Tag Archives: Rome

Running around the world

Well let’s be realistic – I am not a runner – more like a jogger.  But I have run two marathons (that’s the long 42 km run – and I felt every kilometer).  And I have done a few half marathons.  As you can tell I am quite proud of that but I must admit those were quite a while ago and I don’t think I could even do a half marathon now.  But I enjoy my jogs around the neighbourhood and Fish Creek Park.  I also love to jog when I go on holiday.  It is a great way to explore a city and in this instance jet lag is your friend.

You wake up at 4.30 am and what can you do?  Lace up your shoes and go for a run.  You see the city in its waking up stage.  The dustbin men are out ….. sorry – for my Canadian readers that means the garbage trucks.  (What an odd name calling it a dustbin???  That’s a topic for another day).  You get to see people on their way to work and the coffee bars just opening up.  On a jog through Hyde Park in London we got to see the Household Cavalry doing their morning exercises.  They do something called “The Gallop” and seeing them come through the mist was extraordinary. This little video will give you a feel for one of their practices although sadly no galloping – but just listen to the sergeant major at the end – talk about throwing your voice!

Something exhilarating seeing those incredible horses in the early morning and you could actually see their breath in the cooler temperature.

One of my favourite cities for an early morning run is Venice.  Having no traffic is a huge bonus and you will probably end up doing a longer run than you had planned because Venice is notorious for its twisty alleys and surprise piazzas.  It is so easy to get lost but there’s always a café handy where you can have an espresso standing up at the bar with the gondoliers.  There are usually not many tourists out and about at that time of day so you really get to feel like a tourist – until somebody talks to you in Italian of course!

Another great running city is Rome and you get a really good workout with all the steps.  Rome is fascinating because round just about every corner you come upon some archeological dig  in progress and if you are early enough in the morning you won’t have to contend with Rome’s infamous traffic.  The morning rush hour is between 8 am and 10 am.  Isn’t that civilized?  A bit different when you compare Deerfoot.  Still Rome during the rush hour has earned a reputation for sure.  In fact driving in Italy as a whole – maybe something to do with that Latin temperament?  In fact Italy is known as “God’s racetrack”.  So if you decide to go for a jog in Rome go early – very early! And for goodness sake – stay out of the way of taxis. Time is money people – “sbrigati!!”

I have fond memories of running in Swaziland (now called Eswatini) as a member of our running club Swazi Slojos.  During the week we would run in town (a village really compared with Calgary) but at the weekends we would head out of town and run in the countryside.  That was always fun because as we ran through the small tribal villages the local kids would come running out to join us – shouting and hollering!  They would yell at us in SiSwati and take great delight in overtaking us at breakneck speed.  There we were with our high tech running shoes, water bottles, sun hats and smart watches which took our heart beat and pulse and alongside us ran this rag tag bunch of skinny barefoot kids!  They were thrashing us and all you could do was laugh along with them.  Good memories of a happy time!

Maybe you should pack your trainers for your next vacation.

Six thousand people in the Sistine Chapel

Well that’s what it felt like!  Wow talk about a crush.  We were herded – yes I mean herded – into the Sistine Chapel by very stern Italian police style guides who constantly shouted – “Move up, more to the middle, no talking, no photos”.  Goodness me – I wondered where he wanted me to stand.  Thank goodness I am not claustrophobic otherwise I would have been in real trouble!

Note - this is not my photo.  They said no photos so what the heck are all these people doing?

Note – this is not my photo. They said no photos so what the heck are all these people doing?

So how did I end up with six thousand new best friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world?  I booked my tour for 9.30 am (first mistake) in September (second mistake) when fifty cruise ships were in Rome (third mistake).

I did do one thing right – I booked a private tour.  Boy was I glad of that when I saw the line up at the entrance.
vatican_sistine_chapel_lines-1024x768 Our guide was amazing – doing his PhD in baroque art and architecture – so he knew a thing or too.  What he knew best, however, was how to skirt around corners through the massive surging crowd to find the best vantage point to view this or that important statue or painting.   He also gave us so much interesting information such as the last painting Michael Angelo did in the chapel is on the back wall and is called The Last Judgement.  It is a fantastic painting full of terror and turmoil – the only problem is that because the figures were all nude it was decided that this was a bit too rude for the church.  So they asked Michael Angelo’s former student to paint scarves over their bums – as so …
The Damned cast into Hell, Michelangelo
Once this was pointed out to me by Felix our guide I was quite horrified and yes, the “over-painting” becomes horribly obvious and for me spoils the whole thing.  Thank goodness Michael Angelo never saw this.

Despite the crowds it was worth it and Rome is a fantastic city for anyone interested in art and history.  My tips – go to the Vatican later in the day and if possible avoid Fridays and Saturdays as these seem to be the days the cruise ships are in port; take your good walking shoes and enjoy the city, every corner reveals another amazing ancient building and don’t forget your sense of humour.  You’re on holiday, remember!