It comes as no surprise that my favourite way to see a city is to get up at the crack of dawn and give it the runaround. There’s simply nothing quite like waking up alongside a city; whether it’s skirting around delivery vans dropping off fresh baked goods for the start of day, or darting businessmen and women hustling to get to work on time, taking an early-morning run while traveling is by far my favourite way to discover a city. You never know what you’ll see before the sun creeps up! Rising early to hit the pavement has led me to discover a Canadian cemetery in the North of Wales, and accidentally join a 5km while spending an anniversary weekend in Pittsburgh and been yelled at by a fellow hostel guest in Geneva who must have dreamed her alarm went off and blamed it on the early risers, or, I suppose I should say runners.
While I’ve had my fair share of fabulous runs to kick-start my travels around the world, here are my top 5! If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss out on the chance to take in the fresh air, the beautiful landscape and hit the ground running:
1. Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C
Starting at Canada Place and ending at English Bay, the approximately 12 kilometer run through Stanley Park is the most amazing and memorable runs I have done to date (the fact that I ran it alongside one of my best friends was totally just the icing on the cake). Next to cyclists, joggers and walkers galore, you’ll weave in-between greenery set directly net to a never-ending coast-line in one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Check out more about Stanley Park and other things to see an do in Vancouver in my blog series on Beautiful British Columbia.
Mzungu. The term was first used to describe someone who wanders around aimlessly, and thereafter became used to refer to white people in their attempts to colonize the African continent. Every morning, when I would go running with one of my fellow volunteers, we would hear Mzungu shouted through the streets. Running every morning was a great way to familiarize ourselves with the village. Often young people would run beside us laughing as we took to the paths in our sneakers and running gear, only to get showed up completely by some guy blowing past us in flip flops. The area around the village used to be inhabited by a diversity of wildlife including giraffe, antelope, lion etc. but nowadays the only animals seen by the villagers were the odd hyena, snake or smaller animal wandering the bush. Thankfully, the hyenas were nowhere to be seen during out visit or this story may have been told in the form of a memoir instead of part of an ongoing blog.
As we got to know the people we worked with and lived with in the village, we soon acquired kiswahili nicknames. This is how I became Twiga, kiswahili for giraffe. With a nickname like Twiga, I was a hit with all the kids in the village. Okay, in all fairness, it may have had more to do with the soccer ball I carried with me everywhere I went and less to do with the nickname I had acquired.