Barcelona Barts

Barcelona at night
Can you add a run to your bucket list AFTER you've run it?  I had the opportunity to run in one of the greatest cities in the world this last week. Barcelona, Spain now ranks right up there with my two favorite training runs; New York's Central Park and San Francisco to Tiburon.

The challenge was how to fit in two memorable runs with; an eight hour time difference, a three day conference, and client dinners every night.  Not complaining, but a 7 AM run and my body would be saying, "are you really running running at 11 o'clock at night?  Noon wouldn't work with work and evenings were all booked so I opted for late afternoons.

Down the street from my flat
I flew in on Sunday into Madrid and planned to take the train from there to Barcelona.  After a "packed" flight on Aer Lingus (who uses the word "lingus" in a business name?) the comforts of a club car on the Renfe train was the right way to go.  Much of the terrain looked like Colorado or New Mexico until I'd spot an old fort or stone church.  I'd highly recommend taking the train--the europeans know how to do a lot of things and trains are one of them.  We stayed in a recently renovated flat right near Barcelona University (and the Metro line) and La Rambla which is a famous stretch of shops and restaurants.I strategically decided to do my Saturday long run on Friday before I left since I knew Saturday was on a plane all day and Sunday I'd have no energy for a run that long.  No sleep on the plane nor train and despite better judgement, I crashed for an hour to temporarily charge my body's battery.  This allowed time on Sunday to check out Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Cathedral.  Under construction for over 100 years, it looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book or the liar from the Aliens movies.  Not exactly Olive Garden in suburbia USA when it comes to architecture or food.

In front of Gaudi's famous church

The streets are lined with buildings that have stood for 100's of years and characterized by ornate wrought iron and old stone.  Dorothy, we're definitely not in Kansas any more.  My first night in the city was a quiet one catching tapas in the gothic area of the city.  This part of the city was a labyrinth of massive stone that felt like I was on a movie set yet it was the real thing.  Very cool.  It's true what they say in that the city doesn't really wake up in the evening until ten and meals are meant to be enjoyed.  Tapas and some phenomenal red wine set me up for a great night of sleep, but late nights, heavy dinner, and red wine are not always a runner's friend.

I planned out my Tuesday speed work for Monday which called for six Yasso 800's plus warm-up and cooldown.  I charted a route that would run me under the Arc de Triomphe and head towards to Mediterranian boardwalk.  My "times" were all over the map and I forgot to start my Garmin again a couple times, but who cares, "I'm doing frickin' Barts (Yasso's) in Barcelona" I was thinking to myself.  Only challenge with this run was that I got lost on the way back.  How is that possible with a Garmin strapped to your wrist.  Guess, I'd better read the manual.

That evening offered a big client dinner at Sensi which was the best meal of the week and one of the most memorable meals I've ever had; tapas that included tuna tartare, filet of beef with dauphinoise potatoes, and a chocolate fondant--think the best chocolate volcano cake you've ever eaten.  

Looking like a dork and a tourist

After a late night of entertaining, I had meetings and a ton of walking the next day.  I probably suffered from not enough hydration (of the H2O kind) but I kept a liter bottle of water near my bed to try and keep up the fluids. 

After taking the day off from running on Tuesday, again, I went with a late afternoon run on Wednesday using a slightly different route that sent me down the full length of La Rambla until I again finished the first half of the route on the boardwalk--just past the giant lobster sculpture.  After my turnaround on the tempo run out and back, I started to realize things didn't look familiar again.  Yes.  I got lost for the second time, but turned around after a half mile to go back to where things looked familiar and found my missed turn. 
My "flat" neighborhood

I wound up logging eight miles on the second run and met friends for some Cave at the W Hotel on the waterfront.  I know...tough duty.

The restaurant with the loftiest expectations was Els Quatre Gats (four cats) and failed to meet expectations.  Dignitaries for decades have dined there including Jimmy Carter.  Picasso had his first exhibition of paintings in 1900, and a scene from the movie, "Vicki, Christina, Barcelona" was filmed there.  I couldn't help but think I had a two in 250 chance of rubbing my rump on the same chair as Scarlett Johanssen or Penelope Cruz--I probably got Rosalyn Carter's chair instead.  I (like Bardem from VCB) dined on a typical Catalan dish, bread with tomato paste and olive oil--except I was with three telecom executives instead of "Scarjo."  The service and food quality fell way short however. More like four dogs.  I would try it again to improve my odds on the Scarjo chair and giving them the benefit that perhaps it was an "off night."

Final verdict...add it to your bucket list!


  1. Keep it up!! let's get connected. Please view my Road to Ironman blog at


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