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VISITING BARCELONA //

Casa Mila (aka La Pedrera) A building by Antoni Gaudi

Barcelona is a hugely popular European destination for tourists and this could be due to a number of things. It has a Mediterranean climate meaning the Summer's here are scorching; the people are welcoming; the food is delicious; the city itself is home to beautiful architecture, mostly known for Gaudi's impressive building works and 19th Century grandeur of the Gothic Quarter.

Having visited a couple of weeks ago for just a night, I was reminded of all the fantastic places I've had the chance to visit here previously. I've listed a few of the locations I've explored and what I adore about Barcelona.


La Sagrada Familia


Arguably, the most notable landmark in the city. This is Antoni Gaudi's biggest masterpiece and is still being built to this day - the suggested finish date will be in 2030 having started in 1882 (IKR?!)

To see the building from the outside is hugely impressive, however if you do get chance to go inside then DO IT. It has an incredible amount of stained glass windows, superbly detailed columns and lots of information about its history. Remember to book your tickets online here before your visit.


Tapas


Food is the best part of any new country, wouldn't you agree? Local delicacies, weirdly named things you should try and may never want to try again - that's a huge part of experiencing a new place in my opinion. We found a wonderful little place when we visited a couple of years ago and got lucky enough to stumble across it again this time.

Mirinda can be found down an alleyway just off the famous Las Rambla. Here, you'll find a fantastic tapas menu (including lots of veggie options!) great selection of drinks and lots of street entertainment throughout the evening. When it comes to Spanish tapas, you'd be hard pushed to not find something you like here.

We also stumbled across a beautiful bakery called Tiana Forneria near the Gothic Quarter, perfect for breakfast pastries and a chocolate croissant treat should you fancy it.


Park Güell



For the traveller on a budget, there's absolutely no excuse not to visit this place. Situated in a public park (at the top of a heck of a lot of street escalators, I might add) is Park Guell. Another reflection of Gaudì's work, you can wander around these beautiful gardens and if you do want to splash out, get a ticket to explore the Monumental Zone and see the close-up detail of the architecture.

We didn't get a ticket but the experience of visiting is enough by itself. You also get an incredible view of the whole city if you climb the lookout point at the top - I won't lie to you, it's steep!

At the bottom of the park area there are some lovely little shops selling handmade gifts, so keep your souvenir spending until you get here.


Gothic Quarter


We stayed in a great (budget friendly) guesthouse in this area called Guesthouse Barcelona Gotic - super location, especially if you want somewhere central. This place has a lot of choice when it comes to bars and restaurants.

One of our favourite finds was a rock bar called The Bollocks (yep, you read that right) which had a fantastic drinks selection and a burger menu named after guitars. All very cool and as someone who it quintessentially uncool, nevertheless, I felt very welcome here.

In the daytime, it's definitely a worthwhile place to explore for the amazing architecture. There are beautiful buildings around every corner and you're certain to get some superb Instagram shots around here.




Hopefully there's some Barcelona inspiration here if you're planning your next trip. Let me know on Twitter if you have any other notable places I should go to next time I'm in the city.




leanne

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TRAINING FOR A 10K RACE // RUNNING BEGINNER

Other than a warm up and cool down on the treadmill at the gym, I wasn't a runner. It's something that I always wanted to be good at because as a non-runner, I'd sometimes think 'Wow, how wonderful it must be to enjoy nature by running through the woods' and 'If only I could run for the train without almost collapsing on the platform afterwards' etc.

After a few attempts at running around the block as fast as I could possibly go, my chest hurting a lot and my teeth getting cold (what's that about?!) I walked home, made myself a cup of tea and was determined that it wasn't the sport for me.

HOWEVER

Here is where I tell you how I eventually ended up running a 10k fairly comfortably, and, dare I say it? I even ENJOYED it.

It turns out there's a lot more to running than how fast you can go (although that becomes a fun challenge) and I've compiled a few tips that helped me get into it, hopefully, for good.

Mirror selfie, with focus on no makeup, sports bra and headphones

Not Running


This is not a drill. It turns out you can get good at running by actually not running at all.

The first few times I attempted a 'run' outside I was quite unfit. Over the past eight months or so I've been attending an intense HIIT class regularly. As well as some treadmill work, the class also includes a lot of free weight, cardio and bodyweight exercises which strengthen the core and legs (ideal for y'know, running) and it made a huge difference to my overall fitness levels.

This time when I ventured into the great outdoors, I found a simple 1KM much better, my heart rate and breathing became a lot easier and I surprisingly didn't hate it as much.


Nike Run Club app


A friend introduced me to this app and it is so blooming useful. I'm currently using it to prep for a 10 mile race that I've not committed to yet, but even just giving yourself a goal makes a difference to a running routine.

You can use it as a running prompt and listen to specific workouts (some by famous athletes or professionals who can give great advice) or just keep it as a handy log and distance update throughout your workout. The main thing it helps you get out there in the first place, regardless of how far or how fast you go.



Get outside


Sounds obvious, but running outside is very different to the treadmill. I am totally guilty of being stuck on a machine for the past few years and now I've found great routes outside, I don't fancy the idea of going back. Not only is it much more visually appealing than looking at a blank white wall or BBC news on a tiny TV screen but running in the elements is quite refreshing.

Although I will admit, I've timed my running well and started this Spring/Summer but I will definitely need tips myself to keep motivated and warm throughout the colder seasons.


Get the Gear


It makes a big difference running in something that makes the workout easier.

At the beginning of my training I ventured into Asics for the first time and invested in some running trainers that are great for me. They do a full run analysis (so be prepared to do a short run on the treadmill in-store) and let you know how you run, and which products will help your technique and ensure you are comfortable. My purchase ended up being the Gel-Cumulus 19.

A lot of my gym wardrobe also really helps keep me interested, so treat yourself to a new outfit if you sign up for an event as extra motivation. These Challenge Run Shorts from Sweaty Betty are my absolute staple over Summer.



Distract yourself


One of the most difficult things I still find when running is breathing, and not thinking too much about my breathing. I've found listening to a podcast is one of the best ways to distract me whilst on a run as it takes my mind elsewhere. One of my favourite podcast episodes is Sadiq Khan's interview on Table Manners (hosted by Jessie & Lennie Ware) which kept me company on my first ever solo 6K!

Music, of course, is another great method of keeping you distracted. Take some time to create your perfect playlist of motivational tracks. Try to pick songs you know get you wanting to dance and sing to, so you can harness that enthusiasm when you're on your route.

I purchased the Urbanears Wireless Headphones and I absolutely love them - the tap system (to play/pause/turn volume up etc.) takes some getting used to but sound quality is great when out and about.



Do you have any tips for a first-timer? Leave a comment over on my fitness instagram @leannemariefitness or check it out for some inspiration!

leanne

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BENICASSIM FESTIVAL // 2018

With a lineup of The Killers, Liam Gallagher and the Pet Shop Boys it was always going to be a hard festival to beat. Having visited Benicassim a couple of years ago, I was fully prepared for the nocturnal, festival life and had fingers crossed for beautiful weather again.

Aside from a rogue storm on Sunday morning (which incidentally almost killed us in our tents - I'm only slightly exaggerating) we were lucky to get 32 degrees sunshine and made the most of glitter in the warm evenings.

My personal highlights of the festival include seeing Jessie Ware live for the first time, singing 'Wonderwall' with a roaring British crowd, the confetti-throwing group of people with a light up umbrella spreading joy and my friends and I dancing to Chase & Status like our lives depended on it.

Genuinely so happy I got to experience this holiday with 5 fantastic pals who appreciate music and €1 sangria just as much as I do, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I've put together a short photo diary of our antics for you to peruse, should you wish to see lots of HUJI filters and basic palm tree pictures. You're welcome.

Looking out to sea in a bikini on Benicassim beach

Group arriving into the festival wearing lots of colour, glitter and a sparkly catsuit


Group of girls walking through graffiti tunnel in Benicasim

Benicassim beach with blue skies

FiberFib stage at Benicassim Festival with blue skies in the background

Panoramic shot of the sea and Benicassim beach

Group selfie by the sea

Beautiful blue sky and palm tree silhouette

Retro filter on group shot by the sea

If you're intrigued, check out my older post 'Why You Should Go to Benicassim Festival' and let me know on Twitter if you have any questions about this year's trip.

leanne

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