Monday, April 21, 2008

How Soon Is Nou

Keef's Stag Weekend, Various Bars, Restaurants, Football Stadiums, Clubs, Barcelona, Spain, April 4-7 2008.

One of the reasons for a quiet time here on Parallax View earlier this month was that your esteemed entertainer's presence was required on Keef's stag weekend in Barcelona. It seems rude to visit a new city and not post about it, although as is the normal way with stag weekends, events tended to proceed in an in-the-moment blur of food, alcohol, casual tourism and lively behaviour that prohibits too much in the way of detailed recollection.

Overall, the experience of Barcelona was a positive one and it's somewhere your jaded journeyman would definitely consider visiting again. The weather helped, bright sunshine throughout accompanied by a pleasing breeze, temperatures of around 20 degrees celsius contrasting with sub-zero conditions and three inches of snow back home at the time. Aside from the weather, however, the visit was distinguished by some fantastic tapas (including octopus!); some fascinating Gaudi architecture; meeting some lovely young women (including a gorgeous Asian girl from Brighton and a lovely lass from near Aberdeen) and a trip to the Nou Camp.

The weekend co-incided with Barcelona's home game with Getafe, for which we managed to procure tickets. On collecting the tickets the team coach roared past, too fast to clock individuals that well, although the overall impression was that all the players looked freakin' miserable. The Nou Camp (or should it be Camp Nou?) is an impressive stadium to be sure, but the match itself was an anti-climax, Ronaldhino and Messi were out injured and Thierry Henry looked far off the sort of form he showed during his Highbury heyday. Certainly nothing contradicted the notion that we were witnessing the tail end of coach Frank Rijkaard's controversial tenure.

Getafe dominated possession and chances during a dismal first half, but things picked up after the break although the home side's more fluid passing failed to trouble the scoresheets and the game ended 0-0. It would have been good to witness (and join in) some local goal celebrations but it wasn't to be, and it was still a good feeling to watch a match in such a famous stadium, particularly a domestic game that, at that stage, still had a possible bearing on the final outcome of La Liga.

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