My first trip since COVID, Denver, Colorado, and … wow. Just wow.

Let’s get this out of the way: it is still dangerous to travel, and if you don’t have to, then don’t put yourself, and more importantly others at risk.

While everyone is hurting, and tourist destinations especially feeling the brunt of this lock down, it is a double edged sword to even mention tourism these days. Yes, the economy is important for people to survive, but so is their health. That said, what I found in Denver was inspiring; everyone very conscious of the world condition and doing their absolute best to minimize risk, while still being able to offer access to this amazing city. Open air electric tour busses, timed museum tickets, and tons of fantastic outdoor dining all offer some protection that allow tourism to happen safely.

Denver, the city with the least oxygen but the most love in the continental United States is definitely a magical place. I recently got to explore this and a few other Colorado gems, so lets get to the highlights.

First we descended upon the prim and polished Cherry Creek neighborhood which is full of shopping, fun eats, and our hotel, the Moxy.
This hip little Marriott owned boutique play-and-stay is a faithful rendition of your favorite hipster hotel right down to the reproduction vintage phot booth in the lobby.

One thing that you’ll notice (but not remember) is that the check in desk is actually the bar, a feature that I suggest be standardized in all hotels, and DMV locations. You immediately get that Denver is a beer town as the hotel is attached to a beer garden, you get beers in the elevator, and even beers waiting in the room for you. The rooms are cool and modern, with great views and great loo’s. There is a definite nod to being funky fun,
from the bath product, to the verbiage and even the funky windows. It’s a functionally smart hotel that makes maximum use of it’s minimal footprint with a surprisingly ingenious array of furnishing trickery.

Overall we were super comfortable in our new lil’ home but it was time to explore this cool city, so we headed to the famed Union Station in the heart of downtown Denver. Truly a charming and stylish building inside it’s art deco / beaux arts beauty will impress you making it a great place to chill out or check out the fun and funky art. One fun fact is that there used to be a great big arch at the entrance that said Mizpah, or welcome in Hebrew, and while the arch is no longer with us, Union Station now has Snooze, a must brunch place for anyone visiting Denver.

In this colorful-retro-casual brunch hot-spot you will find long waits for one of their coveted outdoor tables, and for good reason. The breakfast here is an event from their decadent flavor bomb pancakes to their elaborate savory eggs benny which require, for health reasons, one of their loaded Bloody Mary’s to make it all go down right.

Completely stuffed, we decided to be carted around in style while not leaving even one carbon footprint. Introducing ETUK Denver’s premiere fully environmentally friendly tour company sponsored by Bud Light Selzer which is White Claw for people with day jobs. These Denver made, fully electric Tuks come with heated seats and fantastic views of the city. In no time we were whipping around downtown taking in all the sites as our guide pointed out some of the finer features Denver had to offer, like the Cherry Creek pedestrian bridge perfect for morning runs, the decadent Cruise Room located in the Oxford Hotel, the lovely Larimar pedestrian mall and the opulent Performing Arts Center, which proudly showcases two giant Botero sculptures (which are miniscule compared to Denver’s giant blue peeping tom bear who’s origin story is so long winded and wildly convoluted I wont bore you with it but look it up).

Then across the street from a legendary house of ill repute, we got to adventure into the Brown palace. Despite a very unfortunate name, the Brown Palace is a very cool place to take in, with a simply cavernous atrium that will leave you spellbound. Denver’s old world origin charm drips from the walls to the floors here as you can see in every aspect of the lobby’s attention to architectural detail meant to impress even the most snobby of Easterners. Here’s a pro tip: head up to the top floor to get an entirely different view of the Brown Palace and test to see if your brunch at Snooze is still in your stomach. Perhaps the most interesting facet of the palace is its water fountain, where you can drink, get this, actual Denver artesian water from the original 1892 well dug 750 feet below the hotel. That’s something.

Leaving the old-school charm of downtown Denver we popped over to the River North or hip RiNo district famed for it’s abundant world class street art and super hobo-chic restaurants and cafe’s. A trip to RiNo isn’t complete I’m told without hitting up the Denver Central Market which is located in a beautiful reclaimed warehouse. Chuck full of anything you could possibly want to eat or drink, this is a great place to explore and even throw back a few before picking something up for dinner. Don’t forget dessert either. I mean look at these things! Do you eat them or wear them?

From RiNo We headed cross the Platte River to the hip Highland district, which has some very photogenic spots, like Happy Camper,
which is like an Instagram post that serves food. With its giant disco ball, garden nooks, and dripping bokeh it’s hard not to get a bunch of likes. There is also little man ice cream, which besides mixing up the craziest flavors, is housed in the largest milk pail I’ve ever seen. Photo ops aside we were here for lunch and to check out Avanti which is a collective eatery.

What’s a collective eatery you ask?

Well its like you die and go to comfort food heaven. This place is a foodies paradise, with amazing dishes from around the world to make it super easy to forget about your diet. Add in a killer space with lots of seating both indoor and out to nosh on you new favorite nibbles and you got it made. South American arepas, Kimchi scallion pancakes and Southern spicy fried chicken all washed down with local amazing beer will definitely satisfy.

Full on good eats, we decided to take in some culture at Denver’s world class art museum. This institution boasts some of the most outrageous exhibitions, this one was called simply Light which allowed for some
amazing artist interpretations of what light means to them. From Keith herring triptychs to skull riding cryptic this was a visual wonderland that gave good cause for Colorado’s stance on legal mamajuana. Minds properly blown it was time to take a quick trip out of the city to visit the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is by far the most
beautiful naturally occurring theater I’ve ever seen in my life. When not rocking out, locals use this breathtaking location as a giant gym. Try
that at Madison Square Garden.

It is a truly stunning place that will simply take your breath away, so unique and majestic, and when you consider its just a 20 minutes drive from downtown, it’s a no brainer to fit it into your itinerary.

As the sun set on the queen city of the plains, we submerged ourselves once more into downtown for dinner. Sure you could keep it low key and hit up Duffy’s Cherry Cricket who’s no frills charm is overturned by their delicious burgers and boozy milkshakes but we decided to class it up a bit and check out Rioja on Larimer. This class act of fine dining is one of the best restaurants to experience Denver’s cultured cuisine.

From delicate amuse bouche, to savory pork belly appetizers, and perfectly grilled Colorado rack of lamb to decadent deserts this my friends is the perfect way to end a perfect trip to the great city of Denver Colorado. Onward onto Telluride, possibly the best place to visit during COVID!


Rs

If You Walk To Work In NYC…

These are a few things you will see along the way as you walk to work in NYC. It never ceases to amaze me how much this city has to offer, after so many years of living here. This is my morning commute, down 5th Avenue from 89th street to 18th street.

Just one street in NYC…

1

Cleopatra’s Needle

Well, that’s just a nickname we gave Heliopolis Obelisk, which is the oldest manmade monument in New York City. You will find this unreal slab from the past near 81st street on a quiet little hill. Millions pass it each day and don’t even know the 3500 year old marvel is watching over them. A gift from Egypt in 1881, it took 112 days just to move it from the shores of the Hudson River to where it stands now. Underneath it lies a hidden time capsule with a Bible, A dictionary, the complete works of Shakespeare, an 1870’s census, a guide to Egypt, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a small sealed box from the man who financed the transportation of the obelisk, the contents of which, no one knows (but was probably a Twinkie).

Old King Jaliello

You wouldn’t expect to find the King of Poland in Central Park, but you will, thanks to the Nazis.

So 1939’s Worlds Fair had this statue greet people at the Polish Pavilion on loan from Warsaw. Remember, NYC has a ton of Polish folks, and thank God, because perogies are amazing. Well, the war broke out, and the statue couldn’t go home, so it was moved to Central Park as a gift from Poland to the brave Men and Women who served overseas. Now he sits, swords crossed, like a badass, protecting the turtle pond at 79th street just across the way. One of my favorite statues in the city for sure, and makes one hell of a silhouette.

4

The Zoo

specifically the Lehman Gates at 66th street. Designed by the famous Paul Manship, who also did reclining Prometheus at Rock Center, this is a lovely deco gate that has a super playful jauntiness about it, with pan, animals, and birds all around. What I love is that you can walk right through the center of the zoo, and even see some of the animals, for free, any day of the year. The gate itself is the perfect entrance to a children’s zoo, and reinforces the notion that even in a steel and concrete hardened city like New York, you can find a little whimsy.

5

The British Empire Building

Rockefeller Center is one of my favorite places in NYC. No other complex of buildings scream the deco power of a city on the verge of becoming a legend. Everything about it, every perfect angle, is a throwback to a time when commerce, culture, and art collided in a beautiful harmony. The British Empire Building at 620 5th Ave is no exception. Patina green copper doors emboldened with golden statues signifying the 9 main trades of England. Above the door an ornate crest displaying “Dieu Et Mon Droit” in gothic lettering. “God is my Right” being the motto for the throne of England, to be found on any passport a British citizen holds, is the translation, but it is also a slight jab at the former occupying ruling class; Jennewein, the designer of the door, is said to have chosen that phrase not only because of the British throne, but because it was also the motto of Alexander Hamilton’s NY Militia The Heart of Oaks. Take that you Limeys! (I actually really like British folk.)

6

Rockefeller Center

Oh boy oh boy, look at that penis, I mean, building right there in the middle of Manhattan. Nothing screams virility more than this 70 story concrete wang of a complex built in 1930 by badass #1 JD Rock.

What can’t you say about this place. Theres a giant Christmas tree, an ice skating rink, art by Diego Rivera that was censored during the Pinko years, an underground city that stretches 10 city blocks, even a Banana Republic. I mean, it’s dope.

What I really love about this building is why it is what it is. Rockefeller was originally going to build an opera house here. Then the market crashed and the country went into the Great Depression, causing millions to go hungry and be out of work. Instead of halting work, he did the opposite; he built bigger. Labor was cheap and plenty and he gave jobs to thousands of people. The reward was one of the greatest landmarks in NYC and a more stable economy to boot. That’s NYC people, hell or high water we make it happen.

The Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building (which everyone calls the Christ-ler Building) is my 2nd favorite building in the city (right behind Grand Central Terminal). Why? Because it’s a real looker. I mean who builds a skyscraper out of stainless steel? We do. There are lots of reasons to love this building at 42nd street, but most of the reasons you might not know.

  1. There was a private club and speakeasy at the top (reopen that please).
  2. The first water bottling plant was in the basement. You’re welcome Desani.
  3. The Cooper Union (a free university here in NYC) owns all the land under the building.
  4. The spire was secretly hidden and was installed in only 90 minutes to fool a building going up downtown, hence, winning tallest building in the world (in 1930)
  5. Photographer Margie Bourke-White (see below) lived in an apartment on the 61st floor and had the highest toilet in the world. She paid 387.92 a month. I’d literally kill someone for that right now.

margaret-bourke-white-atop-chrysler-building-gargoyle-1934-2

9

New York Public Library

No body reads anymore. I mean look at this place. Empty. That, is my gift to you.

The NYPL is a fantastic place to visit. Sure there are cool lions outside, and maybe some of the best flagpoles I’ve ever seen, but its the inside that really holds the treasure. Upstairs is the Rose Reading room, which anyone can go to. It’s basically the Sistine Chapel of New York City and maybe the most impressive place to read Harry Potter anywhere in the world.

7_4

What would be an iconic NY landmark without crazy history factoids right? For instance the library sits on a very interesting plot of land. It was the battlefield for George Washington against the British during the Battle of New York, it was then a potters field for unknown dead, then it was the main reservoir for NYC. I’m not even going to mention that Ghostbusters was shot there.

10

The Empire State Building

Whatever.

11

Ads of another Age

One of my favorite things to do is spot old building ads. If you look up in the city, which is harder to do then you think, you will be rewarded with a window into the past. On faded brick facades throughout town, the remnants of old commerce still haunt us; Italian tailors, Hat shops, Lawmen, and barbers left their mark high above the city streets, and while their shops may be long gone, their memory is all around us.

12

Worth’s Tomb

So, a billion people walk past this monument across from Madison Square at 23rd street and never even realize there is a dead guy inside of it.

General Worth is one of only three tombs located on the island of Manhattan. One of them, yes, is Grant’s Tomb (3rd favorite building) and the other one, well, I’m going to keep a secret. This strange little obelisk though stands watch over one of the most iconic intersections of the world, and the dead Gen inside gets one of the best views of one of the most famous building in the world…

14

Eataly

Just kidding. Well, maybe not. Eataly has more visitors perhaps then Grand Central Terminal, the busiest station in the world, and over 22 thousand products for you to put in your face, all of them, delicious. A big shout out to my man Mario who was nice enough to jump on our little sandwich show, which you can watch here. 

13

The Flatiron Building

AKA the Fuller Building or the Cowcatcher, the Flatiron Building is NYC inconcrete (that’s an “incarnate” joke folks. I’m here all week). This is how you maximize use of space people. Built in only 4 months, everyone thought this sucker was going to fall down during the first strong wind. It didn’t, and quickly became a treasure of the city. Some interesting facts about the building is that it had no female bathrooms (imagine that) and its elevators were water powered.

Oh, one more funny fact… the term “23 skidoo” comes from the Flatiron building because the shape would cause strong gusts of winds to blow up the skirts of the women walking by. Cops use to give ogglers the ol’ 23 Skidoo when thier eyes lingered a little too long (and if you go into the subway stop there, the tile mural there shows hats blowing in the wind, just another little nod to the ol Skidoo).

15

Legoland NYC

Ok, just a Lego store, but it has some of the most amazing displays that I’ve ever seen and they change frequently. When they do a crew of Legoists come in over night, black out the windows, and construct their masterpiece in under 8 hours, sometimes using over 1 million bricks. I mean I’ve worked late hours before but that’s nuts.

16

Davy Jones Street Art

Now this is literally street art. Word is that a homeless chap by the name of Davy Jones creates these amazing chalk art pieces on the sidewalks south of 23rd street. If you walk the streets enough you start to see his work everywhere from Lady Liberties to Horse Drawn Carriages. It’s one of the few times looking down in the city gets you a show.

Well folks, that’s it. We’ve arrived at 18th Street and 5th Avenue. Mind you there is a TON more to see and do (the Met, Paris Theater, Chicken and Turntables) but this is just a walk to work (I litterally shot all these in one morning, walking). This is what you would see, in one hour, walking from 89th to 18th street. Just another day. Now time for a cup of coffee. Thanks for walking with me.

Rs

Roberto Serrini is a professional traveler who records his adventures in wordphotography and film. He is a staff writer for Get Lost Magazine, a senior contributor to Trip Advisor, as well as a commercial film director and drone pilot. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com where he can be contacted as well.