Summer is around the corner, and that’s not all. Trailing along are also the fast approaching summer Olympics in London. Already, the world is abuzz with anticipation, and we’re no exception. In commemoration, we decided to hark back to past Olympic hosts. The bar has been set high, but can London measure up? We think so.
Beijing, China (2008)
The most recent location of the summer Olympics, where names like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps rose to fame. The centerpiece of the 6 venues constructed particularly for the Olympics was the Beijing National Stadium, lovingly nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, because, well, it looked like one. You can also visit the National Aquatics Center.
Athens, Greece (2004)
Not only was this the site of the 2004 Olympics (check out the Olympic Velodrome), but this city is also as historically rich as it gets. One of the oldest cities in the world, Athens was ancient Greece’s leading center since the first millennium BCE. Seriously, ancient. It birthed the trinity of philosophers – Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. You can’t miss the Acropolis, where you’ll see the well-framed Parthenon and the temple of Athena, goddess of wisdom and war.
Sydney, Australia (2000)
There’s a reason why all the characters from Lost were in Sydney. No, it’s not because they had sketchy businesses down there, it’s because Sydney is bea-u-ti-ful. Sydney teems with wildlife. Aside from the clichéd Koalas and Kangaroos, you can also opt for whale watching or spot a flying fox (aka a bat, not a fox with wings). The Sydney Opera House is also one of the most famous structures built. Ever. And then there’s the Sydney Harbor Bridge, which is hard to forget. Did you know that it takes 10 years to paint the bridge, alone? And don’t forget to visit the Olympic Park.
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. (1996)
Get charmed by the South. Georgia’s capital is where the picturesque old meets the modern. This city successfully hosted the biggest Olympic games ever. It’s also where the vain Scarlet O’Hara had her heart broken by Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind.
Barcelona, Spain (1992)
Barcelona has all that European cities are known for: pedestrian streets, outdoor markets, noisy cafes, and plenty of shopping. You can stroll the streets of Ciutat Vella, the Old City, or simply let the gorgeous architecture of Antonio Gaudi guide your eyes. A great number of structures were reconstructed in preparation for the 1992 Olympics.
Vancouver, Canada (2010)
We’ve seen the beautiful views on TV from the 2010 Winter Olympics: the majestic mountain peaks, oceans and skyline. For many, Vancouver is synonymous with skiing and snowboarding. There are many local hills across the harbor on North Shore. It’s also the gateway to Whistler, the top-rated (and biggest) snow destination in North America.
Torino, Italy (2006)
Turin, or Torino in Italian, is widely known as the home of Italy’s royal family. Old world cafes, divine restaurants and royal mansions give the city an aristocratic atmosphere. Due to its architecture, the city is considered the European capital of the Baroque, or sometimes it is lovingly coined the “Little Paris” due to the resemblance.
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. (2002)
Even if you’ve never been there, you’ve probably seen Salt Lake City, since it’s a popular location for filming big blockbusters. Due to its quiet suburban feel, it serves as the perfect substitute for an LA backdrop. Hence, this place is perfect for stargazing (not literally, of course).
Nagano, Japan (1998)
The most visited structure of Nagano is Zenko-Ji, a 7th century Buddhist temple. You can also visit the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, with venues like the Big Hat and Aqua Wing arenas for hockey and aquatics, or the M Wave skating arena, which by the way has the world’s largest suspension roof.
Lillehammer, Norway (1994)
Apparently, the world couldn’t get enough of Lillehammer, because this city is again scheduled to host the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics. The city is known for its typical winter sports venues. Don’t forget to walk around the Norwegian Olympic Museum – the only museum in Northern Europe that shows Olympic history in its entirety since ancient times.