Sunday, 16 October 2016

Gothenburg: Haga and Slottsskogen Park Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.1 km (4.4 miles), terrain: a few hills, gain 91 meters

I didn't have a camera with me in Gothenburg, so thanks to Google StreetView for the pictures!

Gothenburg running routes:
Town Center Loop
River run

Haga and Slottsskogen park
For more running routes, see Route List.

Here's a running route on the south side of Gothenburg (Göteborg) that you're guaranteed to fall in love with. It takes you through the cool Haga neighborhood and then through Gothenburg's biggest and best park, Slottsskogen.
Running in Slottsskogen park
Slottsskogen park opened in 1874, covers almost 140 hectares of public parkland, with lakes, hills, cliffs, cafés, a zoo, the natural-history museum, an observatory and the city's biggest playground. And it's open day and night.

The zoo (djurpark), right in the middle of the park, has only native Scandinavian animals, functioning as a preserve for threatened Swedish wildlife. The zoo has free admission, so you can run an extra loop through it if you feel like it.
The start at Rosenlundsbron, heading south
So if you're anywhere in central Gothenburg, get yourself to Rosenlundsbron, the bridge over the moat that once protected the town from attacks. Turn south and run southwards past the tree-lined parkway along the south side of the canal, and now keep left to run through the little park surrounding the yellow brick church, the Hagakyrkan.
Before the church square ends, turn right to cross over the zebra stripes into the Haga neighborhood along Haga Nygata (Haga New Street). This is the cobblestone-paved pedestrian shopping street for Haga.
Along Haga Nygata
Lying outside the old city walls, Haga was built as the town's first suburb, with a mix of wooden and brick houses. The old working-class neighborhood has been fixed up and gentrified, and is now one of the coolest parts of town. It's full young people hanging out in cafés and pubs, parents biking their kids around. You'll probably want to stop right here and ask to sign up to be a resident. It reminds me a lot of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin.
Further down Nygata
The streets are strangely bare of trees or greenery, though, giving the place a bit of an empty feel. Every inch is paved in stones: I would plant some trees!

Run westwards along Nygata for six blocks, then turn left onto Mellangatan ("between street"). Run down this quiet side-street until it ends in a little playground at the foot of a green hill. Just keep running straight along the little path, which will take you to another side-street to the right, Bergsgatan.

At the end of the next block, turn left, then left again onto Lilla Risågatan.

Now run just 100 meters to the 1-kilometer mark, where you'll see the green hill again, rising along the left side. The hill has a 300-year-old defensive tower on the top, Skansen Kronan. The granite blockhouse was fitted with 23 cannon, which never needed to be fired. So, we might as well jump at this opportunity to experience a bit of history, and run up those stone steps to then follow the paved path to the top. The massive crown topping the tower dominates the scene.
Skansen Kronan: let's circle it!
Circle the tower and enjoy the view! Then you have to descend the way you came. Back down at the street, continue southwards along Lilla Risågatan to the next corner.

Now turn right to run west for a block on Djupedalsgatan. You now come to a wide boulevard with tram tracks along the center, Linnégatan. It's quieter than you would expect for such a wide street.
Turn left here, and now follow Linnégatan southwards towards those green trees in the distance. After four blocks, you'll come to a square, Linnéplatsen, where Slottsskogen Park begins.

Cross over to the right side of the square, where the main park pedestrian trail, Slottsskogenpromenaden, heads into the park.

Now just follow this main trail and enjoy the nature, running past trees and lawns and small hills. You'll run past an area on the left that has some scattered wooden buildings built in styles from around Sweden.
Running past the lake
After the 3-kilometer mark, when you see the big lake with the restaurant, turn right to keep heading west into a woods, heading along the trail called Säldammsbacken, lined with a few little ponds for zoo animals. The trail starts going up and over a hill, with a 40-meter gain. The zoo is higher up on the hill to the right.

You'll then come to a house with a few small pools of its own on the right: the Fågelhuset (bird house), which is the home of a colony of endangered Humboldt penguins.
Fågelhuset: turn right, just past the building
Just past the bird house, turn right to head north, with a big lawn to the left. This is the Azalea valley, and must be beautiful in springtime. You'll soon start running uphill again.

The street will eventually end at the edge of the park, where a neighborhood with some apartment houses borders the park at the west side. Now turn back into the park along the trail called Hålekärrsbaken.
Heading uphill, past the rock formations along Hålekärrsbaken
You're now heading east, past cool rock formations to both sides, with a short uphill section. But after this, it's downhill all the way home.

You'll soon come to a playground called Plikta. The playground is huge and lively, full of monkey-bars, a giant slide and it's dominated by a whale for the kids to climb around on.
The maze
Run around the playground, passing the 5-kilometer mark, but don't exit the park into that neighborhood, but turn right onto Museivägen. Run till you come to the circular maze on the right side. Just across from the maze on the left is a path to the Natural History Museum, a long brick building (I wish I could have gone inside!).

At the north end of the museum, take the steps down to Linnéplatsen again.

Now run north along Linnégatan again, but this time we'll take a different way back through Haga.

Turn off on Majorsgatan at the 6-kilometer mark. In two blocks, it runs into Kastellgatan, where you turn left and run past the back side of the Skansen Kronan hill.
Skolgatan could use a tree or two
Continue northwards along Skolgatan (school street) through the whole, quiet neighborhood. You'll come to the old-town moat again, where you turn right and run the last 100 meters back to the Rosenlundsbron bridge. Wow, Gothenburg is quite a place!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Best Zurich Running Routes

Top 4 Zurich Routes

Zurich is a cool place: a bit button-down, with all its banks, but there are some friendly restaurants, and lots of green areas to take a great run. It's one of the few European cities you'll ever find with two old-towns, one on each side of the river, with two very different personalities.
Running along the eastern shore of the lake
Plus, the city straddles the northern tip of Lake Zürich, providing miles of lakeside promenades with constantly changing vistas over the water and past the nearby hills.

The Best Zurich Running Routes:
Old Town: As I mentioned, there are really two old towns, each with its own personality. The eastern side is full of high-priced boutiques along quiet lanes, while the west side has a lot of night life: restaurants and clubs and lots more going on. Enjoy them both!

Eastern shore: This shore is lined by parks most of the way and even has a bit of beach. One of the most popular runs in town!

Western shore: There are parks and swimming pools along this shore too. Check it out!

Uetliberg trail run: This run follows a hilltop ridge at the edge of town. Easy to get to with a train, the views are fantastic!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Munich Hirschgarten Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 4.4 km (2.7 miles), terrain: flat

Munich Running Routes:
Best Munich Running Routes: Overview
Englischer Garten
Old town, English Garden, Isar 
Nymphenburg Palace gardens  
Isar River south route  
Classical Munich  
Starnberger See lake-side route 

Hirschgarten route
For more running routes see the route list.

Here's a short run through a part of Munich that most people never see: from Rotkreuzplatz to the Hirschgarten park.
In the Hirschgarten
Rotkreuzplatz is a lively square northwest of the town center, in the Neuhausen neighborhood. It's home to the German Red Cross, and a neighborhood full of restaurants and beergardens.

And luckily, it's close to other great spots like Nymphenburg Palace and the Hirschgarten, the goal of this run.

The Hirschgarten, formerly a royal hunting grounds, has been a public park for over 200 years. And there is still a section fenced off for deer. The park has everything you need in a good park: athletic fields, playgrounds, fountains and gardens, and -- this being Munich -- one really great beergarden.

Between Rotkreuzplatz and Hirschgarten is an old working-class neighborhood with art-deco-style apartment buildings, so even that is scenic.

So, if you want to explore this interesting part of Munich, get yourself to Rotkreutzplatz (easy to get to via the U1 underground or the number 12 tram line).
Market day at Rotkreuzplatz
The square is where Leonrodstraße and Nymphenburgerstraße cross. There is a small but cool beergarden right on the corner, the Jagdschlössl (it's worth trying!). Turn your back to the beergarden and head westwards through the square and then out along Wendl-Dietrich-Straße. There are numerous shops, bakeries, pubs and restaurants along the first few blocks.
Quiet side-streets along the way
Then it starts getting residential, with old-fashioned apartment blocks leading off from both sides of the street. The buildings have a homey feeling to them with their various art-deco details. I actually like to zig-zag down and back up some of these little side-streets as I make my way westwards, and it adds a bit more distance.
Art-deco-era apartments
The street ends at Steubenplatz, where you turn left to run one more block to the big intersection at Arnulfstraße and its tram line.

You'll see the Hirschgarten park across the street on the right. This is the 1-kilometer mark.

Cross Arnulfstraße and then turn right to run westwards into Hirschgarten.
Hirschgarten entrance: turn left here to loop the park
You'll immediately find yourself at a little formal garden full of fountains and benches. But turn left here to head south along the eastern edge of the park, following a paved footpath.

After a while, the trail will start curving to the right, heading westwards. You'll pass a skate-board park, soccer fields and playgrounds.
The water-slides
When you're almost at the west side of the park, at the 2-km mark, you'll see a playground with metal palm trees on the right, then some water slides. Turn right there and run north.

Just past the little playground, you'll come to the fence for the deer-preserve, and you'll see the animals grazing within.
Grazing deer: you didn't expect that in the city, I'll bet
Now follow the fence northwards and you'll soon be running right through the big biergarten, one of the best in town (make a point of coming back to this friendly spot!).
The biergarten on a subdued, rainy evening
At the restaurant building, turn right and start heading eastwards along the northern end of the park.

At the 3-km-mark, you'll come to the formal garden, with its fountains, and in a few steps you'll be back at Steubenplatz.
The gardens with fountains
Now just cross Arnulfstraße again and follow Wendl-Dietrich-Straße back to the start. Nice little run!