I don’t get to travel all the time, so when I do travel I like to go to a place I’ve been dying (figuratively) to visit. I’m sure a lot of students (and those working) can relate, and say not want to waste their short travel time during the February half term holidays, which is why I was surprised to be going to Denver, a city that wasn’t even near my travel radar, this year.
When the North American portion of the TBEX conference was going to be in Keystone, Colorado in June I found planning a trip there. Aside from knowing the city is the Capital of Colorado, Denver was mostly a blank slate for me. Normally I like to researching my travels, but I’ve learned it can be good to go somewhere and not know every detail about the place. Blank slates lead to unexpected surprises.
When I stepped outside the Denver International airport to take the bus into the city the first thing I noticed was I felt high. I’m not referring to the being on drugs type of high. Likely it was the altitude affecting my brain, but for several moments standing on the 2nd level of the airport all I could think was this airport is floating, it must be hundreds of feet off the ground. Of course this wasn’t true, it was just my perception.
This got me to think about my other travel perceptions. Even though I didn’t know what Denver would be like beforehand I pictured the city to be like a big western, cowboy kind of city. Denver was, in a way, like that, but it also wasn’t. There were really unique neighbourhoods I got to explore that looked nothing like what I expected Denver to look like, such as the Highlands neighbourhood. There were interesting public art installations I didn’t expect to see. Even my weather expectations (I assumed it would be a bit cooler than where I had come from in New Orleans) was shattered. Denver was almost 100F when I was there (that’s about 37C).
I’m actually ashamed to admit, but part of me expected not to like Denver, and not for any particular reason. I assumed Denver would just be another city I’d get to, that would just blur itself into my travels. When I found myself walking down the 16th Street Mall encountering colourful pianos, music, and warm weather my jaded perceptions changed. Meeting some friendly locals, and perhaps having a few local beers, also made me really start to like Denver.
I can’t play favourites when I travel, but usually I find myself loving the places I’d assume I wouldn’t care for. Denver was one of those places. My perceptions of Denver were totally changed once I got to the city. I’m glad I got a chance to go to Denver, and get my original perceptions proven wrong.
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