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Archive for January, 2013

. . . “Run, Forest, Run!” . . .

Posted: January 15th, 2013 by

During the holidays I watched one of my favorites, a re-run of Forest Gump; and while viewing the scene where he begins to run a long-distance marathon from here, there and everywhere, an idea formed for a blog.  Why not write about marathons?

I can honestly say I have never run in a marathon, but I have participated in a number of volksmarches, have hiked in the forest and up a mountain or two, and have done my fair share of jogging around the neighborhood, yet I am always eager to hear who came in first at a number of marathons taking place throughout the year.

The Brandenburger Gate in Berlin, Germany provides a historical site for runners in the Berlin Marathon - flickr image by Klearchos Kapoutsis

The Brandenburger Gate in Berlin, Germany provides a historical site for runners in the Berlin Marathon – flickr image by Klearchos Kapoutsis

I think of a marathon as site-seeing on foot.   Factor in location, popular tourist areas; and take into account a variety of segments including sports and a marathon’s appeal  for men, women and children as well as many cultures.  Age also seems to be a minor factor.  There are also special causes for motivation and inspiration. Marathons run the gamut from Charity runs like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Jingle Bell Run in support of the Arthritis Foundation.  There are major marathons such as the Boston Marathon and the Peachtree Atlanta Road Race.  There are also special interest runs such as the Skinny Pig Run to Eat Group in Oregon or corporate sponsored events like the Waco Professional Firefighters Association Miracle Match Marathon and the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch Marathon.

Site of Boston's Freedom Trail, flickr image by r h

Site of Boston’s Freedom Trail, flickr image by r h

I did a little fact finding, and according to Wiki Answers there are 245 Marathons in the United States; however, further research on numerous marathon-related sites would say there are many more.  Some are categorized as marathons, others as half or mini-marathons and there are even a few ultra marathons.  Note below is one websites’ list of the top ten (although I’ve only listed the first five). The ranking can vary depending on what marathon website you are looking at.  I’ve also noted some touristy information related to the location of the marathon . . .

Top Marathons in the World – Top Popular Attraction – Great Lesser Known Attraction
London Marathon in April -Trafalgar Square – Pollocks Toy Museum

Berlin Marathon in September – Brandenburger Gate – Dammsmuhle Palace

New York City Marathon in November – Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty – The Brick Theatre

Chicago Marathon in October – Buckingham Fountain – Garfield Park Conservatory

Boston Marathon in April – Freedom Trail – Emerald Necklace

London's Trafalgar Square - flickr image by kevgibbo

London’s Trafalgar Square – flickr image by kevgibbo

One last note:  Don’t forget the food, so when in London – its all about the tea, so check out Brown’s Hotel.  Whenyou have finished the race in Berliln, head over to Zwolf Apostle, where you can find “over the top religious décor and tasty thin crust pizzas named after the 12 Apostles,” plus a cool location under the railway arches – or for classic German fare try Schleusenkrug, a class beer garden.


Vito & Nicks Pizzeria, Chicago, Illinois - image courtesy of V&N photo gallery

Vito & Nicks Pizzeria, Chicago, Illinois – image courtesy of V&N photo gallery

Noting Food Network’s Guy Fieri’s finds on his show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, you might want to try out “Mo Gridders” BBQ Restaurant and Auto Repair Shop where the truckers go in New York City.  If you’re running in Boston you won’t want to miss “The World’s #1 Sandwiches” at Sam LaGrassa’s . . . or after your run in the windy city of Chicago, you’ll want to try the pizza at Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria, who have been serving up a delicious thin crust pizza for 84 years!

There you have it: Recreation, plenty of site-seeing, and good food! 

Symbol of IVV (International Federation of Volkssports)

Symbol of IVV (International Federation of Volkssports)

Note: “The (Volkssports International Federation) IVV sanctions non-competitive events in walking, biking, swimming, skiing, skating, and shoeshowing. Walking is the most popular of the Popular Sports – known by the German term Volkssports, thus the walking events in the USA are often called volksmarches or volkswalks. Volks translates as “people” or “popular.”  These are typically a 10K (6.2 mile) trek . . .

In the end, whether you are a serious runner, you have a special cause, or you just want to meander through the countryside, get out in 2013 and do it!

And, although we didn’t mention it, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep after a good walk or run!

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Stretching Your Travel Dollar . . .

Posted: January 5th, 2013 by

It’s time to get down to leisure!  2013 was ushered in with some in trepidation, thanks to the political landscape over the past several months.  The news has been filled with impending disaster of the ‘fiscal cliff’, with many on edge with anticipation for the worst yet to come, halting any thought for the future, let alone planning a vacation.  Perhaps now is the time to be innovative when it comes to minimal to no discretionary income for a brief get-away, a weekend excursion, or an all out vacation.

This brings to mind my involvement with the USO while living in Germany.  One220px-Tour_Eiffel_Wikimedia_Commons of the many things USO does for its service members and their families is to provide economical recreational opportunities.  We lived in a very scenic area of Germany, less than a Berlin-zoodays drive to many popular attractions; such as Paris and the Eiffel Tower; Bavaria and its Black Forest;  Berlin and its famous zoo;  Belgium, home of the original French Fry and Luxembourg, a tiny country and home to several famous war memorials. 

Many may  not be familiar with the USO and its dependence on volunteers, and this my blog readers, is how some of my volunteers were able to venture into the French countryside, or tour a crumbling castle, or visit the famous art gallery ‘Le Louvre’ and so on.  Become a volunteer; drive a tour van, or earn a free seat on a tour. 

Today, there are numerous websites featuring volunteer opportunities tied to travel; however, they may not necessarily be FREE, but as the title says ‘Stretching Your Travel Dollar’, might just be the way to get out and go in 2013!

Teaching & Temples, a volunteer opportunity  - shown is Angkor Wat, a symbol of Cambodia

Teaching & Temples, a volunteer opportunity – shown is Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century, a symbol of Cambodia – wikimedia image

You might want to check out www.i-to-i.com/volunteering-and-sightseeing.html  where you can volunteer to work with wildlife, or put your carpentry skills to work.  Maybe you’re a born teacher, like working with children or love to teach sports.  How about helping to conserve the earth?  Health care, education, agriculture and construction are areas that need volunteers; and, in many cases these are in far-away lands, like Cambodia, where you can broaden your own horizon.

Don’t forget staying at home has its advantages too.  I searched: www.free-attractions.com and found some pretty cool things to see and do. 

Want to trek through history, going back to 1850; well you can do so at Oakland Oakland-cemeteryCemetery; Atlanta, Georgia’s oldest cemetery and a “supreme example of a Victorian cemetery.”  Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind is one of the famous buried here.  By the way, you can volunteer to work at Oakland Cemetery — a great opportunity for history buffs. 

And . . . for the nature lover, the next time you’re near New York’s Bronx Village, why not meander throughout the 250 ‘exquisite’ acres of the New York Botanical Garden; visit some of their 50 gardens, or stop by their landmark conservatory.  Nature enthusiasts won’t want to miss opportunity (note: there is an admission cost, but if you buy a New York pass you can visit over 70 top New York attractions – now that’s really stretching your travel dollar!  Prices vary based on the number of days and additional features you select.

Are you the adventurous type?  Did you know there are approximately 58 national parks in the U.S.?  In some cases there is no admission fee, while there may be minimal costs for touring in your car, or entering some areas as well as camping fees.  Visit www.nps.gov for more information.

beale street memphis by cwwycoff1If you’re a music lover, like I am, and need a little exercise, why not ramble up and down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana or on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee . . . and while it pays to pay to hear someone to play, you can still catch the strains of some mighty good blues and jazz drifting out of local nightclubs and record stores at no cost to you!

Why not share a FREEBIE with your fellow blog reader … let us know of some fun thing to do, or a great place to visit or see in 2013!