Heineken threw down some speed bumps on a routine trip to a soccer match.
Recently, this reporter was shipped off to Barcelona by Heineken to take in the UCL semis against Bayern Munich. However, nothing good comes easy, and Heineken’s PR decided to make me, along with 8 or 9 other schlubby journalists, earn this particular experience.
My journey started as soon as I landed in Barcelona, fresh-faced from a whole two hours of airplane sleep. I was fed paella and a load of bullshit in the form of a bogus itinerary that included a beer tasting from 4-5 PM. How did I fall for that one - an hour to taste Heineken and Heineken Light? Like I said, I was running on two hours of shut-eye.
We hopped a tour bus where we watched a new Champions League ad from Heineken, featuring a man of significant handsomeness brave land, sea, and air to make it to the match on time. Obvious foreshadowing? Maybe, but the beers had already started to flow so blissful ignorance was the move.
After bussing through the city, our ride started to jerk, slow, and eventually spit white smoke from the hood. Alice, our ever-so-lovely tour guide ushered everyone off the bus and delivered the bad news that we were “stranded.” Right on cue, our knights in shining armor pull over to help.
If you consider circus folk worthy of the round table, that is. There was a saucy ringmaster, a flirty burlesque dancer (reportedly on her ninth husband), clown, contortionist, and a full band. We boarded their balloon-filled bus and were on our way again.
That is until we were pulled over by the “police” (Note: many things in this article could be in quotes, let’s just assume that most of the things that happened are staged and save us a lot of time). We were taken into custody by the Barca 5-0 for riding in a performer’s bus without a performer’s license – a shaky premise at best, but the goodwill of many Heinekens as well as the hilarious nature of most of the actors allowed us to get on board with it. So we were loaded into vans and taken off to processing. That is, until the police discovered we were going to see their beloved Messi in person. They challenged us to a beachfront penalty kick shootout for our freedom, which we succeeded in taking down.
We were still without a ride to the game though, so we decided to take a little hike down the beach, where we ran into a wedding (remember what we talked about with those quotes), with 100+ guests and a distressed father of the bride. Apparently, the entire wedding party and priest bailed, presumably broken down on the side of the road waiting on some help from another circus crew.
Luckily, we were just the right amount of people to step in and make sure that these two got hitched, and in return, the bride’s old man would make sure we made it to the game on time.
And that he did, after some requisite partying and many, many more beers, a speedboat pulled up on shore and loaded up the gang for transport out to his yacht.
Unfortunately, Camp Nou doesn’t sit near any bodies of water, so we required one more mode of transport: a helicopter. This was terrible news for me and my crippling fear of heights, but in the spirit of the entire day and bolstered by lots of liquid courage, I strapped in and sailed over Barcelona and onto our final destination.
After the match, we hit a Barcelona watering hole (because we didn’t do enough drinking during the rest of the day) and debriefed with the excellent cast of the experience. A much-needed normalcy replaced the feeling that I was most certainly in the midst a fever dream. As I boarded my flight home just a few short hours later, I looked at my seatmate and flight attendant, and wondered if the experience really was over, or if it was only just beginning. What's real anymore?
Thanks Heineken, for shattering my concept of reality, in the most amazing way possible.
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