Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Planes, Trains & Automobiles (2011/12)

A quick look around Denver

I tried to get up at a reasonable time as I had only a few precious hours available in Denver, and I also wanted to maximise my chances of getting some sleep during my transatlantic flight later in the day. I had breakfast in the hotel's restaurant The Corner Office and then got myself organised for a quick look around. Although I had passed through the airport a couple of times since, I had only ever visited the city on one previous occasion, in summer 1991. I recalled flying into the former Stapleton airport, with its uncomfortably close parallel runways. A little over twenty years on, I was interested in seeing what I remembered.

ABOVE and LEFT: Denver's 16th Street Mall
I set out into the cold and dull conditions around 0845 and made for the nearby 16th Street Mall, Denver's famous shopping street. Of course, there wasn't much open at this time of the morning, but what was notable was how well served it was by public transport. Denver had acquired a light rail system as long ago as 1994, just three years after my one previous visit, and as in Salt Lake City a few months prior to this current visit, I couldn't help making the comparison with the Edinburgh trams fiasco at home.

I pressed on towards the one landmark that I was guaranteed to recognise: the Colorado State Capitol building, magnificently situated at the apex of Civic Center Park. After a quick look around outside, I was pleased to be able to enter the building to enjoy some respite from the cold. Even better, a guided tour was taking place at 1000 and I realised that I had sufficient time available to join it. In the event, it was run just for me and that made it all the more enjoyable. Better still, it was something that I hadn't done during my 1991 visit, so it was good to be able to chalk up a first-time experience during such a short visit. In addition to the various public areas, there were short visits to the Old Supreme Court, the House of Representatives and the Senate.


When the tour was over, I headed down through Civic Center Park, past the famous 'mile-high step', towards the City and County Building at the other end. I remembered that, back in summer 1991, there had been some kind of festival in progress in the park. Now cold and near-deserted, it all looked very different but no less attractive. I returned to the hotel via 14th Street, which gave me a chance to look at the Convention Center, with its rather odd giant blue-coloured bear looking in through the windows, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I bought some coffee and a sandwich from a branch of Starbucks to serve as a light lunch back in my room and reflected that it had been a thoroughly worthwhile morning.

I checked out just before 1pm and took a hotel-recommended car service back to the airport; it was a much nicer experience than the previous night's taxi, yet matched the fixed rate charged by taxis for this journey. I had no trouble checking in and, while Security was extremely busy, the lines moved at an acceptable pace. I took the airport train past the 'A' gates where my flight was due to leave from, in order to be able to use the United Red Carpet Club lounge.

I spent a while in the lounge and had the reassurance of being to see my Lufthansa 747 just across the apron from where I was sitting. In due course it was time to make a move and I partially retraced my journey within the airport so far, taking the train back to the 'A' gates area and quickly locating my flight. I didn't have long to wait before boarding got underway.

(Link to flight log in side panel)