Two Glorious Weeks Running in Some of the World’s Most Beautiful Places.
By Alix Shutello
In September 2010, I had the privilege of traveling to Spain with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law for two glorious weeks on a multi-city tour through Barcelona, Granada, Sevilla, and Puerto Banus. While we stayed in hotels or apartments, one of the places we stayed was in former Tottenham footballer, Darren Anderton’s apartment. This was a real treat and I am forever thankful for his hospitality.
Running in Spain takes on so many forms. In Barcelona, if you are near the city center, you are running on flat ground through busy streets filled with cars and pedestrians. I ran from the Hotel Actual, where we stayed, northwest through the city through parks and busy streets, past boutiques and large corporations. I ran right after we settled in our hotel to fight jet lag while my inlaws slept, and once more before we departed for Grenada and our time in Andalucia (southern spain). I believe this was before my sister-in-law and I went out on the town and had a drink in an ice bar that was like -13 degree centigrade (whatever, it was fun!) and before the Spanish strikes (Huela General) that stopped traffic and travel out of the city one day before we left.
We flew to Malaga, rented a car, and drove to Grenada. We settled in a palace hotel (thanks to my sister-in-law; she travels in style) and spent two luxurious nights in the heart of the city near the base of the mountain up to the Alhambra Palace.
The terrain in Grenada was anything but flat. In fact, we passed cyclists from all over the world training on the endless uphill streets. The town was more like San Francisco, but the hills were more beautiful and much steeper. For my workout, I chose to run all the way up to the Alhambra palace where a few hours before, I was drinking some of the best Sangria I’ve ever had. This workout seduced me, however. As we took a bus up the hill to the top of the mountain, I told myself I’d run this hill; especially since there was really no were else to run in town except up anyway.
Since Grenada’s streets were always packed with pedestrians and I decided to run the path of least resistance….two miles straight up the route the buses took to Alhambra, where the roads are so steep they are paved in switch backs. I had to stop and walk a bit near the top of the mountain when my heart rate soared so high I couldn’t catch my breath, but after about a 30-second break I continued on to the top and relished in my accomplishment (and I must admit, I was motivated to beat another runner who I saw making his way up the mountain).
This was a short, hard run; one that made your lungs stream and your thighs quake. Going downhill was crazy. With my rubbery thighs I bounced down the mountain, got lost, and eventually found my way in the twilight past the young 20-somethings out on the town heading for the clubs to my hotel. I was dazed, confused, and happy as can be. Since we were in Grenada for only about a day and a half, I only ran once in this magical town, but we ate great food, bought wonderful clothes, and moved on to Seville knowing that we had seen what we needed to in Grenada since the town is so small.
In Seville, I ran along the Guadalquivir River, past the churches and the bull ring, around and back again to our quaint room at ?Apartamentos Murillo on Lopa de Rueda in the quaint shopping area where tourists galore purchase everything you can imagine. I watched a local Breast Cancer race I wish I had known about and took tons of pictures with my phone.
I dragged my in-laws to watch Flamenco dancing, but they dragged me to the shopping bazaar. They found refuge at an international fair where we bought jewelry and scarves. In fact, I needed to evict them from the fair so that we could see more sites. Oddly, we ended back up at the fair again later (SHOCKER!). Fortunately, my run was behind me, and all I needed to do was walked endless miles through the city. I even made my sister-in-law walk up 40 flights of ramps to the top of the Giralda tower. Now that was fun…hearing Kathleen curse at me.
Our stay in Seville, like Grenada was short, but in the 2 days we were there we saw so much and walked miles and miles and miles. We left for Seville and drove to Marbella to meet Darren’s mother and her husband at his apartment in Puerto Banus. We quickly dropped off our things and walked a mile to the shore, where we ate well and stared at the multitude of european sports cars.
In our short 4-day stay in Puerto Banus, we travelled to Marbella, Ronda and Gibralter. By our last day, I was shopped out. I left my relatives to tackle the quaint stores of Marbella one last time while I ran along the boardwalk in Puerto Banus, whose shoreline was decorated with eye candy like multi-million dollar yahts, Aston Martins, Bently’s and occasionally a weathly princess wearing her crown. It was exotic and interesting. I ran past Italians, English, and Greek moguls. I watched women carrying bags from Manolo and men in 70s style button down shirts. I ran, while these elites shopped. I sweat, while they perspired (shopping is hard work!). I ran along the ocean and inhaled the sweet sea air and was so happy I almost wanted to pinch myself.
We left Spain reluctantly one on hand, but also ready to return home, where for me, training would resume. All the miles of walking combined with running every other day paid off. I was fit as a fiddle when I returned home and effortlessly resumed my training schedule. Spain has rarely left my mind since that wonderful trip.