Camp Nou is where you can best appreciate the fact that football is a city-wide passion in Barcelona and come World Cup season, the excitement rises to a fevered pitch
Camp Nou is where you can best appreciate the fact that football is a city-wide passion in Barcelona and come World Cup season, the excitement rises to a fevered pitch

If you are a football fanatic, Barcelona is one place you should definitely have on your travel itinerary. This is the city where Europe’s most popular football club, FC Barcelona, calls home. This is the country that hosted FIFA World Cup in 1982 and took home the golden trophy after the last World Cup. Football is not just a sport here, it is a national passion.

In this World Cup season, you can bet that every match will be closely followed, especially any game that features our national team. At Citadines Prestige Ramblas Barcelona located right on La Rambla, one of the most vibrant streets in the city, you will be in the best place to soak up the electric atmosphere.

Within the serviced residence itself, we are getting into the spirit of things with special football-inspired decorations in our lobby. Watch out for our posters and special football items. A detailed scheduled has been set up and we will be updating the results and standings as we go along. Football is a sport that is best enjoyed in a crowd. So, we are also putting up a giant television screen at our breakfast lounge area so everyone can gather to cheer for their favourite team. Of course, to make it more than a spectator sport, we will be inviting residents to guess the results of the matches of the day. Breakfast is on us if you win.

A Ball of a Time

For a football experience in the city, begin with a pilgrimage to the epicentre of action – Camp Nou, the stadium that is home to FC Barcelona. It is a 20-minute subway ride from the serviced residence.

Camp Nou is the largest sporting arena in Europe, with a sitting capacity of more than 99,000. Sheer size aside, the tour will thrill you with a behind-the-scenes look at the Visitor’s Team changing room, the Chapel, TV Room, Press Room, the Sports Medicine Centre, the luxurious Presidential Box, and even a sneak peak of the team locker rooms.

Then, take the famous walk through the tunnel onto the pitch where you can walk the very grounds where legendary footballers like Maradona, Ronaldinho, Messi, and Ronaldo have trod.

I come from a long line of football fans. My family has been a member of FC Barcelona since 1955 and the membership has passed on from parent to child like a family heirloom. The first time I visited Camp Nou years ago, I was amazed. At matches, entire families gathered to support their favourite team.

End your tour at the Barcelona FC Football Museum. As proof of the popularity of the sport, this museum is the most visited one in the city. This is where all things related to the football club can be admired – the impressive collection of trophies, photographs, sport equipment, team kits, and statues of football greats from years past.

These Boots Are Made for Walking

In summer, the city is warm and pleasant and perfect for exploring on foot. I would recommend a walking tour because you get to see so much more of Barcelona this way. Start by visiting the Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music), a gorgeous concert hall designed in the Catalan modernista style by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and built in the early 1900s.

Easily the most beautiful building in the city, its façade features sculptures as well as busts of famous composers like Bach, Beethoven and Wagner.

With the cavernous interiors, stained glass windows that line the walls and the stained glass skylight let in plenty of light so visitors can admire the magnificent sculptures and thousands of ceramic roses in multiple hues that adorn the palace.

When you are done, walk along the Carrer de Sant Pere Mes Alt. The street will lead you to Plaça de Sant Pere, a square with a modernist fountain. Search for a little café called La Candela where you can rest your feet, savour a cuppa, and enjoy a view of the plaza.

If you continue your walk by following Tantarantana Street, you will pass St Agusti Convent. Turn into Del Rec Street and the Passeig del Born and you will find the beautiful Church of Santa Maria del Mar, a 14 th Century Gothic-styled church.

Continue into Argenteria Street until you reach the Medieval square of Plaça del Rei (King’s Square) that is in the Gothic Quarter of city. Also known as the Barri Gòtic, the centre of Old Barcelona is where you can still see many buildings from the Medieval era including the Palatine Chapel of Santa Agata, and even some from the days of the Roman settlement of the area. There are even remains of the squared Roman Wall, evidence of glory days past.

If you have the time, drop by the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya where the remains of Temple d’August are. There are only four columns left but they are the best preserved Roman relic in Barcelona. Within the Gothic Quarter is also the Church of Santa Maria del Pi (Church of St Mary of the Pine Tree). The 10-metre rose window that fronts the building is wonderful to behold. Since my property sits in the middle of the Gothic Quarter, I get to enjoy the bustle and life of its narrow streets that are full of history and colour every day.

Keep on walking into Llibreteria Street and Del Bisbe Street and you will end up at Plaça Sant Felip Neri. From this little church that still bears the scars of bombing during the Second World War, it is just a two-minute walk to the Cathedral, another 14 th century Gothic-styled church. There, you can rest at the entrance steps and enjoy live music from the many street artists.

Walk Up An Appetite

My property is just a five-minute walk from La Boqueria Market in the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona’s most famous market. Go by there in the morning when the stalls are stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, and food from around the world. Try the aperitivo (pre-meal drink), the Vermut, that comes in both red and white version and accompanied by local olives.

For the best tapas in town, pop in at Casa Cañete, I highly recommend Croquetas de Jamón Ibérico (acorn-fried ham croquettes), Zamburiñas con Ibérico (Bay Scallops with Iberian ham), and Tartar de Atún Salvaje con mascarpone y huevas de trucha (wild tuna tartar with mascarpone and trout roe). Of course, do not leave for home without trying the Rossejat de Fideus which is one of my favorite dishes. Rossejat de Fideus is a Catalan dish with vermicelli pasta and fish cooked in a similar way as the rice dish, Paella. It is accompanied by a tasty sauce made with eggs and garlic. Like Paella, this is a dish to be shared with family and friends.

Since it is World Cup season, you might want to go for some Brazilian cuisine. There is a Brazilian restaurant just a walk away from my serviced residence. Order Brazilian Feijaoda, a stew of beans, beef, and pork; and wash it down with fresh Caipirinha, a cocktail of fruit juices, lime, and Cachaça (Brazil’s most popular alcoholic drink that similar to rum but made with sugar cane instead of molasses).

Before you head for home, pick up a few national football jerseys from different countries. The shops around the property are sure to stock up on them. I always maintain that these make the best souvenirs of your visit to the city that has made football part of its DNA. In this season where football fever runs high, exploring Barcelona on foot is probably one of the best ways to pay homage to this well-loved sport!

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