Nom de Plumage

April 3, 2013

A Sporting Pilgrimage in Barcelona

If there is something that the people of Spain do very well, it is sport. The one sport that they have ruled for many years now, is soccer/football. I should know, living with a brother who is a fanatic about the sport, I am constantly bombarded with all things soccer/football. It seemed inevitable that I should make some attempt to at least have a look at one of the world’s greatest stadium‘s and then cruelly boast to my brother about my religious pilgrimage on his behalf. Palau Reial is HUGE! The home to the Catalonia masters, it is an incredible stadium – from outside. You see, at twenty euros for an entry ticket, I really needed to evaluate how keen I was to see the inside. Sense prevailed and I decided that I have seen it umpteen times on TV and that would suit me just fine. But, I have taken a photo in good faith and completed my first sporting pilgrimage.

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In 1992, Barcelona became centre-stage for hosting the summer olympics; the greatest sporting event in the world. I remember it fondly and the highlight for me, was the utterly simple and yet magic lighting of the cauldron. More than two decades later, I stand at the base of the hill Montjuic and look up to the fortress Castell de Montjuic. Two obelisks stand as entrance gates to an impressive waterfall that cascades down from the castle. The whole place is a fusion of cultures, from ancient Egypt and Greece to neoclassical Spanish. I walk up the ‘steps of plenty’ to the castle’s entrance (which is now an art museum) and turn to look back down the hill to a beautiful view, nicely illuminated by the sun.

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Behind the castle, stands a lone statue holding a torch above his head and he is the guide that leads to the olympic park. There is a sadness when I visit an olympic stadium. When a city hosts the games, the world is engrossed for sixteen days and then what? The stadium stands proud and still beautiful, but it is an empty and quiet place with only a trickling of tourists to keep the ghosts at bay. I walk over to a stall (which I presume is the place where you buy an entrance ticket) with my wallet open, only to kindly be informed that entrance is for free.Where does the money come from to upkeep the park? It is kept very clean and in great condition. The stadium with its elegant stone façade and classic ancient look, looks nothing like modern over-the-top metal structures.  The vast park is from another realm with water cascades, huge yellow pillars, green parkland and all this over-looking Barcelona. My second sporting pilgrimage complete.

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The road winds itself down from Montjuic and quite inadvertently, I come across a place called Poble Espanyol. I have no idea what is within the walls, but I am intrigued enough to pay the somewhat expensive entrance ticket and discover a hidden gem. It is in fact a place built-in 1929 for the International Exhibition and it is a beautiful old world, protected within stone walls. A place of restaurants, cafe, souvenir shops, people plying their trade in their worships and all woven through narrow paved streets and Spanish charm. It is an expensive place, but I enjoyed just shopping with my eyes and appreciating the culture.

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I am all ‘sported’ out and for my last part of the day, I make it the hardest. From the metro station Panal-Lel, there is a steep walk up a hill that leads to an abandoned fortress, but with a great view over-looking Barcelona and the ocean. There is an easier option by taking the funicular and although it would have been quicker and easier, I just wanted to feel the sun on my face as I slowly make my way up and enjoy the discovery of what lays ahead. The road winds itself up and some parts are steep. But at each turn there is a different view and a place to rest and catch my breath. Once I reach the top, it becomes clear that this is the place to come. Tourists and locals sit upon the stone walls to soak up the last days of the sun and the view below. The fortress itself is very old and in great condition, but is closed to the public. There are parts that are assessable and the 36o degree view is worth the sweat of the climb.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] A Sporting Pilgrimage in Barcelona ( […]

    Pingback by 360° Flip by Gaudi | buildingthegame — May 17, 2013 @ 3:41 am | Reply

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