Berlin – a city without boundaries

Running, Travel

This is one of those cities that must surely be on everyone’s bucket list. Its a place we have wanted to visit many times but like many other 9to5ers, it has often slipped off the itinerary. Thank goodness we made it this time. A city of such depth and contrast it is hard to not please.

We was in Berlin to participate in the annual half-marathon and boy was it busy. With an expected 35,000+ participants, makes it one of the largest events of its kind. The surge of visitors over the weekend didnt feel as though it swelled the city to make it uncomfortable either. Thankfully there is plenty to go around.

As a Englishman born and raised in Germany, I knew what I liked and currywurst and mettbrotchen (minced raw pork on a open bread roll – trust me, tastes much nicer than it sounds!)…and of course not forgetting the beer and plenty of it…

Mettbrochen Breakfast

Breakfast is served – Mettbrochen – minced raw pork on open bread roll

Currywurst was not the daily menu. Some better than others but thankfully found a cracking place a couple days before we was due to depart (which meant I could squeeze in at least another two!). The wurst was delicious and HUGE and curry sauce was to die for…


Need I say more – the lady behind seen the deliciousness and just had to have one herself!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when planning for the trip. When thinking Rome, Paris, London etc you have images of striking iconic architecture. But Berlin…I couldn’t really apply an image, I couldn’t visually describe what I was to expect. On arrival, you certainly feel the history surrounding this cities vivid past.

Not necessarily the most visually striking of European cities but as I mentioned above, you quickly realise this place has such depth and contrast. Its like all of sudden being able to see colour.

We stayed in Alexander platz which is tourist central. Plenty of eateries, coffee shops and bars. The area feels open and energetic with easy access in and out and the city via the central train station just off the main square.

Head south of the River (or is west..!?) and you enter the busy shopping district. Full of stunning shops and and usual tourist trinket stores. But its this way you start to see the Berlin you read in history class.

Checkpoint charlie and the surprising well preserved wall (or parts of it!!). The history surrounding this area is astounding. You quickly realise how little you learnt in history class. For example (and probably showing now how thick I am), you heard of the Berlin Wall but where was it exactly. Did it literally run north to south of Berlin?? Well, this is a weird way is what I thought…I didnt actually consider the wall surrounded the city. Anyway, enough of my stupidity! We highly recommend buying a guided bus tour. We use these all the time as they are a great way to get around the city and listen to the audio guide as you cruise past some of the most tremendous architecture and history.

We have both travelled significantly across Europe for both business and pleasure and can without doubt put this firmly in the top 5 cities of Europe. The history, architecture, atmosphere, food, beer, people and just the openness and space make this place a warm and welcoming city. Scratch the surface on this beauty and quickly reveal gem that will appeal to a wealth a varying people. Whether you want, history, calm and relaxed city break or dance the night away to the early hours.. this is the city for you.


Marrakech – what better way to see it than run around it!

Running, Travel

We have just returned from Marrakech having spent 4 days and nights. We went to Marrakech with friends with the purpose of doing the Marrakech half-marathon – the annual event where circa 7000 people descend on this city with their trainers ready to hit the tarmac (and avoid pot-holes – which I quickly learnt to keep an eye out for!).

Marrakech is one of those places where I have always wanted to go to but will find excuses to not. Whether that is because there are other places I want to go to first, I don’t know, but it always seemed to slip out of my grasp. However, this year, we had paid and secured our position in the 27th annual Marrakech Marathon (half).

The marathon was held on Sunday 31st Jan, one day after our arrival. The anxious breakfast followed but the healthy walk to the start quickly widened our view to what we have signed up for! Nevertheless, it was something none of us had done before and one of those kinda goals in life. We wasn’t in it to break records but finish with a smile on our face. And finish we did (not sure about the smile!). No blistering times but at least the efforts put in over the winter seemed to pay off. Some aches and groans ensued but otherwise we was all good.

Our post race recovery included pizza and beer. Yes, even in a Muslim country you can find establishments that serve beer! It was whilst we was supping back our second beer (or it may have been our 4th or 5th!), we met a chap who had travelled out to Marrakech on his own for the sole purpose of competing in the Marathon.
Now this guy, as it turned out, was actually quite the “enthusiast”. He trained many days a week and can comfortably do a sub 3 hr marathon. Basically, in a completely different league to us! But, we had some interesting conversations.
We both didn’t “like” running, we did it to help battle the bulge! But the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature. I was learning this in my fledgling running years. What he said to me was that running helped him explore the world he has longed to see. He has competed in Siberian, holy (Jerusalem), North-American etc marathons. This rang true. Why else would I be here? I have wanted to visit but other places, other things, got in my way. Participating (competing sounds too competent for me!) in the Marrakech half-marathon has enabled us to see a part of the world we perhaps wouldn’t have done had we not donned those trainers.
So where to next…??