The Casual Runner

A Casual Runner Goes to Germany

Running Abroad: Stuttgart and Darmstadt, Germany

I am lucky to have a job that allows me to travel a lot.  In the past year I’ve been to Germany twice, England, Miami and Key West, and Houston and Dallas.  In June 2015, I traveled to Germany again to spend a few days meeting with folks in Stuttgart and Darmstadt.  It was a quick trip and I had very little time to adjust to the new time zone before heading into my first day of meetings.

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About 30 seconds before the rain started. The storm clouds made the sky unusually dark.

Running or walking in the morning helps me get over jet lag so I ventured out of my hotel each morning to hit the road…or trail…or whatever happened to be nearby.

The first morning in Stuttgart (technically, Vaihingen) I woke up in my hotel (the Pullman Fontana) at my usual 4:30 AM and it was pitch black outside.  I checked the weather and it called for about 50% chance of rain.  A quick look out my window indicated that the pavement was dry so I decided to take my chances.

I had stayed at this hotel before and I kind of remembered a field with trails about .75 miles away, so I decided that I would walk around the neighborhood to get my bearings for a longer run the next day.  I successfully found the field I remembered, but with constant lightning in the distance, I thought I should cut the walk short.

Unfortunately, I did not turn around fast enough and the skies opened up when I was still a mile away from the hotel.  Since it was early in the morning there were few cars on the road, so I broke a cardinal German pedestrian rule and sprinted through all the crosswalks even if I did not have a walk signal so I could get out of the rain as fast as possible.  (It may be a stereotype that Germans are notorious rule-followers, but in the case of pedestrian signals it is absolutely true.  I would’ve earned many dirty looks if there had been anyone around to see me.)

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View of the city from my hotel room.

The following morning I woke up a little later and was struck by how light it was outside.  It confirmed how bad the storm clouds were the day before because the slight time difference would not have justified the complete difference in light v. dark.  I had intended to do a longer run, but let’s just say that tummy troubles got in the way and leave it at that.  Okay?

My third morning in Stuttgart was my last.  Luckily we did not need to leave the hotel as early as the previous two days and my tummy was doing much better.  Plus, the weather had finally improved so it was the perfect morning for a long run.

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Just in case you need a beer during your morning run…

I set out from the hotel past a neighborhood park hosting ducks in a small pond and a public pool.  I finally reached the field I’d been trying to run through for three days and cruised through to the cross-country trails beyond it.  One of the fun things about trails in Germany is that it’s really common for there to be random small pubs and food stands right on them, and this one was no different.  Right next to a stream there were some stairs up to a bar.  That’s my kind of trail!

On Thursday morning I woke up early in Darmstadt.  Since I’d done a long run the day before and I’d never stayed in this part of the city, I knew I just wanted to walk around to figure out where I would run the following day.

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Darmstadt may not be as beautiful as other European cities, but it still has charm.

The weather had completely warmed up and the sun was shining (before 5 AM!), giving me lovely views of historic churches and castles that had been turned into museums.  My hotel (the Best Western Plus) was in the center of Darmstadt, right off the pedestrian shopping area.  The streets along here are cobblestones, which was hard on my ankles and I quickly decided I would move my run the next day to flatter paths in a park nearby.  But the area was great for an early-morning walk and I daydreamed of picking up some fresh bread from one of many bakeries that I passed along the way.

Friday was my last day in Germany and I did not need to leave for the airport until late in the morning.  So I laced up my shoes and headed to the Schlossgardens that had been converted to a public park.  It was not a large park, so I looped back around the intersecting pathways in random order to get enough mileage.  There were a few other runners and bicyclists out, but otherwise it was a quiet morning.

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A peaceful morning before 18 hours of air travel.

I ran past an old church and fountains and huge market places that would be used as farmers’ markets later in the day.  It was a great way to spend my morning before finishing up my packing and heading to the airport.

Did Jennifer get you excited for more great sights from across the pond? Check out some of the great pictures she took during her travels in our Facebook photo album.

This is the latest installment in Jennifer’s series of adventures and explorations while training on her travels. You can also check out some other Casual Running adventures from the road, including Jennifer’s run through Central Park during her trip to New York City, her picturesque runs in Key West, Florida, her early morning runs in Texas, and her fun runs across the pond in Huntingdon and London, United Kingdom.  You can also check out some other Casual Running adventures from the road, including Mike’s trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and even more exciting Casual Running locales!

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