Blog by one of our running guests
I feel very privileged to have been given a regular ‘slot’ in the Dash by Simon, our hard working, silver tongued editor. At first I wondered how I would find something to write about every month but after a bit of thought I realised I can always find something to say that is loosely running related, so here goes….
Last year I read an article in a magazine about a running tour in Copenhagen. Barry had already suggested we have a city break to celebrate my BIG birthday so we decided to investigate further. Copenhagen looked nice but we decided to look at other European cities to see if they offered anything similar. We found www.touristrunamsterdam.com which appealed to us for all the following reasons:
Neither of us had been to Amsterdam before
It involves running around the city with a local guide seeing things you wouldn’t notice just wandering about on your own.
It’s a good introduction to a city that’s new to you as it offers the opportunity to have a quick look at things you might want to visit at a more leisurely pace later in your stay.
Photos of the event are supplied by your guide.
A short run is very welcome in between all the eating, drinking and merry making that’s generally involved in a city break.
At 25 Euros each it was a good value sightseeing tour
We left home at stupid-o-clock on Thursday 22nd March for our 7am Easyjet flight. The advantage of going so early is that we were in Amsterdam just after 9am (even with the 1 hour time difference!) The disadvantage, of course, is that it usually takes about 3 days to catch up on lost sleep, unless you’re with Barry ‘king of the cat nap’ Shackleton. Since meeting Barry I have learnt to fully embrace little sleeps at every available opportunity so it didn’t take us long to be recharged sufficiently to fully enjoy the colourful and cultured delights that only Amsterdam can offer.
We arrived at the 5 star Grand Amrath Hotel fully expecting just to leave our bags and go off and explore the city until our room was available. However our room was ready and we were able to check in – whilst sitting down! (It’s proper posh) We were also upgraded to a superior luxury suite. As you can imagine, we were off to a good start on what turned out to be probably the nicest city break either of us has experienced.
Our guided run was booked for 9am on Saturday. Tourist Run Amsterdam also operates on Sunday morning at 10am but we decided to go for Saturday so that we could go back to places that caught our eye before we came home on Sunday night. Our guide, Hans-Peter, met us in the foyer of our hotel having pitched up on the ‘compulsory-for –Amsterdam-residents’ bicycle. The weather throughout our stay was unseasonably glorious, even warm enough to sunbathe, as demonstrated by Barry with his rather ‘over done it a bit’ suntanned face. Saturday morning was no exception and the sun shone brightly as we headed out on some of the lesser trodden tourist trails of Amsterdam. Hans-Peter informed us that a little over a month ago skating was permitted on some of the frozen canals. This confirmed that waiting until a month after my birthday in the hope that the weather would be better was a wise decision. It also allowed the birthday celebrations to continue even longer.
Hans-Peter used a little video camera to film and take photos of our tour. We took in many famous sites including; Tower of tears, Amsterdam museum, Rijksmuseum, Begijnhof, Square, Oude Kerk, Dam Square, and more canals and bridges than you could shake a stick at. We also ran through the red light district – yes there were lots of scantily clad lovelies (and some not so lovely) standing in the windows even at that time of day!
Hans-Peter showed us sights we wouldn’t have seen – the hand on the boob sculpture is the one which Barry asked me to mention. Apparently, in Amsterdam, various artists have left pieces of their work around the city and the ‘hand on the boob’ is a bronze sculpture set in a cobbled street that alledgedly just appeared overnight. We informed Hans-Peter that this was unlikely to happen in England, it being more usual that statues and sculptures are stolen rather than donated. Whatever did happen to the Voyage statue in Hull which marked years of trade between Hull and Iceland and disappeared last year? It weighed 300kg, how on earth did anyone pinch that without getting caught?
We arrived back at the Grand Amrath about 70 minutes later feeling quite self righteous having run around 8k and learnt a lot more about our host city. Hans-Peter was a knowledgeable and friendly guide and we would highly recommend that any runners visiting Amsterdam book on the Tourist run.
Once again we enjoyed the delights of our lovely hotel which served late breakfast until 11am (smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for me), then a couple of hours relaxing in the spa before Barry insisted we went and checked out the ‘hand on the boob’ and other such masterpieces again.