Being a blogger often has special moments, times we need to pinch ourselves, hardly able to believe the good fortune which comes our way. Travelling to great destinations, staying in amazing hotels, and dining at the best restaurants, suggesting we are anything other than blessed would be very churlish indeed. Tickets to watch Manchester City play FC Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium, in the Champions League certainly left me feeling exceptionally lucky.
The previous week I’d been fortunate enough to experience skiing, snowshoeing, and some other great activities in the Catalan Pyrenees as a guest of @VisitCostaBrava. It was a great week, apart from the exciting activities, and delicious cuisine, it provided opportunities to meet up with good friends from the tourism board.
Shortly after returning home, I received an invitation to an event at the Etihad Stadium. It was to promote Catalonia, and Costa Brava as tourism destinations with help from possibly their most marketable attraction; FC Barcelona. It was a pleasure to accept, supporting my friends in my local area, as most similar events seem to take place in London. There was the extra attraction of watching the Barca superstars train, and the even more attractive possibility of winning two tickets for the match in a raffle.
I decided to take a photographer friend with me, Alison Bailey. She enjoys football as a Liverpool supporter, is a talented photographer, so it seemed likely she would probably get some excellent shots, and would appreciate the experience.
The evening went really well, meeting up with a few old friends, and making some new ones. The presentation was short and sweet, professionally done, and highlighting the many attractions of the destination. Catalonia is diverse; high mountains, beautiful beaches, dramatic shorelines, vibrant cities, impressive modern, eclectic, and historical architecture, wildlife, and hidden wildernesses, using verbal and video presentations to give them equal billing.
I unfortunately did not win the tickets, but did enjoy watching stars of football train; the likes of Messi, Neymar, Fàbregas, Iniesta, Xavi, Piqué, and Pedro. The stadium staff seemed keen to spoil the fun, they did not allow the use of DSLR cameras, couldn’t take our wine outside, and when the players came over to our side of the pitch ushered us inside, but it was still a pleasure.
Just doing their job of course, but didn’t really in the spirit of the evening. It is the reason all the images are of tiny, distant superstars, with a distinct shortage of closeups.
We’d been given champagne, enjoyed some excellent Catalonian wines, and treated to some tasty hors d’oeuvres. I’d skipped dinner so the finger food was especially welcome, and the surprises weren’t over yet. Before leaving I was informed Ramon the head of Girona tourism had authorised getting me tickets for the match, I was grateful beyond words, and spent the rest of the evening beaming like a Cheshire cat.
The next evening, 2 very happy people sat among thousands of other passionate football supporters. We watched 22 world superstars, and 2 of the greatest teams on the planet, from an excellent viewpoint. I’ve already discussed some of the stars of Barcelona, but Manchester City has a few of its own, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Joe Hart, and Vincent Kompany, who was immense on the night.
It was a decent game, filled with incident, and controversy, this is now history, and we both really enjoyed an intriguing contest. It was even worth the hour-long delay it took to escape, and the result hardly mattered. I’m a patriotic sports supporter, cheering on any British team playing against foreign opposition, but on this occasion, it seemed fitting that Ramon and his team headed home smiling.
As for me, I headed home smiling too, counting my blessings once more.
We should all be grateful for the opportunities our decisions present to us. Appreciating the perks which come our way is important.
Incidentally, if anybody ever overhears me whining about being a travel blogger, they have permission to slap me hard.
*All images, except where stated taken on a Samsung W250f WiFi enabled compact camera