Goffert parkrun, Nijmegen

Map showing Goffert parkrun's route, a two lap course round some but not all of the park
Goffert parkrun route. Two anti-clockwise laps starting at the top right.

I thought I had the pronunciation of this city down, but my attempts to tell a Dutchman where I was headed proved it isn’t the case. At least you can’t tell on the page, and I learnt my lesson and didn’t tell anyone else where I was. I travelled to Nijmegen from Arnhem, which is under 20 minutes on the train, though I had a couple of miles to walk either side so had an early start. It’s a straightforward walk, so long as you don’t head straight up the elevated road you see when you turn right out of the station – it’s exactly where you want to go, but there’s no walkway, so just trust the maps app when it takes you on a slight detour from the shortest route.

Two bikes and the parkrun flag stand next to a tarmacced path leading to the pavilion, which is an open air structure with a leaning roof in the middle of a tarmacced area.
The pavilion

I was in Nijmegen in March 2020, ready to parkrun here before Covid shut it down. I had it planned for December 2021, too, and again Covid shut it down – those coincidences made superstitious enough not to tell anyone I was coming here till the night before (I may even have said out loud “hmm, maybe I’ll get the train to Utrecht” despite knowing I had no intention of doing so). I was very glad when early morning rain stopped, the trains ran and my legs didn’t fall off or anything on my way to Goffertpark.

The event starts at the top right of Goffertpark, next to the pavilion. The course page suggests the pavilion is named on Google maps, but it doesn’t seem to be any more – so long as you’re at the top right, and the structure above is near, you’re in the right place. There’s a pin for Goffert parkrun in Google maps, and that’ll see you right. There were plenty of other exercise groups around the place, including a group running up the hill on the grass, so I felt like I was in the right place for some effort.

The grass is mostly brown after drought, but large green trees fill the far side of the park. The parkrun flag is setup as is the finish funnel
Leaves on the ground in (checks) August?

I arrived at 8:40, which was just a bit ahead of the event team – they were in the park, just not at the start/finish. I could see a few arrows off in the distance, though, so was pretty sure everything was happening. People arrived – on bikes, of course – over the next 20 minutes. Only 11 of us ran the course, the lowest attendance since June, which made for a nice peaceful run for most of us. Two chatted all the way round, and as soon as they had our attention in the finishing straight, started leapfrogging each other and generally cavorting joyfully, which was very entertaining.

Brown on the ground, green in the trees, with a small basketball court to one side of the path. The start sign is off in the distance.
The start line, seen form near the finish. Run right to left.

The course is fairly flat, so Strava tells me – it reckons on 2m of elevation. Yet there’s a distinct, cruel and short hill part way round the loop, and the finish is definitely uphill. Amsterdam was the same – 2m of elevation despite it definitely finishing uphill. I’m sure there’s a little more here, because of that cruel hill and then an uphill finish, too. You have the benefit of a downhill stretch after the cruel hill, at least, and none of the turns are taxing.

Thin tall trees line either side of a tarmacced path that completes a lap and leads to the finish line
Run up here to complete a lap, then to finish

Afterwards we went to Buuv, a cafe very near to the park, though a little walk away. I mention the walk only because the others were kind enough to stroll with me despite having their bikes to hand, not because it was particularly long – it felt a smidge longer because of the mild guilt. Breakfast was delicious; avocado on toast for me, which means I can’t afford a house, or something. On the way I’d also looked at my kindle and decided not to read a couple of books before I chose one, which is enough to make front page news in the UK these days, so I had a morning of provoking the older generation.

An arrow points up the path to take people onto their second lap, under green-leafed trees.
Start of the second lap

The team at Goffert aren’t big on social media so there isn’t often a reminder on Facebook or Instagram that this event will be happening. But it will! They’re committed and were happily organising who was in charge for the next few events over breakfast. I was made very welcome and enjoyed the tour of the park that the route gives you – there is more to see, with events often held in the part of the park the route doesn’t cross. In a year without drought and a weird warm weather early autumnal leaf drop, there’d be lush grass to enjoy, too, but the place is pretty enough whatever the conditions. If you can stay in Nijmegen, it’s a lovely city with a relaxed atmosphere. Arnhem is, too, and The Netherlands very easy to criss-cross by rail, so you can cast your net pretty wide for somewhere to stay. It’s less expensive outside August – which you’d expect, but the difference for me between Germany and here was pretty stark, albeit totally worth it.

At the top of the tree-lined path, the finish funnel is off to the right, on the grass. The funnel is made of tape wrapped around white stakes that are pushed into the ground. The sky is cloudy with occasional blue.
Finish here

Results from Goffert parkrun event 52, 20/8/22; 11 finishers.

Rheinpark Parkrun, Cologne

Rheinpark parkrun route. A one-lap made up of a couple of loops with a view of the Cathedral on the way back
Rheinpark parkrun route. One lap, head North and away from the Rhine to start, under the bridge and on the path near the river before turning right and coming back down the long straight, under the bridge again and along the river to the start/finish

There’s plenty of public transport in Cologne (see the course page for more), and it’s very accessible given the 9 euro ticket, but I chose to walk to Rheinpark. I was based very near the other parkrun, Aachaner Weiher in the Hiroshima-Nagasaki park, but it was still only a couple of miles to walk to Rheinpark.

Riverside view, with a sign high up saying "Rheinpark Tanzbrunnen" to welcome everyone. A large river cruiser is moored on the far side of the river, with Cologne's skyline behind it.
Welcome to Rheinpark

There are toilets 400m from the start, with a free urinal for men and a cubicle that’s €0.50.

The start and finish are in the same place, just beyond (if you’re approaching from the South) a covered part of the walkway in front of the Rheinterrassen Köln.

The word parkrun is chalked onto the tarmac, with further words explaining the concept just out of sight, further along the route. Blue pillars hold a concrete roof over this part of the riverside walkway
Chalk signs explain parkrun and guide you to the start

The start takes you right next to the river for a short while, before a right turn to head into a tree-lined loop. You’re very briefly taken out of the park, past a low concrete wall, before following the twisty route back towards the river. The top section of the course has two long straights, the first along a mud-packed or grassy path (depending where you put your feet or who is in the way), then back along a wide gravelly road. The latter seemed particularly long, perhaps because it was almost entirely in the sun on a day warming towards 34 degrees (but ‘only’ low 20s for the event).

A hard-packed wide mud path heads through a field with trees to both sides of the field
Heading North

The course is very well marked, with arrows to point you in the right direction and red cones on either side of the correct path. Despite that, one runner ahead of me tried to head through a narrow gap as we headed back towards the river – we waved her back onto the path, but her mistake was understandable, as we were looking for the path by the river, and going through the trees would have taken her closer. That North section, then, is by the river, but not right by it, which is worth bearing in mind.

A hard-packed muddy section in the middle of green grass shows where mostly people have walked
A potentially muddy path

Making the turn after the long earth path takes you onto a few cobbles and then that long gravelly section. Nothing much to do here but get on with it, as the route takes you past port workings and grass.

A wide gravelly road with hedges on the left and a grassy bank on the right. The grass is mostly yellow for lack of water.
Heading back South, a long gravelled stretch
The Zoobrücke is a concrete bridge, high above the wide tarmacced path here. A skatepark os on the left, and trees are dotted around by the sides of the path
Heading back under the Zoobrücke towards the finish

I struggled on the second half of the course, and was glad to see the bridge and some shade, before attempting a bit more of a gallop towards the finish. The Cathedral comes into view but by then I was more excited by the finish – from any distance, it’s easier to spot the complex that stands above it, and that covered walkway, than the parkrun flag, but you can’t miss the finish when anywhere near.

Cologne Cathedral is far away but still dominates the skyline on the far side of the river. A wide path heads along the riverside, with a large tree providing shade. A humped bridge (the Hohenzollernbrücke) in the distance leads to the city centre.
View of the Dom on the walk back

The whole event was well run and organised. There was no move to a cafe at the end, with people wandering off to do their own thing, and I made it back to the centre of town before it got really hot. There are a few cafes to the South of the route, which were opening up as I walked past, though they looked more focused on drinking, and I think I would have tried the West side of the river for preference if I’d fancied going anywhere. Instead, I enjoyed the sun and the warmth of the city before a well-earned shower back in Neumarkt.

Results from Rheinpark parkrun event 49, 13/8/22; 19 finishers.

Suermont-Ludwig Museum, Aachen

A double glass door at the entrance of the museum. The museum name is in text, high up on the doors. To the left are the letters S and L, to the right, the letter M. The museum is at number 18 on the street.
The entrance on Wilhelmstraße

The Suermont-Ludwig Museum in Aachen is housed in an 1800s mansion, which has been extended over the years such that it now covers the whole of its lot, where once there were gardens at the back. It’s a gem of a museum, containing art and some curiosities from Aachen collectors, that’s well worth a couple of hours to visit. There’s a lot of religious art and if that doesn’t interest you, you can easily knock an hour off. It is closed on Mondays.

Floorplan of the original Villa Cassalette, showing how the museum has spread into the gardens through three periods of extension work
Info leaflet in the cloakroom

Entrance is normally €6, €3 for concessions, but I went on a Thursday and had free entry. I hadn’t seen mention of that on their website, so it may not be every Thursday. I think the guard said something about all museums being free, so if you can find out which day it happens on, that would be a good day to make a museum day of it. There is a very reasonably priced 6-museum card for €14, though.

The entrance and cloakroom are on the ground floor, along with a small but well-stocked library – worth a look for the ceiling alone, but the quiet makes it a place not to stay unless you want to read in peace. Up the staircase for the sprawling galleries. Only the first floor was in use when I went, but there looks to be extra space on the second floor for more exhibits – perhaps only on paid days.

A large display room showing Aachen residents' collections. It's an eclectic group, with mummies, glassware, hunting equipment, locks and more.
Room of curiosities – even the ceiling is an exhibit
A display case showing over 40 small models of medieval figures, each dancing with the grim reaper.
Medieval figures dance with death
The oldest items here are a small elongated vessel (an alabastron from Rhodes 500-475BC) and a colourful bird, probably a handle of a vessel (Syran, c.800)
A painting of religious allegories, overseen by Jesus and angels in the sky, while people succumb to and try to escape from temptation and devils.
They were just putting this painting back as I wandered through. Seemed to warrant a photo
Ornate decoration in the ceiling. Not lavishly coloured, but there are very detailed carvings.
The ceiling decoration
Statue in a display case of Jesus with a Samaritan woman at a well. The woman is looking straight at Jesus while pouring water into an amphora, with the stream going directly in even while she isn't looking.
Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the well, 1520-1530. Christ and the cocky Samaritan at the well, more like – she’s not even looking, and not spilling a drop!
Painting of genteel folk making music. All are finely dressed with ruffs and much shiny clothing, maybe silk. They lounge, play or look on with great confidence
And while we’re talking about rocking an attitude, look at these genteel folk making music. Especially the one in a white silk(?) jacket

Exhibits are grouped first by their century – largely 15-1600 and 16-17 – and then thematically. There is a large selection of Dutch paintings.

A painting of peasants drinking outside in a village while children play with animals in the street
Joost Cornelisz or Cornelis Droochsloot, Village with Drinking Peasants, c.17th
A painting of a Dutch river, meandering through the landscape with a bridge in the foreground and a town in the middle, while a mountain rises at the back of the scene.
Pieter Vermeer, Dutch River Landscape
A painting of married man and woman, separate but painted and arranged such that the man faces right and the woman left, so that they complement one another
A married couple – it was a Dutch ‘thing’, apparently, to have separate paintings of married couples arranged in relation to each other.

The painting below is displayed on a screen, so the animation can be shown. The painting has been simply (in effect, probably not in practice) such that the bee that sits on the flower at top flies away, a dragonfly flies in to sit on the blue flower and so on. I found it mesmerising, and it brought the painting to life in a very interesting way.

A screen shows a still life painting, with a shell containing flowers, more shells and a lizard in the foreground. Insects alight on the flowers, and have been carefully animated so as to bring motion to a still life.
Balthasar van der Ast, Flowers in a Shell and Snail Shells

There is free wifi in much of the museum, which is useful for looking up occasional latin phrases (perhaps I should have known that Ecce Homo means a representation of a scourged Jesus, bound and crowned with thorns. Equally, I would have ignored one, but by the time I was on the third, I had to check). I looked up the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, which is referred to in the painting below. Workers recruited early were offered a denarius for their full day’s work, which was a very generous offer. Through the day, more people were recruited, not offered a set amount but told it would be fair. At the end of the day, all were paid a denarius, to the complaints of those early workers. And this is like religion – devout all your life or not, the rewards are open to all.

A painting of a market, with goods, sellers and buyers in the forefront. Behind people are milling - presumably some of these are workers about to head to the vineyard.
Kopie nach Pieter Aersten (1508-1575), Market Scene, (with the parable of the workers in the vineyard)
Naked nymphs or angels painted in bright colours on a background of cloud and blue sky - the ceiling in the library
Ceiling decoration in the library – taken at an angle in an attempt not to disturb readers

A lovely museum, big (one of the largest provincial museums in Germany, the entry hall info board says) but not too big and with lots of beautiful things to see.

A large brown building on a large square. People are sitting on the steps in front of the huge building, which has turrets on both the left and right side. Trees run up the side of the plaza towards the city hall.
Aachen’s city hall

Friedrichsau parkrun, Ulm

Friedrichsau parkrun, two clockwise laps by the Danube in Ulm
Friedrichsau parkrun route, 2 clockwise laps

Heading North and wanting to make progress through Germany towards the Netherlands, I picked a place somewhere away from Munich. I ended up in Ulm, which seemed adventurous but it’s a big place (126,000 inhabitants) and right on the beaten track, in that I could get a train directly there from Munich. It also put me back on the shores of the Danube, which has been a nice recurring theme of this trip.

The parkrun is to the NE of the city, and the number 1 tram stops very close to the start. Despite that, and even though had got my 9€ ticket for August some time back, I walked the 2.5km from the centre, and walked back the longer route along the Danube, which was all very pleasant. Even more pleasantly, the weather had broken. Last week, I saw a sweaty mess just walking to parkrun; this week I wore a long-sleeved top for the wander there.

Cones mark the finish on a cobbled path by a lake. The parkrun flag flies under a tree, while green grass neatly marks the verges

The start and finish were already setup when I got there at 8.30, while the event director was out setting up the comprehensive arrows on the course. The route map probably looks complicated, and there are plenty of places where two paths go in similar directions, but there are backup “yes, really this way” arrows in any place with ambiguity, and we really couldn’t get lost. The one exception might have been at a point where a sign had fallen, but it was still visible, and I and the other Brit there were following an experienced German runner at that point. One of the runners behind paused to put the sign back up, too.

There’s a toilet near the start that needs a euro for entry – my fellow Brit was not impressed by the state of what he found inside, but needs must. The start is by the Tiergarten entrance and looks over one of the lakes in the park.

A yellow arrow directs us left after the start, with a right-turn just visible along the path. Other paths criss-cross the location, while the route goes round a large green field in the middle of the picture
Shortly after the start, go left, then right after the monoliths, round the field.

There weren’t lots of people there, but they were all friendly, with several English speakers. Nonetheless, we felt like visitors rather than a majority, as is sometimes the case, and that feels like a good way round.

The route is pretty flat, with just an occasional incline to test a different set of muscles. None of the turns are sharp, either, and that combined with the significantly cooler weather meant I ran significantly better than last week – a relief, to prove it isn’t just pizza retention slowing me down.

A wide cobbled path heads into a tree-covered area which hides a bridge over the park's lakes.
View from the start line – beyond the bollards is a bridge, then you emerge into the field, above

We were presented with watermelon as we finished, and there was lemon drizzle cake and some other biscuits – frankly they had me at lemon drizzle – to tuck into and encourage people to hang around. Not that we needed to wait for the finish, with the tail walker running to keep up with the people at the back and less than 7 minutes separating all the finishers. Clicking through previous results, that’s a rarity and walkers are as welcome here as anywhere else.

A view of the finish line showing the lake behind the path, and a housing block that overlooks the lake.
Trams will arrive on the left of this area. We picnicked on the grass at the finish afterwards

A cafe is listed on the event page but even on this cooler day, there was no movement that way, and we just lounged on the grass. I felt particularly grateful to be able to do just that, given my fellow Brit had a 10-hour drive to get back to Durham and had already left. Instead, I took a leisurely stroll over a bridge and along the South bank of the river to head back to town. The day warmed up, most of Ulm was about walking and cycling and I felt lucky enough to head to another small parkrun in a relatively remote (but populous) spot. The town is a natural spot to stop if you are heading back from Austria to a French ferry, and avoiding toll roads, so I hope they’ll continue to attract a small but privileged group of tourists.

Results from Friedrichsau parkrun event 20, 6/8/22; 13 finishers.

Revoltella Museum, Trieste

On an extremely warm day in Trieste, I didn’t fancy going far, but anywhere cool was a real draw. This museum covered both bases, being a couple of minutes walk right in the middle of town, and mostly air-conditioned.

It isn’t hugely expensive, at €7. Reviews stress how beautiful it is, and sprawling, which is useful information. Even more useful is the irritation of those who weren’t told about the app (“Revoltella”) – download that, get the code from reception (it is on a card, but the card is filled with info and it’s easily missed) and you can read/have narrated extra information on any item with a number next to it. I found the narration interesting and very soothing, though towards the end of the visit I was reading them as tiredness hit. It gave for me the perfect level of background about the picture and, more importantly, talked through the techniques used. An art historian would be less enamoured.

Painting by Giovanni Fattori showing soldiers in camp reading a letter from  home.
A painting with a number. Giovanni Fattori; soldiers reading a letter in camp

The museum grew out of the collection of Baron Revoltella, who left his house to the city to house it. He left quite a bequest; the building, the collection and funds to expand it. He was a financier of the Suez Canal, among other things, and there is a whole room devoted to paraphernalia from his visit there.

A tall room with purple walls and curtains. In the corner is a small screen which is supplied with a view of the square outside by a system of mirrors.
This room overlooks the square, with a camera obscura in the corner to give the baron a preview

The Baron’s palace is itself a great exhibit, just strolling through the rooms looking at old furniture is probably worth the entry price. There are a few artworks here, some with narration, along with the Suez Canal exhibits. It’s worth knowing there are several more floors, so as to avoid feeling done once you’ve seen the lavish accommodation, ballroom and so on.

It is a bit of a gear-change to then head to the floors containing just art, but I was soon into the run of it

Walls are white and decorations, including the chairs, gold in the dining room, seen through the two pillars that mark the entrance from the next room
The dining room
Sculptures

The museum has actively sought to extend its collection with works, concentrating on artists from the region but not restricting itself to them. There’s a gallery of sculptures which then feeds into more art, before you climb the stairs to a couple more floors. On one of these I had very close attention from one of the staff, which became a game as I attempted to out-wait him on one piece, or tuck myself slightly out of view behind another. If I’d felt any irritation or sense of unwelcome, it was removed when he called me back to let me know I’d missed out the top floor. The stairway was part-way round the fifth floor and I’d forgotten all about it.

A painting of young girls outside a church after their first communion. The scene is full of people, but attention is drawn to three girls in the foreground by the sharp, almost photo-realistic depiction of their features. The one in the front is the only character who seems to look directly at the viewer, holding attention
Carl Frithjof Smith, After First Communion, 1892.
A medium-sized open gallery has modern art on the walls and sculptures on different plinths around the room. Lots of skylights allow natural light into the gallery
The top floor – modern art and sculpture

I thoroughly enjoyed both my visit and the chance to cool down in the building, though I was pretty tired by the end, from the walking, the reading and the concentration. I went through some areas more quickly than others, but always found something to grab my attention. It’s a gem of a place, whether you go to see the art, to experience the feel of the place or both.

The Revoltella Museum website (museorevoltella.it/english/)

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