Runner Bean Tours – your local guide to Barcelona history!
Runner Bean Tours – your local guide to Barcelona history
Have you just moved to Barcelona and want to get to know the city better? Or are you visiting and want to know more about the various Barcelona sights? Look no further than Runner Bean Tours! Just looking for something to do one weekend, I stumbled upon Runner Bean Tours, a gem within the tour guide scene here in Barcelona. As someone who has lived in Barcelona, I didn’t think I would get a lot out of the experience. How wrong I was! In fact I was so impressed by their wealth of knowledge and the obvious passion that they had for the city, that I just had to go to their base of operations and meet up with them again to get the lowdown on their amazing little business.
Who are Runner Bean Tours?
Runner Bean Tours is run by a lovely couple Gorka and Ann-Marie, who moved to Barcelona a few years ago. Gorka from Bilbao and Ann-Marie from Ireland both started out as tour guides in the city and over time (like all great entrepreneurs) decided to go it alone and turn their love for Barcelona into their own business. Being an incredibly popular tourist destination, Barcelona certainly has no shortage of guided tours operating ranging from freelancers to huge Europe-wide companies. To some, such a huge amount of competition would put them off trying their hand at going at it alone, but not Runner Bean! At the very heart of their any Runner Bean tour is a genuine love and affection for the history and stories within the city and is not profit driven in the slightest. “Small and local is the best way of doing something like what we do. It’s important to know the city and have a genuine passion for it, something which I don’t think you can truly have if you’re running a Barcelona tour from another country and have tours in other places too” says Gorka. Small and local is exactly what you get with Runner Bean, evident by the fact that some things we were shown on the tour were not even shown on other tours I have done of the city. In fact they are so committed to their ethos that they are a part of the United Europe Free Tours network who are committed to offering high quality tours from a local perspective.
I took part in the ‘Old City Tour’ with Ann-Marie where we were taken around the Ciutat Vella (the Barrio Gotico and part of El Borne) journeying through periods of history ranging from the Roman times right through to the Spanish Civil War. Highlights included a small market selling quintessential Spanish and Catalan products, a former bomb wreckage, the former area where the Jewish community once flourished and a small shop specialising in Spanish turron (with a Dutchie who was very insistent that we buy and try some!). But this isn’t the only tour that Runner Bean offers. A Gaudi tour covering the main Barcelona sights, a family focused tour, a ghost tour (coming soon!) and private tours are all in Runner Beans portfolio. “We offer different tours, but they are not all the same. They are not standardised and more often than not, we change aspects of the tour to suit the clients needs, so no two tours will be the same. We have a lot of fun on our tours.” Ann-Marie tells me. “The tours are based on what our expertise are. For example, I have experience with young children so I do a tour which can engage children and show them what a fun place Barcelona can be! I also trained at art school so I can add expertise there too” she adds.
Although they don’t have a huge range of tours as with some other companies, Runner Bean focuses on the tours they have to make sure it is the best it can be before setting up new ones. There is undoubtedly an emphasis on quality over quantity. Yet this doesn’t mean that there are not more tours in the pipeline most notably a ‘Haunted Past Tour’ which will run from the 16th June. “It is a sort of ghost tour but combines some Barcelona history with some local legends and stories” Gorka informs me. “We have a lot of ideas and it takes a lot of time to develop a specific tour, but we like to make sure it is the best that it can be before we run it”. A lot of ideas they most certainly have! It will be interesting to see just what we will see from Runner Bean in the future and you can almost bet upon a full SuiteLife review of the Haunted Past tour when it runs next month. Although advertised as free tours (for the Old City and Gaudi Tours), you’re free to give a donation depending on how good you think the tour was. It goes without saying that a quality tour is guaranteed!
Words of wisdom
Gorka and Ann-Marie are some of the many newcomers to Barcelona who have decided to take the big step and set up a business here and to see them set up such a bright, passion driven young business is truly inspirational. As an entrepreneurial minded person myself, I thought I would get a tip from them about what advice that they would give to anybody else coming to Barcelona and setting up their own enterprise.
Gorka – “You should focus on a passion that you have. Only too often do some people think about making money first and then get an idea. In our case, we had a passion for Barcelona and then went from that passion to setting up a business. A focus on your passion is what will make you successful and the rest comes after that”
Ann-Marie – Another thing is to have a lot of patience! Spanish bureaucracy is a pain!”
We wish Runner Bean Tours the best of luck with showing visitors the sights of Barcelona and look forward to bringing you more on their tours!
Inspired by the the entrepreneurial spirit of Ann-Marie and Gorka? Follow our weekly blog series which focuses on expat entrepreneurs who have come to Barcelona and taken the leap and set up their own businesses here. You can find our first one and second posts, with more on the way!