Last week I got as close to FC Barcelona as I’ll ever get probably in my life. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that I’m wrong, but for now 20 feet is the distance between my fabulousness and the cumulative greatness of the 26 most popular men in Barcelona.
I’ve never really been a futbol (or soccer for you die-hard Americans) fan and frankly don’t really know how the game works. I know the basics – ball to the net, don’t touch it with your hands, frantically shout GOOOOOLLLL! whenever the ball actually meets the net – but other than that, the game is a mystery. Fernweh thinks it’s absolutely ridiculous that the grown men getting paid millions to run after one ball seem to be “seriously injured” and then continue playing like it’s no big deal after giving a performance worthy of an Oscar. And also that the game can end with a 0-0 score. Meaning no one wins, so everyone loses, and she’s lost two hours of her life watching people NOT hit the ball in the net. However, we both appreciate the players, their looks, and their athleticism and coordination on the field… and off.
When it comes to Barcelona, futbol fans are like football fans. America goes ham over the Superbowl, Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl – all bowls are reasons to get excited. It’s absolute insanity. People get passionate. When Barcelona wins any game, people have celebrations and yell “Barça, Barça, Barça!” through the streets. So when FC Barcelona won the championship game, clearly there’d be a celebration.
And there was, two days later – a massive parade. It looked like everyone from Barcelona – all 1.5 million – was on Avenida Parallel decked out in blue, red, and maroon. They were carrying flags, wearing the quintessential FC Barça scarves, and more than one person dressed up their dogs in mini Messi jerseys. Commitment.
The tradition for the returning players is for Barcelona’s futbol team to arrive to the port on a boat, then get on a bus making their way to the stadium in style via Avenida Parallel which runs from the port to Plaça d’Espanya. They, of course, take their sweet time getting from the boat to the bus. My chico and I arrived much later than anyone else and didn’t see the bus until after about 2 hours of waiting. Some people were patiently waiting for about 4 hours – I applaud you for your dedication.
Police covered the streets behind and in front of the players. Once I could actually see the players I was able to spot my favorites. I saw the coach first; he kind of looked like one of the players from far away, but he used to be a player, so… Second, and most importantly, I saw Neymar who I’ve had a crush on ever since I saw a life-sized poster of him sitting outside a tourist shop. I wanted to take a selfie with the cardboard cut out, but reigned in my emotions before embarrassing myself – and causing Fernweh to disown me. I was so fixated on Neymar that I’m sure I missed out on a few players, but I did see Messi and Andres Iniesta. Once the bus passed we tried to chase it down, but there were so many people that it was more like a very slow crawl, so we opted to leave and call it good.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m gonna go learn how futbol works, figure out if Neymar is single and ready to mingle, and figure out why the United States decided to be the only country that calls futbol soccer and hand-egg football.