Route 66, everyone has at least heard of it, part of our culture by now. It was one of the main roads on the American highway network which has become a kind of cult.
It didn’t last long. Route 66 was decommissioned and replaced by 5 other roads in 1985. At least 20% of the road is no longer there, so it is no longer possible to go all the way.
Built in 1926, just in time to be used by the poor fleeing the misery of the ‘Dust Bowl’ states at the time of the Great Depression. It was in fact called “The Mother Road” in John Steinbeck’s book “Furore” and the name stuck. About 210,000 people traveled there to get to California.
The road was originally 3940 km long. Of course, the towns and cities along the way saw an increase in opportunity and prosperity.
The father of Route 66
A certain Cyrus Stevens Avery is considered the father of this road. It should be known that back then, in the 1920s, not everyone wanted motorways. Aside from the potential cost, many farming communities were scared of roads with fast vehicles, used to driving around in their tractors or wagons.
But Avery managed to convince nearly everyone to look to the future. He also named the road Route 66 because he thought the two 6s were easy to remember and promote. Avery wanted to make a road from Chicago to California, that was his dream but he was also lucky that in those years a highway network was approved and therefore his Route 66 could be part of a highway system that covered or intended to cover everywhere in the country.
The Bunion Derby was a race that ran from Los Angeles to New York and was held in 1928 and spanned all of Route 66. It contributed to the almost legendary popularity of the road. 199 competitors from all over the world participated. A Cherokee Indian named Andy Payne won.
Unlike other long roads built in the United States at the time, Route 66 did not go straight but was diagonal, thus allowing for the connection of mainly agricultural areas in states such as Kansas, Illinois or Missouri.
Thus it became the truck highway, both for transporting agricultural products, but also because it was a road that crossed places in mild climates, unlike other roads and therefore almost never blocked by snow.
Route 66 Buildings
A major note in the look and history of Route 66 are the many motels, gas stations, and diners that sprung up and grew along the way. To get noticed, many of these places had a very colorful and also eccentric look, to make the motorists understand that they were offering. So there were Mexican restaurants with huge sombreros on the roof.
Route 66 did not last long, in fact after the Second World War it was already outdated and in the 1950s it was no longer able to keep up. It was President Eisenhower who approved a new highway network for the United States in 1956, inspired by German autobahns.
However, there is now an economy based on tourism for those who want to rediscover the spirit of this great road. In several places there are initiatives and some motels and other buildings have been restored and relaunched.
Exeter Cathedral; interesting things you can see
In England there is certainly no shortage of cathedrals, some splendid. Among the most beautiful are undoubtedly the Cathedral of Exeter or St. Peter’s Cathedral, which is located in a place of prayer that is over 1500 years old. The current cathedral, however, dates back to around 1100 after the arrival of the Normans, although now of that date we have practically only the two towers.
Another part of the cathedral dates back to 1270 when Exeter Cathedral was refurbished in a typically English Gothic. The cathedral was unfortunately hit by a German bomb in 1942, St James’s chapel was completely destroyed along with several medieval objects, some of which have been rebuilt piece by piece.
Fortunately some important historical artifacts had been taken away, in fact an attack on the cathedral had been foreseen, probably all these churches and cathedrals were hit in an attempt to demoralise the people.
What can you see at Exeter Cathedral?
You can still see the 50 mercies or genuflexors which are small shelves leaning against the wall that supported those who had to stand a long time to pray. These date back to the 1200s and are the oldest complete group in the UK. Also in this group is the figure of an elephant, the oldest in the United Kingdom.
There is the famous astronomical clock which dates back to 1484, the ancient library which dates back to 1100 and the gallery with 12 statues of angels playing different instruments.
The towers also have bells, the north tower contains a bell called Peter which however is no longer rung completely and the south tower has 12 bells which are among the heaviest in the world.
When you are at the cathedral you can be taken to the top of the roof and the North Tower, you have to climb 251 steps so you have to be fit but the views are spectacular. You must book in advance and here you will find the instructions.
Amersfoort in the Netherlands, a mini Amsterdam you should visit
Amersfoort in the Netherlands has a long mercantile history, in 1500 and in the following centuries it owed its wealth to the tobacco, wool and beer trade. Now you can still find some of that wealth, and there are several major merchant houses left.
The city has about 200,000 inhabitants and is therefore not a very small place, but it has the advantage of having almost everything you should have in a historic centre that you can walk around safely. In fact, in the old town, in addition to the canals, you can also see about 300 old buildings, all very characteristic of the period of the economic boom in the Netherlands.
Like other places in the Netherlands and Belgium this is a mini Amsterdam. We know with certainty that the area was inhabited since 1000 BC but we know it as a city only from 1100 onwards. Similar to the English ford, foort means ford on the river and in fact here is the Eem river which was once called Amer. There are therefore no mysteries about the origin of the name.
In any case, before becoming an important city for international trade, it was a medieval walled city and you can still find many traces of this past. Of the old medieval walls three gates still survive, all from the 1300s and 1400s.
The Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk was once an important Gothic church, part of its importance was that it marked the exact centre of the Netherlands. The church was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in 1700 but the tower still remains and even today it is still used as the geographic centre of the town. If you want to take the 346 steps to admire the view, the tower is still open to the public.
In Amersfoort there is also another old church the Sint Joriskerk or St. George’s church. A medieval church from the 1200s and the 1400s, you can also climb the tower here and every hour in front of the facade you can see a mechanical Saint George coming out to kill the dragon.
Amersfoort has several museums including a major art gallery, where you will find many temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Amersfoort in the Netherlands is also famous for being the birthplace of the painter Piet Mondrian and it is remembered with a museum located right in the house where he was born.
Part of the pleasure of visiting Amersfoort is wandering around the historic centre, strolling along the canals and sitting down for a drink in one of the many bars. There is obviously no shortage of restaurants.
How to get to Amersfoort in the Netherlands?
Very easy to reach from anywhere in Holland by train, it is close to Utrecht and only 35 minutes by train from Amsterdam.
Sighisoara in Romania, a place of towers, churches and Dracula
Sighisoara in Romania has a look and atmosphere that immediately makes us think of Count Dracula. We should not be surprised, in fact Sighişoara is located in Transylvania and was the birthplace of Vlad III the Impaler. A historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker to write the novel Dracula. It was not fa coincidence that Vlad was really called Vlad Dracul.
The medieval centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will immediately understand why. Visiting the centre is certainly a unique pleasure.
The centre had 14 defense towers, each managed by a different guild and corporation, this was an area often attacked by the Turks. The towers have been used a lot. Now 9 of these towers survive, for example the shoemakers’, the tailors’ and the blacksmiths’ towers remain. They are generally closed to the public but are nice to photograph from outside.
The clock tower which dates back to 1300 is not closed to the public. Not only is it beautiful to look at but you can also climb it to have beautiful panoramic views.
Many will want to visit Vlad Dracul’s house where there is now a restaurant, but if you go there and ask the waiters, for a small fee they will show you Vlad’s room.
Sighisoara in Romania; the place of Vlad the Impaler
The unpronounceable Piaţa Cetăţii is the market square that was the centre of medieval life of the town, here there were also the many executions by Vlad.
The church of the Dominican monastery has a decidedly Baroque look and was in fact rebuilt in 1600 after a raging fire. The church has existed here since at least 1200. Visit it just to see the carpets from Anatolia. Behind the church you will find a statue of a very mustachioed Vlad Dracul.
If you feel like climbing stairs, you can go up to see the church on the hill in a late Gothic style. This church was also older and initially in Romanesque style but was rebuilt in Gothic style in 1300-1400.
There is also a festival dedicated to vampires, during the event you may have problems finding a place to sleep, so book in advance.
Sighisoara in Romania is located on the railway line to Bucharest and therefore easily accessible
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