Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Denmark

Hiking the Versailles Forest with Power Hiking Paris

If you’ve traveled to Paris, it’s likely your agenda included the Chateau de Versailles and the Versailles Gardens. Was the Versailles Forest also on your agenda? No? Well, let me share my visit.

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The Chateau de Versailles and its perfectly groomed gardens in the far distance

I extended my stay after the Paris Marathon to absorb more of this wonderful city. Doing so, I needed to add a long hike to fit in some training for the upcoming Hike Across Maryland after my return home. I did a web search of hiking groups in Paris and found the a Meetup Group, Power Hiking Paris, just what I was looking for. They had a 35K hike scheduled for Sunday, my last day in France. I requested to join the group, and after exchanging a couple of emails with Victor (it turns out I was the 3,500th member to join the group), I was in.

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The trees were coming into bloom with a blanket of French bluebells across the forest floor.

Instructions were to meet at the Gare Montparnasse on the platform for the train departing to Saint-Cyr. I found the hiking group (not difficult to distinguish with backpacks and hiking poles) in the boarding area at this busy station and had the opportunity to chat with most of them enroute to our destination.

Departing the train at Saint-Cyr, we immediately began hiking out of town to the Versailles Forest. As promised, the pace was fast, a swift hike on the flats and ascents and running on the downhills.

We continued in and out of forest and between farms, orchards and through small towns.

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Because I packed light for my travels which had to include my marathon running equipment, trail shoes and poles remained at home. Thankfully, except for one descent that was a bit iffy, my marathon shoes held their grip and the poles weren’t needed.

We took a short break for lunch and conversation in a meadow, then off again. 

Thank you, Victor, Serge and Meet-up Power Hiking for giving me the opportunity to meet and hike with you. It was a pleasure to join you and the hiking group while getting in my training miles and enjoy a forest in France I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to visit.

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Do you attempt to meet the people who live in the city/country/region where you are visiting? Did you attempt to get a local point of view new to you? I have found several ways to do this, but it’s the first time I’ve done it through Meetup. If you’re interested in digging deeper in your travels than tour presentations or chats with your waiter, Meetup offers groups in a number of activities and interest areas. 

During your travels, do you have other means of getting to know people and explore your interests more in depth? If so, please share.

 

 

 

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Travel Tuesday – DIY Copenhagen

Of the many ports of call during my Enrichment Voyage, Copenhagen was one of the shortest, a mere eight hours from disembarkation to ship’s time. I was fortunate to spend some time with my family in Copenhagen and Aalborg Denmark in the early ’80s. Arriving at the Lengelinie Pier for a brief port stop this time around,

Narrow walkways to mysterious private destinations

Narrow Copenhagen walkways lead  to mysterious private destinations

it made sense to avoid any of the castle tours and other sites I had distant and fond memories of. Instead, it was a do-it-yourself walking tour.

My partner in impromptu city strolling this day was Catherine, a travel-loving American ex-pat making her home in London. She also happens to be a fellow blogger who can be found over at the Blue Marble. Catherine and I became acquainted during our tour of the Baltics. Though less than half my age, we discovered one of the many traits we have in common is a preference for seeing port cities on foot. This day, according to my Garmin, we walked 8.6 miles exploring Copenhagen’s streets.

On this overcast, drizzly day, we hopped indoors to do a walk-through visit to Georg Jensen. To call this a store somehow doesn’t do it justice. Georg Jensen rises to the level of a museum where the beautiful designs are for sale. Here for me, there is no desire to buy, to own. Simply experiencing the clean lines, the aesthetic design that seems to transcend time is enough. Should you be in Copenhagen, save an hour or so to peruse the exquisite lines of their jewelry and home products.

IMG_0556With long, sometimes dreary days, the bright energy of color takes the gray edge off a busy retail street. Likewise, the bikes that make their way through traffic and line store walls offer sunshine colors.IMG_0521

Outdoor restaurants similar to this one dot the streets. Across Scandinavia, al fresco dining casually or elegantly is a way of life. I love the cozy, colorful throws that are provided with the seating, saving diners from the chill of a sudden breeze.

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Before sprinting up the gangplank, we popped into the port shopping area. The facade gives the incongruous appearance of second rate shopping, particularly after our stroll down the Strøget. Don’t be fooled. There is some excellent shopping behind those cluttered windows.IMG_0517

Departing through the harbor, the windmills make an impressive view and an impressive energy source for the Danes. IMG_0510

Coming into view was an impressive ship full of brave academy men, settled like crows along the yardarm of this wood vessel.IMG_0564

And like ocean-going birds, we too return to open waters destined for the North Sea.