FC Barcelona vs Olympique Lyonnais – Champions League Round of 16, Second Leg game

I was really, really looking forward to this game as this was going to be my very first FC Barcelona Champions League match! I was finally going to see FC Barcelona go against a team that was not in La Liga! They were going against Olympique Lyonnais (or Lyon FC for short) who are from France’s La Ligue. At this point, Lyon was the only remaining French team as Paris St. Germain got eliminated by Manchester United in the previous week.

Champions League CL night game FCB Barca barcelona atmosphere

Unlike the La Liga games that I went to, this game had an entirely different feeling to it – setting, fans, atmosphere, etc. There appeared to be even more police security and even the Ultras (super rabid fans) were going all out.

Champions League logo simbolo corporate sign

One difference that I immediately saw was that the Champions League logo was in the middle of the field as well as Champions League signs and words were all over the stadium. This was not La Liga. This was bigger.

I had high hopes for this FC Barcelona team because in the previous week, they beat their archrival nemesis, Real Madrid, twice by knocking them out of La Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) as well as putting them into crisis mode by winning at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid again for the second match which was La Liga (regular season). This put FC Barcelona 12 points ahead of Real Madrid in the standings and also let Real Madrid wide open for Ajax Amsterdam FC to understand how to beat Real. Ajax came in and absolutely and completely knocked out previous year’s Champions League winners in Madrid which shocked the home crowd. This put Real Madrid into meltdown mode which was ignited by FC Barcelona who are looking at another treble opportunity by winning La Liga (league), Copa del Rey (King’s Cup), and Champions League.

Another great bonus about Ajax beating Real Madrid was Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong had a great game since he will join FC Barcelona later this summer on a future transfer. This means bad news for Real Madrid as I can imagine the future damage that he will impose upon Real Madrid. I’m hoping that his Ajax teammate and central defender Matthijs de Ligt will follow him as well. De Ligt had a great game as well but if he doesn’t arrive at FC Barcelona’s doorstep, all is not lost due to Frenkie de Jong being the prize. It’s already easy to see that both Frenkie and current Barca midfielder Arthur Melo will be young, talented players that already have that Barcelona DNA to play tiki-taka extremely well in the foreseeable future as the current Barcelona players such as Suarez, Pique, Messi, Busquets, etc. start to fade away.

With recent shocks happening during Champions League and Europa League such as Manchester United coming back to beat Paris St. Germain, FC Porto beating AS Roma in extra time, Arsenal losing 3-1 to Rennes in the first Europa leg, I knew that FC Barcelona had to be wary about Lyon. So the players had to know that they cannot leave their guard down since the first leg was a 0-0 game especially with this game back to Camp Nou where away goals can be the difference maker in the event of a tie. Barca already had a little shock in the previous game by being down 0-1 against relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano but as always, they seem to turn it up in the second half of the game and ended up winning 3-1 at home.

warming calentarse calentar en practico futbol fussball

FC Barcelona starting players came out to great fanfare to begin their warmup routines. They knew that what was at stake. Win or go home. That’s it.

Despite FC Lyon’s insistence on playing spoiler against FC Barcelona’s winning dreams, the home team knew what it had to do which was ensure to win the games and win that European trophy. In the beginning, FC Barcelona was pouring on the attacks left and right making FC Lyon completely on the defensive. With the front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Philippe Coutinho weaving in Lyon’s back end, it caused a bit of a panic out there to where Barcelona ended up scoring 2 goals and almost had a third goal which was real close.

CB centreback centre back defense defender soccer football barcelona's

Here’s a picture of Barcelona Centerback Gerard Pique passing the ball up field.

blood in the water goaling gol goals Messi Leo penalty Champions League playoffs winning

After Center-forward Luis Suarez was awarded a penalty in the goal box, Messi calmly took the ball to line it up for the shot.

panenka penalty shot clever sly cheeky scoring

The team celebrates the goal made by Messi. He did what was called a “Panenka” meaning he softly lobbed it over the goal keeper who would instead jump left or right to stop the shot since most players would kick it in the corners.

And then FC Lyon came back with a goal of its own but in the second half, which was when everyone in the stadium was a bit nerved when Lyon scored its first goal meaning all they needed to do is score another one and hold from there in order to win on away goals. However, Barca had other ideas and turned up the heat as it continued its relentless attack by scoring 3 consecutive goals without any kind of response from the visiting side. That’s the team’s specialty of picking up when they really need to in the second half if the team is down on goals or requires a finishing blow to the opposing team.

control ball possession style tiki taka Messi Coutinho

Here’s Philippe Coutinho passing the ball to Messi as he was getting pressured from all sides. The front three did a great job in the first half of going in/out of Lyon’s defense to provide scoring opportunities.

defense leads to offense counterattacking football

Messi looks on at Lyon’s goalkeeper. It was about during this part of the second half when FC Barcelona put on the counterattack boosters to score 3 goals.

With a 5-1 score and aggregate score, FC Barcelona easily cruised in this victory but there were times when they allowed FC Lyon too many opportunities in the latter first half and beginning of the second half to come back. That was when FC Barcelona should have put on the polish for the absolute knockout finishing blow so there would be no concern for some weird rally-back by Lyon. But no team is completely perfect and there is always some kind of drama going on for every team out there. I still FC Barcelona has the best chance to win the Champions League trophy this year and overall, win the treble (La Liga title, La Copa del Rey, and Champions League).

fans cheer the victory winning habit spanish style catalonia football

FC Barcelona wins second leg and overall against FC Lyon in Champions League! The players celebrate and congratulate the other team’s players and coaches as a sign of respect.

Tip: Going to a Champions League game is a completely different feeling from a regular league game that I must say that it’s definitely worth attending one. The vibe and atmosphere… just different as it’s basically a playoff game to say the least. Best to go to one regular game (or a few) to take it all in and then head to a Champions League game for the finisher. It’s just an awesome feeling to go to such a game.

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Azores – Second day of scuba diving day but no fishing

Another day in the ocean is a good day especially if it involves scuba diving! The only issue was that water was a bit colder for some odd reason on this day so I was freezing despite wearing a thick wetsuit. That’s something that they don’t say – the water is cold in Europe even in places where it’s warm and sunny. Nope. The water is cold in the Azores unless it’s the summer time which is when the big fish show up as well.

school of jacks swim fun hunting together quick swimmers fins

As soon as we got down to the bottom, we were greeted by these Amber Jacks. They actually swam around us probably thinking that we were going to drop food or something.

sluggy slug sea ocean saltwater poisonous to eat small

Saw this blue and yellow nudibranch slug just hanging out.

transparent lucid egg case floating around the ocean eggs

Saw a few of these but they looked like transparent egg cases floating in the water. I wasn’t sure if they were or they were something else.

blue white sea urchins portugal japanese food cuisine seafood

So a blue sea urchin walks into a bar….I’ve never seen so many sea urchins of various colors.

top of the rocks schooles of fish random visitors

While actively looking for the sea creatures hiding in the shadow and nooks and crannies, look up once a while because you might miss something swimming in the water such as this school of small fish roaming in along the top of the rocks.

The places that we went diving were a bit more rocky so that meant a lot of looking into cracks and small caves for certain animals such as sleeping fish, eels, crabs, lobsters, etc. These critters like hiding in these spots to avoid any possible predators looking for an easy meal.

crack crab rocks azores atlantic ocean 8 legged creature critter for food

Here was a Spiny Crab sitting in its hiding spot to avoid being found. Instead, the trusty flashlight revealed more than what the eye can see.

lobster for food pincers claws 8 legs bottom feeder

Close to the Spiny Crab was this Slipper Lobster. I could see the Lobster panicking that it was found and trying to decide whether to hunker down or make a break for it. But before making such a rash decision, we made our move instead.

hermit cangrejo carrying a shell on its back shellhome

Some creatures were actually in the open but had a bit more protection like this small hermit crab trying to make a beeline run to the tiny cave.

mobile home underwater crabs hard to break shell

Other sea life were a bit more ballsy as this hermit crab pretended to be a snail while in the open hoping that an octopus wouldn’t find it.

No fishing on this day as the weather was getting a little weird but at least I got my scuba diving in! Also, I was tired from the previous day of pushing myself to scuba dive and fish on the same day. There were times that I wanted to just lie down, relax, and sleep so I think it’s better to focus on one thing after a hard day.

Contact for diving:
Best Spot Azores Dive Center
http://www.bestspotazores.com/

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Azores – Scuba diving and Fishing in the same day!

Two of my favorite activities in the same day – a first! And both were great to do even if I didn’t see anything remarkable underwater nor if I didn’t catch anything super amazing. It was more of the strain on time and energy that makes doing both on the same day that be quite difficult so usually I have to pick one activity or the other. But not on this day. Why make such difficult decisions of deciding which activity to do when I can both!

The morning started by going to the dive shop to get introduced, do the paperwork, and then gear up before we head out on the water to start diving. First stop to a ship wreck! And wrecks generally have a lot of sea life to offer to the scuba diver. Lots of places to hide for the fish and whatever lurking in the area.

ship wreck diving Atlantic Ocean atlantico oceano scuba portugal azores

This wreck had a lot of fish fishing within and around the area so the sea life are always looking for good places to hide and setup home if given the opportunity.

big spider crab on ship cangrejo grande

Even this Spider Crab out in the open which was unusual found a home within the wreck. This one was fairly big too.

coral underwater plant flower

I’ve seen a lot of these before as they’re basically coral or plants that look like an underwater flower but it collects plankton.

barracuda stalker fish predator apex

There was a Barracuda stalking us divers for some odd reason. It wasn’t trying to be part of its school where there must have been around 20-30 of them swimming above the wreck.

Second dive was along some rock valleys which also can produce a lot of wildlife as well since the rocks will generally have some kind of formation that has some kind of small caves or tunnels. This allows a lot of sea creatures great places to hide and form a home out of them.

lobster meat food ground patroller langosta

This must have been the biggest Spiny Lobster I have ever seen while scuba diving. The other lobsters that I have seen were much smaller. This one was definitely suitable for a dinner table somewhere.

big mouth head fishy fish

I happen to go straight and as I turn to my right, I’m facing straight-on with a big head with a big mouth in front of me…. a huge Grouper!

posing for picture fish big huge grouper

This big group must have weighed a lot! 10+ kg (20+ pounds) at least or more! At least, this Grouper was willing to pose for me as I snapped its picture.

After returning from scuba diving, I had a quick bite to eat before I headed off to another close-by marina with another boat in it, ready to take me FISHING! The last time I went fishing in salt water, I only caught one sea-run brown trout, but I feel that my luck has changed for the better since catching all those fish in England including that pig of a 12 pounder rainbow trout!

After getting on the boat, I had the distinct knowledge of what was underwater in terms of fish, wildlife, what the bottom looks like, etc. so I was hoping to use that to my advantage in what I was hoping for in catching a big fish. I didn’t want to come all this way to the Azores to catch nothing and because big-game fishing was not on, I had a good chance of hooking and catching smaller fish by fishing on the rocks. And after what I saw during the scuba diving earlier in the day, I knew that I had a good chance even if that 10 kg+ (20+ pounds) grouper that I saw earlier wouldn’t come out to play.

fishing in portugal azores

Trying to catch fish after 2 morning dives.

At first, it was slow since I had plenty of bites but no lands. Then after catching a few really small fish, I got the technique down as it’s almost like rockfishing back in California but fish mouths are a bit smaller, making it harder to hook. That’s when I started in hooking and landing a bunch of fish to where they even got bigger and bigger.

reef fishing on the rocks

They started out really tiny but afterwards, the fish got bigger and bigger.

barred reef grouper fishing in Azores pesca cerca de las rocas ship vessel fishin'

Caught this small barred reef grouper. Normally, they are smaller but this one was somewhat bigger at least.

Eventually, the hard work and patience paid off as I was just standing there looking at some birds until something big grabbed my baited hook hard. This was unlike any fish that I hooked earlier as it felt heavy. After some grinding on the fish reel, I eventually found out that I hooked an Amberjack, the first one in my life and I landed it! Whoo hoo hoo! It wasn’t the huge Grouper that I was looking for but man, I had a great fight with this Amberjack as it was a tough-fighting fish because of its sheer force and will of wanting to dive deeper to get away, making it feel as if the fish were a really heavy fish.

amber jack powerful small fish

Instead of pulling the fish in by picking up the line by hand, the deckhand netted my fish – an Amberjack knowing how powerful these fish can be.

first ever amberjack hooked fished catchin

It’s not a big Amberjack but my very first one!

reef box fish fishy fishes sandy bottom

That’s what our box looked like when it was filled with fish.

All in all, it was an awesome day! Lots of fun with the two water activities of scuba diving and fishing combined in one day. I would not have it any other way! And the best thing at the end of the day was getting my fish grilled for dinner!

restaurant cooking fish grilling my meat

A nearby restaurant was enlisted in getting my Amberjack cooked up via the grill. It was quite a lot even for me in terms of the amount of fish meat that this thing had on it.

Tip: Fishing during the high season (June – August) can produce a lot of big game fish aka Marlin, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, etc. But that also means a lot of tourists coming into town meaning that there is a lot of competition for fishing reservations. Off-seasons can be better in terms of acquiring fishing reservations but the fishing can be hit or miss.

Fishing contact:

Oceantur Sportfishing Azores

http://www.azores-sportfishing.com

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First time in the Azores, Portugal – Ponta Delgada, Island of San Miguel

So I made my way to the Azores, specifically Sao Miguel (or San Miguel or Saint Miguel) Island. Like the Canaries, these islands were a stopping point for many vessels from Portugal en-route to the new world. Or the ships were heading back towards Portugal and would usually make a stop prior to heading to the motherland. Most vessels generally headed towards the capital, Lisbon, as the city had a natural deep harbor and that’s where the Portuguese King was at. That’s why a monument was erected in Lisbon to celebrate all the explorers, captains, and crews who made that journey to become famous and/or rich. The Azores, despite being far from Portugal, were also a great starting point for those who have never traveled far before. These islands are like what the Canary Islands did for Spain – being a supply stop for seafaring vessels.

church portuguese san miguel sao iglesia eglise kirche portugal

There are several churches on this island probably to keep the faith of the people to stay on the island as people in the past did not look at settling the Azores fondly since it was literally out there in the middle of nowhere.

famous church portugal azores sao miguel

In this plaza stands a statue but more importantly, behind the statue are the old city gates. The water was actually pushed back as they built an elevated area for additional buildings and a road so the city gates were supposed to represent the city’s opening. Also in the background is a clocktower which is very close to a famous church nearby.

park concrete churches semintary religious

This is place is not mentioned but it’s a concrete park with these odd-looking trees surrounding it. I think this area used to be a grassy area for priests and other religious folks because there are two churches surrounding this part. One of the churches can be seen in this picture.

And now, in today’s times like the Canaries, the Azores have become more of a tourist spot. And yet, both are not that well-visited for some reason except during certain periods such as winter and summer vacation times when the kids are out of school. I think its long distance location from mainland Europe makes it harder for the average backpacker to make that plane trip to go to the islands like the Azores and the Canaries. I think the budget traveler would rather do the bus and train trips to get around continental Europe in order to save money and maximize time spent there instead of going to a bunch of islands. That’s my theory anyways and I’m fine with less people because it means I won’t have to compete with the blobs of people going all over the place.

marina boats barcos naveles azores portgual atlantic ocean islands

Lots of boats were in the marina due to being in low tourist season. I can imagine when it gets all crazy during the summer when there are tons of tourists out and about.

My taxi driver, however, told me a different reason why the usual tourist crowding hordes don’t generally go to the Azores like they do to the Red Sea resorts in Egypt. The islands due to their position in the Atlantic Ocean don’t get a lot of sunlight and if they do, it’s generally more of the sun-blocking clouds that prevent a full blast of clear, blue sky with complete and utter sunshine. It happens more frequently during the summer time which is when high season is. Due to the lack of sun and lack of natural beaches to hangout, the beach-goers don’t go to the Azores. Only the more nature-wanting people go to the Azores so the islands attract a completely different crowd, almost like more of the polite, respectful ones who know what they are doing and not the ones that come to party and attract constant police attention.

In these islands, the Gulf Stream passes through which gives these faraway distant parcels of land a pleasant climate so people have made these island their retirement homes, kind of like what people do in nice, sunny places of Europe such as Malta, Costa del Sol, Greece, French Riviera, etc. I guess people get tired of being holed in cold, snowy environments where the darkness of the day makes you think that the sun was a faint memory of its actual existence during the winters. Then again, once I arrived in the Azores, it was a cloudy day with some sun but a little warmer than what I would encounter on continental Europe.

 

fish stew in bread bowl sopa en pan

I had this great appetizer of a soup called Fisherman’s Soup. It was basically fish stew in a bread which reminded me of the chowder bread bowl back in California.

tenderloin steak on hot rock plate cooking my own food table azores food comida bistec carne cocinar

And this was the main meal – tenderloin steak on a hot plate. I’ve had hot plated meats before but this came with sauces and the meat was not cooked at all. I could control how well the cooking was going to be. So I started by slicing little pieces off and then cooking the red parts even more. I really enjoyed this as it allowed me to keep the steak warm while I cut little chunks of it.

Tip: High season is during the months of June through August so expect hotels and restaurants to be crowded as well as the popular tourists spots. Going during the non-high seasons make it nice as the airplane was basically wide-open as I had an entire row to myself!

Tip: Most of the people here speak English which is a relief because I find Portuguese too difficult to learn due to its similarity to Spanish but not quite Spanish. The locals are used to seeing tourists here so it’s almost a requirement to learn and know English.

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In Mainz for the German version of Carnival: Fasching

In Germany, Carnival is a big thing apparently as almost everyone goes out to party, celebrate, cheer, drink, dance, party some more. It has its own name called Fasching or in other regions it has a similar name such as Fassenacht, Fasnet, Fasnacht, Fastelavend, etc. In Germany, Carnival week starts on the Fat Thursday before Ash Wednesday so all the days in-between are for nothing but for celebrations. But in actuality, the reasoning behind such a celebration is actually lost and it’s thought that people began such festivals was to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of the growing season. Hence, people called this period, the fifth season. Another reason to party and celebrate, huh?

In Mainz, Germany, there was a big parade to celebrate Fasching where people went out dressed as different characters and in a wide variety of costumes while waiting for the Parade to show up with their marching bands, cheerleaders, and numerous floats all which numbered over 160 of them! In a city such as Mainz where over 200,000 people live in, there was quite a few people out there to celebrate the event. I felt as if the city showed its true colors unlike at the FSV Mainz game that I went to.

band musicians in the parade carnival celebrations partying mainz germany deutschland

Here comes the band! It seems like every parade must have a band of sorts out there. These guys are dressed in the Revolutionary War style.

cheerleadering in Germany Europe festival city

Multiple cheerleaders were out there to cheer and dance away the day during Fasching.

float with trees arboles l'arbes baum baumer mit Gesicht

I don’t really know what the background on this float with the trees with human faces on them.

clowns payasos en el desfile

I saw a lot of clowns and some of the floats were clown-related.

throwing stuff out at the crowd float

More clowns! And some of the floats have people on them to where they are throwing candy to the people watching the parade. Some even throw out odd ball items such as fans, balls, food, gloves, and even sponges.

caballos float

Fakes horses with a carriage full of people throwing stuff at the crowd. I even got stuff thrown at my head, not sure if it was intentional or accidental.

Some people say that Germans are not funny, well, that’s not entirely true because of the floats that I saw out there were ridiculously funny. I saw a great one with Donald Trump’s face imposed on a bull’s body farting at the world. I take it that people have some fun in some creative matters out there particularly when it involves politics and religion.

the queen made fun of queen elizabeth II uk queen

Queen Elizabeth II was mocked in this Brexit float for the UK’s indecision in deciding whether to leave the EU or stay in the EU.

lady failing at job in shoes too big

I wasn’t sure who they were making fun of but obviously, it’s some lady in shoes wayyyy too big for her. An obvious statement that she took on a job too big for her.

religion mocked #metoo church christianity priests bad religion

Even the Church got made of as well due to the high number of priests doing some inappropriate things to altar boys. One of the German signs stated, “Let your kids come to us!” which meant allow their kids to be “touched” in a more “personal” way.

Angela Merkel made fun of wasting money

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was not spared either as she’s posed as the leader of Germany wasting the country’s money on stupid stuff.

german government farce held loosely

Again, Angela Merkel being depicted as someone holding the German government somehow with promises. Now whether they are fulfilled or not, that’s a different topic.

AfD nazis right wingers Deutscland political party

Even political parties are slandered in a funny way. Here, this float was dedicated to AfD aka Alternative für Deutschland. It’s a right-wing political party that has gained a lot of traction (votes) for its right-wing policies and thinking that provokes a lot of left-leaning Germans. Here, the people were trying to portray AfD as being racist Nazis.

I remember being in Panama when they had Carnival but compared to Mainz’s celebration – there was no competition. Mainz’s was far better. And I’m sure that Brazil has an even bigger one than anyone does but for some people who cannot make that long-distance trip, it’s probably better to stay at home and celebrate since it’s in their backyard.

Tip: If you are planning to go to Germany, make sure you know when Fasching is. A lot of stores and restaurants are closed during this time especially if a parade is being planned to go through that area. However, if you are planning to go to Fasching, make your bookings early because some of the hotels will be sold out as people tend to show up to party all night long which also means there will be some loud nights and possibly even sirens of police, ambulances, fire trucks, etc. And most importantly, watch where you step because I’m sure that you will encounter some vomit somewhere along the streets.

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