I think I’m going to make it a habit now that whenever I visit a large enough city, and I have some time to kill during my stay, to sign up for a specialty walking tour or two. They’re good ways to learn a little about the history and culture of an area while getting a feel for the place.
And maybe sample some local food and drink.
Thanks to my friend, I didn’t have to book any special tours to visit the sights in the area around Denver. There are more than a few places to visit that are within an easy day trip away.
One thing that was made clear to me as we headed west was that we’d be going nowhere near the actual Rocky Mountains – just the foothills, as it were. You could easily tell which mountains were part of the Rockies – they had snow on them. No snow; not the Rockies.
Of course, there’s plenty to see and do in Denver aside from baseball. And football. And hockey. And basketball. Denver’s home to a team in each of the “Big 4” professional sports leagues – And happily enough for sports fans, all four (well, three actually – the Avalanche and Nuggets both play in the Pepsi Center) home fields are all within easy reach of downtown.
Within that roughly two-mile radius are all of Denver’s major cultural and recreational centers.
Naturally, if I’m going to a city that has a major league baseball team, I’m going to plan my visit so that I can take in a game or two. I specifically chose the week of my visit because the Rockies would be at home.
Coors Field is located at the intersection of Blake St. and 20th St. in downtown Denver. This places it in the neighborhood known as “LoDo” (i.e. “Lower Downtown”). Or “The Ballpark”, which had that name before ground was ever broken for the stadium. Or “Union Station North”, since it is a few blocks north of Union Station. Or possibly even “RiNo”, which is short for “River North”.
Let’s just call it “downtown” and let it go at that.
Denver International Airport is an interesting place.
Not for any of the facilities or amenities or stuff like that. Rather, it seems that during construction, there were so many delays and problems and cost overruns that people started looking at the project with a gimlet eye. And as they squinted to see the details, they distorted the appearance of other things. Suddenly, all those underground tunnels took on a sinister appearance. The public art and murals decorating the place contained secret symbolism. And the layout of the runways? Don’t get me started (because if I told you, I’d have to kill you).
Yeah, the place became a hive of conspiracy theories.
I finally went and did it. A friend of mine moved out to Denver over a decade ago, and I’d been saying many times I was going to head out there for a visit.
Well, a nice window opened up in the calendar – early May, right around when there aren’t any holiday weekends where the office is closed anyway, but not when it’s still Winter. And, with me being a baseball fan, the Rockies were at home.
So I booked a flight and a room at a decent downtown hotel, and off I went.
And since I always get a couple of blog posts out of my vacations, you’re going to get to read all about it. Well, almost all about it.
As always with a vacation, there’s a bunch of miscellaneous items of interest that can’t really be collected into a specific “theme”. The places are widely scattered geographically, they’re small enough so that detailed posts aren’t called for, etc. Then there are all the general observations about the city and local customs.
This final post on Amsterdam will cover all of that, since you’re probably as tired of reading about it as I am of writing it.
One of the nicer areas in Amsterdam is the neighborhood known as “De Wallen”, as it is the area around the Voorburgwal and Achterburgwal canals, roughly between the Oude Kerk (“Old Church”, which dates back to the 1200s) and Nieuwmarket Square. It’s a surprisingly pleasant residential area, with trees along the canals, little alleys and side streets, and a bunch of bars and night spots all less than a kilometer away from the Central Station and about two minutes from the Damrak.
“De Wallen” is what you call it when you don’t want to say you’re going to the Red Light District…..
Even with all the museums and cultural landmarks in the area, the Zoo complex is not one of the centers of Amsterdam. The “transit hub” is by the Central Station and the Damrak and the civic center is at Dam Plaza (where you’ll find the Royal Palace and the National Monument). The cultural center is at Museumplein, a large open field surrounded by the Concertgebouw concert hall, the Stedelijk Museum of contemporary art and design, the Van Gogh Museum, the Moco Musuem of modern art, and, of course, the Rijksmuseum.
Of the five, the only one I visited was the latter.
One good thing about Amsterdam is that it’s a very compact city. Many of the points of interest are quite close together, making it easy to get around to them. For example, the Royal Zoo, the Hortis Botanicus (Botanical Gardens), the National Holocaust Museum, and the Dutch Resistance Museum are all within a kilometer of each other.
It makes it easy to visit them all in one day – especially when there’s a tram stop right in the middle of it all.
Unfortunately, the day I decided to visit that area, it was cloudy with scattered showers. Not the best time to be out in a zoo or in a botanical garden, however interesting they might be. But I was there, and I like birds and exotic plants, so…