Xuan-Lan is a clear example of perseverance and courage. Having lived in cities around the world and having led a rather conventional life, she decided to quit her job to pursue her passion: Yoga
With many things to do, Barcelona is a very popular city all around the world, especially for its modernist architecture, its nightlife and cuisine. It's a city that offers so much more, though, especially if you're willing to get up early and exercise. Here's a route to get moving, burn calories, enjoy the sea and discover my city from another point of view. Are you ready?
To show you where I'm going to do my bike ride and yoga, I've taken my Fitbit tracker to measure the calories burned. I start the day with a BMR of 500 calories calculated according to my size, weight and age.
Still a bit sleepy-eyed, I leave home at 7 in the morning after eating some rice cakes and a banana to start the day with a little energy.
7:30 a.m. - Las Rambles in silence
I get to Plaça Catalunya by metro and walk down the Ramblas at 7:30, which is where you can see a mix of two worlds, the night-goers heading home and the early risers looking for the first rays of sunlight. You may already know that there are very few times of the day when you can stroll along the Rambla de Canaletes (its official name) without tourists or traffic, and this is the best time to enjoy the beauty of this street.
When I start my walk, I come across some nightclubbers who are lost, the cleaning service, but the best thing of all is the tranquillity of Plaça Reial with its palm trees and stately buildings from the 19th century that make you forget about all your cares.
8:30 a.m. - Beach meditation
After half an hour walking down to the port, I cross into the fishing district of Barceloneta, with its narrow alleys to get to the beach, which is empty. I sit on the sand to enjoy a moment of meditation as the first rays of sun appear over the Mediterranean Sea, and I feel the warmth on my face. Barcelona doesn't have the sunset of Ibiza, but the dawn is beautiful with the sea in the background.
9 a.m. - Healthy breakfast
After that 1.5 mile walk from Plaça Catalunya through the port I've burnt nearly 120 calories according to my Fitbit. It's a shame it can't count the peace and happiness of meditation, but now we need a shot of energy to continue with the exercise.
Since I got up so early, I buy a Hormiga Atómica (an Atom Ant) at La Guingueta de la Barceloneta, a beach bar run by chef Carles Abellan (open from March to November) in the Barceloneta. It's a kick of energy prepared by their healthy juice bar with spinach, wheatgrass, pineapple and banana (€8), and I finish with a milky coffee, but with oat milk. Then, I take a moment to stop at Buenas Migas to buy a flapjack, yoghurt and dried fruit to have a snack in the backpack for later.
The first runners start appearing, and head over to the W Hotel, a glass tower that looks like a sail, designed by Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill. By this time, its glass façade is reflecting the beach and the sea, blending into the sky.
10 a.m. - SUP yoga
With the sea in the background and the wonderful beach of Barcelona, it would be a pity not to go for a dip. Afterwards, I head over to the W Hotel to rent a SUP board table from Puka (Passeig Mare Nostrum), the surf school located in the Swimming Club of Barcelona.
Thanks to the breakwater on the side of the hotel which offers a protected, quiet area for beginners, I take advantage this area of calm sea to try some SUP Yoga positions, but my Fitbit seems to think that the yoga wasn't workout enough, and I need to get moving. So, to give my arms and abs a little workout, I decide to take a stroll along the coast towards the Barceloneta, which is now filling up gradually with tourists eager to sunbathe.
11 a.m. - Yoga in the sun on a terrace with sea views
I decide to stand to take a yoga class on the rooftop terrace of the Boardriders store, which organises weekly classes on its beautiful terrace located on the roof. It's funny being in the middle of the tourist chaos in the centre of the city and the beach, fit to burst with tourists, but at the same time isolated on a terrace quietly doing yoga outdoors with sea views, a perfect plan to move the body, burn some calories on the Fitbit and sunbathe, just make sure you don't forget the sun cream.
12:30 p.m. - Bicycle tour
I've already done my warm-up exercises, so I'm ready and eager for a little light cardio. I rent a bike from Barcelona Rent a Bike in La Barceloneta, a shop that rents out Dutch bikes, and I'm going to go on a ride through the old, semi-pedestrian district of El Born, La Ribera, Plaça Sant Agustí Vell, the Arc de Triomf and Parc de la Ciutadella.
2:00 p.m. - Spanish lunch time
It's time for a healthy lunch at vegetarian restaurant Sopa(two restaurants in Barcelona) near Glòries, the new tech district. The menu consists of a starter, salad, main dish and water, and all for only €9.90! Also, the food on the menu changes every day. They offer all kinds of meals, such as seitan, tofu, oats, seaweed and vegetables, all cooked with style and creativity. I've decided I'll keep the dessert for the next stage in Poble Nou.
Carrer de Roc Borona, 117
+34 933 09 56 76
3 p.m. Flea markets in Poble Nou
I continue my bike ride up to the Poble Nou district with a stop on the way to visit the second-hand flea market and antiques stalls at Els Encants, with a unique atmosphere, where you can find just about anything (open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.). You'll find vinyl records and CDs, furniture, clothes and just about everything you can sell (and more!), as well as appreciating the great contrast between the new modern space and the sheer amount of second-hand objects.
Creative market with Shopping, exhibitions and leisure at an spectacular spot.
I continue my path on to the Palo Alto Market, a market by new local designers (1st weekend of each month) located in a set of industrial buildings that reminds me of Tribeca in New York. They have a wide area of food trucks and street food offering Mexican, Japanese, burgers, crepes, empanadas and ceviches, etc. I decide to try the "peché mignon", a green tea mochi (€2) at Kibuka Street, the street food version of the Japanese restaurants of the same name, accompanied by an alcohol-free Moritz (THE beer of Barcelona) to rehydrate after that couple of miles of cycling.
4:30 p.m. - Urban climbing
The Fitbit is starting to get hungry for some more movement and doesn't think my yoga, SUP and 2 miles' slow cycling is enough, but I have an ace up my sleeve. I stop at the Sharma Climbing walls in Poble Nou to try a session of climbing with the instructor Christophe, a kind German measuring 6 ft 3, and it's not hard to believe he could hold up any student with the cable. After a class of 45 min., I've burnt 435 calories.
6 p.m. - Gràcia by bike
I'm at the other end of Barcelona, and I decide to head back to the centre to take the bike lane on Carrer Provença and pass by the Sagrada Família. An impressive building with a unique façade that is still under construction and is the work of architect Antoni Gaudí.
I head up toward the Gràcia neighbourhood that reminds me of a typical village, a little hippy and boho with its pedestrian streets, stores and small shops (no room for a supermarket here).
Plaça de la Virreina, Carrer Verdi, Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia with its terraces and the small Carrer Astúries, full of biological and organic shops, all give a special charm to this neighbourhood.
To relax the legs, I take the central bike lane on Passeig Sant Joan and stop off in Granja Petitbo, a vintage industrial-style coffee bar where you'll find a mixture of hipsters, families and tourists. I drink a carrot, apple and orange juice to rehydrate and I continue my trip down to La Barceloneta to return the bike.
Passeig de Sant Joan, 82
+34 932 65 65 03
8 p.m. - Montjuïc Castle
Then I decide to take the cable car from the port(the last one leaves at 8 p.m. from June to September) to climb the mountain of Montjuïc and enjoy one of the best views of the skyline of Barcelona. When I get to Montjuïc, I hurry to reach the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) where you'll enjoy a superb view of the Barcelona sunset and the wonderful Magic Fountain show (between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. in spring and summer).
10 p.m. - Vegetarian dinner
I head back toward Port Vell for dinner at the trendy new vegan restaurant, Green Spot. It's a warm place with Scandinavian style décor and has a lounge area with sofas in the middle to enjoy a cocktail, as well as a patio that looks like a tropical jungle. The menu is very original, and I order the quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes, the spinach and millet burger, and I can't say no when I spot the Chia pudding with matcha and almost savoury figs on the menu.
12 Midnight - Live music to dance
Although it might seem like the day began early, there are still some people with the energy to discover Barcelona at night. This is why I end with a little bit of music and some live dance at Gipsy Lou, a free, cool bar in Raval, says their motto.
Carrer de Ferlandina, 55
+34 931 86 68 06