In praise of the hol­i­day jog: there’s no bet­ter way to find your bear­ings in a new city

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Globetrotter -

It was first thing on the first morn­ing on my very first trip to New York City, so one might rea­son­ably ex­pect it to have in­volved a lie-in of sorts, fol­lowed, per­haps, by a visit to the brunch joint next door for that all-Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence: a wob­bly stack of fat, syrup-doused and sugar-pow­dered pan­cakes. But in­stead, awake early with a be­fud­dled body clock, I slipped on my train­ers and took to the streets of Man­hat­tan, led by my phone’s GPS past herds of com­muters and bumper-to-bumper traf­fic to­wards the East River Park path that passes un­der Brook­lyn Bridge. It was a sim­i­lar story on a dis­gust­ingly windy, rainy March morn­ing in Copen­hagen, when my friend and I set out from our ho­tel, shiv­er­ing in our vest tops in the frigid air, for iconic Ny­havn, where the only peo­ple about were café own­ers prop­ping up sand­wich boards on the cob­ble­stones for the day ahead. In Lis­bon, we dis­cov­ered just a lit­tle too late that the streets are far too hilly for any­one to sen­si­bly run on them – but run we did (after a fashion), puce and sweat­ing, up and down the nar­row streets with their painted tile walls. Sheets, hung from win­dows, bil­lowed above. Before the ac­cu­sa­tions of sanc­ti­mony reach my ears, let me de­fend my­self thus: it’s not about be­ing healthy or stay­ing trim. An ath­lete I am demon­stra­bly not. That would re­quire a fo­cused self-ap­pli­ca­tion, whereas this, frankly, is all about im­pa­tience. If I walked in­stead of jogged, I’d ei­ther see half as much, or spend twice as long see­ing it, and that’s just in­ef­fi­cient. If run­ning is what it takes to cap­i­talise on limited time, so be it. Like many, I like to ab­sorb the ge­og­ra­phy of a city: where I am within it; how its parts fit to­gether to form a whole. Dur­ing warm-up stretch­ing, I pinch and swipe on my dig­i­tal map, hunt­ing for patches of green, rib­bons of blue, and the streets that con­nect them. Tiny lanes win out over main roads. I take men­tal note of pos­si­ble de­tours to land­marks. Gen­er­ally, I’ll get a lit­tle bit lost at least once.

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