PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – One of the best things about getting older is that I finally have the time to travel and visit those places far from home.
Each year, my wife Randee, and I take a month off during the summer to visit places both foreign and familiar.
Of course, everywhere we go we need to find a safe place to run and or a quiet place to walk. While exploring the streets of Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest we were able to get in 70 minutes in the morning and another 70 minutes of exercise in the evenings.
Normally we’d worry about putting on weight during vacations, but with our committed resolution to walk/jog twice a day we are able to burn off all those calories from the fantastic foods of Central Europe.
When in an unfamiliar place we have a pattern to keep each other feeling safe and that is I will run down the block and take a left at every intersection and she will go in the opposite direction and take a right at every intersection, that way we pass each other during our 70 minute workouts.
In the process we are able to see what many tourists miss as we traverse the busy streets in each of the five countries that we are exploring.
Our journey through Central Europe has led us to the beautiful city of Prague, in the Czech Republic.
In exploring the surroundings we have logged 6 to 10 miles of walking or as they say here 10 to 15km each day.
On one of these walks we ran into a local by the name of Jiri Svech who’s English is very good and he recommends that we take a tram to Stromovka Park for our next early morning adventure.
Svech, 74 years young, is a retired government worker living on a modest income who enjoys a brisk walk on a daily basis and what’s even more remarkable is how friendly he and many of the other locals are with American tourist.
Born and raised in Czechoslovakia, now called the Czech Republic, Svech can recall the difficult times when travel was restricted and the Iron Curtain curtailed individual freedoms.
“I get to travel to the neighboring countries with my wife often,” Svech said. “But we have never traveled outside of Europe as it is too expensive for us.”
Svech has heard wonderful things about Hawaii and can remember watching on the news about Kilauea Volcanoes eruption.
“Isn’t it dangerous living so close to a volcano?” Svech asks.
His advice to go to Stromovka Park is a good one as this land bound island near in the middle of the city is well forested with nice, paved running trails.
Strom is the Czech word for trees and once you’re in Stromovka Park it is easy to see how this magical place got its name. Wooded areas surround the beauty of the park with fresh water ponds scattered throughout.
Not many locals take advantage of the jogging idea as we seem to be a novelty in our light weight shorts and Hawaii running tee shirts. But novelty or not this is an ideal location for a quiet, worry free jog at 7 in the morning.
The brisk morning air, even during the summer, makes me wonder why I didn’t bring more layers of running cloths, but after a couple of miles, a few kilometers, we begin to warm up.
If traveling to central Europe during the summer months I’d suggest bringing a few long sleeved tee shirts as the mornings can be quite cool with temperatures in the mid to low 50’s.
While visiting the Czech Republic bring along a few Coronas as this country, along with Poland and Hungary, did not join in the Euro monetary system. The country is one of the least expensive places on this journey so you can find a lot of great deals.
This is the final leg of our journey and we’ll soon be home bound.
I don’t travel well and sleeping on an airplane has always been a problem for me, but one of my doctors recommended that I try the herbal over the counter sleep aid melatonin. It worked well to relax me enough so that I could get a few hours of sleep flying to and from Europe.
Randee’s secret comes from wearing compression socks that helps with circulation and leaves her feeling comfortable and relaxed.
You might even consider doing the combination of socks and melatonin to get the ultimate benefit of long distance traveling.
But the key to maintaining a healthy weight while enjoying the sights and foods of different cultures is to exercise daily. With twice a day walks of 70 minutes or more Randee and I were able to see and appreciate our surrounding while eating the various ethnic foods and trying their local beverages.
Paul Dudley wrote “A vigorous five mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
And the Big Dog says, “We all have two doctors, they are called our left and right legs.”
And someday should you happen to see a weary jogger trying to get acclimated to the time zone difference remember to “smile” say woof and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org.