Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Dinkelsbühl Old-Town Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 5 km (3.1 miles), terrain: easy, flat, gain 41 meters

Dinkelsbühl is one of those fairytale towns along Germany's Romantic Road: church towers rise above city walls lined by stone watchtowers. Heading through the city gates, the old-town lanes lead you from one little market square to the next, passing thousand-year-old monasteries and fountains surrounded by of half-timbered houses. If you visit south Germany, there's a good chance you'll end up in Dinkelsbühl.
Old-town street in Dinkelsbühl
Dinkelsbühl blends a mixture of South German culture, with good food and beer, perched on the border between Swabia, Bavaria and Franken. The Romantic Road (a section of route 25) links a string of scenic towns from Würzburg to Augsburg like pearls on a chain.

And there is no better way to discover a beautiful town like this than to put on your running shoes and start following the alleys past the gate-towers and little shops.
House entrance in the old-town
In Dinkelsbühl, you can run a loop around the old town, outside the walls, and also run a few zig-zags within the walls.

NOTE: There are also runs taking you outside town in each direction, see https://www.outdooractive.com/de/touren/#cat=Wanderung&filter=b-loopTour-1&view=listMap&wt=Dinkelsb%C3%BChl,%20Deutschland%20(undefined)&zc=14,10.3199,49.07836 
This run will just cover the essentials, circling the walled city once, then heading inside to wind through the narrow streets past the main sights in the old town.

Dinkelsbühl is shaped like an elongated triangle, with the angles pointing north, south and west. We'll start this inspiring run at the north end of town, outside one of the main gate towers, Rothenburger Tor (where the road to beautiful Rothenburg heads off to the north). There is a small lake there, Rothenburger Weiher, part of the water barriers that once protected the walled town.
Rothenburger Tor
To start the run, walk out through the gate, with the massive fortifications behind you, and run with the lake to your left side, heading north.
The Faulturm tower
At the north end of the lake, turn left to continue following the lakeside, and then left again to head back towards the fortifications, at the Faulturm tower. There is a public park here, with a big gazebo. There are a couple of parallel pedestrian trails following the outside of the walls, going southwards. Stay on the one closest to the wall, in the old moat. An earthen berm to the right side protects the city walls. You'll pass smaller towers every hundred meters or so, a really medieval setting.
Moat trail: wall to the left, protective earthen berm to the right
You'll head under a bridge that brings traffic through the western gate, the Segringer Tor. Keep running southwards.

After the one-kilometer-mark, you'll go under a narrow pedestrian bridge, where the trail circles back to take you up to the embankment to the right. Once up there, continue running southwards outside the walls. There are now various gardens between you and the walls.
The trail at the Segringer gate
When you come to the busy Südring traffic-circle at the south end of the old-town, keep running along the outside of the walls, past the Third-Dimension Museum (with its interesting optical illusions) located inside a fortified water mill with pointed corner towers. This is the two-kilometer-mark.
The 3D museum
Continue on the trail as it now turns northward, with a narrow side-arm of the Wörnitz River to your left, along the eastern walls. The open parkland keeps things nice and quiet.

There is a group of old houses outside the western gate, Wörnitztor. Keep running north through the archway through the yellow house, and into more parkland as we approach the spot where we started the run.
Wörnitztor gate-tower
When you come to the Schleuse Biergarten, where we started the run, turn left to run westwards directly between the wall and the Rothenburger Weiher pond, at the three-kilometer-mark.
The walls along the lake
Just before the round Faulturm at the northwest corner of town, turn left into the open pedestrian gateway through the wall, going into the old-town for the first time. Head between the old-fashioned gardens to the street ahead, Bauhofstraße. Right there on the corner is a huge half-timbered building that was once the armory, now used as a clubhouse for the kids' costume fest, Kinderzech.
Old timbering at the Kinderzech
Now just run south on this scenic street, past places like Weib's Brauhaus, the Schweinemarkt and the Rathaus (town hall). After you cross Segringer Straße, the street name changes to Föhrenberggasse as it curves to the southeast.

You'll pass a big baroque palace on the right side, the former local headquarters of the Teutonic Order, now used by the German tax authorities.
Teutonic Order palace
When you get to Schäfersgäßlein, turn left and run the one block to Nördlinger Straße. We're almost at the south end of the old-town now, so turn left and head back north through the eastern neighborhoods.

In a few blocks you'll come to the main church, the Gothic St. Georg, at the wine market. There are some other amazing old houses lining the market square here, take a look!
The Weinmarkt
Now run the few blocks north along Dr.-Martin-Luther-Straße towards our starting point at Rothenburger Tor.

Just before you get there, maybe turn right into the courtyard of that big yellow complex of buildings on the right side: the old hospital, the Spital. There are water wells, a water mill, a tread-mill, a theater and other interesting stuff to take a look at on a quick loop through the courtyard.
In the Spital courtyard
Now, aren't you glad you decided to get out and run today?

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Erfurt Old-Town Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 5.6 km (3.5 miles), terrain: easy, flat, gain 40 meters

Erfurt is packed with medieval beauty. The capital city of Germany's state of Thüringen isn't known by many people out there in the world, but Erfurt is a special place. And it's a great town for a memorable run.

This run will take you past many of the old-town's best sights: the unique house-lined bridge called the Krämerbrücke, the breath-taking cathedral hill, the Zitadelle fortress, the downtown, and the relaxed, green trails along the Gera River.
The Erfurt town hall
So, if you find yourself in this great little city and want to discover its treasures by foot, come along on this run through lots of great scenery!

To get running, let's first head to my favorite spot in town, the little park along the river at the north side of the Krämerbrücke. There, where the Augustiner beer-garden terrace meets the rippling water of the Gera there's a great view of the bridge. You can take in the beauty of the wall of half-timbered houses on top of the stone bridge, and see the old ford right next to it.
The Krämerbrücke
So let's get running: follow the path up onto the bridge and turn right to run over the Krämerbrücke, heading west. The walls of houses to each side make it hard to imagine that you're crossing a bridge. The old houses are home to a lot of nice tourist boutiques nowadays.
Crossing the bridge
When you exit the bridge, at Benediktplatz, the old synagogue is hidden in a courtyard across the square. Another great view of the bridge can be had if you turn to the right and look out from there.

Head straight out along Fischmarkt for the two blocks until you come to the real Fischmarkt square itself. This is one of the nicest spots in town, with the gothic town hall and some amazing renaissance houses gracing the Platz. We'll come back here again later for a closer look.
Zum Breiten Herd at the Fischmarkt
Now, keep going straight along the old shopping street, Marktstraße. You will run straight into the gigantic, open square in front of the cathedral hill, Domplatz. Sometimes there is a vegetable market there, but it never begins to fill this huge space.

The cathedral hill is pretty impressive, with its twin churches throning on the little hill across the square. The Gothic cathedral is to the left, and the three-steepled St. Severin's church on the right. Both are absolutely beautiful inside, and you should make sure that you come back later to explore.
Cathedral on left and St. Severin
But now, let's run up the steps that lead to the churches and run to the back side to take-in the view to the west.
At St. Severin
Now, run back down the steps and turn left to run to the north end of the Domplatz. There, on the next hill, Petersberg, thrones another highlight: the hilltop fortress called the Zitadelle.
Looking up towards the citadel
The stout stone walls beckon for a loop through the fort! So cross the street and head up the stone walkway heading up through the lawns along the hillside. There is a little vineyard to your left.

When you approach the walls, take the metal steps up to the higher road that heads into the main fort gate, Peterstor. The ornate gateway takes you through an archway below the fort commander's building.

Follow the cobblestoned lane as it continues upwards to the big open square. There is an old field-cannon there. Turn right and run through the square towards the big buildings to the right, along the north side.
The way up
There is a huge, abandoned barracks building and a romance-style stone building with an ill-fitting roof. The stone building is a thousand-year-old church, St. Peter's, which has a big history. It was part of an ancient Benedictine monastery which once stood here, next to the kaiser's castle. It was in this church that rebel duke Henry the Lion begged for forgiveness from Kaiser Barbarossa. When Napoleon conquered the area, the church was turned into a field hospital. It later burned out when the fort was attacked by the Prussians. The repaired building was later used as a warehouse, covered with the current roof.

Run between the two buildings towards the back. There, take the steps downward along the bastion walls. Now turn left and run back along the backside of the abandoned barracks building, turning left to come back to the fort's main square again.

Now let's run back out the same way that we came, heading downhill past the vineyard again, to the Domplatz.

Run south across the square, past the obelisk and then exit to the southeast on Kettenstraße.

Continue along Paulstraße, which ends at a long church, the Predigerkirche. Continue along the left side of the church along Predigerstraße for a block, until you come to the little lane called Schuhgasse, where you turn left and find yourself back at the Fischmarkt, with its Römer fountain.
The Römer fountain at the Fischmarkt
Now let's run through the lively shopping area of the old town, exiting the square towards the southeast along Schlösserstraße.

You'll soon cross the Gera River again, where there is an old water mill.
At the water mill
Continue straight along Schlösserstraße, where a tram line follows the street, taking us to the Anger, the main shopping district downtown.

Turn left at the Anger square and follow it to the Martin Luther statue and the church behind him where he once preached.
Demonstrators at the Anger
Just past the church, turn left on Meienbergstraße and follow it back to the Krämerbrücke, this time at the other end at Wenigemarkt.

The Aegidien Church covers the entrance to the bridge, so you run through the archway under the church to access the bridge again, then turning right to exit back to our starting point next to the river.
St. Ägidien at the Krämerbrücke entrance
You could stop here and enjoy the view if you feel like it, but why not keep running for another kilometer and explore a bit more of the leafy riverside?

So that's what the route does now: head north past the Augustiner and exit the park onto Schildgasse and then head further north on Comthurstraße.

At the Nikolai Hotel the street ends, but continue northwest on the riverside trail. After a few blocks, the trail loops through the little park called Venedig (Venice). This is our turnaround spot.
In Venedig-Park
To see something a bit different on the way back, take the footbridge to the southern part of the park, on an island in the river. When the trail ends, just continue the way we came in, just to the left of the island trail.

In a few minutes, you'll be back at the beautiful Krämerbrücke again. Time to stop and enjoy this amazing scene!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Best Running Routes in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the most fun cities in Europe, a lively urban mix that fascinates at every turn. It has a real creative feel, and people fill the outdoor restaurants each evening enjoying each other's company over some tapas and a bottle of wine or a beer. You're guaranteed to fall in love on day one. And what better way to get to know some of the most interesting sights than to strap on your running shoes and head off to discover the town on your own two feet?
Morning beach run
Here are the best running/jogging routes in town...

In Parc de la Ciutadella

Top Barcelona Running Routes:

Old Town: The Barrio Gótico (Gothic Quarter) is one of the most fascinating neighborhoods you'll ever see. It's a maze of narrow, curving lanes going back to the Roman days, with some Roman gate-towers and walls sprinkled among the medieval houses. This great route also adds nearby Plaza de Catalunya, the Ramblas and Port Vell at the harbor to round it out into one unforgettable run!

Montjuïc: The Montjuïc Hill, just south of the old town, is like being on another side of the planet. It's covered by parkland, with great views out over the Mediterranean and the city, with an old fort on the peak and the awesome Palau Nacional (now the Catalonian National Art Museum).  And we'll start the run at the Plaça d'Espanya, with its Magic Fountain and the old World's Fair buildings. Enjoy this great hill run!

Barcelona Beach: Barcelona is one of the few great cities of the world with a long stretch of beach right in the city. What had once been a decaying waterside full of old factories and railroad tracks, it's now a lively, beautiful Mediterranean hangout. This run takes you along the whole stretch, past Barceloneta and other great neighborhoods. Don't forget to take time to kick off your shoes and take a dip in the water!

Parc de la Ciutadella: This park, close to the beach, isn't terribly big, but it offers a lot of variety in one short run. With fountains, promenades, unique streetlamps, the Catalonian provincial parliament, the city zoo, a lake with lovers rowing in the evenings, and the Barcelona  Arc de Triomf. Make sure you visit this great corner of town!