Saturday, 31 March 2012

Copenhagen Christiania Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 5.75 km (3.6 miles), terrain flat

Copenhagen Running Routes:
Old Town  
Lakes (Søerne)  
Freetown Christiania   

Klampenborg Deer Park 
For other running routes, see Route List

Photos courtesy the great photographers at Flickr CreativeCommons Thanks!

Here is a Copenhagen route that combines some real contrasts. It begins at the city hall, running through the normal downtown scene, then heads through the grandeur of Christiansborg Palace complex (the Parliament), and later makes a loop through the infamous "Freetown Christiania" neighborhood, known for its anarchic, borderline-illegal lifestyle, before heading back to the starting point at the city hall. And, as an added twist, we'll pass some of the strangest spiral steeples in the city.
Radhus troll, photo by Matthew Wilkinson
The route starts in the same spot as the Old Town Loop Run, on the city hall square (Rådhuspladsen), and also starts off the same way, heading northeast on Strøget, to Nytorv square. But here, we'll turn right and head down Rådhusstræde

Keep running straight (south) and you will soon come to a canal around Christiansborg Palace. This is an impressive ensemble of buildings housing the Danish Parliament (Folketing), the supreme court, royal reception rooms and museums. The first castle on this site was built almost a thousand years ago, and it has been the seat of Danish national power ever since.
Christiansborg, home of Parliament, photo by sebd_ch
Turn left, over the moat and into the big courtyard in front of the parliament. There is a gate on the right side of the building which takes you out through a smaller courtyard to the north side of the building.

There is a moat on this side, too. Turn right at the water and run past the long renaissance-style exchange-building (the Børsen) with the bizarre spiral tower on your right. The twisted dragons are said to protect the stock exchange.
Very strange Børsen steeple, photo by FastPhive
Now you run straight over the next bridge on Torvegade to the last neighborhood to explore, the "Free Town" of Christiania. This neighborhood was famous in the 1970s through 1990s as an anarchic commune where the police never tread, and drugs were sold and consumed openly on the street. Open drug sales were banned in 2004. Nowadays, Christiania is a fairly gentrified place, but it still has a bit of the old counter-cultural flair.

The area is also an old barracks area, with walls and moats around the back side.
Frelserskirke, photo by Lothann
Run past the nice new apartment buildings and restored historic buildings with their waterside marinas till you get to Prinsessegade, where you turn left. Run past the next spiral steeple at the Frelserskirke (Our Saviour Church) and keep going for 3 more blocks, to where the road curves to the right along the strange, graffiti-painted wall.

Turn right into the neighborhood behind the wall at the sign that says "Welcome to Christiania".
Welcome to Christiania, photo by burningmax

Bikes are everywhere in Christiania, photo by burningmax
 You'll run through a jumble of old hippie-style houses, the most interesting corner of the area. 
Christiania house, photo by spenny j
At the little green square, turn right and run straight southwest, past "Pusher Street", and out of the neighborhood again.

NOTE: If you come back again later, you can eat at Nemoland, at the south end of Pusher Street. It is a collection of food stands and bars where you can eat and drink inside and out for a decent price.
Christiania's Statue of Liber... huh?, photo by KnutYngve

Mosaic tree in Christiania, photo by only alice
You will come to the moat, where you follow the waterfront path to the right that zig-zags along the points of the old defensive walls.
Christiania waterfront, photo by Copenhagener
The path runs into the bridge going back into the main part of town, over the Langebro bridge. You are now on (the loud) Hans Christian Anderson Boulevard, which will take you past Tivoli and the city hall to your starting point at Radhuspladsen. Hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Hong Kong Peak Trail Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7 km (4.3 miles), terrain hilly

Hong Kong running routes:
Hong Kong, Bowen Road midlevels run
Hong Kong Peak Trail route

For more running routes, see Route List.

Photos courtesy of Flickr CreativeCommons

Here's a route that you can't beat if you have a free day in Hong Kong. It's a bit isolated, 300 meters up in the central mountains of Hong Kong Island, so you probably won't have time to get up there on a workday.

But if you're lucky enough to have a free day in busy, crowded Hong Kong, you're probably ready to get out into nature with a trail like this: running through woods with constant vistas of the skyscrapers below, the glittering seas and the further islands and mountains of Hong Kong.
Amazing sunrise view from the Peak Trail, photo by slack12
This route follows part of Hong Kong Trail. The 50km trail meanders past the peaks, through the wooded hills above the narrow island coastline all around. The whole interior of the island is fairly unpopulated, covered by Hong Kong's various country parks, and the Hong Kong Trail connects them in 8 sections.

This route follows Section 1, beginning at the Peak tram station. The "Peak" is Victoria Peak, a 500-meter hill rising right above the Central District (called "Victoria" in the British colonial days) and Kennedy Town in the northwest corner of the island.

NOTE: Another great run or hike that I have done is to start at the same spot, turn left onto Peak Drive and run the 600 meters to Gough Hill Path, where you turn right then continue downhill down Peel Rise until you run into the Hong Kong Trail. Turn left to get onto section 3 of the trail to Wan Chai Gap, where you can either take a bus back to the city or run down Wan Chai Gap Road the 180 meters of height difference back to Wan Chai. There are great views of Aberdeen (the main town on the south coast of the island) and Aberdeen Reservoir from there, and lots of beautiful Chinese nature.

And getting there is one of the highlights of the trip: riding the Peak Tram. This 125-year-old conveyance heads straight uphill to Victoria Gap, the starting point of the run. Buy your round-trip ticket on the Peak Tram down at the Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus, right near Hong Kong Park. Round trip tickets cost HK$65, and the tram runs from 7 am to 12 midnight, leaving every 10- to 15 minutes.
The Peak Tram, photo by iambents
The tram heads straight uphill, one of the most interesting rides on the island (the others being the ancient double-decker streetcars in Wan Chai, and the old ferries to Kowloon).
Peak Station Tower, photo by leef_smith
When you get out of the Peak Station turn right and take the narrow road leading directly along the side of the station, Lugard Road. This road will take you counter-clockwise around Victoria peak. You will immediately begin experiencing the wonderful panoramas to the north: Central District and Kowloon across the channel. The new skyscrapers have been marching up the hillsides in recent decades. Let's hope that they will never be allowed up here!
View of Central District from the Peak Trail, photo by ThirstyInLA
The first 1 km will go slightly uphill (60 meters rise), then the next 3 kilometers will go downhill (100 meters downwards). It will then rise 100 meters over the final 2.7 km.

Some parts of Lugard Road are jungley, with banyan trees planting their hundreds of air-roots on both sides of the paved path.

After 2 kilometers, Lugard Road runs into Harlech Road. You could continue straight back to the Peak station from here, just 1 km due east along Harlech Road, but we'll continue following the Hong Kong Trail. It turns right, to head due west along Harlech, going downhill, with High West Peak on the left side (there's also a little trail going off to the left to go up to that peak, for anyone who wants some extra adventure).
Harlech Road waterfall, photo by ThirstyInLA
At the end of Harlech Road there is a lookout spot for the great panorama to the west. The buildings Queen Mary Hospital line the slope below you.

Now, continue downhill here as the path winds around High West towards the south. You will go slightly downhill for a kilometer, until you make a left turn above the valley for the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.
Hong Kong Trail stream, photo by Charles Mok
Now the trail begins going back uphill as you run up the wooded valley.

The trail will run into Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road, where you turn left and continue uphill straight back to the Peak Station.
Looking back over Pok Fu Lam, photo by ThirstyInLA
I hope that gave you a taste for more: the trails of Hong Kong Island and the nearby islands Lantau and Lamma are an outdoors paradise!