The activity that thrives through the streets of Barcelona is not purely due to a large number of tourists that arrive daily, but also to the outdoor life of the people here.
There is an active culture of running, skateboarding, biking, swimming, and stand-up paddle boarding. As we settle into this city we have quickly accustomed to this lifestyle, and have got amongst the accessibility and ease of outdoor activities.
On Sunday we joined a crowd of over 58,000 people for the Correre Perque M’Estimo, which means I will run because I love myself (possibly an incorrect translation of Catalan but it’s close). It’s a yearly event which has seen over 2 million people participate since it began, coming together for a 10 km run, or walk, through the streets of Barcelona.
We all climbed up into Montjuic, a local hill with wide streets lined with trees and a view looking back at the city which was worthy of the ascent. We arrived at the Olympic Stadium, which has been set up for the 1992 Olympics. There was a real excitement as we entered the stadium, side-fives to the oncoming runners, and chanting filled the tunnel as we entered to complete a lap where years before true athletes had been broadcast to the world.
My enthusiasm rose again when we passed the 9km flag, almost there! Then that last km seemed to drag on and on… Later I noticed that the distance was actually 10.77km, which is not good for running psychology. But we made it. We stretched and then we walked home for kebabs, fries, and beer, to ensure we balanced out any calorie loss.
On Wednesday evening through extreme luck and generosity, we made our way to Camp Nou to watch the world’s best play football. We didn’t even know that Barcelona was playing that night, so surprisingly, before we knew it, we were watching Messi work his magic. I felt a bit star struck. Even the rain falling down on us didn’t dampen our spirits. Suarez scored right in front of us before Messi, what seemed, effortlessly struck two goals in, one after another. An incredible mid-week experience.
The 10km run had left me with an ache in my foot that was worsened anytime weight was put on it. Which slowed down the running but not the pursuit of outdoor activities. We purchased some rackets and headed to the local ping pong tables, just minutes from our house. Our first game interrupted a group of men who seem to have spent the day there in the sun drinking beer. The environment in the square was unique as children fresh out of school played in the playground, drunkards stumbled and loudly slurred to each other, tourists walked past as outside observers, and we played ping pong.
Preparing for a tournament at work, on Saturday morning we went out in search of some basketball courts so a Gaucho could practice. We found some close to the house that was open to the public. Going along for the journey I had a book at the ready to sit and cheer. I found myself playing some basketball drills and enjoying myself more than expected. I even got a few goals. I lost every drill of course though. Doesn’t help with your opponent is 6.3 feet tall, and has ample experience.
With runs through the city or along the beach, areas with ping pong tables and basketball courts, and an ocean less than a 10-minute walk away, I think this year will see us enjoying the outdoor life that this city seems to thrive off. We have even started giving skateboarding a go!
Something needed to be done to balance out the calories for all the tapas, churros and cheap beer that comes so readily our way.