Last week I got back from a week long trip going to Rome, Bari, and Berlin. Each place was very different from the last and left its own unique mark on our vacation. Since we were flying the budget airlines on some of the legs, we had to pack light and all four of us opted for the backpack option. After all, cobblestone streets and rolly bags are not good friends. I eagerly included my running gear and stuffed it into my over packed bag, thinking of all the cool places I would get to run around and all the sunrise pictures that awaited me! We left Munich in torrential downpour, soaking our pants and shoes. We got to the airport and boarded onto our Vueling flight, which pushed back from the gate at precisely the correct time. In less than two hours, we had landed in Rome.
We checked into our Hostel and walked the streets to see all of the main tourist attractions. We made our way over to the “Trastevere” area of town for dinner. We got caught in the rain, so did what we had and ordered another bottle of wine and continued playing Euchre. The next day we went to the Vatican, but quickly left because of the obnoxious and pushy tour salesmen. Basically the line to get into the Vatican is really long, but if you pay ~ 28 euro a person you can go with a tour group and skip the line. We decided that while we loved the pope, we thought he would understand our dislike for the greedy tourism that was buzzing around us and for 112 euro we would rather explore the streets and find a cafe to order some coffees. Next up we ventured to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Some places are touristy for a good reason and these were some of them. Rome is definitely worth a visit to see with your own eyes.
The next day we picked up our rental car and made our way to Puglia in the Southeast region of Italy. We stayed in a Trulli house near Alberobello, which probably means nothing to anyone reading this, but it was a cool house and we ended up cooking most of our meals because the kitchen and dining room were perfect. It was refreshing and also difficult to be further from the tourism industry. Refreshing because we could really explore on our own and at least pretend we were trekking off the beaten path, but difficult when you get locked out of your house and the butcher/B&B owner down the street only speaks Italian! Also interesting because the power goes out from time to time, leaving you potentially in complete darkness and without running water if you don’t reset the power fuse. Our airbnb host assured us this is quite normal in the region. On our way north to the Bari airport and coincidentally on the only day it didn’t rain, we stopped in Monopoli and Polignano a Mare. These cities were the real life versions of what you imagine when hearing “Scenic coast of Italy.” We decided we had to jump into the Adriatic Sea. Our RyanAir flight did not disappoint and departed precisely on schedule.
We arrived in Berlin, literally salty and also rugged from our travels thus far. We had booked rooms at the Hilton and the Westin (yay for points!) and were culture shocked upon entering the lobby. After staying in a hostel and a remote house in Italy, we were now in a modern, English speaking hotel with amenities like “Executive Lounge Happy Hour.” Not that any of us were complaining – we ate and drank in that lounge every day. The streets of Berlin are clean and the buildings are modern. I had always heard this about Berlin, but it really is shocking to see in person, especially comparing it with other European towns in the vicinity. We met up with two more friends here – one working near Copenhagen and the other working in Dresden. Meeting up with friends in a foreign country is always a little surprising to me when it works out. Despite being thousands of miles from home – you find them waiting for you in a random square just as planned. We saw the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, explored history museums, and even tried our hand at clubbing. Emphasis on the tried. The club scene in Berlin turns away a lot of tourists – do research before just showing up! On our last day in Berlin, the weather was perfect and we even found a nearby sandy shore. Complete with swimmers in the full nude! We stuck with some beers and cards.
From here our group split, Patrick and I headed back to Munich by train and his friends went on to Prague. Just like the planes, the train rolled out of the Berlin Central Train Station at the exact minute printed on our tickets.
As much as I am the first person to preach about sticking to a routine and making time for your physical goals in everyday life, things will get in the way. It’s inevitable! I had planned to keep up my running throughout this incredible trip, but once I realized that the choice was between enjoying this rare moment of travel and going to bed early to run a few miles in the morning, I knew the right decision was to enjoy the moment. We stayed in each city for only two nights and I’m not guaranteed to see any of these places again. With any luck, I will be guaranteed to run in the days to come.
Upon returning to Munich, Patrick and I went for a short jog and cooled off by jumping in the Isar. The next day (Tuesday), I got out of bed when my alarm went off and made up my long run that I would have normally ran on Saturday. It’s as easy as that to get back on track.