Kick your vacation up a notch and get exercise!

6 bucket list run routes in the world's best bucket list destinations. You are welcome!

Pixabay.com

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

World travel is a wonderful gift that not everyone will experience. One of the things that I hate about travel is finally making it to the destination after a 15-22 hour flight just to get caught in the tourist’s trap. You know when the only thing on your itinerary is museums, clubs, and restaurants. And because I'm the international marathoner, I totally recommend getting some exercise on your vacation, at least one day. Here is my list of bucket list runs or walks to do in the world's best bucket list destinations.


Get a little wet on Barcelona's beach.Pixabay.com

Take a run down Las Ramblas to the beaches of Barcelona, Spain.

Las Ramblas is a famous shopping and dining boulevard in the center of Barcelona. Along it, you will see musicians giving impromptu concerts. I swear to God, the most beautiful people in the world, and some of the best tapas in Catalan. Take Las Ramblas all the way down to the beaches of Barcelona. Once you are there, it is fair game. Barcelona is full of partiers. And they go all night. Make this a night run, not only will it be cooler, but much more interesting. Be at your risk, Barcelona is the only place that I felt totally high while being completely sober.


Run the Louvre for the best Instagram pics.Pixabay.com

Take the perfect morning long run in Paris, France.

Because of Paris' best tourism is in the city center, you should be able to see the best of Paris in one run. Start at Notre Dame, the cathedral of the hunchback, making the Eiffel tower your next stop before crossing the Seine River. Run down the Champs Elysse to finish in the Louvre Square. Of course, we are on vaca, so we are in no rush. Take time to take pics for your social media. Wish you were here.


This is the Real Bellagio.Pixabay.com

Run intervals in Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy is small towns situated around a large lake and surrounded by beautiful mountains. If you want to know what peace feels like, go to Lake Como. This one is a different type of adventure, but I swear Lake Como is the safest place on earth. Tie on your shoes and run to the ferry. The ferry goes to about 5 towns. Run two miles in the next town, walk back on the ferry and repeat. The ferry provides for good rest time and one of these towns is the real Bellagio! Eat your heart out Vegas!


Run across the Chain Bridge in Budapest.Pixabay.com

Take a photo run from Buda to Pest in Budapest, Hungary

You can get an amazing run in one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe. Start with a picture of you tossing up your baseball cap at Heroes Square. This is just a start. Run towards the Parliament and along the Danube River that divides Buda from Pest. Take photos of the Royal castle in Buda (across the river) and of the many creative statues along the way before crossing the Szechenyi(Chain) Bridge to Buda. Stop and take pics of the picturesque sites and the ferocious lions on the bridge before taking the hilly challenge up to the castle. Take in the grand view of Pest (the Parliament). And to think that communism just ended in the 1989.


A dramatic finish in San Marcos Square.Pixabay.com

Run to a dramatic ending at San Marcos Square in Venice, Italy.

A run, in Venice, will make you truly feel like a mouse in a maze searching for cheese. You will run down this walk just to hit a wall, literally. So you turn to the right, go down a little way and guess what, another wall. Before you get flustered, just go with it. Mix in frustration and the unknown with endorphins. After much mental and physical work, you will come to a clearing…..San Marcos Square, a wonderful picture worthy prize for your adventure!


Watch your step in Bangkok!Pixabay.com

Run with the Wild in Bangkok, Thailand.

Bangkok, Thailand does not seem like the place you would want to take a run. If you have ever been there, you know the motorcyclists make it impossible to run or walk in the road. So, you hear about this park from the locals called Lumphini Park. You as the avid runner has to get your fitness, so you go. It seems like such a peaceful park until you see a five foot monitor lizard just walking along the path. Then another and another. Little did you know that this park was full of 5 foot monitor lizards. Run at your own risk at Lumphini Park! I did and I came back alive!

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

I don't know if you noticed this, but a lot of my stories begin with me at a brewery. This is no acceptation. So, I was at Sigma brewery having a lonely beer, turned to the left and noticed another lonely beer drinker. We began talking. I am a fan of talking to strangers. What makes Houston so great is that we take time to get to know each other.

Thomas and I (Oh, his name was Thomas) bonded over beer and our love for scripted wrestling (think WWF and GLOW of the 80's). We laughed at pictures of the Doomsday Wrestlers in the brew room and videos of my cousin, DeDe, when she was a Powerful Woman of Wrestling in the late 80's.

Thomas and I became fast friends. It turns out that he owned Finca Tres Robles, the only privately owned farm in the inner loop. I had been looking for a unique activity for my tourists to get involved in. We made plans for me to tour his farm.

​Thomas explains what’s growing in the greenhouse.

Author’s own.​

The following Saturday, I turned off of Navigation onto Greenwood before stopping at the farm gate. Thomas meets me at the gate. I can tell he is just as excited as I am. The farm is 1 sq. acre. Picnic tables lined the front next to the farm stand. String lights hung from a tree. There were banana trees to the right, rows of vegetables down the middle of the farm, and greenhouses to the left.

Thomas begins to tell me a bit about the farm and what is in season. As Thomas is talking, I'm taking pictures of the vegetation. Let's take a break here.

Did you ever watch Portlandia? The episode where they go to the restaurant and learn that the chicken on special was organic and cage-free. Before they order, they excuse themselves to visit the actual farm to make sure that the chicken is actually cage-free and organic. Thomas is the real life example of this integrity.

He never had intentions of being a farmer. Thomas became curious of where our food was actually coming from and was it actually healthy? His quest led him to Maine where he served on an organic farm as an apprentice for 4 years. During this time, he found that farming really aligned with his true, inner self.

Moving back to Houston, he began looking for a farm to work on. He couldn't find one that fit his standards, so he and his brothers started Finca Tres Robles. They had no experience in farming what-so-ever and depended on the "fail forward" philosophy. Thomas and his brothers have found a way to produce good looking, tasty vegetables using no pesticides and all recycled products. According to Thomas, failure is a part of being a farmer. So much is out of your hands. You can do everything right on your end and still not have a good crop. "I wish everyone had this experience. Perfection is a non reality. It's pretty liberating."

Volunteers getting a taste of wholesome food.​

​Author’s own.

The next month, I bring my "tourists" to volunteer on Finca Tres Robles. Let's make things clear of why we are even discussing this in the health and fitness section of SportsMap.com Farming is proven to do amazing things for your mental health. There is nothing like being tactile with your food, pulling it out of the ground, feeling the soil in your hands, and just learning the entire ecology of the earth. One thing that Finca Tres Robles wants to teach Houston is that your food should be good for you and taste good and this is how it is done.

The morning that we volunteer, everyone gathers at the picnic tables. We are waiting for Thomas to give us a tour and give us our assignments. We are all impressed with this small space that not too many people are aware of. Everyone agrees that the green leafy vegetables are the best they have ever seen. We are in disbelief that for a farm that uses no pesticides, there are so few holes in the leaves.

After the tour, Thomas takes us to our assignment. Finca Tres Robles needed some weeding. Everyone dropped to their knees and began pulling. It was really relaxing to feel the earth in your hands. To see worms and bugs crawling on the dirt. We got to know each other and tell stories about ourselves the entire time we were weeding. When our work was complete, we all stood up, brushed the dirt off of our clothes, feeling proud and relaxed.

Author’s own.​

It has been over a year since I met Thomas and volunteered at Finca. Recently, I called him to catch up. I was happy to hear that Finca Tres Robles is still going strong. In fact, they have been selected to consult for a farm project with Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. The project is the first public, urban farm on a hospital campus. Thomas is excited that such a big organization was recognizing the value of farming.

I ask about what is new for the season. "One of our best sellers is Misome," which is an Asian green that has a mild, mustardy flavor with tender, bright green leaves. "Also, summer burr gherkins. I call them African cucumbers. We harvest them when they are about the size of an egg. They look like mini watermelons and have a crisp cucumber flavor." I get a kick out of his passion for food. He sounds like a chef.

I bet you are wondering how you can get involved. Take your pick. You have until mid July to subscribe to their CSA farm share program. You can enjoy the same volunteer experience that my "tourists" and I had every 3rd Saturday. You can tour Finca Tres Robles every 2nd Saturday and Pick it yourself every 4th Saturday.

It's not all work and no play, enjoy free yoga at Finca Tres Robles every Wednesday at 7pm. Or you could join them for their 5th Anniversary Abundance Farm Dinner on Sunday, June 2nd. $65 gets you a 4 course meal with cocktails or beer from Sigma Brewery.

Follow Finca Tres Robles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @FincaTresRobles.


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