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One aspect of touring which I truly look forward to is sizing up the different exercise possibilities in each city we visit. I'm finding (as I advance in years!) that jogging not only helps me stay in shape, but actually keeps me alert for evening performances. I'm lucky that on this tour I've found the perfect running partner - my husband (and fellow Philharmonic violist) Mick! We staked out some pretty neat runs shortly after our arrival in London.
Our first was a brisk jog just around the corner from our hotel, down Kings Way and across Waterloo Bridge, our destination being the pedestrian path along the Thames River. The weather was quite crisp and, except for the mad rush of constant pedestrian traffic on our run back to the hotel, we enjoyed "ticking off" prominent landmarks as we jogged past them: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and 10 Downing Street being the highlights.
The next day we tried something decidedly less urban and found our way to Regents Park just north of where we're staying. A beautifully laid out park with high hedges and rose gardens still in bloom made this run a delightful way to begin the day before our 10:00 rehearsal.
On the advice of a nearby shopkeeper, we ventured out to Hampstead Heath (a 30-minute ride on the "tube") in north London, where we found the most spectacular run of the entire tour. The heath is a series of rolling hills and gentle knolls with wide stretches of open grassy areas and winding paths carpeted in dense leaves. The fall colors were brilliant under a deep blue sky and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the homey sights of babies being paraded in prams and dogs chasing after each other.
When we arrived in Paris we only had time for a quick stroll around Park Monceau (conveniently located just a few steps away from our hotel), but we promised ourselves that we'd be back! Our first real run in Paris was a happy mistake - serendipity at its best - as we found ourselves, after 20 minutes of solid pounding on the hard pavement, standing directly in front of... the Eiffel Tower! We looked at each other and immediately launched a rapid run (it was just a little chilly!) up the steps to the second deck. We then took the elevator (alas, the only way) up to the third deck, where our efforts were rewarded with a brilliant early morning view of the entire city. Needless to say, the run down was considerably less taxing!
The following day, on more good advice from Marc, our most engaging doorman, we took off for Bois de Boulogne, a massive park just west of the city with several lovely lakes and paths galore. We circled the Arc de Triomphe on our way there, and then ran down Avenue Foche, a wide boulevard flanked by stately old apartment buildings fronted by trees marching down the avenue. This ambitious run lasted well over an hour and allowed us to "nix" our running plans for the next day. (Yes, there was a collective sigh of relief from the jogging duo of Wetzel and Wetzel!)
But we did return, the day before leaving Paris, to Park Monceau. It was another early morning run in misty rain, with children scattered here and there on their way to school and the occasional fellow jogger zipping ahead of us. I kept hearing strains of Yves Duteil (the French Neil Diamond) floating through my mind "Au Parc Monceau/Entre les grilles et les arceaux..." playing over and over. Ah, the perfect closing jog to a perfect stay in France.
Now back in London, we've mostly rested and walked. We do have some jogging possibilities ahead of us in Barcelona, Lisbon, and Madrid, but with the traveling schedule intensifying dramatically, this may be it for our dynamic jogging duo. Maybe, just maybe, we can still squeeze in a quick run or two