We started by renting a car. This wasn’t our original plan, but the heat was high as early as 7am this morning, so the amount of ground we wanted to cover would have been exhausting without some wheels. Taxis downtown are about $20 anyway, so the car hire covers its costs quite quickly. It was easy as there was an Avis desk in the hotel lobby.

We started by taking the interstate 70 to Red Rocks Amphitheatre – a stunning setting for a stage buried deep in the red sandstone rock. It was very hot there – there was a notice telling you that climbing the steps to the top burned 40 calories – it felt like 400. Bruce Springsteen has played here – among many others over the years – I would have loved to have heard that! I was amused by a sign on the highway – “Correctional Facility – Do not pick up Hitch-Hikers”. …?!  We visited Denver Botanical Gardens next – a beautifully kept collection of over 33,000 plants in 23 acres of land. Stunning water lilies in particular – and every sun loving plant you can imagine

Denver Botanical Gardens

Denver Botanical Gardens

The sun was high in the sky – Denver has 300 days of sunshine, apparently. It must get pretty cold here too though as many supermarkets have caution signs warning of slippery surfaces from ice and snow. It didn’t feel as though it could ever snow here today – it was still 92 degrees F by 7pm.

We saw the intriguing blue bear next – 40 feet tall and peering into the Convention Center window on 14th Street. a truly “only in Denver” photo moment.

We strolled down the mile of 16th Street Mall next – lined with shops, restaurants and outdoor cafés with tubs of carefully tended flowers all the way along. we were heading for the Oxford Hotel on 17th Street (in LoDo – Lower Downtown) – the Beautiful Art Deco Cruise bar was the first to serve cocktails post prohibition. I sampled a White Lady – Hendricks gin, solar no blood orange liqueur and lemon- heavenly. The beautiful Union Station building is just beside the hotel – Beaux Arts style grandeur. The fish restaurant served an appetiser I had never tried befor – shrimp kisses. Ordered for the name – enjoyed for the flavour: prawns wrapped in bacon and Monterey Jack cheddar – awesome!

There was much more we could have done in Denver – but I think we saw the best of it. Tomorrow, we go on to Rapid City – a long drive and an early start …

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