I head out in the morning for what I plan as a 6-8 mile run. I’ve never been here before, so my route is somewhat flexible. I Google “Warsaw running” and find a couple of ideas, but mostly what I decide is to simply head north. I’ll run for half an hour or so, then change streets and run back the other day.
If Erbil is a city on the rise, Warsaw is a city that has already rose. There is little here to indicate that Poland was once a very poor country. Instead, it looks like any number of other European cities—Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, or even London.
As I’ve been experiencing everywhere I go lately, life is pretty expensive for those of us on the dollar economy. Thankfully my hotel is free thanks to Starwood points—a welcome respite from the hostels and overnight train rides I’ve been taking recently–but my afternoon coffee and muffin stop costs $8 at the Coffee Heaven down the street. The next time I complain about the price of Starbucks, I’ll remember it could always be worse.
In situations like these, I resort to eating one or two large meals a day. It doesn’t matter when I eat them – they can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner – but afterwards, I try to skip the next mealtime or two. This isn’t the healthiest lifestyle, especially for someone with a special diet (vegetarian but high-calorie) and who tries to stay in shape for long-distance running. But it’s just part of the deal for the recession-impacted world traveler. I could always stay home, right?
Back to running. I’m having such a nice time running along the Vistula river that I keep going in one direction for almost 45 minutes. By now I’m out of Warsaw and in a large park somewhere north of the city. I try to keep the river on my right, but I realize it would be easy to lose my way.
The sun is out, I’m running well, and I’m feeling grateful for a day with nothing much to do. I’m not going anywhere until tomorrow, so what’s to lose? I keep running.
On every long trip I take, I set up an iTunes playlist that I use for long plane flights and my exercise breaks like this one. This time, the playlist features the new album from the amazingly-talented Jason Mraz, who has provided inspiration for me and thousands of other people for several years now. On this run I’m listening over and over to Make It Mine, the title track.
Wake up, everyone
How can you sleep at a time like this
Unless the dreamer is the real you?
Great stuff there, Mr. Mraz.
I turn around after a while longer and head back, keeping the river to my left this time. Miraculously, I don’t get lost at all. I’m back in the center of Warsaw at about mile 10, and I run through the old town, past the Soviet War Memorial, and on through to the Centrum area where my hotel is located. My watch reads 1:48:20 as I approach the hotel, so I decide to make it an even two hours.
I’m fairly tired by this point, but also excited about running, Warsaw, travel, all of you who are reading, and life in general.
It starts to rain exactly three minutes before I finish. Before then, I’ve been wearing sunglasses the whole time. It’s a cold, unpleasant rain, but I feel like it’s arrived just in time for me to finish.
I stretch for a few minutes against the building, then walk inside. Everyone else is in business clothes. I’m wearing a tank top, shorts, and tennis shoes. I get in the elevator with three business types and ride to the 17th floor to my room that overlooks this beautiful city.
It’s only 9:15 a.m. What’s next?