Since today marks the opening ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi (go USA!), we decided to take a look back at some of the cities that hosted the Games in previous years.
2010 – Vancouver, Canada
- Motto: “With Glowing Hearts”
- Mascots: Miga the mythological sea bear, Quatchi the Sasquatch, Sumi the animal guardian spirit, and Mukmuk the marmot.
- Olympic highlights: Vancouver was record-breaking for the USA and Canada. Canada broke the record for the most gold medals ever won at a single Winter Olympics with 14, and the USA broke the record for the most medals overall won at a single Winter Olympics with 37 (go USA again!).
- Why you should travel there: Besides the mountain ranges and beaches and sprawling parks, Vancouver is a cool, laid-back urban playground with tons to do. You can check out the local brew pubs, cozy coffee shops, and trendy restaurants, or you can explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country by taking to the hiking trials or hopping on a sailboat.
2006 – Turin, Italy
- Motto: “Passion Lives Here”
- Mascots: Neve the snowball, and Gliz the ice cube.
- Olympic highlights: Turin saw some great firsts for smaller competing countries – it was the first appearance for Albania, Ethiopia, and Madagascar, and where Latvia won its first Winter Olympic medal.
- Why you should travel there: Italy’s fourth largest city, Turin is as charming as Rome, Florence, or Milan, but without the crowds. You can explore the gorgeous Baroque buildings flanking its cobblestone squares, explore crumbling Roman ruins, or just bar-hop your evening away on an aperitivo tour.
2002 – Salt Lake City, Utah
- Motto: “Light the Fire Within”
- Mascots: Powder the snowshoe hare, Copper the coyote, and Coal the black bear.
- Olympic highlights: The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were hugely, hugely popular, with over 2 billion viewers watching more than 13 billion hours.
- Why you should travel there: For starters, Utah in general is gorgeous. The jagged mountain ranges, the eerie salt flats, the national parks and canyons…if you like being outdoors, there’s something to do literally every season of the year here. And Salt Lake City itself is beautiful, with friendly people, stunning architecture, and tons of fantastic places to eat and drink (yes, you can drink there).
1998 – Nagano
- Motto: “Coexistence with Nature”
- Mascots: The Snowlets, four owls named Nokki, Sukki, Lekki, and Tsukki.
- Olympic highlights: The Nagano Winter Olympics were the first year to include women’s ice hockey, curling, and snowboarding.
- Why you should travel there: If you want to explore traditional Japanese culture, you’re in the right place. Nagano is home to the famed 7th century Zenkō-ji Buddhist temple, which holds a hidden statue that’s rumored to be Japan’s first image of Buddha. The temple has forbidden anyone to lay eyes on it for 37 generations, including the temple’s chief priest, but you can see the replica that’s displayed to the public once every 6 years. If your trip doesn’t happen to coincide with the unveiling, you can console yourself with a bowl of soba noodles or cup of sake.