Monday, October 31, 2011

Where Ronaldo Showers: Real Madrid Stadium and Museum

10/31/11 - Stadium Santiago Bernabéu

"Welcome to the stadium of the 20th century's best football club," the brochure for the Real Madrid Stadium Tour proclaims. Sons 1 and 2 have already seen a game here. Their excitement is more muted today, but who can resist the rhetoric?  Surely not the hundreds who stood in line with us for almost an hour. To prepare for your visit, I suggest this 2-minute version of the team song "Campeones."  Once inside, visitors follow a set route through the stadium at their leisure. First we ascend to the top, where the brochure tells us we'll "touch the sky and listen to the echo of a million cheering hearts." 

Stadium panorama
Americans, believe me when I say that the Vomitorio is an exit ramp, not a purging room for Ancient Roman-style excess.

Next, we file through the Trophy Room, and gaze at row upon row of silver cups, a parade of cleats and historic jerseys, and other football memorabilia. 

Trophy in an unusual form--a ship

The score for the team anthem "Hala, Madrid"
"Hala Madrid" plays in the background, to great effect. Further along, we try out the cushy seats in the stadium's most exclusive area. "Today," we read, "it is reserved for you."  Another descent, and we reach the pitch where, for over 60 years, the "'white legends' have fought, wept and rejoiced."  We're allowed to graze the sideline with our feet, then sit briefly on the opulent players' bench.  And life is sweet.

Players' bench on sideline, Stadium Santiago Bernabeu
On the way back from the pitch, we pass through the players' tunnel to their Dressing Rooms. "Great players, legendary teams... They have all been here, in this same spot." We see their other facilities as well.

The Real Madrid showers. Let your imagination run free.
We traverse the Press Room where players face the media. Everyone wants to sit where Ronaldo declared he's the best player in the world, and best-looking, too. Then we stop in a passageway while folks are photo-shopped. "Maintain that starring role by having your photo taken with historic Real Madrid players or holding up some of the sport world's most coveted trophies."  There's no escape hatch for detractors, so I'm forced to blunder past this station, mortified teens in tow. Not to worry: throughout the tour, free photo collages can serve as backdrops for our own fantasies.

The current Real Madrid team
It was interesting to learn about the ancillary facility "La Ciudad Real Madrid"--the largest sports center ever built by a football club. "A youngster can join the first module and eventually reach the first team without ever leaving the site," a poster informs. Many on the tour would find that prospect most appealing.

1 comment:

  1. "The best football club"....I've heard it's the richest, which may explain the "best" part.