Don’t miss Barcelona against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, second leg, live on ESPN Deportes (4pm ET, 17th August).
Day two – Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I woke up this morning tired, but I saw the most amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea. Here in Spain, everything starts later than in the States, so it’s normal to have drinks in the evening and then have dinner around 9 or 10 pm.
9:00am – I had breakfast at Wave at the W Hotel. It’s located on the ground floor of the hotel, overlooking the pool, patio and the beach. Breakfast is buffet style, but so different from a buffet in the States. You walk up to an assortment of thinly sliced meats, thick slices of fresh cheese and a few varieties of croissants. I am noticing some of the staples found at every meal – a mixture of different types of whole olives, tomato bread and cheese. Along the back wall I thought I’d find eggs and typical morning food, but no there were an assortment of fresh cut fruits, some cereals, granola, nuts and a wide assortment of fresh juices and smoothies.
11:00am – I decided to be adventurous and explore some of Barcelona. I walked all the way to the other side of the beach on the boardwalk in about 45 minutes.
As you walk along the boardwalk you see a ton of restaurants and little ice cream and drink kiosks. It was really interesting to watch the different types of people walking around. Europeans are so different than Americans. Americans are free but are in a sense; prude. On the beach you would see many different women of all different ages sunbathing topless. They had no problem walking to the water topless or walking back to the hotel.
There were a few funny things I saw such as what looked like two women holding hands walking towards me. One was topless the other was not. As they got closer, I noticed it was an older couple but they were wearing very similar bathing suits and the man was the one who I thought was topless because he had breasts!
Along the boardwalk there is an area where you can either contact the police, get medical help or just get information. On the outside there were tables of older men playing card games, chess etc. Right across from the men were the showers – there were quite a few topless women showering but I didn’t notice one man ogling any girl but that could be due to the fact that there was an older couple using the showers too and this time the old man was bottomless. Thank God his big belly covered his unmentionables.
Further up the boardwalk you can actually either walk along the beach or walk upstairs overlooking the beach. The bars/restaurants in this location are very impressive. The entrance is up top but when you enter, it is so small, almost like four old-fashioned telephone booths put together. Upon furthest inspection you will notice stairs that lead down that take you into a much bigger space. Since I had no Euros with me, I had to find a place that takes credit cards so I could buy some refreshing drinks. I found a Spar, which is similar to a 7-11. I bought some stuff to bring home and water to keep me hydrated in this hot and humid weather.
After I returned back to the hotel fully hydrated, I met up with a fellow journalist and decided to give swimming in the Mediterranean a try. The beach looks so perfect, but when you walk on it, it’s thicker than the sand in Florida or New Jersey, and really sticks to your feet. The water it is a little colder than Florida’s but not too bad. The water supposedly is saltier than the Atlantic Ocean and doesn’t have as many dangerous types of sea life. The sea floor is covered in so many different types of rock that almost every step you take you will most likely step on a rock. To my surprise I didn’t see any seashells.
After swimming and sunbathing for a little we decided to grab some lunch.
We went to one of the many W Hotel restaurants on the beach to grab something light. We split some croquettes, tomato bread, french fries that were supposed to be spicy and some sardines that were soaked in vinegar. I don’t each much seafood so I let a fellow journalist go to town on the sardines. I did end up trying a bite but will never eat another sardine again.
5:00pm – A member of the ESPN Deportes team and a few fellow journalists caught a taxi to take us to Camp Nou for the press conference. It was not a bad drive and it was interesting going through the city. Life at the W Hotel and beach is a different experience for the average person living in Spain. The city seemed like any other city in the US. Graffiti, closed stores and a decent amount of people walking around.
Pulling up to the stadium was great. You are surrounded by tons of vendors selling Barca items… and even though the game is tomorrow night, there are lines of people. Even though you can get into the stadium grounds you can’t go inside the building without clearance. There were tons of people inside the stadium taking pictures and eating at the cafe.
5:45pm – After we were done taking pictures we entered the building from the tunnels underneath the stadium. We walked down and then up to where ESPN Deportes was taping a behind-the-scenes video with Mario Kempes and Andres Agulla.
We quietly took some pictures and then were all kicked out as the security said that Barcelona was ready to begin their practice. We walked to the cafe with Kempes and Agulla. Mario was so gracious signing autographs, letting people take his picture or get pictures with him – never complaining – always smiling and joking. Here outside we each took about 30 minutes to conduct interviews. I had the chance to interview Kempes and Agulla.
9:00pm – Once we were finished, we were able to get our credentials and go to the press conference. Even though this was super exciting and my first international press conference, I didn’t understand a majority of what was said because almost the entire conference was, not surprisingly, in Spanish
12:00am – We caught the taxi back to the hotel.
1:30am – I headed to the gym to work out.
3:00am – Time for this crazy American to go to bed.
I’m really looking forward to watching tonight’s game. Instead of being in the press conference, I’ll be in the crowd with many of the other journalists and ESPN Deportes. Look for me. I’ll be the crazy American with red hair and a crazy hat!
The game tonight kicks off at close to midnight local time. By the time the game ends and after post-match press interviews, it’ll be probably 3am before I get back to the hotel. And then I have to wake up at 7am to catch a flight back to Miami. It’s going to be a long day, but I’ll share my third part of my travel diary as soon as I get an opportunity. If you missed the first installment, read Day One now. And here’s day three.