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Runs and Rides

Some adventures and special trips.

Running in Albano mountains

Participating in architectural surveys in Villa Domitian in Castel Gandolfo, I have had chance to spend a fair share of time running around there. We have been staying in Miralago Hotel [1]. The food there was amazing and so were the trails around as well. Working as surveyor is a challenging job – you have to be on your feet all day long, and in some cases you have to walk around a lot as well. I particularly enjoy the long walks/expeditions. I felt like a child again, searching for ancient remains – just like we used to look for hidden treasure. And the joy of each finding was the same as it was back then. If you switch on this Columbus-mode once, I find it impossible to switch it off again. So, I have kept my eyes open on all runs and it made my adventures more exciting.

The Albano mountains are a vulcanic mountain range, composed out of four/five large craters of which two are filled with water – Albano Lake and Nemi Lake. This area has been very popular as a recreational spot for Romans since ancient times when the emperors and senators used to build here their villas (like the one we have been working on). There are several paths, see the plan attached below, to go for a run or ride but be prepare, the marking system is poor – especially comparing it to the one in central Europe.  I will attach to each route a GPX-file.

plan of paths

Plan of paths in the Albano Mountains – plan found on the information panel.

I will pick the most interesting runs for you and attach some pictures to them as a little motivation of what to expect on your way. However, I find it very limiting to try and squeeze two months of experience into one post, so I hope to do my best.


1st – ONCE AROUND ALBANO LAKE (10km)

I believe this is a must. It is the easiest one so even with people of lower fitness level will have no problem managing it. I have been running this one in several variations, you can simply go once around the lake or park your car on the edge of caldera, e.g. in Castel Gandolgo or at Trattoria Le Fratte Ignoranti [2]. However, the vertical connection between lake and caldera edge is due to steep hills very rare. You can chose from two roads with traffic and one trail. There should be a second trail as well, yet I have lost it in woods and had to find my own way. I would not recommend to do so in all parts! You can easily find yourself standing of high crag.

The trail around lake runs halfway in woods, yet you would find several spots where you can enjoy the view over lake and Castel Gandolfo. It is quite popular with bikers as well. What is more, this spring they have been secured the flying rocks from the steep hills around the whole crater, so it should be safe. Unfortunatelly, a part of the route follows the street and the promenade along the coastline, so you would find yourself running on hard surface.

GPX-file (link)


2nd – AQUADUCTS and water (5-10km)

If you are passioante about antique ruins, you should definitely check this one out. The best starting point is the Trattoria Le Fratte Ignoranti. I would highly recommend this place as a great starting point for several routes, there are some parking lots (free of charge) and you can get a nice lunch afterwards as well. The pizza is so delicious! 🙂

..to be continued.

GPX-file (link)

3rd – MONTE CAVO (5-20km)

If you like great view, make sure you do not miss this one. Monte Cavo is the second largest hill in Albano mountains. I have made it up there several times, mostly for the sunset. You can run up there along the Via Sacra or you can bike on them modern road (cars are also not banned but I will not support this option 🙂 ).

GPX-file (link)

4th – NEMI LAKE

After discovering pathes around Albano Lake in September 2014, I was very excited to get to Nemi lake in spring 2015. I have to say, I was fitter and more enthusiastic about exploring on foot then. Nevertheless, if you will be longing for a nice stroll or run around the lake, you will be disappointed. Unfortunatelly, there is no path along the coastline. You can take a path descending from Nemi – either the steep one or along the modern road. They both lead to the Museum (Museo navi romane – exhibiting an acient boat which was found in Nemi lake and some more) but thats it. There is no beach and I was having hard time getting to the water in general, so no swimming either. The northern part of crater is blocked by agricultural activity and the few settlements. To be honest, I only liked this lake from caldera edge.

no separate GPX-file

5th ALL IN ONE (30+ km)

….

GPX-file (link)

[1] Hotel Miralago, Albano Laziale, Rome: http://www.miralago-hotel.it/

[2] Trattoria Le Fratte Ignoranti: http://www.lefratteignoranti.it/info__contatti.html

41.734046 N, 12.666277 E

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Morning run in Istanbul

My first time visiting Istanbul did not go according to my plan. Right after landing, my vallet was stolen. Therefore, the rest of my trip was not so enjoyable for me. Despite that terrible first impression the city has made on me, I have returned there for second time – and of course, I have been watching my purse consistently. In March 2015, I have participated in an architecture workshop organised by BTU Cottbus and fully funded by DAAD. We have been staying in a hotel literally next to Galata tower, so I have landed right in the middle of the largest tourist-stream in Istanbul. Our task was to draft out a proposal for the waterfront in Karakoy – and to my surprise it has been booming with locals there. Just few steps aside from Galata bridge, you would find fish market, some outdoors cafes and plenty of hardware stores and workshops. It was really lovely there. So as I have been enjoying the site visits and fighting the tourists on my way ‘home’, I have decided to see some more of the real Istanbul.

Visiting for the second time, I was no newbie in Istanbul. I have remembered my friend’s advice to purchase an Istanbulkart for the public transportation to move around faster and less expensive – it pays off right after 5 rides. However, its biggest benefit is saving you the rush and panic at the tourniquets when getting on tram, metro or ferry – I really appreciated just sweaping a card every time and not to have to look for coins! If you are a small-town-lover and you freak out in crowds easily, you should definitely get one! Plus, up to 5 people can travel with just one card. Anyway, getting around was not stressful for me anymore and I could explore the city.

Two weeks in crowded city can be overwhelming, especially if you like open space just I like do. Don’t get me wrong, I do not mind company and I definitely enjoy meeting people. However, sometimes I also appreciate to be alone for few moments and need some time out of the jam. So, I have had packed into my suitcase a pair of running shoes (they are great for normal sightseeing as well!) and I had to put them into proper use at least one morning! The scedule of workshop was quite intense and there was no time for slacking off. So, I have decided to get up early and squeeze this adventure into my program before breakfast.

Google has answeared my question where to and so I have boarded a ferry to Kadikoy at 6:10am. Getting to asian side of Istanbul, I have felt like entering a different universe. Everything there seemed to be normal – people getting their morning cofee and newspaper before getting on the bus, the stores were selling everything except postcards, and the most exciting thing was – I have spotted some other runner fellows! So, my mood has been boosting up despite the ungodly hour. Thousands of kilometers away, yet I felt like home. I have headed to south along the coastline (you can check out the GPX-file or just the screenshot). When Google said, there is a running path, I was not expected anything like that. At the beginning, I have been folowing a bike road (see pics in the gallery) or at some point I had to run on sidewalk of a street. However, after about two kilometers of what was already a nice run, I have reached the coastline park. Basically, they have skipped the first block of buildings and turned the area into a green area. There were some fitness station along or playgrounds for children, even picknick area. As I have got there on a rainy-foggy early morning, I cannot tell how crowded it gets during nice days. Nevertheless, the views were great – you could see the dense waterfront on one side and the vast open water on the other. At some point, I saw even the prince islands – or at least I assume. The cherry on the top was the running carpet. Maybe it is just me who has spent too much time running in the woods but seriously, a track carpet? I understand it is not muddy, still, I find it somehow ridiculous 🙂

All in all, I have enjoyed this morning adventure pretty much and it has definitely helped me to move pass the story with stolen vallet! So I have left Istanbul on good terms this time and am looking forward the next one.

Read also “Seeing (instead of sightseeing) Istanbul.’


screnshot of the route

Sreenshot

GPX-file link


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Cycling adventure in Cairo

Comuting to work or school by bicycle is quite common in Europe, e.g. according to offical website, 63% of Amsterdammers use their bike on a daily basis. [1] it is safe to say, the infrastructure in west-european region is very bike-friendly. However, I come from central Europe [2] and here we usually think about cycling as one of many leisure time activities. So I have rarely ridden my bike just to get from the point A to the point B, even though it would be possible. Therefore, I have been very impressed when a friend of mine in Cairo bought a mountainbike (and of course a helmet as well!) to commute to school. From that moment on, I have been very enthusiastic to join them next time, when I get to visit Cairo.

Participating in a Spring school Siwa in 2013, I have travelled to Egypt for third time and have already had some friends there, who have made my trip very interesting. Thank you. I have also been brave ehough to travel on my own this time and wanted to try new things. As I have found out, some Fridays architecture and urban planing students of Cairo University organise cycling tours. Unfortunatelly, there was no sceduled ride for the time I was staying in Cairo, so I have got a private ride! My friends have organised bike-rentals [3] and we were good to go. As it tends to get hot in Egypt, we had to start early. The route was not so special, my wish was quite simple –  move around in that heavy traffic on dusty streets, ride along the Nile, and get to my favourite drink store at some point. They make the most delicious juices – either fresh fruit juice or milkshakes, definitelly worth visiting! [4]

I would say, it was a unique experience. At the beginning, I was frightened and overwhelmed by the traffic. We have started on a wide road (it looked like a highway to me:) around 8am and we hit the morning traffic really soon. And that was the point, when I loosen up and started to enjoy this whole adventure. Suddenly, we have been faster than cars and to top it off, my friends also showed me few shortcuts. (I would highly recommend you to plan a route in advance and take a GPS with you.) We have ridden on dusty, narrow, streets – avoiding the stopping cars and deep potholes in the road. It was just like mountainbiking – very exciting and adrenaline started to fill my veins. There were no rules, and I have started to appreciate the whole chaos of this city jungle. Moving forward on the overcrowded streets at a good pace gave me a felling of freedom. Surrounded by people, yet alone. It was a nice escape, especially if you find big cities to be imprisoning and you are in need of open space from time to time.

If I were to chose my least favourite sightseeing activity from Cairo, it would be visiting pyramids. Not that they were not appealing, they were impressive. I just did not like the atmosphere around – there were only tourists and invasive vendors. On the contrary, discovering Cairo´s downtown by bike was definitely an unexpected highlight of my trip. I have enjoyed the casualness of the whole situation. I did not feel attacked all the times and have got to see everyday´s Cairo and not to mention the delicious Oreo-Milkshake! If you get bored sightseeing on your next trip, I would recommend trying it out. However, I would not advise you renting bikes for communing – that can become your worst nightmare really fast, e.g. trying to get some specific place, nto to mention locking up the bike, etc.


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LINKS

[1] http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/media-centre/city-hall/dossier-cycling/cycling-facts-and-figures

[2] For your information, the midpoint of Europe is acctually located in Slovakia, so I refuse to think about my country as being a part of eastern block.

[3] you should try out the rental Pdal team. You can contact them via facebook https://m.facebook.com/pdal.team or by phone +201 004 233 134. I am sure, they will be happy to help you out as well!

[4] Cairo City Drinks on El Tahrir St. in Giza, https://goo.gl/maps/no896p6usWK2 or coordinates 30.039162 N,  31.214980 E.

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