Following the Bhoys to Catalonia?
Where and when is the match itself?
Barcelona will take on Celtic on Tuesday 13th September 2016 as part of the group stage of this season’s Champions League. This will be the first match of this stage for each team. Kick off is scheduled for 20.45pm Barcelona time, and 19.45pm UK time.
What is the best way to travel to Barcelona?
Barcelona is serviced by one main airport, that of Barcelona-El Prat International. There are two other alternatives within a relatively reasonable distance of the city, but I’ll discuss those later. For now, allow me to focus on El Prat. Situated approximately eleven miles south of the city centre along the shoreline, it is one of the busiest airports in Europe. Flights with Jet2 arrive at Terminal 2B from Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds Bradford airports. Seasonal journeys with British Airways’ City Flyer scheme fly from both Glasgow and Edinburgh, generally servicing Terminal 1. Again, as always, these observations regarding terminals are not certainties.
Barcelona El-Prat has seen more people arrive from the following five airports within the last calendar year than any others: London Gatwick, Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Rome Fiumicino and Frankfurt International. Several hundred thousand passengers have also arrived via the likes of London Heathrow, London Stansted and Dublin. These options may prove useful to those of you looking to save money by travelling via another major airport hub.
Now, if we are to consider how prospective passengers reach the city of Barcelona from El Prat, I have some good news. Previously, travelling supporters would either have to take a train from Terminal 2, a bus or a taxi to reach Barcelona itself. However, since February of this year, the airport has been directly linked into Barcelona’s underground metro system. This means that by making use of Line 9 (L9), which can be accessed from both terminals at the airport, passengers can access the entirety of Barcelona’s subway system with relative ease.
An updated map of the metro system including the airport can be found by clicking here. I will be sure to provide additional information regarding stops in the coming days. For now, it is noteworthy that the “Catalunya” stop services Placa de Catalunya (the city’s main square) and “Maria Cristina” is one of the closest stops to the Camp Nou. More information regarding this can be found in the next section.
That aside, the more traditional options are still active also. Buses run from the Airport to two of the city’s main squares, depending upon where you wish to travel to. TMB public bus line 46 runs to Placa de Espanya, whilst the Aerobus runs to Placa de Catalunya at the top of Las Ramblas.
Overground trains still take passengers to and from the Airport to the city’s main train station, “Barcelona Sants”, a little to the west of the city centre itself. These run on a half hourly basis, but at present are only available from Terminal 2B. In the years to come, both terminals will be connected to this line, but for now if you arrive at Terminal 1 and wish to use this route to journey into the city, you will have to take a shuttle bus to Terminal 2B. Once you arrive at “Barcelona Sants” Station, you can also directly access the metro system below, with the metro station being known as “Sants Estacio” in order to differentiate between the two. Lines 3 and 5 traverse this station, with both Placa de Catalunya and the Camp Nou being a relatively short subway ride away (albeit in different directions).
Returning briefly to the subject of alternative airports, both Girona (47 miles) and Reus Airports (54 miles) are within 55 miles of the city of Barcelona.
How can I make my way to the stadium?
The “Camp Nou” (also known as the “Nou Camp”) is located around five kilometres west of Barcelona’s city centre. When Celtic last visited the city in 2013, most Celtic supporters gathered in the city’s main square (the Placa de Catalunya) on the day of the match to enjoy themselves and the company of their fellow supporters. Presumably, this will happen again, and one of the city’s main subway stations can be found next to the square. From there, you can take the L3 line (pictured below) to one of a couple of stations near the Camp Nou, the “Maria Cristina” or “Palau Reial” being the recommended options. Maps can be found below. The station known as “Collblanc” on L5 is also another viable alternative, but does not go through the city’s main square.
Where will the Celtic supporters be housed within the stadium?
Generally speaking, away supporters find themselves in the proverbial Gods at the Camp Nou. Few supports bring as many fans as Celtic to Catalonia, so with this in mind coupled with UEFA’s rules on away allocations, we will receive a minimum of about 5,000 tickets. These will likely be situated within areas 522 all the way around to somewhere in the region of 530 or so. That aside, there will also be numerous Celtic supporters who instead choose to sit among the home fans. On my previous visit in 2012, the attendance was about 75,000 or so, and therefore there were empty seats available for purchase. Wearing the colours of Celtic was not an issue, with pockets of green and white dotted all over the stadium. Presumably, this will not change, but it may be worth checking with the Club beforehand. The Barcelona fans themselves were exceptionally friendly in my experience.
What About Match Tickets?
Now, as this is always a somewhat hotly contested issue, allow me to say now that what you will find below is advice based off of my own experience travelling to Barcelona in 2012. Nothing I say can be considered sacred, so please don’t take it as such. Having said that, I shall continue.
When me and my father traveled to Barcelona in 2012, we were both long term season ticket holders, but with no away European record to speak of, we were initially unable to attain tickets for the away sections at the Camp Nou. Presumably, Celtic will soon outline the initial requirements to be eligible for one of these tickets on this occasion. Depending on demand – both within supporters travelling independently (who meet the requirements) and those who go via an official club trip (which usually includes the opportunity to purchase a match ticket) – this allocation will either sell out or the initial requirements will be lowered by Celtic Football Club. This process will carry on until the allocation is finally sold out or until the requirements are lowered to such a degree that away tickets will be available to any season ticket holders capable of producing travel documents to the city of Barcelona. Now, how likely all of that is remains to be seen, as on one hand we have played Barcelona a lot of late but on the other, people will always be attracted by the prospect of watching one of the best teams in the world.
Therefore, we come on to the issue of tickets for the home end. FC Barcelona allows individuals to sign up to their website and purchase match tickets from abroad for fixtures which will not be a sell-out. With that in mind, this idea would not work if the likes of Real Madrid were coming to town, but is was certainly an option in the past for us. The system was, on the face of it, fairly simple – pick your seats; pay; print your receipt and take it to the ticket office outside the stadium to collect your tickets.
However, a bit of common sense goes a long way. Officially, when I was there, Barcelona wouldn’t sell home tickets to people with a passport from the same country as that of their respective opposition. Therefore, it wasn’t a great surprise to see someone dressed from head to toe in green and white being turned away from the ticket office when trying to purchase a ticket on the day prior to the game. Gracefully though, we had no problems picking up our tickets having covered up our colours when, if we are being honest, it is certain the cashier knew fine well we were Celtic fans. Many other people attained tickets in this regard without a problem, but I simply do not know if that will be the case today.
Therefore, in the weeks ahead, I will do my best to add information to this section as and when it becomes available. Until then, Celtic’s away ticket information page can be found by clicking here.
What will the weather be like?
Well, as ever, it is impossible to predict what the weather will be like weeks in advance of anything. However, having consulted the average conditions in the city of Barcelona from previous years, I can say that the temperatures generally range from between about 20-26 degrees Celsius in September. When I visited the city for the match held in 2012, it was very pleasant in terms of temperature, and that fell in the October of that year, so hopefully this year’s trip will allow everyone making the journey to catch some autumnal sunshine. Having said that, whilst there is generally a fair bit of sunshine in September, there are usually a few overcast days with showers (an average of 8 rainy days per month in September). It is of note that the Camp Nou does not have a roof like most football stadia, so if it does rain during the match prepare to get wet (although this will change in later years with the forthcoming developments to the stadium).
Barcelona has a reputation as a pickpocket’s paradise. Is this true?
Yes, Barcelona has a notorious reputation for pickpockets. One website I looked at even described it as “the pickpocketing capital of the world”. Certain areas of the city, such as the famous Las Ramblas strip (as well as the city’s public transport systems, buses, subway trains etc), are known to be particular hotspots. For these reasons, I would advise everyone to leave their passports and valuables inside the safe in their hotel rooms if they can. Do not carry all of your money and/or documents with you when wandering about the city if you can avoid it. Pickpockets often operate in teams, so people coming up to you in the street asking for directions or pretending to be police may not be who they appear to be. They may just be distracting you so that another team member can empty your pockets.
This, of course, should not put you off the idea of the trip. Our supporters naturally look out for each other, and this will help us in some regards. However, this is a simply a reminder to you all to be vigilant and try to be careful if you can. More information can be found (in great detail) here: http://wikitravel.org/en/Barcelona