In just a few short weeks, the torch will finally ignite the long-awaited Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In the upcoming moments of epic athletic triumph and breakout stars, Sochi already stands out as a star unto its own. This is a beautiful community, set like a jewel on the coast of the Black Sea and it’s long been a favored vacation setting for travelers in Russia. Soon we will see it glitter in the world-media spotlight. While we are anticipating the competitions and the chance to see more of this great city, we at Auto Europe must take a few moments to nod to some of our favorite Olympic cities of yesteryear, as well as future Olympic possibilities!
Best Cities of the Olympics
Gold Medal: The UK’s swinging capital has rolled out the welcoming mat for three modern Olympics now. Each time London has hosted has brought stunning triumph and a style that is particular to the UK. Let’s not forget the impressively absurdist opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, which left most of us as delighted as we were confused. The previous games were in 1948, the first in the years of recovery from the carnage of World War II. These were known as the ‘Austerity Games’ because of the rationing in Post War Britain. These games were also historically notable, as they were the first ones to be recorded for television broadcast! The 1908 Olympics saw a legendary marathon finish, when the first athlete to enter the stadium promptly collapsed and had to be carried across the finish line, both winning the event and being subsequently disqualified, with gorgeous photography documenting the entire ordeal.
Silver Medal: Athens has hosted two modern Olympics, tying the ancient city with other notable hosts, such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, Lake Placid, and Innsbruck. However, the proud and ancient city of Athens has hosted plenty of times during the millennia of ancient games dating as far back as 776BC. Athens remains an incredible host-city for travelers the world over, offering delectable traditional foods and music, significant scenery and warm turquoise seas to sail or swim!
Gold: When it comes to beautiful cities of the world, there isn’t much we can’t say about Paris. While 1924 was the last time the city of Light hosted this specific international sports event, sports lovers can find football matches and bicycling enough to satiate anyone’s athletic enthusiasm. There is so much to do and see in Paris, from dancing on the Seine’s banks to haggling with street artists to watching rainwater whisk off the flying buttresses of Notre Dame. A particular favorite of Auto Europe, Paris simply beats to the rhythm of our hearts and we can’t wait to help you get there!
Silver: Each year, the sun in St. Moritz shines an average of 322 days, bringing a champagne glisten to the snowcapped peaks or blue summer lakes of this Alpine wonderland. Though 1948 saw the last Olympic Games to be hosted in the small resort-town in Switzerland, St. Moritz continues to be a favorite spot for skiing, snowboarding, hiking and mountain biking due to the pristine forests, charming architecture and astonishing palisades.
Gold: The summer Olympics of 1968 were held in Mexico City, at an air-thinning elevation of 7,350ft above sea level. These noteworthy games saw many triumphant moments, as well as challenges to athletic endurance in the extreme altitude. The 1968 Olympics saw the beginning of color broadcasting, which brought to life the vibrant culture and scenery of Mexico City for the whole world! Even if high jumps and 800-meter dashes aren’t the main focus of your day, you may be able to break personal records as you explore the numerous parks, museums and charming historic neighborhoods of Mexico City with a rental car!
Silver: 1954 saw the Olympics in a Dolomite ski paradise in northern Italy. Blessed by powdery trails and sheer rock-faced cliffs, this classy little resort town was a favorite of the jet-set glamor crowd of the 1960’s, including the likes of Bridget Bardot and Clark Gable. Thrill-seekers continue to flock to Cortina d’Ampezzo in all seasons for extreme sports, but this little town wins an extreme location award for being the filming location of the film ‘Cliffhanger’, which I still cannot watch without white-knuckle gripping my nails into the sofa cushions. This beautiful locale is easily reached with a two-hour drive from Venice!
Most Impressive Stadium
Gold: Many things were impressive about the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, but the grounds were definitely a starring entity in the events! Also called the Bird’s Nest, the stadium was simultaneously palatial, with room for 91,000 spectators and daringly modern. The illuminated view of this avant-garde marvel reflected in the surrounding pools is a marvel to behold. Modern Beijing houses an incredible array of architectural feats, including both glittering skyscrapers and peaceful temples from ages of antiquity.
Silver: Barcelona is noted for its gorgeous natural surroundings and pristine historic buildings alike, and the Barcelona Olympic Stadium is no exception. Originally erected in 1927, and revamped for the 1992 Summer Olympics, this stadium combines elements where functional and balanced Art Deco meets a gorgeous Mediterranean palace and the sky opens to the mountains and the fresh sea air. With a rental car in Spain, you can cruise this wonderful city with fresh abandon to commit to your own athletic pursuits. Keep in mind that this vast and classic building still hosts world-class rock concerts as well as athletic matches.
Gold: Budapest has been passed over by the Olympics committee no fewer than five times now, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t had their share of athletic glory! Due, in part, to the thousands of natural hot springs in ‘The City of Baths’, Hungary dominates the world in water polo. Blessed with enchanting Danube scenery, lively nightlife and a tempting food and wine culture, Budapest is always a gorgeous city to visit!
Silver: To my best knowledge, Dubai has never made an official Olympic bid, but we can certainly hold hope for the future. Dubai has a lovely dry climate and gorgeous coastal beaches that would set a background for glorious moments in summer athletics, but I must admit that my vote here is largely out of architectural interest. Between the stately spires of the Burj Dubai and the man-made islands and marinas, I am intrigued to see the glittering and novel facilities this grand city would potentially erect for the Olympic Games!
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