowledge of the area, when we arrived and went to buy tickets for the full tour, they we closed. Talk about unlucky, not only were we late, but by six minutes. Worst timing ever. Fortunately, they had informed my Spanish translator, Bungee, that the 11 Euro museum entrance fee gained you access to the stadium on the upper level. In the end, only Bungee and I went in as the other two weren't down to check out just the museum. Talk about a WOW factor, absolutely the most accomplished soccer club of all time. The museum is absolutely decked out with trophies, history and of course the golden ball and golden boot of Lionel Messi.

After touring the museum, taking pictures and videos, we went out the stadium seats. Walking out from the corridor to the seats and looking down onto the pitch gave me chills. I was reminded of one of Ronaldinho's goals where he nearly went 70 yards, schooled 7 players and ripped a shot past the keeper. There is not a single bad seat in the stadium. I was maybe 15-20 rows from the top and I could see the security clear as day on the pitch. I was just in shock the whole time looking around at Camp Nou. The simple fact that I was able to visit this stadium, was amazing. I do wish though I had been there a bit earlier because I had seen a few people doing a tour walking on the pitch near the 18 yard box. One younger kid took one knee and ran his hands on the pitch. I simply envied him and the moment he was able to have.

After leaving the stadium, I nearly felt obliged to purchase a jersey from the store. Yet, at 90 Euros for a jersey is too much. This is especially true when the Norwegian Jade will be in Istanbul where I can bargain some poor turkish fellow to a mere 20 bucks for a replica jersey. I did however buy a sick zip up. It was pricey but it was worth it because I will not have the chance to come back to Barcelona for a long time.

All in all I was very happy to be able to experience something I thought I may not have had the opportunity to do. Feeling happy and rewarded after a day of site seeing is the ultimate for a traveler. Glad I felt both.
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