Only one man walks on water in Barcelona. He’s everywhere – in every shop window, on the backs of every family of tourists.
Or parading his skills before 100,000 worshippers at the cathedral of football, the Camp Nou.
Only on the day I visited the Spanish city, he’s not.
The ubiquitous Lionel Messi is back in his native South America on international duty playing for Argentina rather than curling in free-kicks for his adopted Barca.
Barcelona has a vacancy for a sporting hero then… and I’m thinking that if I nail it I might just my name off the back of the football top that fluffy bear is wearing.
He’s sitting in a sports car in the shopping area of a cruise ship in port at the bottom of La Rambla. Such are the trappings of fame, and I want some of it.
And I have the chance.
To walk on water on Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas’ surf simulator FlowRider.
And I only have the best in the business to get me up to speed, Irish surfing superstar Geared McDaid.
We’re lucky to have Geared here, his feet rarely touch the ground.
Geared is not long back from a couple of months surfing in Chile, was in Indonesia before that and is on his way to Portugal.
Geared is not what I expect though, no man bun, goatee beard, beard, tattoo sleeve.
Just a regular Sligo boy, although he is pals with Kia Egan!
Thankfully there is one Fifty-something who keeps up appearances with his bandana and windswept beard.
But boy can he surf. Gearoid, that is.
The simulator is on the 15th deck of the €1.4bn Oasis of the Seas cruise ship which is on it way to Majorca, France and then Italy with 6,300 passengers.
Each enjoying five pools and numerous bars, restaurants and shows. And a park. ‘Central Park’, you’ll forget you’re at sea.
But alas without us who will have to get off kicking and screaming before sail time.
If they can’t find us hiding away down in the staff quarters.
The idea of the simulator which is 40ft long, is that a rush of water shoots out to build up the swell which you then surf against.
It’s all in the knees, back and arms – and the trick is to sway and not panic.
Too late, the road went that way and the bandana and everything under it the other way.
It’s official. I don’t walk on water (but my family could tell you that!)
Maybe I’ll have better luck on my knees.
Eureka or ‘goooooal.’ as Lionel Messi might shout. I manage to master those waves in the prayer position on a boogie board with more than a little help from Mauritian teacher Kai.
Suddenly I feel indestructible. And here I was worried that I’d be caught with my shorts down, and quite literally I almost was at half mast.
I hadn’t pulled the cord tightly enough before the surfing class and the waves carried me away.
To be avoided – particularly if you’ve booked up for my next challenge, the 82ft zipline
No-obe nine deck below on the Boardwarl want to have Stars and Stripes board trunks land on them, believe me, when they’re out there shopping.
Or having an early-afternoon drink or are on their way to lunch.
Thankfully, I can’t do much damage in the Spanish restaurant, other than embarrass myself and my party by getting my maracas out (steady!).
Well, once in we weighted into the plats of tapas and a big jug of sangria (when in Spain).
Fuelled with patatas and shrimp al ajillo we swagger off the ship.
Only taking time to pas by an eight-year-old boy twisting and turning on the other simulator and onto Barcelona’s famous La Rambla shopping and market thoroughfare.
Christopher Columbus is still there where I remember him from the last time I visited Barcelona 15 years ago and drew back the curtains of my balcony cabin.
He is proudly guarding the city and pointing out to sea.
To be fair, the arm is right, though I’d maybe bend the elbow and those legs are way too straight.
Sorry, Chris, but you’d be no use on a surfboard either.
Oasis of the Seas: Sail the Western Mediterranean for seven nights on Oasis of the Seas from €1,049pp based on two sharing. Departing Barcelona. Visit Palma, Marseille, Florence/Pisa, Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples and arrive back at Barcelona. See http://www.royalcaribbean.ie. Flights not included.
Where to stay in Barcelona: Hotel Concordia http://www.hotelconcordiabarcelona.com is a central hub and has a rooftop pool that will tempt you to linger. Pride was on when we visited and the neighbourhood was jumping. €135 per night.
You want more cruise fun… what about these adventures https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/a-royal-party/
This article was first published in the Irish Daily Star