October 5, 2010

GoCar Go…

Ended up in Barcelona, Spain for the third time around, not knowing what else was there for me to see? Fortunately, one night we got invited to a French lamb leg dinner at some crazy Americans, who also turned out to be enamored with all Romanian things. We started our dinner with an American southern style prayer, got interrupted by Spanish neighbors (for noise obviously), and ended up with Romanian history tales. Therefore, we shared some good wine, some common sense, memories, ideas, and jokes, and thus became friends. This is what you get by living a Globalized life!

This is also how I met my new travel date to Barcelona – P. of R. – an American HBS grad student, taking advantage of a summer vacation through Europe before the MBA chores were about to start in fall. Being two decently traveled tourists eager to experience a different BCN, we decided to ditch the public transportation and the double decker in favor of a small, bright yellow, convertible, three wheels scooter/moped like, loud GPS accompanied vehicle, which promised to bring us the fun we were missing in Barcelona...

Meet the GoCar – our small “Lamborghini” for the day:

The fabulous GoCar
 It normally holds no more than two people, has an incorporated tour guide voice with the GPS, which happened to have a British accent that day, and was able to take us around the city’s turistic routes and on one off the map extreme excursion. We started in Plaça Catalunya, went down Via Laietana to Rambla del Mar and the harbor area. Due to the “petit” dimensions of our means of transportation we were fortunate enough to find free parking, take a walk in the sun, visit the aquarium, and have lunch. We circled the Colon three times, until the copilot finally figured the roundabout and why Columbus is not pointing towards the Americas*; then took the way up to Montjuïc.

On hill Montjuïc we took advantage of the free parking for the “Beast” and emerged into the Hispanic art and culture at Joan Miró Foundation, at the 1992 Olympic facilities, at the impressive MNAC (National Museum of Catalonian Art) which grandiosely overlooks Plaça d’España and a good side of the city. Here is where we crossed paths with our new friends – the supporters of Atlético de Madrid soccer team.

Atlético de Madrid was meeting Seville’s team in the final of the King’s Cup soccer championship that day. Therefore, in the old Spanish tradition, the supporters were out on the streets of Barcelona since noon, sporting their favorite team’s jerseys and cheering on tourists.  From the stairs of MNAC to the esplanade, to the Magic Fountains and all the way down to Plaça España there were only white and red striped people singing in the sun. 

Esplanade of MNAC

Well, it happens that our next objective, set off our touristic map, in the hills of IESE business school, was en route to Camp Nou – the war theater for that nights’ confrontation.  So, our trip was filled with supporters than made us feel like superstars, taking pictures of/with us, cheering, singing, smiling and yelling at us. The 45 minutes ride from Plaça España to Camp Nou was filled with laughter, photo shots, amiable conversations and that feeling of belonging to something bigger.
Unfortunately, our friends lost…

* Christopher Columbus’ statue (Colón) rises 60m above the Southern most end of Las Ramblas depicting the explorer pointing towards the [Mediterranean] Sea/east and not towards the New World, because he is actually pointing towards Italy, where the finances for the expedition came from.