Can't believe it's been almost a week since I've been at this game. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention to most of you good folks here at Barca Blaugranes that I was lucky enough to witness FC Barcelona's last game of the season. As you know this was also Eric Abidal's final game Barça, and the club did a wonderful job after the game when Abi was honored in front of a standing ovation from the crowd at the (sadly not sold out) Camp Nou.
That being said, I can't start this report/gallery at the end of the trip, can I? So, it all started late in the afternoon on Thursday when I and 44 other Penya Blaugrana Eslovena Triglav members embarked on a roughly 1600 km (1000 miles) bus ride to Barcelona. Yes, you read that right, this time I went with a bus. Don't have anything against planes, though I still haven't forgiven the French for what they did, but a bus ride was a nice change.
I always enjoyed riding the bus, but this was unlike any bus trip before. Why? Because this one lasted 20+ hours. As you can imagine everything becomes a bit sore after sitting for so long, but I honestly expected the entire trip would be more uncomfortable than it was.
We arrived at our hotel at about 3pm the next day, but truth be told we didn't spend a whole lot of time there. The weather was just too nice to be sitting in a hotel room. First stop: the beach. Didn't see anybody swimming in the sea, the water wasn't nearly as warm as it should've been at this point in the year, but many were sunbathing and playing volleyball.
Next up was the Columbus Monument at the very end of the iconic La Rambla. This monument was always a highlight of the city, but it became an internet sensation a while back when it was given its own Barça shirt, a shirt that Columbus still sports. Some time and some drinks later it was time to call it a night.
The following morning, after checking out of the hotel, the destination was set for the Camp Nou. There we embarked on the Camp Nou Experience. Sadly, because it was a game-day, the Experience was limited, but still it was a lot to take in. One could stay the entire day in the museum and I can guarantee you that you wouldn't see everything. From countless trophies from numerous competitions and sports, to Ballon d'Ors and historic shirts. The museum is brilliantly organized and is a fantastic testament to the club's achievements in the its history.
That was followed by a quick trip to the Park Güell, designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The park is filled with architectural marvels, one of the most notable ones being a very long bench constructed around the park's main terrace. The park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After a meal to recharge one's batteries it was almost time for kickoff. There was only enough time for a group photo in front of our Penya's badge, located on the south side of the stadium. Then off to find the seat. As you can/will see from the photos I was sitting in the upper tier behind the north goal.
The game itself was very entertaining as both sides played very positive football. Fans were given a quick reason to celebrate as Villa found the net very early in the game. The flow of the game continued in that direction as Barça raced to a 3-0 lead at halftime.
The two teams exchanged goals after the break, but at that point everybody was waiting to see when Eric Abidal will start warming up and ultimately be substituted on. In the 76th minute Abidal entered the pitch to a standing ovation from the Camp Nou faithful, and for the remainder of the game every time Abi touched the ball he was rewarded by a warm applause.
After the final whistle, and a well earned Barça win, came the second moment everybody was waiting for - Abidal's goodbye. The entire ceremony was very emotional and it was nothing less than Abidal deserved for what he's been through during his six year stay in the Catalan capital. It really was a very well prepared ceremony and I consider it an honor that I was there to see it live.
After the Camp Nou said its goodbye to Abi there was only one thing left on the agenda - going back home. What's 20 hours on a bus after a game like that...