If Sri Lanka's major religions include Buddhism and cricket, then Catalan's include Christianity and futbol
Tuesday 13 Sep 11 - Tuesday 13 Sep 11 30 °C
I started the next day with a long walk, across the city and up the hill to Montjuic, the area to Barcelona’s west, with great views overlooking the rest of the city. I started at one of the many parks, then decided that it was too warm to stay outside and so walked to the Foundació Joan Miró, an art gallery housing many works of the artist of the same name.
Being brutally honest, as is my wont, I didn’t think much of Miró’s pieces. It was like a very poor man’s Picasso, but that’s clearly just my opinion, and unfortunately it doesn’t count for much against those of hundreds of people who actually know something about art.
There was, however, a very good exhibition with art from around the world relating to AIDS. Some very good stuff there, though I’m not entirely sure what the relevance was.
I walked from there to the Olympic Stadium, first built for 1936 when Barcelona was bidding for the Olympics but had to give it up because of the Spanish Civil War, and then finally used in the 1992 Olympics. It’s still occasionally used for sports events and concerts, but in other times it’s open to the public.
I had some lunch there and walked to the nearby Sports Museum for a look at sport (covering everything from chess to boxing to football to winter sports) through the ages. There was a one-line mention of Australian Rules, and a tiny section on cricket, though I daresay it was written by someone who has never seen a game.
The vernicular (a tram-like vehicle that specialises in going up and down hills) took me back to the city, and from there I caught the metro out to Parc Güell. It’s a long walk from the station up to the park, but luckily there are escalators to take you up the steepest parts. Yeah, these escalators are outside, in the street, uncovered. It’s cool.
The park is pretty cool, too. It also affords great views over the city, from the north rather than the west, and so you can see out over the Mediterranean.
The main attraction, however, is more Gaudi architecture. From ridiculous-looking houses to sheltered halls, to furniture from the man himself, there’s just about everything. But I didn’t have much time, so I rushed back to the metro station and back to the hotel to have a shower and freshen up for the evening.
I’d blown twice my unofficial daily budget on a ticket to a Champions League football/soccer match with Barcelona playing Italian side AC Milan.
I arrived very early to take in the crowd and the build up, and it was brilliant to see such a huge stadium (99,000+ seats) go from nearly empty to very nearly full as the sun set over the city.
Unfortunately, things didn’t start brilliantly for the locals, with Milan scoring in the first thirty seconds. There was a gasp of shock across the stadium as the thousand or so AC Milan fans (who were confined to a small section of the upper tier, surrounded by fifteen-foot high fencing) celebrated wildly.
The next 91 minutes of playing time belonged to Barca, with Milan having very few chances to increase their lead. Indeed, a Pedro goal from a genius Messi cross and a brilliant David Villa free kick put the home side 2-1 up just after half time.
It looked for all money as though that was going to be the final score, until one of AC Milan’s very few corners was converted in the final minute, and there was stunned silence once again from the crowd. Barcelona had dominated, and yet only come away with a 2-2 draw. A very entertaining game from a neutral’s view (i.e. mine), but I can see that it would have been disappointing for a supporter.
What disappointed me, though, was the smoking. There must have been six people around me, all of whom were puffing away at one stage or another, and I felt as though I was inhaling smoke all night. Still, can’t have it all.
It was a very crowded street that took me back to the metro, and then a very crowded train that took me home.