February 18, 2015

Barcelona, Spain - An Architectural Delight

Early morning run at Barcelona
15 October 2014

Whenever I mentioned to fellow runners that I did a run in Barcelona, the first thing that they asked, "Ah! So you ran on the beach of Barcelona? Did you enjoy the beautiful bikini babes and the morning sun over the horizon?"

I did visit the famous beaches of Barcelona but all we saw were nude men parading their body fats.

I was sure that there were more beautiful places to have a jog in this large Spainish city than heading straight to the beach. Afterall, one of the motto of SG Unfit Runners is to "explore the neighbourhoods via running". Thus, I decided to opt for a run that took me around some of the non-touristy areas of Barcelona.

Exploring a city when you are walking down a busy street at a tourist district in the evening is a totally different experience as compared to getting up early in the morning and jogging around the neighbourhood. You will notice people and buildings which you will never have experienced as a tourist.

In Barcelona, the architects got really creative with every other buildings in order to differentiate one block from another. Balcony railings, wall decorations, window shades, strange shapes roofs, shape of the windows. I was amazed by the huge amount of combinations and permutations that I encountered during my run. There have been commendable mentions of how the Singapore government tries to differentiate Singapore's public housing by designing identities for each neighborhoods. Compared to the grey blocks of public housing in other parts of Asia, Singapore is a leap ahead. However, comparing that to the creativity on how this is implemented in Barcelona, Singapore seems drab and boring.

I guess famous architects such as Antoni Gaudí and other Modernista architects really make a difference in determining the character of a city.
Notice all the interesting shapes of the window and
door frames
Beautiful Walls!
Graffiti laden building.

One of the markets at Barcelona. Pity under renovation
Running along the tightly packed neighborhood of downtown Barcelona was a pleasure, as compared to my running experiences in Asian Cities. The traffic was pretty light and there is an abundant of wide pavements for both the cyclists and pedestrians.

My run took me to famous landmarks such as Plaza de España and Montjuïc fountain. I essentially covered a great chunk of the Sants Montjuic & Eixample district.
Cyclist and Pedestrians only
A historical bullfighting ring revamped into a modern mall

The Palau Nacional
One of the other striking feature of Barcelona was the number of the Catalonia flag hanging from the windows. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and there is a movement to declare Catalonia as an independent state, breaking away from Spain. The people of Barcelona shows their support for the movement by displaying the Catalonia flags from their windows and my run took me through neighborhoods where there were an abundant  number of the flags hanging from the windows. It seemed to me that the support to break away from Spain is pretty strong. Spain, of course, will not allow their richest and most prosperous region to break away from the country and the political war between the two regions have been raging on till today.  
Catalonia flags all round

Quiet neighbourhood

Whatcha digging?

Comparing fresh produce price with Singapore

Barcelona is a big city and the options which a runner can go are numerous with an abundant of myriad landscapes and routes: Beaches, parks, old city, new city, hills. On top of that, Spanish breakfast is one of the most satisfying among all of the European countries we have been to (A good breakfast is always a strong motivation for our runs!). Even though the Unfit Runners spent close to a week in the city of Barcelona, there were still many places which we wanted to go, but time just simply flew past. Before we knew it, the last day of our 25 days journey came to an end and it was time to spend all our Euros on stuffs for our friends and girlfriends. I think they will be more interested in the blings blings than our various running adventures.

Adios Spain!


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