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Archive for March, 2010

1976—the year Denver missed its chance Mar 28

Yup, a town got the nod for the Winter Games, then voted it down. The reasons were cost and environmental impact. Lost by a big margin, too. Innsbruck, Austria (see the 1964 Games, a couple items down) got their second games that year.

So what kind of town is Denver to vacation in?

Well, you can’t get lost there. If you’re ever in doubt about your bearings, scan the horizon. The mountains are to the west.

"Typical" view of Denver's skyline

Several good roads lead west into those mountains, and you can tour through dozens of picturesque towns, stop at good places to eat, and sleep in resorts aplenty. Talk to one of the famous Serenity Travel Club agents for a good deal on a place to stay, or rent a car and go exploring/fly fishing/camping on your own. Just don’t hit the bicyclists training for endurance events.

The town of Denver itself has undergone a lot of redevelopment since its wild west days, and the seedy areas are now factory chic and quite nice. Don’t worry about the fiasco they had renovating their airport baggage-handling system several years back. That’s finally fixed. Sort of.

If you drive into town from the east, the city limits sign says “Denver/Elevation 5280 ft.” They don’t call it the mile-high city for nothing. Speaking of the east side of Denver, don’t forget all those dude ranches out there. Good if you prefer horseback to mountain climbing.

What do you like best about Denver? Tell us in the comments.

1972 another second chance Mar 23

Saporro, Japan was signed up to host the Winter Olympics in 1940, but the games were canceled that year. You’ll find a post about the place on this site if you scroll down far enough. The 1972 Winter Games was a good event for Japan, too—The country won its first winter medals that year. The Japanese team got all three medals in the ski jump. It was the first Winter Olympics held in Asia, too. Trivia: This was the last Olympics where someone won gold wearing all-wood skis. High-end ski manufacturing technology is pretty much all fiberglass and composites now.

Sapporo is not well known outside Japan, but if you’re into winter sports, you could try vacationing during their annual Winter Festival, which brings in about 3 million people from around the world.A Serenity agent should be able to find a place for you to stay.

Winter Festival Activity

Ahem. If you’re into beer, the town (city, really) is home to the famous Sapporo brewery.  But don’t drink and luge.

Have you ever been to Japan? Tell us about it.

1968, Perfect 10 Mar 18

Well, no place is perfect, perhaps, but Grenoble, France is pretty close. The skiing is great. Summers are beautiful, both weather and scenery. Not to mention two rivers and four Universities. They call their town “The Capital of the Alps.” I personally think some folks in Switzerland might beg to differ, but, hey, that’s PR for you.

This is the Olympics where Peggy Fleming won America’s heart in women’s figure skating, not least because she won the US gold.

Peggy Fleming

Jean-Claude Killy won all the men’s alpine skiing events, one win controversial when someone who beat his time was later disqualified.

But about vacationing in Grenoble. Scenery galore. Sights galore, history galore. (The French Revolution started here.) Oh, yes, cafés galore. I’ll recommend Le Leyritz on Place Vaucanson, an old-style French brasserie, its walls plastered with black-and-white photos of old movie stars. But you can find great atmosphere about anywhere. They cook pretty well, in France. Better cooks than bobsled run builders: The bobsled runs had to be held before sunrise because they couldn’t keep the ice from melting during the day.

So call one of our Serenity agents and book a room. Toast the Olympics for me.

When you return, come back to this site and brag about it.

The grim games—1964 Mar 13

Not grim, perhaps, but affected by two deaths during the pre-game training period, and the loss of the entire US figure skating team a couple years before. The mood was not quite as carefree as other winter games.

They were short on snow that year, too, and the army brought in jillions of ice blocks for the bobsled runs and zillions of cubic feet of snow for the Alpine skiing venues.

Innsbruck, where those games were held, is a pretty nice place for a vacation, though, especially if you like winter sports. Summer is pretty nice, too.The town is toward the western end of Austria, nestled in the Alps, and with the Inns River running through it. Like about every place in Europe, it has a lot of history, and you can visit the old town and take in some interesting sights and meet some really nice people.

You can see the alps from anywhere

The watchtower is a famous landmark

The picture on the left shows part of the “Altstadt,” or Old City. The walking is great, and sidewalk cafes abound, and they are renowned for their chocolate, coffee, and bread. Actually, all the food is worth over-eating. Have you ever seen a skinny middle-aged male Austrian? Innsbruck has a world-class airport, so you can fly there, and the Bed-and-Breakfasts are as hospitable as the scenery is gorgeous.

Have you ever been there? We’d like to hear about it. Make a comment.

1960 Winter Olympics Mar 07

Now we’re getting into years that I personally remember. Before these games, I had never even heard of Squaw Valley, California. As a matter of fact, neither had anybody else. The place had exactly one homeowner, one resort, one ski lift, and two rope tows. That homeowner was a guy named Alex Cushing, and he performed yeoman’s work, managing to convince the Olympic Committee to select the place, and piles of corporate sponsors to develop the site.

As it was, weather almost ruined the event. A big rain washed most of the snow away just beforehand, but they got another twelve feet of white stuff after the rain, saving the day.

I don’t have an Olympics picture, but here’s one from that era:

Clearly in the 1950's

With all that new Olympic stuff in the valley, it became a world-class winter sport venue, sharing publicity with Lake Tahoe. (ahem) Your Serenity agent can fix you up with a place if you’d like to go there.

What was the first Winter Olympics you remember? Did it change you? Share a comment.