11th December 2021: El Triángulo Friki
When the tickets for the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Orchestra World Tour first came out, 2020 promised to be an amazing year. True, we all know how that turned out, but the point was that I did not have enough fun funds at that moment. So I just looked at the Barcelona dates, sighed, and never bought tickets because I decided that it was a low-priority event for me. Then, what happened happened and the tour was pushed forward to 2021. By chance, back in summer this year, I saw that it would take place on a Saturday, the 11th of December 2021. My sibling overheard me mulling whether I wanted to try to go or not this time over, since I had not done much on the nerdsphere for a while, and the low priotity was conflagrating with higher priortity and the still lacking fun budget. They didn’t know about this, though, and they proposed we went together. I thought it was a good opportunity for a weekend out, so I did some checking. We found some tickets that had been turned back, in an amazing place, actually – row #5 on the stalls. We booked a hotel and trains, and just went on with our lives.
The train left around 8:00 and arrived in Barcelona short from 11:00 – both of us had been in town before and were looking for an “alternative” plan. I had been checking out different options, and by pure chance, on Thursday, I found out that there is an area in Barcelona called Triángulo Friki, something akin to “the nerd triangle”. It is an area near Arc de Triomph that holds a bunch stores which specialise in comics, manga, figures, merchandising and so on. I thought it could be a fun thing to see, as Japanese stuff a hobby I share to some extent with my sibling.
We took the commuter train to the area (commuter train tickets are complementary with long-distance ones, which helps, as the Barcelona public transport is very expensive) and wandered around a bunch of shops, under the agreement not to spend too much money nor to buy anything that did not fit in our backpacks. We… failed the mission successfully. On the sixth or so shop I got myself a Christmas present that sure as hell did not fit in the backpack.
One of the shops we visited was Tsume Store, in association with Global Freaks. Tsume is a business that 3D-prints statuettes from anime designs, and Global Freaks is a merchandise shop. They have a partnership and Tsume is selling some of its statuettes through Global Freaks – we saw one of them, priced at 1400€. Most of the figures were just for show. On the other hand, Global Freaks had several things we bought (remember the “mission failed successfully” comment? We spent way too much money on stuff that did not fit in the backpacks). Furthermore, they had a reproduction of a motorbike from Akira (アキラ), a famous manga / anime – a cyberpunk action story whose main character, Shōtarō Kaneda, rides it through Neo-Tokyo.
We walked towards the area where the basilica designed by Gaudí, and consecrated to the Holy Family, Basílica de la Sagrada Família, which had been decorated with a new twelve-point 7.5-metre 5.5-tonne star. As there was a Christmas market around the basilica, I thought that the start was just for Christmas, but it turns out that it is there for good.
We took an underground train to the area where the venue was, and we were there around half an hour before hotel was open to check ins so we decided to have lunch first in the adjoining shopping centre. We ended up at an Udon, a wannabe fancy noodle bar chain. This was our first time getting our Covid passport checked as it’s not necessary where we’re from. The whole process was fast – open the PDF, zoom in, get it read with a device, and a green light with our names on it lit up (eventually I just screenshot the zoomed-in QR). I still felt a little uncomfortable due to the amount of people in the restaurant, so we ate as quick as possible before heading off to the hotel.
It was the worst check-in experience ever. First of all, I think it’s stupid to demand a payment deposit on an already-paid booking. Second, they tried to charge me for the room again, we were given one card key for two people which didn’t even work, and we were “upgraded” to a room with a city view (16 € more expensive than our booking), but that only had amenities for one guest. We needed to get off the lift to request another card in order to get to the 21st floor, and we finally got two working cards. Oh, and the hotel was hosting a bunch of teams for some kind of handball championship who thought masks were for lesser beings and got away with it, despite the super-strict Covid-policy the hotel claimed to have, and with the obvious blessings of the clerks, despite other guests’ complaints.
We stayed in the room, just chatting and taking in the astonishing views (nah, I’m not being sarcastic (≧▽≦).) The FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Orchestra World Tour concert was to start at 20:00, but doors were at 18:30. It took place in the convention centre CCIB – Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona, which… actually turned up to be the auditorium of the local Natural Science Museum. That was confusing for a minute.
We were quite literally across the square so we just had to go down. It took just a few minutes to enter, and then we went into the goods queue, because my sibling absolutely needed a chokobo plush. We were in line for about half an hour, as we debated how expensive everything was! They decided that I needed a chokobo too, so I’m the proud owner of a Chokobo Black Mage now.
After we had all our goods, we headed off to our seats – which had been occupied by two different people who had bought row five on the dress floor – but had tried the main floor stands, never mind that a lady told you which door you had to use when you went in, in order to avoid these “mistakes” . I decided that I did not care about causing a scene, so I just grabbed an usher and had her clear our seats. The guy on mine took my flyer too, but I found some more when the concert was over. I’m amused though that someone would buy a ticket on the first floor and then happily stroll down to the fifth row on the stalls – more than double the price.
Let me start by saying that I’m not a video-game player, that’s why this event was originally a low-priority one. When my wrist problems started, I was recommended not to play them any more. But I love video-game graphs and Final Fantasy VII designs more than any. I mean, I own the Advent Children DVD just because it’s pretty. I have to admit though that the concert blew my mind. The stage was full with a complete orchestra indeed, and a choir – the Ensemble Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. At the back of stage there was a screen that projected scenes from the game, both animations and gameplay. In the little emcees by conductor – and producer – Arnie Roth we also got messages from composers and producers from Japan. Furthermore, the composer Hamauzu Masashi was in attendance. We did not get Yosh Morita, from The Prophets, as it was originally announced, but singer Ricardo Afonso did a very decent job out of the power ballad Hollow.
- Prelude – Reunion –
- Opening medley
- Mako Reactor 1
- Flowers Blooming in the Church
- The Turks’ Theme
- Tight rope
- Stand up
- Words left unheard
- Tifa’s Theme – Seventh Heaven –
- Those who fight – Battle Medley –
- Anxious Heart
- Jessie’s Theme
- Shinra’s Theme
- The Arsenal
- Those chosen by the Planet – Fate’s Calling –
- Arbiters of Fate – Singularity –
- Final Fantasy VII Main Theme
- Aerith’s Theme
- One Winged Angel
I loved the Those who fight – Battle Medley –, and I’d say that one of the highlights was the song Hurry Up. Apparently, during a specific part of the game you have to put the rather-uptight main character in a dress and teach him to dance in a night club. I also really liked the choir interventions. The concert ended on a hype – for a second I thought it would end in the slow song, but no, we got the fantastic theme for the bad guy Sephiroth, One-winged angel.
The concert lasted for two hours and a half, including the intermission – in which I got to see (and hug!) friends. After the ending, we tried to go and grab some sushi at the shopping centre, but they were already closing down – so in the end we just got a salad and some chips at McDonald’s and took it to the hotel – then we showered, rearranged luggage and purchases, and went to bed.
12th December 2021: Walk by the ocean
Our original plan after breakfast was to take a walk by the beach, then check out and ride the underground, but we realised that we had a train station about 20 minutes away, and we could get a detour by the seaside and make it a bit longer – and if we took the train, we had a free ride.
When we checked out we got the same person who had checked us in. They still had to charge us for the tourist tax, and I had that ready in cash. They insisted that they had to deduct that from the deposit and give us the change, they could not give us a fifty-buck note. They had to give us the change. With lots of coins. They did not even check the room for damage, so what was even the point of the deposit?
We left the hotel, and walked towards the station. We spent a little time at the beach Platja del Fòrum and the mouth of the river Río Besòs before we reached the station – lots of people walking their dogs, and lots of happy dogs playing on the beach and with the waves. In the background, the former thermal station with three chimneys looming over the sand – Central Tèrmica de Sant Adrià de Besòs. Had we had more time, we would have taken the time to try and get to it, but due to external reasons we had tickets for the noon train and it was already 10:45 – and I am paranoid about schedules.
We took the commuter train, then the long distance train. When we arrived, before going home, we made a short stop to have some make-up sushi for the one we could not get the previous night. And some side Chinese dumplings.
Walking distance Saturday: 9.05 km
Walking distance Sunday: 5.54 km