• Las Alpujarras In Andalusia

    Tiina Kivelä

    It’s the typical spring rain season in Switzerland, which makes me think of the more sunnier days and adventures, like this one in Las Alpujarras, Spain.

    These villages, in the southern slopes of Sierra Nevada mountains, bordering the Sierra Nevada National Park in Andalusia, are easily reachable by bus from Granada or Malaga. They also offer an excellent basecamp for mountain sports, hiking and mountain biking, and even for getting on top of the Mulhacén, the highest peak of continental Spain (there are mountain huts, cabañas, on the way as well).

    They can also offer just a cute setting for a lazy hazy day or two, admiring the architecture and plants, drinking wine in the patios and shopping local handicrafts.

    For Andalusia, the villages are refreshingly green, thanks to the waters from the Sierra Nevada mountains and especially the Mulhacén, which still holds some snow on it sometimes. Though like everywhere in Andalusia, fresh water and cold are getting rarer and rarer every year in here too, and it was nice to learn on this trip (and still read more of) how they try to support especially the sustainable tourism practices in the Sierra Nevada area. Kinda refreshing knowing the not so sustainable tourist traps in other corners of Andalusia.

    On our trip, after a sweaty day hike in the river gorge of Porquai, from the village of Capileira to the village Pampaneira (which was after a few sweaty days in Granada) it was a very nice surprise to find a fresh water to swim in, in the river gorge, next to a nice little waterfall. It was fun and a good reminder that even though warm sunny days are nice to dream of and live through sometimes, the freshwater and snow on mountain tops is even better most of the times.

     So, this Swiss rain isn’t so bad after all. But a little trip to Spain at some point would be kinda nice too. Or what you think, doesn’t these look tempting?

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Las Alpujarras, Andalusia, Spain

  • BLOG
  • Good Running Flow in St. Gallen

    Tiina Kivelä

    As some might have guessed already, I’ve found my new swiss home in St. Gallen this spring. And in here I’ve also found myself more than enough on the running trails and roads. Back to basics, so to speak.

    While living in Interlaken, my original swiss basecamp, the choices for running were mainly flat to the lake / around the lake, or flat to Lauterbrunnen and up the almost 2000m to Kleine Scheideggen, like on the Jungfrau Marathon. Or then there was the killer steep uphill to Harder Kulm or likes (any HC uphill runner familiar with Strava should check and try the Harder Kulm segments and top times). And in dear Lapland, it was all slippery, snowy and icy the past half a year,  although beautiful, and the xc skiing was more tempting activity when it wasn’t too cold for any high-intensity outdoor activity whatsoever (more of the Lapland trails coming soon in a separate post).

    In St. Gallen on the other hand, it’s nicely rolling, downhill to the Lake Constance / Bodensee or up the mellow (well mellow in Swiss standards) hills on both sides of the town, which has made me run a lot again. In here and well, in this weather, it’s easy to gain km’s and even though not the easiest place in Switzerland to gain elevation, it’s not too big of a problem either. And with the elevation in here, you get kinda good views as well, to the lake and/or to he Alpstein massive and Appenzellerland. And without extra elevation, this time of the year, you get these pretty blossoming trees. Yes, those are the reason for the strange split times, hard to resist taking pics of the prettiest ones.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Basics for running in Switzerland

    As always in Switzerland, I run mainly on the wanderwege aka on the yellow signposted hiking trails (pic above), along which (and in the villages) you also find water posts for drinking, which is just so great. And if not with own snacks, carry some money for the restaurants and kiosks if and when on a long run; those aren’t too far from the trails either.

    You may find the trails on a map in here, ticking the box “hiking trails”, and as you see in the pic the signs also show the direction (and time!) to the nearest public transport station and train or bus. Sometimes I even do the Swiss train run; run a long way to one direction and then take the train back, as on Friday when I run 15km+ to Lake Constance from St. Gallen, a few km’s by the shore and then took the train back from Rorschach, which btw offers for less active sweaty visitors interesting Würth Haus Rorschach with some art and stuff.

    For tracking and inspiration (hopefully to others too) I’ve been tracking my running on Strava (links on the menu on side), though it’s been annoyingly buggy lately and therefore I’m now testing other apps and looking for suggestions on the best multi/mountain sports tracking app and compatible watch (iOS preferably) there is – please leave your comments and advice below or email me directly – any suggestions will be highly appreciated.

    And to not just ask but also give, I would be more than happy to help you if you are interested in running in Switzerland, so please just ask directly by email or leave your comments below. Or it would be also cool if you happen to come to Switzerland / St. Gallen / around and looking for a running mate and would let me know about it, so I could volunteer for running and after run drinks company (and no worries, the non-running readers and friends, the same trails and company works for hiking too, as always).

    If and when we don’t have the change to run or drink together the next weeks, I wish you all have as flowy spring as I have, running or whatever way and wherever you prefer. These weeks, as I finally have the time, I’ll come here with a lot of stories, way more than the past months, from Switzerland and Lapland. But before that, it’s time to give the running legs well deserved rest and work on the tan, as it’s promising amazingly beautiful and warm spring weekend in here.

    Take care, stay strong and talk to you soon!

  • BLOG

    Tiina Kivelä

    I’ve finally made my way to the better (northern) side of the Arctic Circle, the real Lapland. More precisely, I’m typing this from a hotel lobby(when the WiFi doesn’t reach your room, in 2017) in Saariselkä fell resort, where I’m about to run some 15km+ today and tomorrow. While trying to adjust to the landscape which is so enormous and flat. And to the sky which is so big that it’s impossible to describe. You have to feel it.

    Talking about feelings, it’s strange to be back. I guess it’s like with the altitude – you shouldn’t rush to it but let yourself slowly adjust to a different kind of life. Or then you end up like me now… The whole body aching from making my way from sweaty Switzerland to the chilly Lapland on Wednesday after one hour sleep (the 1st of August party was definitely worth the tiredness though). I even had 3 checked in bags and 4 pieces of hand luggage with me (don’t tell the airline; I still don’t know how I did it). Whoopsie.

    And like that wouldn’t have been enough, during the two days in Lapland I’ve already found myself working, orienteering (our family likes to gather in forests) and meeting Santa and stumbling on the rocky paths to acquire some bad ass bruises and scratches (it seems to be that the less risk there is, like 2000m cliff by the trail, the more I stumble). I am rushing with this and feel dizzy, even though I should know better. But if I concentrate on the distance, look at the horizon far far away and think how far the mountains are… I’m not sure if I really want to think about the distance right now.

    Though it’s not so bad really, to slow down. What Lapland lacks in weather, mountains, urban settings and a number of people, it compensates with space, wilderness, freedom and sauna. And the reindeer paths, windy and rarely leading to anywhere, make me think that those creatures seem to know something crucial about freedom. How it’s not about the destination really, but about the journey. Or they are just lost and simply don’t care. Either way, let’s enjoy the ride, whatever speed.

    Now I have to run to run, but please be tuned for more Lapland stories. The map below will also acquire more content soon. Take care, stumble less, and see you later!



    Olen vihdoin löytänyt tieni taas napapiirin paremmalle eli pohjoispuolelle. Kirjoitan tätä Saariselältä hotellin aulasta (2017 ja hotellin WiFi ei yllä huoneessa kynnystä pidemmälle – not for remote work this place), jossa odotan tunturisuunnistuksen ensimmäisen kilpailupäivän lähtöajan koittavan. Viikko tähän asti on ollut aikamoista haipakkaa ja reilut 15km juoksua lauantaina ja sunnuntaina sopii hyvin kaavaan.

    Tiistaina aamuyöhön Sveitsin kansallispäivää tanssattuani suuntasin tunnin yöunien jälkeen keskiviikkona helteisestä Sveitsistä kolmen sisäänkirjatun laukun ja neljän käsimatkatavaran (älkää kertoko Finnairille, en itsekään oikein tiedä miten sen tein) viileään Lappiin. Ja täällä olen vajaan kolmen päivän aikana ehtinyt jo tavata joulupukin, käydä kolmessa eri saunassa, suunnistaa (perheellämme on hyvin metsäiset kohtaamispaikat) ja kompuroida yhden tunturin kivisellä polulla (näemmä mitä vähemmän riskejä, kuten kahdentuhannen metrin pudotus polun molemmin puolin, sitä kömpelömpää meno).

    Pitkän Sveitsin kauden jälkeen Lappi on henkeäsalpaavan tyhjä. Avoin, laaja ja hiljainen. Taivas  on sanoinkuvaamattoman suuri, sitä ei vain voi kuvailla sanoin; se on tunne. Ja tunturit… Noh, söpön matalia ja kumpuilevia.  Vuoria ja lyhyitä välimatkoja on ikävä, ja niitä etelän lämpimiä piemitä öitä. Toisaalta, Lappi korvaa osaltaan mm. kaikella tällä tilalla, saunoilla ja mutkittelevilla poropoluilla, jotka muistuttavat että loppujen lopuksi on aivan sama minne on menossa ja kuinka pitkä matka on. Tärkeintä on se itse matkanteko.

    Vaikka en olekaan ihan varma siitä onko poroilla mielessään mitään niin filosofista. Ehkä he vain ovat hukassa ja eivät vain välitä. Noh, molempi parempi ja nautitaan nyt siitä matkasta. Oli vauhti mikä tahansa.

    Alla oleva kartta tulee myös saamaan lisää sisältö matkani varrelta. Ja lisää lappitarinoita luvassa kunhan selviän nyt tästä ensimmäisestä viikosta ehjänä, joten pysykäähän langoilla jos kiinnostaa. Palataan asiaan ja yritetään olla kompuroimatta liiaksi siihen asti.