Friday, 26 November 2010

Sydney South Head Running Route

Length: 8.3 km (5.2 miles), terrain contains small hills

Sydney Running Routes:
Best Sydney Running Routes: Overview 
Central Businesss District (CBD)  
Harbour north shore  
South Head and Watsons Bay   

Bondi to Coogee coastal run
Manly Beach Run  
Centennial Park Run 

Photos by Jessica Hauser

NOTE: Check the Routes by Country/City page for more routes

Sydney, the most livable city I've ever seen, is full of breathtaking running routes. Water and hills, sailboats and secluded coves are everywhere. Here is one of my favorite corners of Sydney, the South Head area, at the mouth of Sydney Harbour bay. The rocky peninsula is sometimes just a hundred meters across, lodged between the peaceful harbor to the west and the wild Pacific coast to the east.
The ferry is the way to travel in Sydney
But if you're going to travel to the north head, then you should do it right: no bus or car, but take the ferry, the most stunning way to move about on Sydney Harbour. For this route, we'll take the ferry from the downtown Circular Quay to my favorite cove, Watson's Bay. The ferry ride alone will make your day. As the ferry glides into the bay, with the boats moored in front of the beach, and Robertson Park stretching up the hill, you'll just want to stay right there.

View from Watson's Bay
In fact, you should bring a change of clothes so that when you finish the run you can eat at one of the spots here at the beach. If you are there in the morning, you can brunch on some eggs benedict at one of the 2 cafés on the south edge of the park: look for the yellow houses.

The Sydney South Head Route
When you get off the ferry, just turn left and run north (houses on the right), right up the short beach. Just as the beach ends, take the footpath up to the street and then turn left on Pacific Street at the first intersection in this pleasant neighborhood. Follow Pacific the short way to Green Point Reserve, a small rocky outcrop with a great view of the harbor. Then run down to the next beach, Camp Cove, which is a great place to jump in the water.
At Camp Cove
Run north along Camp Cove (houses on the right). and you'll see the walkway going up into the trees, with one part branching over onto the little shack on the rock out in the water. Follow the path up the hill above the cliffs. The military base will stretch along your right side. The cliffs are impressive, and there are lots of great vistas. At one spot, a path leads down to a secluded nudist beach.

The military base soon ends and you find yourself in the parkland of South Head itself. This narrow point of land looks out at the harbor, at North Head, across the harbor mouth, and to the Pacific. The waves below are impressive. There is also a lighthouse here, and old defensive-gun emplacements.
Lighthouse at South Head
Unfortunately, the military base blocks access to go southward on the Pacific side, so you have to run back the same way you came. So head back to Camp Cove beach, but this time, just before the beach, stay on the path as it cuts westwards along the south end of the military base, with the houses to the right side. After a few minutes, you'll find yourself back at the wild Pacific cliffs, running south.

Now, you just keep running southwards along the cliffs, parallel to Old South Head Road. Within a kilometer you will first pass an old lighthouse, then a newer, free-standing one, with a blue base. We'll keep running south through the big open lawn south of the light house. Just as you approach the houses at the south end of the park, turn right and head back inland to the road.

We could now go to several beautiful coves and beaches on the harbor-side: Shark Beach, Vaucluse Bay and Parsley Bay, but the roads getting there are a bit windy and hard to follow. So we'll skip Shark and Vaucluse, and just catch Parsley Bay on our way back to Watson's Bay. Parsley Bay is cool enough itself, and there was never a more hidden-away jewel than this.

When you get back to South Head Road at the edge of the lawn, you'll face a roundabout. Take New South Head Road, leading diagonally off to the left. Just run 200 meters and then turn right on Serpentine Parade. Follow the street downhill, and in just 200 meters it runs into Hopetoun Avenue, where you turn right. After another 100 meters, turn left on Fitzwilliam Road and follow it along as it curves to the right. Look for the side street on the right called Parsley Road and follow it in through this very cool, jungly neighborhood until the sharp left turn on Horler Avenue takes you up over the hill and right into the wooded park at the bay.
Parsley Bay beach and footbridge
When you come out at the beach, you'll be amazed at the suspension footbridge spanning this tiny cove. Keep on the right side of the beach and run towards the bridge. There is a wooden boardwalk along the waterside, below the stone cliffs. There are some steps leading down into the water near the shark barrier, where the boats are moored.

At the mouth of the cove you can go up the path to the top of the cliff and continue running along The Crescent. It runs into Hopetoun Avenue again, where you turn left and run just 100 meters before you have the chance to head to the water again, on Palmerston Street (turn left). The street ends and you follow the footpath down to the water.

Now, at the beach, you just turn right and run the few hundred meters back to Watson's Bay, passing the cafés along the way. Now those eggs benedict will really hit the spot!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Munich Old-Town/Englischer Garten/Isar Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length: 8 km (5 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.

For most tourists and business travelers alike, Munich (München in German) sits high up on the places-to-go-in-Germany list. Famous for its beer-gardens and Oktoberfest, the Bavarian capital enjoys cult-status around the world. And indeed, the city has a lot to offer, and some great running routes as well. The old town is scenic, the river -- the Isar -- is bordered by some great parkways and running paths, and the sprawling town park -- the Englischer Garten -- on the north side of the town center is big enough to contain extended runs without ever getting out onto a street.
Lake in the Englischer Garten
And luckily for you, my favorite Munich loop-route combines the best of all three worlds: the old town, the Englischer Garten and the Isar riverfront.

The Munich Old-Town/Englischer Garten/Isar Route

As always, you could join the loop anywhere, but we'll start it in the heart of the beautiful old town, at Marienplatz, in front of the town hall. We're actually starting at the eastern edge of the platz, at the 500-year-old old town hall and its medieval gate-tower. From there, we just run westwards across the Marienplatz and gaze at the neo-gothic Rathaus (town hall) and the Maria column directly out front. If you are there at the start of an hour, wait around with the other tourists and watch the glockenspiel figures parade around the tower.
Details from the Rathaus
Keep running westwards, straight up Kaufingerstraße, the main downtown shopping street, for 2 blocks. Turn right at Liebfrauenstraße and run the hundred meters straight to Munich's landmark church, the Frauenkirche. Slow down to take in the breathtaking double towers, then round the church to the back side. Keep going straight and, in one block, you will run into the Weinstraße, where you can turn left and head north.

In just a few blocks, you'll enter the Odeonsplatz, with its imposing Theatiner church and the Feldherrn monument, with the royal palace on the right side. Keep running straight until you see the arched opening to the palace gardens on the right side, the Hofgarten. Turn right into the gardens, and make a visit to the pavilion in the middle, and then turn right to run eastwards again, towards the domed Bavarian Staatskanzlei (state premier's office-building).
Residenz and Hofgarten
Turn left before you get to the building and head north out of the park, towards the yellow classical building. Just before you get there, you'll see a ramp going down into a tunnel that goes under Von der Tann Straße straight ahead. The tunnel leads directly into the Englischer Garten. You can either take the tunnel, or stay above ground and cross the street at the pedestrian crossing. Directly across the street, you'll see the street barricades blocking access to the American consulate. You can run straight along the barriers and turn into the park after 50 meters, if you don't take the tunnel.

Stay on the main path in the park as it curves northwards, with the lawns on the left side and the white-water stream on the right. The park is coursed by 2 wild streams, that in some places produce such impressive standing waves that surfers can ride them.
Surf's up in Munich!
After half a kilometer you'll see the round white classical pavilion crowning the hill on the left. After passing the pavilion, several paths cross. Keep running straight along the right side, with some barn-like buildings to your right.
In the Englischer Garten
Just past these buildings you'll seethe Chinesischer Turm restaurant and then the exotic Chinese Tower pagoda, Munich's favorite beer garden. In the summer, the whole plaza around the pagoda is full of tables and happy customers. This is definitely a place to come back to! 
At the Chinese Tower biergarten
The Englischer Garten continues northwards for kilometers, perfect running terrain. But we'll head over to the river and run the other direction.

At the pagoda, turn right and run straight for 100 meters to the park road, where you turn right again. The Englischer Garten ends here. The road becomes Tivolistraße, and after a few blocks, it crosses the Isar River on the Max-Joseph Bridge. As soon as you cross the river, turn right on the path and run down along the riverside, going south.
Path along the Isar
This pedestrian parkway follows the river for a few kilometers. The land slopes down to the water, and you could either run paths along the top or down along the water. Here, near the Max-Joseph Bridge, you can go right onto the stony beach at the water's edge, and skip stones in the swiftly flowing mountain water.

In half a kilometer, the path will come up the bridge at Prinzregentenstraße, where you will see the angel-crowned Friedensengel column set in a classical garden.
The Friedensengel column
Continue running southwards along the Isar (you can take the pedestrian tunnel under the street). After a while, you'll come to another big stone bridge, with a dam just before it. To the left, you'll see the impressive Bavarian parliament building, the Maximilianeum.

Stay on the path on the right. But immediately -- just between the dam and the bridge (the Maximiliansbrücke) -- take the little path that splits to the right. The path is raised up above the river, and you now literally run above the water. The water-course on the left side was once used for mill-power.
Dam and Max-Brücke: take that path along the right edge!
You'll come to a small island, where you'll see a footbridge going over to a bigger island on the right, with a street-sign called Kabelsteg. Cross that bridge, running towards the massive St. Lukas church on the other side of the river, then turn left on the island, and continue running straight on the raised walkway over the dam.

Just as the path comes to the next bridge, the Ludwigsbrücke, you'll face one of Germany's best museums straight ahead, Deutsches Museum. If you like technology, this big complex contains all kinds of great stuff, from old mining equipment to airplanes to a planetarium and 3D cinema, both of which are open in the evenings (NOTE: the main building is being renovated at the moment).

Run along the water, with the museum on your left side, until you are past the museum buildings, and come to the Corneliusbrücke. Turn right, cross the river and go straight on Corneliusstraße until you come to the big circular plaza, Gärtnerplatz. Run along the right side of the circle, and then follow Reichenbachstraße straight back to Marienplatz, where we started. Before you get to the Rathaus, you'll go through Munich's most interesting market, the Viktualienmarkt. Just wind your way through the food stands, and you'll come out at the tower of the old town hall.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Rostock Warnemünde, Germany Running Route

Length: 13 km (8.1 miles), terrain flat NOTE: You can cut this run short any time, as it runs up and down the beach

For other running routes, see Route List.

Rostock is an old Baltic harbor city with a long seafaring tradition, and a lot of sites of interest. But the nicest thing about it is its closeness to the nearby beaches, in its resort area, Warnemünde. My favorite Rostock run is out along the Baltic sand dunes of this charming vacation town. There is an easy connection from the Rostock main train station, just a 20-minute ride on the S-Bahn. Let's hope that you are there in the summer, like I was, and can jump into the water for a break or two during your beach run.

The train station in Warnemünde is right in the heart of this small town, just a block from the main promenade along the old fishing harbor. When you get out of the train, just follow the crowd towards the left (west) and run one block to the bridge over the narrow harbor. This was once the old course of the Warnow River.
Warnemünde harbor
To the right, the fishing boats and tour boats line the waterfront. The main promenade, Am Strom, lines the water, built in the quaint style of German resort architecture of the 19th century, looking like Dutch colonial houses found in up-state New York and the Cape Town area in South Africa. The street is full of restaurants, shops and vacation apartments.

Am Strom
Turn right after the bridge and run down Am Strom. There is one way down low by the boats and another way higher up along the houses, so you can take the one you like best, and both are great. Just keep running straight ahead. Soon the houses will end, and the street turns into a walkway going out onto the harbor mole, with its green harbor light. There's a great view out here of the coast and the cruise ships that seem to constantly glide by.

At the end of the mole, turn and run back the same way, but instead of running back into town, turn right at the doorway in the wall along the walkway, and it lets you run westwards, directly out onto the beach. Now you can just run straight along the Baltic water to the west, staying in the fairly wet sand, so the going is not too tough.

You are now running right through the pulsing beach scene: families swimming, kids building sand castles, the wicker beach chairs lined up, the caipirinha bars pumping out music. On shore, to the left, you'll see the town with its light-house and hotels. The beach curves straight westwards for about 4 kilometers towards a wooded, sand-cliffed cape. You can make this run as long as you want, really, because the beach continues after the cape for a long, long way.

We'll just go to the cape. After just a kilometer, the town basically ends, and the beach narrows. Soon you reach the spot where the woods begins, rising above the cliffs. The jetties end out here and the beach is covered with more and more stones. It's beautiful and natural out here, and a great place to take a swim.

You have a choice here: continue running on the beach or to run up along the clifftops in the woods. There are occasional stairs leading up to the cliffs, and the woods are combed with hiking trails. I like to run one way in the sand and run the other way through the woods. Turn around at the cape (or wherever you please!) and it's a straight run back to town.
Warnemünde lighthouse
But we haven't seen much of the town itself yet. Zig-zagging along its quiet streets is worth a detour. So when you finally get back to the big Neptun Hotel, run straight into the town (turn to the right), on the street just past (east of) the hotel, Kurhausstraße. After just a block, you'll see the town park on the left. Turn into the park and run through it until you hit Heinrich-Heine-Straße, where you turn right and run for just 100 meters, where you'll come to the church.
Just before the church, turn left on Kirchenplatz and run till it ends behind the church, where you turn left on Friedrich-Franz-Straße. These quiet backstreets are full of old holiday houses and a quiet charm that makes you want to slow down and enjoy the scenery. After a few blocks, the street ends in a quiet square, where you need to curve around to the right, and you end up in a bigger square with the lighthouse.

Now we run back to the train station by just running straight south on Alexandrinenstraße, which runs parallel to Am Strom. The street heads back towards the church, running into the Kirchenstraße, where you turn left and in just a block you are back at the bridge over the harbor.