The football (soccer) game, Barcelona – arguably the best team in the world – vs Sevilla, was to be the highlight of the entire trip for Leon, so when he got the email saying the game had been rescheduled to a day earlier, I moved heaven and earth to change our travel bookings.
Four hours online with the unreliable wifi dropping out repeatedly finally resulted in train tickets cancelled (though I don’t know if I’ll get a refund) and rebooked for the three stages: Avignon – Narbonne, Narbonne – Figueres-Vilafante and Figueres-Vilafante – Barcelona, plus an extra night’s accommodation sorted. There was a bit of uncertainty because the last train trip couldn’t be made on an e ticket but I took the optimistic view that we’d work it out at the station. We did. It was a long trip, twelve hours door to door but not too bad.
Basa stadium is amazing. It seats 100,000 people and all have a perfect view. Our seats were scarily high right on the half-way line. We watched the sun go down, an almost full moon come up and the threatening rain clouds held at bay. The atmosphere built with the crowd.
The match itself was every bit as exciting as I imagined, a fantastic game. Nil all for most of the first half but the players demonstrated such skill and teamwork! Then Barcelona scored and the crowd went wild. The second half saw them ahead 2-0 with 15 minutes to go.
I thought it was hilarious that the guy behind me with the painted face and home made banner, left early confident his team had it in the bag but I remember the year the Central Coast Mariners (my local team) lost the grand final in extra minutes. Sure enough, Seville came back with one, then a second goal! In extra time with seconds to go, Messi set up the winning goal and the crowd went berserk. What an experience! But little did we know that an amazing surprise awaited us as we tried to get back to our hotel ….
Talk about a mass exodus, apparently the stadium is designed to empty in less than two minutes, in case of emergency and it didn’t take long until we were out. the crowd was happy but densely packed. We’d been advised that trains to our hotel, way out of the city would cease at 10pm and we had no idea which way to go to get a taxi, so we decided to go with the flow. It was a beautiful, mild evening and when we hit the main road we stopped for a drink at a bar with outside tables while the crowd thinned a little.
Leon had a beer and I ordered white wine – which was undrinkablely awful, so I got the Spanish phrase book out and tried to figure out how to ask for a sparkling wine – Spain has their own very good version of champagne but the waiter had made himself scarce.
The three people at the next table must have been amused, watching and listening to me practice because the lady caught my eye and asked, in Spanish if we were German, I said no, we’re Australian. There was some conversation between her and her two young male companions then one spoke to me in English with a beautiful Spanish accent, and said if I was trying to order something he would help me.
We ended up having a long conversation with him translating for the Spanish lady. One of the two young men was a German electrical engineer on an internship. The lady, Imna was his boss. The other, very handsome young Spanish man was a work colleague and Imna had season tickets and had invited them to the game. Imna had been to Australia and loved it. We talked about the game and Leon mentioned wanting to see the Champion’s League game on Wednesday. Next thing we know Imna has invited us to go with her! She would not hear of us paying for the tickets, wouldn’t even let us buy her dinner before the game, just said to meet her at the same bar and buy her a beer! Unbelievable!
Ann’s blog #19