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krisek Denver - A travel report by Krys
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Denver,  United States - flag United States -  Colorado
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krisek's travel reports

Denver, the Mile High City is a really neat place!

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Denver, the vibrant capital of Colorado, has developed into a very pleasant city. Its main drag, free from traffic, is now a great place to hang out, eat out, go out and party. It feels relatively safe and its new light rail commute system is brilliant!


16th Street Mall, and the Daniels & Fisher Clock Tower
16th Street Mall, and the Daniels & Fisher Clock Tower
I went to Denver on business. It would not occur to me to venture there, normally. I had known much too little about it. And yet, I was a bit excited that I was going to see it. 'Dynasty', the neverending TV series, which I watched as a little kid, left this intriguing imprint in my memory. Now, the question really is whether the city lived up to my expectations. Expectations of glamour, excess, of course!

I flew in on a weekend before my project started, stayed for two weeks with a weekend break in Gibraltar (yes, I flew back and forward!), so I managed to get familiarised with the city. I quickly acquired knowledge how to get around using public transport, where the friendliest drinking holes were, where the juiciest steaks were served, and where to hang to kill time, which places to avoid, particularly on game nights, and which taxi companies to call after getting stuck somewhere after hours. Sadly, Denver has had higher than average crime levels compared with the rest of the large cities across the country. I did not know that when I arrived and I must say that I did not feel unsafe at any point, even at nights when matches were held at the Coors stadium. In fact, on one of the game nights, I ventured to the bars nearest to the stadium and had probably the best night out that year. I spoke with the locals, who were so intrigued about my accent and who happily bought me drinks, explained the rules of the game, told me when to cheer and when to boo as we watched the match on TV screens.

I will remember that I had a jolly good time in Colorado's capital, even though I was working long hours all days of the week. I was lucky with weather and I met only friendly people in Denver. Plus I did some great shopping!

Favourite spots:
Larimer Street, downtown Denver
Larimer Street, downtown Denver
Larimer Street with its old red, brown and yellow brick buildings, most of which housed restaurants and bars, was most definitely my favourite part of the city (pictured opposite). It should have been closed for traffic as well, but the pavements were not too narrow, and were able to fit a few tables. The walkways and the road were separated by a single file of little green trees. One single file of trees on each side of the road, that is.

There were a few streets like that in downtown Denver, where the old brick buildings stood in perfectly straight rows. These were the city's most picturesque spots. And they definitely looked very American to me, very early-industrial American, that is.

What's really great:
Red brick houses downtown
Red brick houses downtown
Denver had invested in public transport considerably. It was so refreshing to see that one did not have to rely on own transport to about the city. The main city drag, 16th Street Mall, become traffic-free, except for a public bus, which was running on bio fuel. But there was this fabulous tram, or light railway network, which made all the difference. It was clean, safe and very efficient, and very easy to navigate. It was managed by Regional Transportation District, and therefore called, the RTD Light Rail ( http://www.rtd-denver.com ). They had five lines criss-crossing the centre of the city, and going up and down to the suburbs, two lines (C and E) were meeting at the Union Station, at the top of the 16th Street Mall, and two (F and H) right on the 18th Street California. Two of the lines (E and F) were going all the way south to Park Meadows Shopping centre.

Sights:
Colorado's Capitol
Colorado's Capitol
There was not that much to see in Denver for a regular tourist like me. I guess there would not be any particular reason why I would want to go to Denver for a holiday or a weekend break. It was a rather pleasant city, which had done great to rejuvenate its centre, but there was not anything too special about Denver to put it on a tourist map.

I managed to discover the capitol, where the Colorado authorities had their seat. It was an elegant building, although sporting very predictable architecture. I was sitting in a small park surrounded by a large lawn.

There was one curious building in Denver, which made it look a little special, however. It was the Daniels & Fisher Clock Tower, which had been part of their department store built in 1910, and made to resemble the Campanile at Piazza San Marco in Venice. At 99 meters high, it had been the tallest structure west of Mississippi at that time. The department store was demolished in 1971, so the tower stands alone now.

Accommodations:
US signature fire escape stairway
US signature fire escape stairway
As this was a business trip, I had the luxury to stay at a very comfortable hotel, the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center at 7800 East Tufts Avenue. It was a full throttle hotel with attentive staff, a lot of freebies in the bathroom, including superb shaving cream, clean towels everyday, and crisp bed linen. The personnel was truly professional and genuinely friendly. The hotel was far from all the downtown action, though. Fortunately, the Light Rail's station was nearby and a taxi ride to the Union Station was remarkably inexpensive. Next time I was going to be in Denver for business, I will most definitely pick one of the many great hotels near the 16th Street, like the Courtyard or the Hilton Garden Inn or one of the high-rise hotels, from where I could see the snow on the Rocky Mountains.

Nightlife:
Denver travelogue picture
I was so glad that I found this rather famous place. I was not sure it actually had existed. And apparently, there were a few of those around the United States of America. The Denver venue also assured me that that this one here was the very original one. I really liked it there. The crowd was a total mix, ranging from young guys to suited businessmen to groups of Chinese and Japanese tourists. The quality of the place was its atmosphere. It was practically horizontal! And literally horizontal it was too, for the very assertive bartenderesses would assume that position often on the bar, letting the customers drink tequila or vodka from a small glass set in their bellybuttons. But more often than that, they would just stand on the bar, dance and sing along to some popular US tracks. Not so often, customers were allowed to join them. The bar was well stocked and the prices were very reasonable. It was open until small hours of the morning. It was called Coyote Ugly.

Hangouts:
Shopping centre
Shopping centre
The Rioja at 1433 Larimer Street was a superb place to sample wines. They had a few tables outside and served a wine sampler. In proper large glasses, so one could get slightly merry after tasting a line up of some great wines they had in their cellar. Seriously, highly recommended!

Beer enthusiasts, and I mean the enthusiasts of real beer, had their own shrine, right in the heart of the city. It was called the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. They brewed their beers, which included: the rich and full dark stout; slightly lighter in colour but heavier in flavour brown ale; slightly sweet and malty red ale; still lighter but hoppier pale ale; almost regular lager; and my very favourite wheat beer, which they managed to get a slight hint of pineapple and orange.

But I also liked hanging out at the Park Meadows Shopping Centre in the south, which had great range of shops, including all of my favourites, cool cafes and good quality restaurants.

Restaurants:
16th Street Mall - colourful buffaloes
16th Street Mall - colourful buffaloes
Denver had a very good range and variety of restaurants, bistros, simple eateries and posh lounges offering really diverse culinary experience. I ate at about six or seven restaurant downtown and a few places near Belleview and at the Park Meadows. Food at the Rock Bottom was as almost as good as their beers. There were two other places, however, which I think I ought to mention by name.

First one was the P.F.Chang's Chinese Bistro at the 15th Street # 1415, which was part of the well known chain in the United States of America. The service was a bit slow, compared to other places in the city, but the food was incredible! I had Shanghai shrimp with garlic sauce and 'dynamite shrimp' to start with. Fantastic.

The other one was The Keg Steakhouse & Bar at 1890 Wynkoop Street, near the Coors Field, and therefore in a lively area. The quality of the steaks was matchless, seriously nearing the quality of Texan steaks. And the service was immaculate navigating cosy, cool sitting areas.

Other recommendations:
The Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains
Denver was really close to the Rocky Mountains. They actually loomed proudly on the horizon from many high points around the city. I was looking for a spot outside the centre, so I could capture the skyscrapers of the downtown with the snow-capped mountains in the background, but I did not have enough time to discover that spot. The picture opposite illustrates, what I managed to find...

On the approach to the mountains, and notably between Denver and Aspen, one should not miss the aspen trees, which started turning usually in the middle of September. The views of the swathes of aspen trees turning into a yellow, amber and red, and all the possible shades in between, were incredible. So I heard from the locals, and as I saw on many spectacular postcards. Had I stayed in the area for the weekend in between my two weeks project, I would have definitely ventured towards the aspen trees. I am sure that I would have taken some incredible photographs.

Published on Wednesday June 9th, 2010


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Thu, Jun 17 2010 - 11:40 AM rating by aufgehts

Nice report, this will help when we are there for a day in Sept.

Thu, Jun 10 2010 - 12:40 PM rating by shervin19

Krys, this report is very good! Informations are useful for me and members of the GLOBsapiens! Thank you:-)

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