‘More than a club,’ reads the giant lettering on the seats opposite us, and it’s clear from the sheer number of people visiting Barcelona’ FCs home ground of Camp Nou that this stadium is more akin to a place of religious pilgrimage than a mere sporting venue (the motto actually refers to the club’s position as a symbol of Catalan culture and nationalism).
Last night saw a big match between the Catalan club and its arch rivals Real Madrid, but with ticket prices for ‘El Clasico’ through the roof, all but the most ardent fans will probably have to content themselves with a ‘Camp Nou Experience’. Costing about €80 for a family of 4, including audio-guides, this begins with a browse around the museum, where shiny trophies take pride of place, although there are lots of interactive gizmos that keep kids entertained.
Then comes a stroll through various areas of the stadium itself – our favourite being the dressing room, where my sons’ hero Lionel Messi got changed for the big match less than 24 hours ago. My boys look awed at the very thought. They’re even more awed by the shop, where they and their dad get themselves kitted out in the obligatory souvenir kit, along with hundreds of other fans. Barcelona is big business. Thankfully, as you find out in the museum, the club is also hugely philanthropic, supporting a variety of charities and causes, particularly UNICEF, whose logo it sports on its team jersey. It’s also supporter-owned and -operated.
We’re very impressed by our home in Barcelona. The Citadines Ramblas is as centrally located as the name suggests, but our rooms are at the back of the modern building, overlooking a picturesque square with Roman ruins, so we’re not troubled by noise. Staff, as always seems to be the case in Citadines around the world, are extremely friendly and helpful, most notably in booking us a crack-of-dawn taxi to the airport.
In terms of the apartment itself, it’s pretty spacious, with a small balcony and a double bedroom with sliding doors so that it can open up onto the living room with its double sofabed plus space for a cot. A kitchenette means that we can shop in the famous Boqueria market a few steps away and eat in when we don’t have the energy to head out.
And we’ve been incredibly busy in Barcelona – aside Camp Nou, we’ve done a chocolate art workshop at the Museu de la Xocolata, tried out just about all the rides at the schlocky but fun Tibidabo amusement park, ridden the cable-car across the marina from Montjuic hill, gazed at plenty of Gaudi, and played in the Parc de la Ciutadella with its fountains, giant mammoth statue and boating lake (it’s also home to the city zoo and several museums). We’ve also spent heaps of time on the city’s beaches, jumping the waves. With temperatures of around 34°C, each day leaves us shattered – which means having somewhere where we can totally flake out is very important. The Citadines is perfect for that.
See also our feature on Living Like a Local in Barcelona.
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