When I went to Spain in the summer of 1992 to see the Barcelona Olympics, I had a mixture of both good and bad experiences. In this book, I have described some of the good experiences as “magical memories”.
Ironically, I cannot remember the exact date of my single most magical memory of Barcelona 1992. It was on an afternoon at the end of the first week, or the beginning of the second week, at the Games.
I was on the Avinguda de I’Estadi, the road that snakes in a west to east direction along the northern perimeter of the Olympic Park. At the stretch of the Avinguda that passes the northern end of Montjuic Olympic Stadium, thousands of people, both local people and visitors to Barcelona from around the world, were milling about in the hot, bright, afternoon sunshine. Some were walking along the road; others were sitting on the grassed areas beside it.
Just above all those people, attached to the outside of the stadium’s north wall, was the silver coloured Barcelona Olympic cauldron. In the bowl at the top of it, silhouetted against the cloudless blue Mediterranean summer sky, the gas-fuelled Olympic Flame was burning with a sound like a gigantic blowlamp. That scene will remain with me for as long as I live and have all of my faculties.
I did not attempt to take a photo of that scene, because I didn’t realise how significant it would be in my memories of Barcelona later on. In any case, if it was near the end of the first week, the photo would not have turned out.
I do not know why this particular memory stands out more than any other from that eventful three weeks in Spain in the summer of 1992; perhaps it is because for me, that single brief moment in the hot continental sunshine, with the buzzing crowds of thousands of people and the Olympic flame burning above them, summed up everything about the magic of being abroad for the first time, and of being at a great international event.
Now try to visualise this same stretch of road as I remember it on a hot bright afternoon in late July or early August of 1992, crowded with thousands of people, buzzing with atmosphere, and with the Olympic Flame burning in the bowl of that cauldron, silhouetted against the cloudless blue Mediterranean summer sky, as at left.
That scene will always be my most magical memory of Barcelona 1992.
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