A Dortmund (Germany) Runaround

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While last week I was in beautiful sunny Greece, today…I am not.

Instead, I’m in Dortmund, Germany.  Which – may very well be a very nice sunny place too on some days.  Regrettably, today was not one of those days.

Further, this post may simply serve to illustrate that not all runarounds feature old European churches, beautiful turquoise waters, or famous landmarks.  Sometimes, they’re just loops around a convention center area in a town you’ve probably never heard of (unless you live in or are from Germany).

Thus, welcome to tonight.

As I left my work meetings around 5:45PM and walked the short distance back to the hotel, it went from no rain to sprinkling to sideways pouring rain in the matter of 3 minutes.  Here’s a photo of that mess:

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Given my recent running in Greece, I wasn’t exactly packed for cold, rainy, windy weather (I didn’t know I was coming here until after I arrived in Greece, and haven’t been home since).  Thus my selection of clothes was limited to shorts and…shorts.

Yuck.

So, I did what I do best: Procrastinate.

And the fruits of my labor resulted in a bit of clearing with the rain going away (the wind stayed).  Good enough for me!

Out I went to knock out tonight’s workout.  It was mile repeats @ 6:10/mile (3:50/km), along with a 15 minute building warm-up, and some finishing sprints + a cool down.  Before I headed out I briefly plotted my mile repeat location, making a near perfect smaller loop that I could repeat each time with the same exact terrain.

I started off and made a large wide loop around the whole area.  I didn’t want to repeat my designed mile-loop any more than I needed to.

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As I was finishing up my big loop I passed by the entrance to the stadium (Westfalenstadion), and out front a little Rhino from Strobles, a sports pub of sorts.  This is the home to Borussia Dortmund (it’s a football team…aka…soccer team).

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(Re-enactment photos taken after dinner, taking photos with my little camera at night in a dark area didn’t turn out terribly well)

With my warm-up complete, I took a short 2-minute rest before heading out.  I’d start each loop in exactly the same spot, and then finish in exactly the same spot each time (about 100m away from my starting point).  Repeatability is key for being able to compare how well you do across the entire workout (repeats) from the first mile to the last.

In this case, these poles were my starting point:

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With the first repeat now underway I cruised along mostly flat ground until the intersection of Strobelallee and Strobelallee .  No, I’m not clear how two separate roads with the same name intersect – but apparently…they can.

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This first section being as flat as it was gave me a chance to stabilize pace (rather than a hill).  Along the way I’d pass by the large convention center off to the right beyond the trees.

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About 400m later I’d make my first turn as I approached one of the main roads.  At the corner of this intersection began a bunch of these repeating banners.  I’m not sure what she’s selling, but I suspect nothing good comes of it.

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The only good part about said banner though was that it was now gradually downhill for about 300m, taking me past a light rail station:

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As I reached my little hotel (more on that later), I’d make a turn onto a beautiful tree-lined and lamppost-lighted walkway – free of cars:

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This walkway continued for probably 500-600m and only twice did I see other humans there while doing my loops.

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At the end of the walkway I’d enter the stadium area.  Note the prohibited items include glass bottles:

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From here I’d continue up the long straightaway which climbs slightly (it always hurts more when you’re pushing the pace):

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Now, at the end of this I’d be back at the start.  The problem is, it wasn’t quite enough distance.  So I had to make a little mini-loop around a bike parking area in front of the stadium.

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(in case you’re wondering why there’s such a big spaghetti mess of tracks, that’s when I was walking during the rest portion)

Mini-loop completed, it was back onto the slightly uphill stretch for attempt #2.

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Look, there’s even a finish tape!

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Though, my ‘finish line’ was actually in front of a info booth in front of the stadium.

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And with that, it’d be 2 minutes of rest before I’d rinse and repeat.  Five times was the magic number tonight.

With the mile repeats complete I did a handful of short 30” sprints in front of the stadium:

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Then, it was time to pose for a picture and head on back to the hotel.

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Workout wise things went well, with me nailing all my sets.  Well, actually I was a touch bit fast on some.

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Post-cleanup I wandered back out to the stadium to have dinner.  This was pretty much the only eatery I knew (since I had lunch there too), and it was a ‘known good’.  Specifically, the below was a known good (Chili Schranke – Currywurst).

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Then, I headed back to my little hotel.  I wanted to point out one minor item of interest here.  Specifically, there’s no human attendants at this hotel.  At least, after 10PM.  Instead, the automated machine checks you in.  For example, last night it couldn’t find my reservation, so I just created a new one and let them sort it out in the morning.  But the whole system then spits out a door keycode (not a card) that you enter in like one of those airport lockers.

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(I had to change rooms, so the second day I got a handwritten room code, the first day it’s just on a long receipt)

With that, my short 2-day trip to Germany is over, and I head back later today to France.  Looking forward to getting home – it’s been nearly 10 days since I was last there!  And there’s a whole pile of gadgets stacking up to unbox.

Thanks for reading!

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62 Comments

  1. Brass Monkey

    Enough of this Ray. Nobody cares about this junk with all due respect. Bring out the 220/620 reviews already!

    Reply
    • jveithmac replied

      Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses

      Reply
    • zkaizen replied

      haha! I love Ray’s post, the Greek episode was fantastic and now Germany…what a job! But, I am really hanging out for the 620 review…still unsure if I should put in an order or not.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Brass-

      Sounds like you’re pretty interested in the FR220/FR620. Given that level of interest, I’m assuming you’ve read my FR220/FR620 preview post – perhaps even multiple times. Thus, it surprises me that you might have overlooked the multiple instances in the post (beginning, middle, and ending) that I noted I’m waiting on the final firmware (+ any unit physical changes) before I write my full in-depth review.

      Don’t fret though, even if you missed it in the post itself, I mentioned it over a dozen times in the comments section as well.

      But no worries, I’ll copy it again here. As noted there, once I receive final firmware and final software, a review will be forthcoming a few days later. In the meantime, there’s 900 comments you can read on that post if you need more information. And, there’s even a handy comment button if you have specific questions. Though, it seems you found that this time.

      With all due respect,
      Me.

      Reply
    • Matt replied

      Personally, I love these kinds of posts…especially considering I have all the tech toys I need right now and Ray only seems to convince me that I REALLY need the newest one. So, keep up these posts! (It saves me money.)

      Reply
    • Alice replied

      Here just to make it absolutely clear to Brass Monkey – there’s plenty of us who do CARE and find Ray’s runaround posts absolutely delightful: witty and informative and just as great as the rest of the write-ups, so thanks again Ray!

      Reply
  2. We do, we love hearing about how you fit everything into your busier than our days…
    So please keep telling us about these interesting places you stay at and how you always find a place to train…

    Reply
    • Thor R replied

      Ditto, these posts are as interesting and valuable as the device/gadget posts!

      I’m sure I saw one of the Flic-Flac shows 10 years ago when I was visiting Germany. It was a mix of Cirque du Soleil and a circus (without animals) – very entertaining.

      Reply
  3. ismo

    Agree with Dion and Thor: these stories of places you visit are very interesting. Keep them coming, please.

    Reply
  4. Tom

    I like this story too, please don’t be so rude….

    Reply
  5. Matthias

    Due to these stories I learned how to fit my running into business trips. Keep posting!
    Actually the area you where isn’t that bad for running. There are some nice parks to run around.

    Reply
  6. Daniel

    Thats sad! I would have love to run around my home-city (at more interesting places).

    Cheers,

    Daniel

    Reply
  7. Hi!
    I follow Daniel: YOU in our town?! Would have been great to meet you in personal – and show you some nice places by running. Or drink an after-training-beer together.
    All the best, Jens (one of your fans/followers) :-)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Daniel and Jens!

      Sorry to have missed you! Just leaving here in another hour or two. Nice sunny day today though! :)

      Indeed, my choice of locations was mostly aligned to how quickly I’d be able to get back to a warm shower if it started to dump out again.

      Reply
    • Derrick replied

      Hi Ray
      Was in Aix-en-Provence recently and because you run everywhere work and play takes you, I also went out running on both days I was there. It was fantastic.

      Thank you

      Reply
  8. Franki

    Schranke (german) = railroad gate (am. engl.) => red and white => ketchup and mayonnaise

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Here’s the menu page for that item (it’s the one with the word Chili in it): link to dcrainmaker.com

      All I know is there was sausage, sauce (with a bit of chili powder), and fries. And it was good. Really good.

      Reply
  9. Néstor

    Thanks for ALL your posts!

    Reply
  10. I keep forgetting to comment…long time lurker, was in Paris a month ago and got to meet your lovely other half and have some excellent cupcakes. I agree, I love the runaround posts and race reports. I appreciate the gear reviews as well, of course, but these are my favorites. Anyway, I live in Frankfurt and if you are ever this way, there is an open invitation to both of you for a bed, meals, runs, rides, and tips on swim-bike-run in the area – whatever we can help with. Frankfurt is actually a great place for swimming, biking, and running :-) also, Flic Flac is a circus that seems to specialize in bizarre advertisements.

    Reply
  11. Kyle

    The two streets with the same name are separated by house numbers. The Strobelallee might have been there first with a curve in it and they decided to build another street there and make it an intersection. This occurs not even rarely in Germany, therefore you can’t rely on listening to the most navigation devices telling you nothing about turning left or right when the street name stays the same ;)

    Reply
  12. @Hu3ain

    I would like to complement the city run around, but it seems like its about getting the job done in the dark and cold.

    I do appreciate the travel & training posts, including the bizarre: naked man fishing/ a kiosk hotel receptionist. Looking at the activity graph is interesting, as I can’t figure out of they were based on HR or pace given the undulating terrain? And I admire that you keep the quality throughout the intervals on 2′ recoveries.

    As Always, Well Done!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks! It was purely based on pace (holding 6:10/mile). Though, I tended to ‘put a bit in the bank’ in the first few minutes and run a touch bit faster, since the last portion was uphill and I’d slow a bit. The terrain had little ups and downs which slightly fluctuated my paces more than a pancake flat run.

      Reply
  13. Howard

    Ok, I’ll go first, what’s the story with pig and soccer ball?

    Reply
  14. Love how you’re adding the pace in km’s in there now,
    makes us metric people appreciate exactly how fast you are :)

    Reply
  15. Semih

    Ray, have a quick question. How do you keep a constant pace for these kind of workouts?

    I always struggle keeping a steady pace in my workouts. I’m using an RCX5 and I think the instant pace is not good. It can display 4:20/km and then 5:30/km in just a few seconds even when I try to keep a steady pace. The “race pace” function is good, but only if you want to run at a fixed pace throughout your run. So I can’t use it for warm-ups, intervals and all other mixed workouts.

    Any suggestions? Thanks.

    PS: Love these run-around posts.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      To some degree it’s a bit of a function of the various GPS units. Some are better than others.

      For me, I use lap-average pace for my mile-repeats, focusing on keeping that number stable. Each mile is a new lap (pressed manually).

      The other part of it really just comes from a number of years or running steady-state pacing. In some ways, a track can really help get you into that mindset if you subdivide the track. Back in DC I’d run track workouts with guys and we’d subdivide every 100m chunk and then nail each chunk to the second (i.e. an 80s 400m would mean 20s per 100m). We’d give each other hard times if someone missed it. The goal being each mile repeat being exactly the same.

      Reply
  16. Doug

    Hi Ray, another great post, not many blogs that make mile repeats interesting!
    Two quick questions, why do you wear the baseball cap at night and what do you do if your route takes you somewhere unlit, do you carry a headtorch?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Normally I wouldn’t wear a baseball cap at night. But, it was fairly cold and it was the only hat-like thing I could find in my suitcase. From here on forward I’ll be taking my cold-weather running stuff, but as I hadn’t planned to stop/run in Germany, I had to make due. ;)

      For lighting, in Paris it’s not really a problem (there’s a bit of truth to the term ‘City of lights’). Here though, it was definitely fairly dark and a headlamp would have been nice. I do have one, but I think I’ve only used it once. I’m a bit lucky in that my eyesight is pretty good and adjusts fairly well to pretty dark conditions (The Girl for example, likes dakrness much less).

      Reply
    • Theo Smit replied

      @ray: for a completely awesome running headlamp (probably even as a helmet-mount auxiliary light for night rides) I’d recommend one of these
      link to mec.ca
      Got one to run the night leg of Sinister 7 this year, and it was fantastic. Well priced, super bright, it has a flashing taillamp, and Li-ion batteries that recharge off any USB port. No affiliation with Black Diamond, just a happy customer.

      Reply
  17. Stu

    Here is an explanation of how the street intersects itself as told by Kramer from Seinfeld. link to youtube.com

    Reply
  18. Chris

    Please keep writing the travel/runaround posts, they are really interesting. I’m also waiting for a review of the FR220 but not a rushed review or one on a non-final product.

    Reply
  19. Eric

    Ray,
    If you would stop wasting your time working out, you would have more time to finish product reviews for us. What are you thinking!?!?

    Seriously, I want to echo what several other readers have said; I find your rounabouts and race reports enjoyable and very inspirational. Please don’t stop.

    However, speaking of Echo any idea when the final review will be ready? The Echo is exactly what I think I want, but I am on the fence. Is the Echo/iPhone good enough or should I bite the bullet and spend a little extra for the FR 220 and get better accuracy?

    Thanks a heap for all the hard work you do on and your great reviews AND you fascinating travel reports……

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Funny you mention Echo. They finalized the software yesterday and a final unit or two arrived at my forwarding address on Monday, shipping out today for arrival tomorrow.

      I’ve been using the final software on my older unit for the last week or so. Expect a final review by next Thursday (barring any wonky travel schedule changes). A bunch of 3rd party apps hit Monday/Yesterday as well, and so I’m trying to include a handful of those in the review too.

      Overall I’m happy with the solution, and the accuracy I’m seeing is quite good and in the normal ballpark of other GPS-onboard watches that I’m using at the same time.

      Reply
  20. Fenitua

    Thanks Ray. I love these posts also. I travel about 40 weeks a year myself and it is very interesting for me to see how others improvise to satisfy the demands of their training programs. I hate having to resort to the treadmill especially when they are often uncalibrated and the fitness rooms are often way too warm.

    I see in the first map overhead of your run that there is a 400m track close to your route. Did you consider trying to gain access to the track as an option for your mile repeats or is the thought of running around a track for 70 mins too much?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, I did a quick passby of the track, but couldn’t really figure out how to get in it. It appears affiliated with the stadium somehow.

      No worries though. One of the things I learned about 2-3 years ago is that I was doing a ton of track workouts running hard, but very little standard road workouts running hard/paced. Thus I was really darn good at nailing paces on a track because I only had to go 100m at a time between pace adjustments. Whereas out on the road with the fluctuating terrain I wasn’t as good.

      So we changed things up and moved most of my workouts at the time to open road and loops, which enabled me to learn to better pace without black lines and distance markers.

      As for 70 minutes being too much on the track…remember, I’m one who’s done 16 miles on the track before: link to dcrainmaker.com ;)

      Reply
  21. Dr. D

    Ray – another avid reader/follower. Please keep it up. I too like to run around new places when I travel.

    Question: Do you know of any software/tool that enables you to find road (or a combination of roads) that are say 1mile with elevation changes within a certain range, say +/- 20ft?

    I end up finding trails (especially next to lakes, rivers etc.) if i need to crank out a speed workout.

    Many thanks.
    Dr. D.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, that’s a good one, I’m not sure on that. Sites like Garmin Connect and Strava do show elevation when using their mapping tools. That’s how I map most things out. GC is free, and offhand I can’t remember if the Route Builder on Strava is free for general members or only premium folks right now.

      Reply
    • Daniel replied

      Dr. D:

      Not directly, but you can choose very precisely what your track should be at http://www.gpsies.com .
      However the track needs to be uploaded and published before. In my case (Dortmund, Germany to stay on-topic ;-) ) there are hundreds of tracks nearby, so it is worth trying out.

      Cheers,

      Daniel

      Reply
    • Dr. D replied

      Thanks Ray/Daniel – I suspect what I am looking for has not been invented yet!

      Maybe a challenge to put out there as I am not the only one (living in a hilly state) who occasionally seeks out a flat piece of road for a speed workout. I use Garmin Connect but that is only useful when you are mapping out a route/area you know not when you are looking for a flat-ish piece of road.

      Thanks again and much appreciated.
      Dr. D.

      Reply
  22. elwood

    >Further, this post may simply serve to illustrate that not all runarounds feature old European churches, beautiful turquoise waters, or famous landmarks. Sometimes, they’re just loops around a convention center area in a town you’ve probably never heard of (unless you live in or are from Germany).

    I know you are probably not really into soccer, but you ran right next to one of the most famous stadiums in the world of soccer and anyone who knows anything about the sport probably knows Dortmund. So you actually featured a really well known landmark.
    Still the city is ugly, I’ll give you that.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That’s true. I thought about that this morning walking past it to work. In fact, when I texted my brother a fairly non-descript picture he immediately knew about it (he’s a big soccer guy).

      As for the city, the area I was in was quiet nice – very park-like and clean. :)

      Reply
  23. Tom

    I love that you write up runarounds, motivated me last week while in Bremerton WA to do my own runaround. Keep up the good work,

    Reply
  24. Rolf

    I have my gadgets, but don’t update them every time a new model comes out. I do read your tech reviews and refer all my friends to them when they are thinking of buying something new. That being said one of the things I enjoy most about your blog is your travel and now European lifestyle posts. Please keep them coming, it is obvious by these comments that many of us on here enjoy them. Cheers!

    Reply
  25. anybody

    The city isn’t that unkown at least for soccer fans. The team from the stadium where you run around is quite known within Europe as they play some international games every know and than. Last year they even scored the second place in the European Champions League.

    Reply
  26. John Famiglietti

    Did intervals in the dark myself today, but in the familiarity of my neighborhood. Mine were pre-dawn with some daylight by the end. Your workout is much more impressive than mine.

    I’m pretty sure you mentioned it in another post, but what event are you targeting with this training?

    Reply
  27. Ray, I realy enjoyed reading this post!

    living here in Dortmund always love to read your articles and after coming home yesterday from a run in the very same area I was die laughing as I read you have been here ;)
    Your next time in Dortmund I should tell you story behind the rhinos – there are a couple of them in the whole city. By the way, the Lady on the banner is advertising a famous circus here in Dortmund.

    Keep on going like that,
    Danny

    Reply
  28. Dude – how do you get such good pictures running at night. I have the same camera and mine always come out blurry unless it’s really sunny out.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      See the note earlier on that all the pictures except the one of me standing/running is “re-enactment” ;)

      No, my pictures while running at night aren’t so hot. I can usually make it work in really well lit cities (Paris for example), but not in Dortmund.

      Reply
  29. Bones

    Hi Ray, just to add another vote, I love these sort of posts so please keep them coming! I travel a lot for work too, and the fact you keep high quality training going in spite of your schedule inspires me. When I check in to a hotel in the middle of no-where after a long flight it’s all too easy just to order a beer, but now I think if DCR can do it, I can too.

    Actually I value this aspect of your blog more than the tech – I have a 910xt and am a simpleton so don’t need anything else except a kick up the behind now and again!

    Reply
  30. Haha, what a coincidence. I’m from Dortmund and last weekend I’ve visited Paris and went also to Bertie’s Bakery. Love the cupcakes!! I’m also a regular runner, so sometimes I also run around the Westfalen Stadium. By the way, the Strobelallee is just one street, the crossing is actually where the street makes a turn. We have turning streets in Germany (“abknickende Straßen”) which is strange I admit :-)
    The Banners you saw are from “Flic Flac” a popular action show in the area, like with stuntman. They call themselves a circus and usually do special themed performances.

    Thanks for the Blog
    Greetings to Paris
    Ansgar

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks for stopping in! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Always funny to see how many people are from the places I run, it’s crazy!

      Reply
  31. Dave

    Nothing like a troll to bring out the lurkers.
    Thanks for the consistent and high-quality posts! I enjoy them all. I’m sure it’s a labor of love.

    Reply
  32. apparently you aren’t a trackpoint user… *dislike* ;)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It’s funny, I used to be a diehard one. And then somewhere along the way the laptop I was given didn’t have it, so I got better at the touchpad. Now my touchpad has a very clear wear mark on it…

      Reply
  33. Marco

    Ray is a very friendly, enthusiastic and nice person. Not a gadget test robot. Stories like this one are the salt and pepper of his fantastic blog.
    p.s. I found a place near Place de la Nation where you can eat Currywurst…

    Reply
  34. Marco

    link to timeout.com

    Having fallen in love with Germany during a holiday to Berlin, the owners of this café began to import German products and traditions, creating a nice Franco-German ambiance. The success was immediate, attracting devotees of both classic Croque Monsieurs and traditional German currywurst, a German sausage in a curry sauce with crisps. During Oktoberfest, Café Titon becomes a fully-fledged biergarten. German beer aficionados will be ecstatic to find Paulaner, Erdinger, and even Franziskaner Dunkel. Outside of currywurst and bratwurst, the menu is mostly centred on French cuisine with tartares, large salads, steaks, and sandwiches.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Awesome, thanks for the link! I’ll clearly have to bring The Girl over there to experience it!

      Reply
  35. I for one enjoy reading this sort of post as well. I will admit there’s more Garmin news available here than anywhere on the net so I’ve been skimming comments every few days to find anything contradicting REI’s Nov 8 claim. Keep up the good everyday life posts I enjoy them. I will begin to wonder if you start routinely posting nude fisherman photos though.

    Reply
  36. Mike

    Ray,

    Thanks for these posts. Makes me feel like you are one of us, just trying to figure out and wade through the maze of technology to enhance performance. If you didn’t do these posts, it would start to feel like an ecommerce blog to get me to buy products. Thanks for keeping it “real”.

    Reply
  37. Harry

    Ray,

    Thank you for all of your posts. Really, there is no need to respond to trolls unless you want to. The rest of us appreciate the great efforts that you put into the testing and posting – which is available to us for free (or via voluntary support via Amazon and Clever Training).

    The travel stuff is a bonus.

    I promise to give you better directions for run loops the next time you’re in Philly. Please keep the travel postings coming.

    Harry

    Reply
  38. I like those easy runaround posts, especially since I have been to (and ran around) both the hotel in greece and dortmund myself.

    Reply

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