You would think that one of the greatest luxuries of working abroad would be getting a good night’s sleep without Isobel kicking or nudging me, but the truth is I always miss her when I’m away. I feel like I subconsciously wake up and check if she’s there or not. Although on Saturday night I endured disturbances of a different kind: the racket and rabble on the lively street below and the unbelievably hot temperature for one night in February.
Sunday morning I woke early and followed Eva’s advice of doing some interval training, heading out to a local park in search of a suitable space for some sprinting. Before long, I found a big square in the middle of a park opposite the Catalonian parliament building, after a nice warm up I jogged three sides and then sprinted the fourth side of the square which was just under 70M. It felt so good to be running outside as I’ve not run anywhere other than a treadmill since before Christmas—the weather couldn’t have been better, it reminded me of early morning runs in Croatia during the summer.
It was also the first time I’d used my Fitbit to track a run, it took a few moments before the GPS found a signal and several stumbled paces as I tried to swipe onto the screen I wanted to see. I’ve previously used my phone as a GPS tracker, which is more of a clunky experience. Just being able to head out with only my watch was really liberating.
I had a hearty breakfast at the hotel before heading to the exhibition centre for the event. It was a very busy day walking over 16,000 steps as I criss-crossed the venue taking pictures of exhibition stands we had provided the technology for. I picked up a chicken salad from a supermarket on the way back and did a little blogging before bed.
I did another sprint session on Monday and really enjoyed it. There’s something about running really, really fast which is naturally gratifying. It’s one of the simplest things we can do, to just run fast, without any tactics or over-thinking—just reach flat-out, maximum speed and keep it up as long as possible. I used the lampposts just inside each corner of the square as my start and finish points. Approaching the first one I slowed my jog a little, inhaling deeply to load my blood with oxygen, then opened up my stride as I approached the start, pumping my arms wildly and driving my feet into the ground as I built up to maximum speed, feeling my abs twist with each stride. Just over half-way through I naturally questioned whether or not I’d make it but kept going—pumping my arms and legs until I breathlessly crossed the finish line, regained my composure, jogged the other three sides of the square then did it all again. I managed five laps like this before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.
Today was the first day of show and another incredibly busy one. I covered over 27,000 steps, but that only tells half the story. It’s one thing covering a lot of ground, but with so many high-profile clients at this event, it was essential that I took a lot of brilliant pictures—and that’s very stressful. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not as simple as pointing a camera at a target and clicking the shutter. I need to frame the shot, which is probably the most challenging element to exhibitions because there are people and other exhibition stands in the way. I also need to time the shot to ensure the right screen content is playing on the screens, as well as deciding whether or not to go with a long-exposure and blur the people. Most of the time I will take really wide-angle shots which capture the whole space (or as much of it as possible), others I will close in on intimate details of the design and technology. I might also record some video footage, which can be edited into a show reel or video case study of the event. All in all it can take several hours several hours to get the content I want to from an exhibition stand—at this event we had 40!
During my travels around the event I unexpectedly stumbled across the Premier League trophy, the actual Premier League trophy and not a replica. It was brought to the show courtesy of one Manchester City’s sponsors and lavished with the club’s colours. My brother Andrew is a passionate Manchester City fan—so I simply couldn’t resist having my picture taken next to the trophy holding a replica shirt signed by the entire Man City squad.
My rendezvous with the Premier League trophy was a welcome respite during a quite stressful day, which wasn’t made any easier by the need to move between my hotel and a nearby apartment for the rest of my stay in Barcelona. It took a lot longer than expected to find any of the people I was sharing the apartment with and get a key. At one point, I was close to giving up and going to book another hotel. After a good hour or so I finally found the guy I was looking for and headed off to collect my luggage from the hotel and transfer it to the apartment.
Following the trend of my day, there was a 45-minute wait for a taxi into town, so I decided to walk it because it takes about the same amount of time. Tired, grumpy and starving I gave in to buying a slice of pizza from a bakery, which considering I view carbohydrates as the enemy, isn’t something I’d normally do. It was almost ten o’clock by the time I finally made it to the apartment, at which point I had little energy for anything other than going straight to sleep.
My wonderful marketing intern, Callum joined me in Barcelona on Tuesday, which relieved a lot of the stresses and strains of capturing all the content myself. Thanks to my exertions the previous day, I didn’t do a workout this morning, but caught up with a lot of work from the apartment as I waited for Callum to arrive, so we could catch a cab in together.
We got stuck in as soon as we arrived, ticking off as many of the stands we needed to cover as possible before breaking for lunch. The challenge wasn’t that we had 40 stands to cover but that they were so spread out—and being a very popular event, it’s just not possible to walk from one place to another without needing to dodge dozens of people who either aren’t looking where they’re going, or are looking at their phones—which is ironic considering this is the world’s largest trade show for the mobile phone industry. Perhaps rather than folding screens and ever higher resolution cameras, one of the mobile manufacturers might develop sensors to alert users when they’re about to bump into somebody.
Despite all the many things I’ve done in my life, I’ve never experienced anything so draining and energy sapping as spending all day at a trade show. Perhaps it’s the soft carpet, or the lack of oxygen with tens of thousands of people sucking in and breathing out the same air—but nothing else compares. I used to spend all day walking around music festivals and didn’t feel as thoroughly fatigued as I do after a day at a trade show.
Keen to avoid the disaster of getting home last night, we took the subway an hour before the show finished, hoping we would be okay. We were wrong, it took over an hour to get from the exhibition centre to the centre of Barcelona—unbelievable, you would think there would be a direct line which didn’t require two changes. My working day wasn’t over, I needed to make a call to arrange a meeting for Friday—after which I had another delightful chicken salad and lay my head down for an early night.
Wednesday was our last full day at the show and we made a very early start, attempting to be on-site for 08:00, but our taxi got stuck in traffic! Getting around in Barcelona when there is such a big event on is a real challenge. We had another really busy day, walking from one end of the colossal venue to the other repeatedly—but we did what was needed and got all our content and could head back to the centre for a well-earned rest!
One of the unquestionable highlights of this week in Barcelona has been the weather, it’s been so gorgeous and uncharacteristically warm for February. Even in Manchester, when I left on Saturday it was nice, but it’s been like mid-spring in Barcelona. We waited ten minutes for a taxi after the show and felt the heat of the sun on us, which is quite remarkable for this time of year. I had brought a jacket with me, but never felt the need to wear it.
Our flight back was early on Thursday afternoon, which allowed a little bit of time to explore the beautiful city of Barcelona. I spent an hour or so wandering around La Ramblas, before we hailed a cab and went to the airport. Having never flown with Jet 2 before, I was incredibly impressed. For a budget airline, their customer experience is second to none. The plane was light and pretty spacious, and their staff were actually smiling and helpful, which is more than you get with some other budget airlines.
Just before we landed, the most unexpected thing happened—a woman got up from her seat and tried to walk to the back of the plane, supposedly to use the toilet. Bizarrely, the cabin crew couldn’t see her from where they were sitting, so several passengers started shouting at her to sit down. We landed less than 30 seconds after she returned to her seat. I’m not sure what would have happened if she’d still been standing in the aisle, but I doubt it would have been good. I’ve never seen anything like that before.
It was great to get home and see Maggie at a reasonable time, I normally return from foreign trips after she’s fallen asleep. Although Isobel was tucked up in bed, so I would have to wait until the morning to see her.
After a tiring week, I would have loved to have had an easy day on Friday, but there was no chance of that—heading down to London early in the morning before hitting the gym in the evening. I cannot describe how good it felt to be back lifting heavy weights! Before I went in, I decided to jog a little as a warm up, then did a couple of sprints. I got straight in to lifting the big three with as much weight as I could, again deadlifting 80kg and feeling the strain. But I persevered and made it through three sets of five reps. Somewhere throughout the evening’s endeavours I tweaked my hamstring, which was noticeably aching by the time I got home.
Saturday was the relatively uneventful day I craved. I typed up some reviews for PHD Diet Whey and Optimum Nutrition Opti-Lean Whey whilst Isobel was at ballet, before doing a spot of shopping with Maggie and then relaxing for the rest of the day. I tried to stretch my hamstring as much as possible, as it was hurting quite badly, instilling a fear that I might not be able to go to the gym on Sunday—but I went to bead early in the hope I could recover and there would still be a chance.