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First went to Barcelona in 2001 for the UEFA Cup Semi Final, a day trip, in the city itself for probably twelve hours. Got dropped off somewhere near Drassanes (close to Paral.lel) and headed up La Ramblas, and first stop of the day was the famous Cafe Zurich, well the old place was famous until they knocked it down anyway. Cafe Zurich is one of the places that is great to meet at, for non-locals anyway, easy to find and not overly expensive especially compared to the road immediately east and down the hill to the port.

A few hours later and various bars in the Gothic Quarter, it hit me like a lead balloon. I felt at ease, i felt at home, it was like Liverpool to me, considering i left Liverpool in 1978 at the grand old age of six and even with going back from sixteen years old in the late 80’s to when i moved back in 2006 and had not much to do with Liverpool in between, apart from the odd trip back home, it still felt similar.

With barely any Spanish never mind Catalan, the locals treated us as if we were long lost friends, they were seriously that friendly, probably helped by the fact we were spending money in their local bars and not in the tourist traps nearby (yes i’ve done that also – never again). And we weren’t acting like the normal drunken football fan.

A year later and i found a bar i’d continue to go back to since, cheap and no touristy, Les Tapes on Placa Regomir (i’m assuming Santi and Barbara have actually retired by now and new owners in place)?

Fourteen years later and i still go back, time and time again, most i think i’ve done is five times in one year, and longest trip (of Catalunya) was about eighteen days last year, even in the sticks of deepest Catalunya, you are welcomed with opened arms and with locals wishing you Bon Dia or Bona Nit, even though it is the first time they have cast eyes on you.

Back to 2001 though, we didn’t lose and won the Uefa Cup in Dortmund that season, i’ve still not been to Dortmund again, but been to Barcelona probably in the region of thirty to forty times.

And even now, i find the city away from the tourists, as good as it was and still very cheap compared to the uk.

And what do you mean i’ve not got to part three of the Duesseldorf trip yet?

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