by Samuel Restrepo, Rhode Island College
You are finally here! After all your hard work you landed in Barcelona, one of the best cities in the world for an incredible fútbol (soccer!) experience. But how exactly do you immerse yourself in the fútbol culture while in Spain? Here, I will share 3 things that you can do to spend your time abroad as a true Barça fan.
Watching a Barça Game at a Local Sports Bar
Even if you have never watched a single fútbol game in your life, I strongly recommend that you experience a fútbol game at one of the local sports in the city. These sports bars usually have huge HD screens and an amazing atmosphere. This is truly an experience that you would not be able to live back in the U.S. and it’s a great way to have fun, make new friends, and practice your Spanish. Here are a few tips:
1. Arrive early! This is especially true if you want to watch an important match such as ”el Clasico” (the famous face off between FC Barcelona and rival Real Madrid) or a Champions League game. The bar will most likely get very crowded, and arriving 30 minutes to an hour before the game will give you a chance to get a good spot to watch.
2. If you are going with a big group, reserve a table. Even if your group arrives early, it will be very difficult for all of you to get a good spot to watch the game. This is why reserving a table might be the best option if you’re a big group. This may have an additional cost, but it guarantees an amazing time for you and your friends!
3. Interact with other fútbol fans at the bar! This is especially important if you are going by yourself or with a small group. People in Barcelona are very passionate about fútbol and are happy to talk about anything related to their fútbol club, which is not only interesting but also makes for an amazing opportunity to practice your Spanish.
Watching a Barcelona Game at the Stadium
Watching Messi, Suarez, Piqué, and the rest of the team play in person for FC Barcelona is an unforgettable experience. Some tips from my own experience:
1. Buy your tickets in advance from the official FC Barcelona website. It is common to see third parties selling tickets, but be careful because there are always cases of people selling fake tickets that won’t be accepted the day of the match. It’s best to avoid the risk and buy your tickets straight from the official website. For important games, tickets usually run out very quickly, so I highly recommend that you buy them at least 3 weeks before the game from the official website or from an approved distributor like Ticketmaster.
2. It’s gameday! Wear your Barça scarf, shirt, and/or jacket and get ready to live an unforgettable experience. Make sure you get to the stadium early enough to pass through security, find your section, and locate your specific seat in the stands. Food and drinks from outside the stadium are not allowed, so make sure to either eat something before the game or have cash ready to buy food inside the stadium (usually quite expensive). Lastly, enjoy 90 minutes of amazing fútbol and cheer alongside the almost 100,000 souls in the stadium.
3. Avoid public transportation after the game! I strongly recommend that after the game you either take a taxi back home or you stay at a nearby bar or restaurant for about an hour after the game. I say this because after the game, the majority of people from the stadium will try to return home using public transportation, creating a human tide near the metro and bus stops that it’s best to avoid.
Playing Soccer in Barcelona
If you have some experience playing fútbol and you want to play in Barcelona, I strongly recommend using CeleBreak. CeleBreak is an app that lets you sign up for 1-hour fútbol games on fields all around the city of Barcelona. From my own experience, I recommend that you:
1. Be ready! You are in Spain, where fútbol is taken very seriously, and even though the CeleBreak games are friendly, expect a high level of competition from all players.
2. Be friendly! I hope I did not scare you off with the previous tip! Even though there is a high level of play, the people attending these games are friendly. Try to do the same – when you get to the field, introduce yourself and try to make small talk with the other players. Usually, most of them will understand English, but if that’s not the case, it presents another perfect opportunity to practice your Spanish!
I hope that you enjoyed my tips about how to enjoy fútbol in Barcelona, and I wish you tons of luck in your future Barcelona experience!