Monday, January 2

Running with the locals in Barcelona

When traveling, I like to meet up with a local running group if I can.
Aside from the obvious the benefit of getting a nifty tour of a city, running with locals usually offers insight into the area that goes far beyond what I can read in a guidebook.

The Barcelona Casual Road Runners did not disappoint!
At Parc de la Ciutadella after a run
with the Barcelona Casual Roadrunners
Hubby and I joined the Barcelona Casual Road Runners for a fast-paced, ten-kilometer run the 29th.*
I should note that the word "casual" in the title reflects their attitude, not their pace!

On the run, we explored sections of the city that Hubby and I might not have seen any other way (and certainly would not have thought to venture into at night). While the run began and ended at the Parc (a fairly common tourist destination), the 10k route took us a bit off the beaten path. We ran through the Parc, along the beach, around a hotel and shopping center, past the Plaça de Colón (which is particularly beautiful at night), and through streets and paths back to our starting point.
Statue of Christopher Columbus
in the Plaça de Colón, Barcelona (by day)
In the days before we met up with the Casual Road Runners, we passed dozens of fountains (like the one below). Every street, it seems, has numerous statues with spigots. But until running with the group I didn't realize that people use these as drinking fountains. (This knowledge was key later in our trip after a very long, blustery, and dry hike up and around Montjuic with no other source of water in sight.)
Public drinking fountain in Barcelona
In addition to teaching us about the drinking fountains, the other runners filled Hubby and me in on Catalonian New Year's traditions, including L'Home dels Nassos (more on that later) and "lucky grapes."

At the stroke of midnight on New Year's clocks around Catalonia chime 12 times. Locals eat one grape for each toll of the bells. The intent is to eat the grapes one at a time, but also to finish by the time the 12th bell strikes. This sounds simple, but consider the volume of 12 grapes and trying to finish them all in 12 seconds...

If you manage to finish all the grapes by the time the bells stop, you will have good luck in the new year. So, of course, we made sure we had a bag of grapes handy at midnight on New Year's!

And speaking of food... Barcelona takes its pasta seriously.
An homage to pasta:
Giant galet statue on a street in Barcelona.
The traditional Christmas meal in Barcelona is not complete without escudella. The dish is a stew of several types of meat, vegetables, beans, and a special pasta known as a "galet." The pasta is so famous that it is used for decoration in store windows and there are statues of giant galets on the city streets.

If only I had a fork!

Running with the Barcelona Casual Road Runners = most informative way to run a 10k in the city.

*Note: The Barcelona Casual Road Runners meet at 8pm every Tuesday and Thursday evening, at the entrance of the Parc de la Ciutadella. If you're ever in Barcelona, I highly recommend dropping in to join them!


  1. That's so cool that you seek out running groups while traveling! I have never done that, but it's a genius idea!!! Enjoy Barcelona - I've always wanted to go there :)

  2. So awesome that you found a local club! I always think running is the best way to see any city. The fiance and I were thinking of Barcelona for our honeymoon this summer. Would you recommend?

  3. How cool! What a great idea. Now I need to travel more.

  4. @Kristin - I loved Barcelona. I would highly recommend it if you are a city person (which - from your blog - it sounds like you are), if you like Spanish food, and/or if you like to have a glass of wine with dinner AND lunch. ;)

    The only catch: I've heard it gets VERY crowded in June and July (it's a beach city) and everything is closed in August (summer vacation for local businesses). So it depends on what time of year you're planning to honeymoon...

  5. Very cool! I'm lobbying for an international trip this summer with the family. If it pans out, I hope to do some running.

  6. Love that you met up with a local running group - what an awesome way to see things you wouldn't have otherwise!


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