If you’re heading to Barcelona on business, then you’re in luck when it comes to making it a healthy business trip. Barcelona has plenty to offer in the way of facilities, transport and accommodation which support a healthier lifestyle. Kathy Lewis, Registered Nutritionist and Travel Wellbeing Specialist, recently paid Barcelona a visit to try out various approaches on how to make it a healthier business trip.
Walking – Although it might appear the city is spread out, it actually isn’t very big to get around. Over the years it has been redeveloped into a grid-like format, making it easy to walk around. What’s more, the city isn’t very far from the beach, and you can walk to Colom at the end of the Ramblas in about 15 minutes.
Biking – If you travel frequently to Barcelona on business, you might like to take advantage of the very popular biking scheme ‘El Bicing’. The Barcelona City Council launched their bicycle borrowing scheme in 2007 and now has over 120,000 subscribers, mainly permanent residents. The scheme is intended as a public transport service for short journeys around Barcelona. There are over 400 biking stations with 6,000 bikes available to ‘borrow’. Borrowing is based on an annual subscription (currently 47.15 Euros) for unlimited biking trips of 30 minutes each free. You pay extra if you go over 30 minutes on a journey. For more information on the borrow yellow bike scheme, click here
If you don’t have a residential address to enable you to become a El Bicing subscriber, then there are other places you can hire bikes including: Barcelona Folding Bikes, Ajo Bikes (budget bike shop in El Raval) and Barcelona Biking.
Metro System (Subway or Underground) – It’s very easy to get around Barcelona by Metro. I found it was quick, convenient, very clean and air conditioned. Trains arrived frequently about every 3 to 4 minutes and stations are located quite close together. I travelled in winter and found it was surprisingly warm on the trains and in the train stations. Comparatively during the summer, with large air-conditioning units, it is reportedly cooler down under the streets than above. Food wise, there is usually a small café or shop which sells baguettes, coffee and bottles of water.
Healthy Ways to relax in Barcelona
Take a stroll – There are plenty of places to take a stroll in Barcelona. If you like culture, then the Parc Guell (in Northern Gracia neighbourhood) offers Guadi architecture and an excellent view of the city. If your business is in the financial district, then there are plenty of park areas to stroll through (e.g. Jardin de Piscinis I Esports, Parc de Monterois or Jardin de la Vil-la-Amelia). Alternatively, make your way to the marina and beach front where there is 4.5 km of sandy shoreline and is extremely popular for strolling along the large, well-maintained promenade.
Rent an apartment – Most people visiting Barcelona think of hotels, yet there are plenty of apartments close to the beach front available for short and mid-term stays. Apartments are an ideal alternative to hotels if you feel a need to exert greater control over your relaxation, food and exercise. Supermarkets and small shops are plentiful and offer lots of fresh products, including seafood, milk, cheese, lean meats and vegetables. Also, there is an abundance of exercise and leisure opportunities (see below)
Do as the Barcelonians do There is the old cliché “when in Rome you do as the Romans do”. The same could apply to being in Barcelona. You’ll probably find many shops and retail businesses shut mid-day, they open up again later in the afternoon or early evening. While this may make it difficult to schedule business meetings, unless you find a good place to meet for lunch, then it could make the afternoon a natural gap when you can collect your thoughts and relax before the next meeting.
Healthy Eating in Barcelona
When in Barcelona you can’t help noticing the range of fresh food to enjoy. Seafood is plentiful, lean meats, rice, beans, olives, milk, cheese, bread, fruit and vegetables appear in various outlets. Even some of the streets are lined with orange trees! Choosing to eat healthily in Barcelona is an easy option if you know where to find the best deals.
There are a number of large markets in the City which sell a range of fresh produce in Barcelona. One of the most popular is Mercat de Sant Josep/La Boqueria, situated on La Rambla. The food sold here ranges from ready-made nibbles and fruit salad to fresh out the sea or garden including live crabs, lobsters to a range of vegetables and fruits. Being in the centre of the tourist area, Mercat de Sant Josep is not necessarily the cheapest.
Other food markets include Sant Antoni Market, which is full of locals frequenting the eateries, and Fira Artesana, which is mainly local produce from the Catalan region, but only opens on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
Cafes – breakfast
A typical breakfast in Barcelona can comprise simply of a milky coffee or orange juice and a pastry en route to work. You can substitute the croissant for a breakfast baguette very easily. But generally, you will find fried eggs, sausages, and hash browns a difficult breakfast to track down. If you’re a late breakfast person, then brunch is a good option with more variety to choose from.
Restaurants – lunch and dinner
I found many of the restaurants served a variety of foods, including some very healthy tapas. If you avoid the deep fried items, and the menu’s specially designed for tourists which generally comprise pizza, meat or fish and chips, you can eat very healthily. Spanish omelettes, marinated artichokes, fresh asparagus, grilled vegetables with balsamic vinegar, grilled skewers of chicken, grilled baby octopus or squid, fresh seafood, grilled fish, paella, lentil soup, barbecued lamb, bean based stews, fish and potato stew, and even chocolate grapes, sautéed banana with ice-cream or roasted pears are all good options for a healthier diet and are usually on offer when choosing from a restaurant menu.
City stores – for those with self-catering facilities
From small corner stores to larger supermarket- type stores, there always is a variety of food to choose from. Most corner shops will sell the basics such as bread, cereals, milk, cheese, olives and ham as well as fresh tomatoes, avocados, onions, oranges and various other fruits. Larger stores are scattered closely together with only a few minutes walking distance between. These sell a larger range of fruit and vegetables, lean meats, fresh fish and seafood, along with other staple foods. There appeared to be an abundance of fresh food in comparison to convenience foods.
Exercise in Barcelona
Outdoor – If running or outdoor exercise/sports are your preferences, then there is plenty on offer near the beach front. With 4.5 km of shoreline, running is very popular, as well as biking, swimming, skateboarding, volleyball, table tennis, to name a few free activities. You will also find set fitness areas along the promenade where you can work out.
Alternatively, community orientated organisations such as FitNet BCN which offer a wide range of outdoor small group-based activities such as running, yoga, walking, pilates, and strength training guided by highly skill professional trainers. So if you haven’t found a jogging partner, then FitNet BCN could be a good starting point to keeping fit when away on business.
There are plenty of fitness instructors and companies offering a fitness boot camp at reasonable prices. UK based charities are also now offering trips out to Barcelona. Tessa Sanderson Foundation offers a women’s Wellness Escape Weekend to Barcelona to coincide with International Women’s Day, with any surplus going to support young UK athletes. So if you’re doing business there already, you could enjoy the fun and contribute to supporting up and coming Olympic athletes at the same time.
There are a number of popular and well-known fitness centres in Barcelona. Club Natacio Barcelona is reportedly one of the more popular private sports and swimming clubs, located near Sant Sebastia on the beach. David Lloyd Club Turo, is a prestigious tennis club and sports club in Barcelona brought by David Lloyd Leisure in 2003. If you prefer alternative ways to keep fit, then you might like to try Fess LaSalle which has a climbing wall, with 500 holds, as well as a pool and fitness rooms.
It isn’t difficult to find a hotel which offers a gym and/or a swimming pool on the roof! Five-star hotels often have state of the art facilities, with personalised training programs overseen by professional coaches, as well as activities such as pilates and yoga classes. Hotels, such as the Ritz, will also offer additional services such as specialised physical preparation for tennis, golf, marathons, windsurfing and surfacing. Whereas lower budget hotels, such as Andante Hotel in the heart of Barcelona, may also offer a rooftop swimming pool with sunny deck and also a fitness centre. Most booking guides will allow you to search via gym or pool.
© 2016 Extravitality