We roll up to the main entrance nearest our gate. Monique and I pull out our borrowed club membership cards -- the first security barrier. We are nodded through, no hesitation from the badge-checker.
I am trembling with excitement as we walk in the direction of out gate, which I had scoped out on a pilgrimage to the Camp Nou a day before.
The first thing I notice that is different from stadiums in the US -- only one tiny stand selling Barca trinkets on the way to the stadium entrance. It is clear that the focus here is football, not merchandising. You can of course, get all of your Barca shopping done at their incredible Botiga, adjacent to the Camp Nou. In we go, then. Up the steps -- here the security guard is eying me suspiciously. I think he knows I'm not a Socio. I swipe the carnet, the green light flashes -- I'm in!
It is not clear which portal we need to go through as we are in between the numbers over the doors. We gamble and go in the lower portal, closer to the actual pitch -- this is it.
There it is -- the beautiful pitch.
Valdez is warming up. My god I've made it. Row numbers nearly match the carnet i'm holding in my hand. I walk down about 12 or 13 steps and find mine -- this is amazing. We are in the corner, but incredibly close to the pitch. I manoever around a few people and Monique and I take our seats. if Marca's Cagometro were measuring my excitement -- it would be off the charts now.