Monday, May 7, 2012

Running Abroad

Last week was filled with a lot of firsts for me.  First stamp in my new passport, first time in Business class on a flight, first trip to Europe (Denmark with a pitstop in Iceland), first run on foreign soil, first bike ride in a foreign country, and a few more things. 

Let's start with the trip to Copenhagen.  Before I left on Saturday I did a 16 mile run with Kim and Shannon splitting the miles with me again.  My flight left Boston at 9:30pm Saturday night and I arrived Sunday afternoon and just got settled in my hotel room before going to dinner with my boss.  My legs actually got really swollen probably from the combination of running 16 miles and then sitting on a plane for ~12hrs.  I had cankles.  It was really weird.  Even when I was overweight I don't remember my ankles ever being that swollen. 

Anyway, dinner Sunday night, we walked into the main town square and my boss took me to his favorite italian place.  I figured there would be something I could eat, maybe plain pasta and sauce, I was wrong.  The only vegetarian thing they had was spinach and ricotta cannaloni and I seriously doubt there was much spinach in it at all.  It was basically a bowl of melted cheese.  Thank God I brought snacks and could eat a little when I got back to the hotel.

Monday we went to work, it was crazy busy and I could see I was not going to get to explore the city much while I was there.  Only time I got to see the city was on a short run after work and before dinner each night.  Here are some photos from my first running tour through Copenhagen (CPH) 6 miles along the water front:
Hans Christian Andersen Blvd.

Nyhavn (New Harbour)
The Little Mermaid

My souvenir - a cobblestone from the streets of CPH

Monday night for dinner we went to the Thai restaurant in the hotel.  It was ok, not great, but I was happy to have something I could actually eat.  Veggies!!!  YAY!  Oh and I forgot to mention at work there was no cafeteria, they have food brought in for lunch and it is usually a variety of meats and bread.  So I ate a lot of bread.

Tuesday, I did another 6 miles after work and explored a different part of the city.  I went into the heart of CPH and tried to spot as many tourist attractions as possible.  Here are my photos:
Some museum

Tivoli amusement park/gardens

Main square with McD's sign above a BK

Round Tower

Stork Fountain (which is actually cranes not storks)

Stroget - main shopping area

Royal Gardens

Marble Church

Kastellet - fort/park

Opera house

Royal Palaces

Tuesday night for dinner we just wandered downtown and stumbled upon one of the 4 vegetarian restaurants I was able to find on Google - RizRaz.  It was nothing fancy, a vegetarian buffet, cheap all you can eat veggies.  HEAVEN for me in a land of meat eaters.  My boss was less impressed.  It was kind of amusing.

Wednesday, I did a shorter run, 5 miles.  To an area of CPH called "the lakes".  They are manmade ponds, maybe for defense of the inner city back in the day, now beautiful parks for walking and biking.  It was a short mile and a half to the lakes and then I ran around two of them and back to the hotel.  It was very similar to running along the Charles.  Different loops and bridges you could run for various distances.  Here are the photos from that run:
The Lakes

A running store!

The distances around each lake in danish/metric

Action shot waiting at a stop light

Wednesday night for dinner we ate at the hotel again, but at a different restaurant.  Again there were not many options for me.  I had pasta with pesto and had to ask for a salad made special for me without meat. 

Thursday I did a much shorter run through one of the suburb sections just outside the city near our hotel.  I wanted to see a few more of the hot tourist attractions.  I went to this famous church with crazy stairs that go all the way up the steeple on the outside, but it was closed.  I might have been too scared to climb it anyway.  Even the view from the ground was intimidating.  I also ran past the "free town" area - hippy section.  Here are the photos:
Church with crazy stairs


Thursday night we went for dinner and drinks with a colleague from Copenhagen.  Once again food was limited for me because someone suggested going to a 'burger joint' even though everyone knew I do not eat meat.  I was able to order several small appetizers and a bowl of miso soup.  The dessert was the best part of the meal, Creme Brulee - YUMMY!  Then we went ot a little hole in the wall bar that I'm not even going to mention because I don't want it to become a tourist attraction.  What made it awesome was that it was impossible to find and overflowing with character and class.  The drinks were super special cocktails based on early mixed drinks from prohibition speak easys and under ground clubs.  It was so fun!

Friday was my last day in CPH and it was a holiday so I didn't have to work, but neither did anyone else in the city.  Everything was closed.  I rented a bike from the hotel and road around the quiet cobblestone streets for a few hours before catching my flight home.  It was a really fun way to see the city and I highly recommend it.

Although it was a whirlwind trip and I enjoyed seeing a new place, I was VERY happy to get home and eat some fresh leafy green lettuce and seasonal organic veggies.  The salad I had for lunch on Saturday was simple, but you would have thought it was the equivalent of dietary gold.  I savored every bite.

UPDATE on the Huffington Post contest.  I made it to the final round and voting has now closed.  I will let everyone know if I win and post the pictures afterwards.

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