Thursday, 30 April 2015

Cape Town City Center to Waterfront Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.7 km (4.8 miles), terrain: fairly flat, gain 60 meters

Cape Town is happily located in one of the most breathtaking spots in the world, with a rocky coastline on one side and stunning Table Mountain rising right up behind town. And there are lots of old neighborhoods and a fascinating waterfront waiting to be explored, so it's a perfect spot for a great run.
Cape Town botanical garden
In the Botanical Gardens
You might be wondering, though, if the area is safe to run, with South Africa's notoriously high crime rate. The answer is "yes". If you run while there is still a bit of daylight, the town is safe. Cape Town is generally much safer than Jo'burg, and it has some lively night life in the rejuvenating downtown.

One other important thing to consider: Cape Town is definitely NOT FLAT. The city is surrounded by steep hills on three sides. The suburbs around the city center climb their way directly up the slope of Table Mountain and Signal Hill, getting steeper with each block. The streets in the city center begin rising as they leave the downtown "bowl". So the neighborhoods covered in this route combine to give you the best area for running on a fairly level surface.
This route will run right through the middle of the historic old town, past the most important public buildings, then head through the modern downtown, head out into the redeveloped waterfront, and then return via Long Street, the heart of Cape Town's pulsing nightlife.

So, if you're ready to run, let's go!
Cape Town Mt. Nelson Hotel
The Mount Nelson entrance: not bad!
Make your way to the corner of Orange Street and Government Lane. On one corner, you'll find the white-pillared gateway into the sprawling grounds of the Mount Nelson Hotel, the city's finest lodge (not that I've been in there). Across the street, you'll see the little pedestrian street, Government Lane, head north through lush vegetation. Head straight down that lane! We'll be going lightly downhill the whole way through downtown.
Along Government Lane
Government Lane is a pleasant, green spot to be, leading you past schools, parks, gardens, the main synagogue, museums. It's a bit like a narrow, tropical version of the Mall in Washington. When you see a park open up on the left side, you can run parallel to Government Lane itself by running through the Company's Garden on the left, now used as a botanical garden. It's beautiful, exotic and I highly recommend it!
In Company's Garden, with Table Mountain
The domed monument in the park is for soldiers lost at Delville Wood, a World War I battleground in France, where the South Africans paid a heavy price for their involvement.

Along the right side of the lane, you'll pass Tuynhuys, the old colonial governor's mansion, now used by the South African president.
Tuynhuys, the presidential mansion
After that follows the red-and-white parliament building, with its lush gardens.

Parliament, with Queen Victoria
When you exit the lane, you come out onto busy Adderley Street at the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum. Turn left here and run past St. George's Cathedral, then turn right at the pedestrian crossing to take you onto the next pedestrian street, St. George's Mall.
St. George's Mall
Now you keep running northward for 9 blocks, until after you cross Riebeek Street at the Absa Centre. Just as you can see St. George's Mall ending ahead, a square will open up on the left side, Thibault Square.
Thibault Square: run this way to Loop Street!
Turn left and run through this square surrounded by modern bank buildings and a modern sculpture.

Cross Long Street (we'll come back on that street on the way back!) on Prestwich for one more block, then turn right onto Loop Street.

In just one block, you'll cross a busy street, the M6, and now continue on the left side of Loop Street. After just one building, Loop Street starts curving to the right, but you need to follow the pedestrian walk that goes straight into another square at North Wharf, surrounded by several hotel buildings.
And cross this bridge! Now it's straight ahead to the Waterfront
Just past the fountain in the square, you'll see a footbridge rising to the left side. Take that bridge: it will take you straight towards the next stop on the run, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, with its big Ferris wheel visible in the distance, the Cape Wheel. The footbridge leads over a busy street, Buitengracht. Keep running straight along Walter Sisulu Avenue until you get to the big roundabout.
The marina, with Signal Hill in the background
Basically, any of the several streets heading north from the roundabout will take you to the waterfront. But let's take a nice, quiet and scenic way: look for the pedestrian path that goes down to the canal on the left side. It takes you under Dock Road and then leads you along the water's edge past the new apartment buildings on West Quay lining the marina, with Signal Hill and Table Mountain rising over the whole scene.

Keep going straight until you come to the blue draw-bridge, where you cross the bridge and continue straight past the cafè. Just after the cafè, you have no choice but to turn left and continue running west along the north side of the marina.

You will come to the Two Oceans Aquarium, where you turn right and then turn right again as you come to the main street at the Waterfront: Dock Road.
At the Waterfront
In a few blocks, the road will curve to the left, where you turn to the right onto the pedestrian lane just before Mitchell's pub. And there is the giant white circle of the Cape Wheel, and the other waterfront attractions. This is a bit like Darling Harbour in Sydney. There are numerous good restaurants lining the water here, and there is a huge mall on the left, the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre.
More of the Waterfront, with Victoria Wharf in the background
The water is to your right, and the working fishermen's harbor begins there. The Robben Island Museum (Nelson Mandela's prison) is right there, too. Maybe run a loop past the most interesting stuff, then return to the Cape Wheel at Market Square.

Now turn south and run past the little shops and the rescue boat (in its own glass boathouse), and then follow the pedestrian path towards the left, back at the water.
The swing bridge and clock tower: head home this way!
You'll see a modern swing bridge and the old clock-tower behind it on East Quay. Cross the bridge and continue running southwards between the modern East Quay buildings, going up some steps.

You'll now run south, down East Quay Road, past a wharf with a collection of old ships being repaired on land.
Ships under repair at the wharf
When you get back to the big roundabout, continue running back the way you came on Walter Sisulu Avenue, going back to the square at North Wharf, then right onto Loop Street again.

But when you cross the M6, turn left for a block until you reach Long Street, where you turn right and head uphill along this lively street. Long Street has a lot of old buildings with wide verandas, and is home to lots of clubs, restaurants and pubs. The street is not very exciting during the day, but as the evening continues, the place gets wilder and wilder. Definitely a place to explore later!
Typical Long Street
Long Street ends when it runs into the curve of Orange Street, where you turn left and run the last five blocks back to the start of the run.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Cape Town: Camps Bay / Clifton Coastal Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 8.1 km (5 miles), terrain: a bit hilly, gain 114 meters

If you're in Cape Town (Kaapstad) for more than a day, make sure you visit the nearby beaches just on the other side of Signal Hill from the city center. When you cross Kloof Nek pass and drive down to Camps Bay and Clifton, you enter a different world: a rugged coastline full of cliffs, rocks and beaches. And there's fresh sea-air and dramatically changing weather.
Sunset at Camps Bay
The shore is lined with beautiful beach neighborhoods marching up the hillsides. Life here is relaxed, dominated by nature's spectacle rather than the human drama that fills the streets of downtown.

And above the whole scene thrones the majestic wall of Table Mountain, seemingly close enough to reach out and grab. The cliffs on this side of the mountain form an undulating series of buttes called the Twelve Apostles. And the lonely spire of Lion's Head dominates the scene further south at Clifton.
Victoria Road in Camps Bay
The only half-way level place to run here is along the shore drive, Victoria Road. It stays fairly low along the water in Camps Bay, but gradually heads uphill through neighboring Clifton, just to the north.

This route will explore both little towns. You can keep it simple and run on the sidewalk of Victoria Road, or you can make little detours at some of the beaches, to get closer to the water's edge and the natural beauty waiting to be explored down there.
Surfers unloading their boards below Lions Head
We'll start the run in the heart of Camps Bay, at the corner of Victoria Road and Camps Bay Drive. This is the little shopping district, with a lot of restaurants. The beach is across the street, with a strip of parkland in-between.

First, we'll run south into the suburb of Bakoven ("the oven"), then turn around and run north all the way through Clifton and then return to this spot again.

So, ready to go? Then turn southwards, with the water to your right and run along the road. You'll pass the police station and then Bakoven Bay, lined by rounded boulders, where you will pass it in a long curve.
bakoven bay
Bakoven Bay, heading south
When you get to Houghton Road, at the 1-km mark, turn around and head back north again. The sidewalk is generally parked full of cars through the rest of Bakoven.

Across from the police station, there is a walled-in section in the water that forms a pool so that the icy-cold water can warm up during low tide.
camps bay beach
Camps Bay Beach
When you get back to the starting place, at the beach, you can get away from the road traffic by either running on the brick sidewalk in the grassy park, or run right down along the wet sand on the beach, next to the water. This is the most fun spot to run: on weekends, there are lots of people playing on the sand, and on weekdays, you have the beach for yourself.
Yoga on the beach
At the north end of Camps Bay Beach, keep left and take the little walkway that winds around the back end of the next little beach, Glen Beach. At the end of this tiny beach, you need to take one of the little walkways back up to the road, because cliffs block the way. This is the 2.8-km mark.

Camps Bay High School is on the right side, with Lion's Head rising straight up behind it.

Soon you'll see the parking lot to Maidens Cove Park on the left, where you can turn-in to do a bit of scrambling over the big rocks out in the water down below, and to look at the rock pools left by the tide. This park is mainly used by families having a barbeque next to the rocks. I highly recommend this little detour!
At Maidens Cove, Table Mountain in background
Back at Victoria Road, the way continues uphill into Clifton. Just past Maidens Cove Park, you pass the older part of Clifton, the Ridge, a community of bungalows perched along a picturesque beach, with rock islands lying out offshore. This is a favorite place for yachts to anchor on weekends.
Clifton at the Ridge
Then comes the newer part of Clifton, where new apartments rise along the cliffs right from the water's edge, up to the street 40 meters higher. Then, across the street, other buildings continue the climb up the slope towards Signal Hill.
The view downwards in Clifton
Looking down towards the water, you occasionally catch a fascinating glimpse of a bit of beach far below, between the buildings.

Keep running until you pass the last buildings in Clifton, at the 5.4-km mark. The road starts heading downhill again here, past bare cliffs, towards the next town of Sea Point. You can look out in both directions here, with stunning views either way.
Turn-around point in Clifton
Now just turn around and head back downhill to Camps Bay again, getting the wonderful opportunity to see all this amazing scenery again from the other direction!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Hamburg Klein Flottbek Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 6.8 km (4.2 miles), terrain: a few small hills, gain 53 meters

Article and photos by Jessica Hauser

NOTE: This route picks up where the Altona Elbe route turns around!

If you're staying in the west part of Hamburg, there are a few great jogging route options. While running along the Alster lake or the Elbe river is wonderfully scenic, these paths can get so crowded, it can easily spoil your run.

A much less crowded route begins a few kilometers further west at the S-Bahn station "Klein Flottbek". Klein Flottbek is a very peaceful part of town full of beautiful, old million-dollar mansions. It's home to the Botanical Garden and several big- and small parks, some of which this route will take you through. This part of Hamburg is actually quite hilly, due to the terminal moraines which the last ice age left behind. So brace yourself for a few up- and downhill sections.
The way into Westerpark
Leave the S-Bahn station "Klein Flottbek" through the left exit, following the signs towards "Elbe-Jenischpark". Take the stairs up, out of the station and the path will take you right to the entrance of the first park of this route, "Westerpark". For some reason it's not marked as a park in most maps, maybe due to the fact that it's a dog park and they're trying not to encourage picnickers to hang out there.
Westerpark trail
Nevertheless, it's a beautiful park with a little stream running through part of it. At entering the park, you will pass a horse racing track on your left. Follow the path until you see a small, sandy paddock on the far left. Follow the path towards this paddock and pass it on its right side. This will take you to the a side exit, leading out of the park.

Here, you will have to cross a small road to enter the second park of the route, the well-known "Jenischpark". It's a nature reserve and people come here from all over Hamburg to enjoy the open lawns, the woods, the little stream and the Elbe River views. 
In Jenischpark, the old mansion, now a museum
Explore the park a little, if you feel like it. I like running a few laps here, taking different paths each time and seeing all the different parts of the park. The main entrance is on the south side of the park, right across from the Elbe river. Exit the park here, cross the street and you will find yourself right on the waterfront.
The Elbe, looking east
If you feel like getting a few extra miles in, try running along the water for a few minutes and back again. It's an unbelievable view! (If you run towards the left, you will see more of the huge Hamburg harbor with its ships and cranes. Running to the right, you will see sandy beaches and a much more natural shoreline.) To get to the third park, run along the Elbe to the right for about 200 meters.
Running towards Teufelsbrück, past a little boat club harbor
At the "Teufelsbrück" ferry landing, you will cross the street at a traffic light and make an immediate left into a small street called "Lünkenberg". This little road takes you to "Wesselhöfts Park", a little-known park with lots of trees and a big pond in the middle. I like running a lap around the pond for a couple extra kilometers.
Heading up Lünkenberg
Leave the park on the opposite side, cross another small road and enter "Westerpark" again, this time on the South side. To your left, there is another stream with a few small wooden bridges which I really like to cross. Again, there are several small paths through the park – just choose whichever one you feel like, or run a few laps and try them all.
The last section of Westerpark: almost home!
You will then head back to the park's north entrance, which is where you first started your run.

If you don't feel like getting right back on the train and you need a little cool-down first, check out the Botanical Garden on the opposite side of the train tracks. It's free and there are flowers and trees from all over the globe, beautifully arranged in little theme areas. It's open until 8 p.m. in the summer, until 6 p.m. in spring and fall, and until 4 p.m. in winter.