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Frozen and Foggy

Those who follow me on Instagram (@runningarchitect) have already seen a little preview of the coming post on Saturday. Here comes the story behind.

I have ben resting at the begining of last week and my legs felt very fresh but I was also feeling very lazy. The weather was not helping either, the world behind the glas looked very hostile. Nevertheless, we have planned an exciting new route which had to be explored. So I have put on some warmer clothes as it was about 20k in cold and outside was a thin layer of fresh powder waiting for us. Sipping on mom´s hot soup in the evening, I was already convinced that the trip turned out great. On our way, we have conquered the central point of Slovakia [1]. I have to say, it is one of my favourite places to go for a hike. The top of the hill is quite exposed, a crag. I am always excited when I get a chance to scramble for a bit. There was even a some kind of a great view waiting for us on the top of the hill. Although you could not see in the distance, the picture of forest disappearing right in front of your eyes was enchanting as well. I have completely lost the sence of wider space in that thick fog. There was only this very small, yet limitless world around me. Now and here. I admit, it can be frustrating if you are lost but even then you could embrace the possibility of this strange freedom, running into unknown. The best part was, the whole run was accelerated and it felt like flying through. You know, if you only see the tip of your nose, even a slow pace seems to be an unbelievably fast tempo. What is more, the trees were plastered with snow and frost and it looked like the frozen kingdom. You can check out few pictures in the gallery attached below.

All in all, I am very glad I have found the strenght to get off that couch! It is usually so that things we are not very enthusiastic about tend to turn out much better than we would have anticipated at the beginning. So, just put on some shoes and go explore.

 

You can download the GPX-file here.

[1] Hrb with its altiture 1.254,7 meters above sea level. Or at least, that is what Wikipedia says 🙂

 

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Above everything, literally.

Christmas is probably the busiest time of year even in Slovakia and once can get sucked into that rush very easily. Crowds of people are streaming to supermarkets for last minute grocery shopping and the malls are bursting at the seams as well. All in all, it is very hectic and I have the feeling I have not seen the worst yet – there are still two more days to go. I usually love Christmas time – especially delicious food, seeing my my family, and plenty of days off. However, the haste knocks me out badly. So I have been glad we have proceeded in the outdoorsy adventures we have started this weekend. To make the most out of it, we have hiked in Velka Fatra – for more details on the route, check out the attached GPX-file attached below. Climbing out of the foggy valley was not without great effort and enormous amount of sweat, my legs were burning, but when we emerged above the fog ee have entered a completely different world, a very peaceful one. All my troubles have stayed down there in the thick milk. There was no signs of the rush going on deep down. Well, another great day and I am so beautifly tired, I might be going to bed at 9pm tonight!

GPX-file

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Winter Hike

Looking out of the bus window today, it is hard to believe I have been hiking in a winter wonderland last week. Not even the slightest trace of snow on these fields – I just hope, it will be different when I arrive at home. I have travelled this week to Germany as I had some interviews and consultations for my master thesis, so it has been a long week – a lot of socialising as well. Now, I am ready to crawl back into my cave and put my running shoes back on! Till then, I have few more hours in the bus and can at least look at those charming pictures, hoping it will be just the same when I get back.

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Frozen blueberries

I have been horrified after reading news this morning, yet I do not want to dive here into a political piece. Nevertheless, I have decided to go for a hike today and breathe in the last sunny moments of this autumn. According to weather forecast, tomorrow should begin the rainy version of fall and the magnificent views will be hidden for some time. Since I have moved back home from the flatest part of Germany, I have been trying to avoid altitude and steep hills on my runs. It is not an easy job to carry those extra kilos uphill, I get out of breath very quickly and my HR are rollercoasting. Anyway, the central part of Slovakia is everyhing except flat and so I have been recently struggling a lot. So if the climb is steep, I do not even attempt to run. I hike instead. I pack a full camelbak of water, put camera and dry clothes into backpack and turtle my way up.

I rarely pack some food or snacks, I would have a proper breakfast/or lunch before and then I would leave. So, I usually do not refuse any wild berries I find on my way. There is strawberry time in June, rapsberry season in July/August, blue- and blackberries would ripen in August/September, and the last would be cranberries. It is not a secret that the wild berries have more intense flavour when compared to the store fruit. Should I pick my favourite, I would say I love wild strawberries, they taste much better than the normal once. I am less passionate about rapsberries. They are delicious, yet I am repelled by the high number of worms I have found in them – I rather pass this sort of wildlife. On the other hand, I would definitely not hesitate about blueberries and they are definitely higher on my preference list than cranberries are. Nevertheless, it is middle of November and occasionally snowing in the mountains, so I was very pleased when I found some blueberries on the bush today as well. Some of them were frozen, the others were dried. Still, this did not stop me from eating them. 🙂

It was a very sweaty hike, yet I did enjoy the time outdoors. And who knows, maybe the next time I will go there on my ski – and then the blueberries will have already become a lactose-free blueberry ice cream!

 

GPX-file

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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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