Gaudi on the Go! by Clair Gillan

For my recent 30th birthday Bryan surprised me with a trip to Barcelona! He planned a running tour for the morning of my Birthday through the old town of Barcelona. All this was great except he hadn’t planned on me coming down with the worst cold ever (I’m convinced it was parrot flu) just before the trip! This blog is about the tour because even through the fog of mucus I thought the tour was an amazing way to see a new city. Also, the more I am engulfed in the running world the more I think running is less about races but about the fun and sometimes slightly crazy experiences that occur – so I wanted to write this blog because it is not about a race.

Our running tour was due to start at 8:30am with our tour guide meeting us outside our hotel. I woke up on the morning on my Birthday feeling…well let’s just say yuk! After trying to hide under the covers for some time, I finally gave in to Bryan’s pleas and attempted to get myself ready for the run. Things got a lot worse being vertical but in the end I felt too guilty that our tour guide was down stairs waiting on us and that Bryan had arranged this special treat for me so to the lobby I went! Outside, we met our tour guide a German who had been living in Barcelona for some time. He gave us a short safety briefing on running in Barcelona, and I gave him a toxicity warning which he assured me was fine as he has two highly toxic children at home!

So we started running at an easy pace but our first destination is not for the faint hearted as we head to one of the rougher parts of Barcelona. We see the famous cat – pic, and are told tales of an infamous mass murder who operated in these streets, Enriqueta Martí i Ripollés. These quiet streets turn creepier as we are told how in the early 1900s Enriqueta kidnapped, sold and murdered children. She also operated as a witch doctor and used the bodies of her victims as ingredients for potions. She was eventually caught and thrown into prison, where she came face to face with some of the mothers of her victims. She dies in prison at the hands of the prison inmates…

Gaudi Cat
Gaudi Cat

But onwards and upwards as we head to a beautiful courtyard situated in Hospital Sant Pau. This was our first introduction to Gaudi on the tour and we are told how Gaudi died in this hospital after being hit by a tram. Robin liked to put his slant on stories he told and seemed bemused about how this accident could have come about as both the tram and Gaudi would have been moving very slowly, it really sounded like a freak accident!

With a sneeze and cough, we head over to the site of Gaudis’ first piece of work, a humble lamp post. This lamp post is situated in a courtyard which is now mostly owned by the Russian mafia – they are the only people who can afford the rents here! We’re advised not to sample the food here as to make any sort of profit the food won’t have the best of origins! We go on to see Palau Güell, a house which Gaudi built for his friend Eusebi Güell. We are told how Güell had to move to this area to be near a sick relative but how his wife hated it because at that time it was a bad district. So Gaudi designed a house for them that would make them feel safe, which is why it looks a bit like a fortress, there is even a passageway to one of their friends house so they don’t have to leave the house to go visiting!

Along the way we run down to the harbour, see the peoples cathedral (Catalonian people don’t consider Sagrada Familla to be their cathedral),the remnants of a Roman temple, a stunning theatre called Palau de la Music a Catalona (just don’t sit under the glass dome,  just in case) and much more that not even a healthy version of myself would remember!

Robin told us we even did hill training throughout the run, a whopping 16 meters! That will really help me on the next fell race! But the best advice he gave me was that hot chocolate and churos was the best medicine for a cold. So later that day we returned to a café that Robin had pointed out called the Four Gats, which was once frequented by Picasso. So I felt in good company, well Bryan, as I tucked into the best hot chocolate ever, mmm definitely worth it and a good reward for 3 hours worth of running through a new city.

Churos
Churros and Hot Chocholate

I cannot recommend enough that the next time anyone goes on a weekend break to a new city that they try a running tour to see a side of their surroundings that they would never see otherwise.