This past summer was what I discovered to be the summer of firsts, especially when it came to travel. Besides exploring a continent I hadn’t seen before (South America), I also got to see a bit more of my home country– in other words, I spent a week in Colorado to visit an old friend, and to visit what’s called “The Rocky Mountain State” for the first time.
I’d talked to my friend back in February, about expressing interest to see her in Colorado. However, it wasn’t until July that I made up my mind and booked the flights to and from Denver. It’d been a long time since we’d last saw each other: with her being busy with grad school and I working abroad, we couldn’t hang out as often as we could back in primary school, and so having this trip to see her would be a great way to catch up, as well as to see each other before our lives got busy again (that adult life, though…).
Round-trip from Los Angeles to Denver was just a little over $100 USD (can’t compare to the budget prices in Europe, but it’s pretty good for the U.S.). I left early to head to the airport, and soon boarded my early-morning flight. Journey took about two hours, and I arrived at Denver International Airport around noon. My friend picked me up, and we drove about 45 minutes to an hour to Boulder, where she lived and where I would be staying for a week.
After settling into her apartment, I headed out with her to get a late lunch at a nearby Tibetan restaurant– apparently, there is a considerable Tibetan community in Boulder, so there was a good handful of such restaurants in the area. It was my first time having Tibetan food, and I was quite pleased with the taste– in fact, I liken the cuisine to a blend of Chinese and Indian food, since Tibet shares borders with the two countries. From the saag paneer to ting-mo (steamed bread) to the famous mo-mos, my stomach was filled and happy. Plus, the complementary chai for the lunch special was too good to beat!
I was a bit tired from traveling that morning, so my friend and I returned to her flat to rest in the afternoon. She took me out later in the evening to a nearby town, where we participated in trivia night with a couple of her grad school friends at a restaurant-bar. We ended up getting second place, which was nice, but it was the process of getting there– stumbles and successes– which made it an entertaining night.
The next morning, I decided to head out on my own to check out the Red Rocks Trail, about half-an-hour’s walk from my friend’s flat. Located in Settler’s Park, the Red Rocks Trail is a small one that connects to other, longer trails in the area. While I could’ve gone for a more-extended hike, I opted just to stick with Red Rocks, since I also wanted to be back in town for the afternoon.
Upon reaching the entrance to Settler’s Park, I headed straight to the Red Rocks Trail. It was a bit of a hike up, as Boulder (and Colorado, in general) is mountainous and at around 2000 meters (6600 feet) in elevation. While certainly not high enough to get altitude sickness (unlike in Peru), it’s a notable difference from flat Los Angeles, so you do build up some tolerance to the higher altitude. In any case, I spent about an hour to 90 minutes hiking around Red Rocks, which offered some interestingly-shaped red rocks (of course), as well as lovely views of Boulder from above.
Nearing noon, I left Red Rocks and took Pearl Street all the way to downtown Boulder. In essence, it’s situated on Pearl Street, and it offers plenty of restaurants, pubs, clothing stores, gift shops, and just about anything you can imagine. From what my friend had told me, downtown Boulder is the tourist’s hub, and she likens it to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. In essence, while the area’s hopping with food and shopping, that was about it. I admit, even though I only visited downtown Boulder once during my week’s stay, I could imagine it getting old after several more visits.
All the same, I wandered a bit of downtown Boulder’s main stretch before getting another late lunch at a Mexican taco restaurant. I love myself some soft tacos, but I’ve never found a restaurant who could quite match up to my *high* standards. Unfortunately, the ones I got at the restaurant were just-okay and a bit over-priced, in my opinion. Perhaps I should lower my standards, just because it’s hard to find a soft taco I like!
I met up with my friend on Pearl Street after lunch, and we wandered the long stretch of downtown Boulder in the afternoon. She pointed out a couple of cool, quirky stores, including a cute stationary store and a puzzle shop that sold beautiful puzzles of famous paintings– not only that, but also the pieces themselves were interestingly-shaped, whether of human figures, animals, or just abstract. I can imagine that it makes solving the puzzle all the more challenging (but fun!).
An ice cream fan, my friend also took me to a lovely gelato shop, where I had some of the best gelato ever. I usually don’t like fruit-based gelato or ice cream, but the roasted-strawberry and coconut was absolutely divine. The other one I got, lavender, was wonderfully fragrant, but also subtle to the point that it didn’t border on tasting like soap. I’d go back to Boulder just to eat there again!
That concluded my first full day visiting Boulder. I would have another full day to explore more, all the while see, eat, and drink new things. I was already impressed with how different the vibe was from bustling Los Angeles, and I was looking forward to seeing more in due course.
Part 2 will be up soon!