Friday, August 12, 2011

Who Needs Italy and Greece When We've Got Route 6?

I just returned from a two week excursion to Venice, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, and though these foreign cities are historic and beautiful, they are also sweltering and overcrowded this time of year.  While plying the  gondola-packed canals of Venice, fighting a great number of oiled bodies on the beaches of Mykonos and Santorini for a lounge chair and sweating out ancient history lessons at the Acropolis and Agora in Athens, I thought to myself; the sites on US Route 6 may not be as studied, grand or old, but they certainly worth seeing and surely not as crowded.

So, here are a few alternatives to the wonders of Europe that can be found if you drive across the USA on Route 6:


Vermillion, OH
Vermilion, OH; It's not a large city, but Vermilion has charming canals, nevertheless.  Instead of a Disneyesque tourist vibe, the town offers a quiet yachting center, some beaches, fun burger, hot dog and shakes restaurants and is just a short drive to either Cleveland or Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky.

Moline, IL: In Venice, you have to take either a water bus or water taxi to get where you need to go.  In Moline, the Channel Cat Water Taxi is a perfect way to move around the Quad Cities in order to avoid the traffic-jammed bridges that cross the Mississippi River into Iowa.

Channel Cat Water Taxi
Moline, IL


Cape Cod National Seashore, MA: OK, so the water may not be crystal clear and the beaches aren't lava-black, but over 40 miles of clean, Atlantic Ocean, broad sandy shoreline beat the shoulder to shoulder drink-sipping tourist magnet Greek seasides any day (at least in my upcoming book).  For those who enjoy a nearly solitary beach experience, even in the height of summer, the Cape Cod National Seashore is an unsung gem.
Cape Cod National Seashore


Hyatt Arcade
Cleveland, OH
The Hyatt Arcade, Cleveland, OH: "Agora" means "Gathering Place" in Greek and this ancient landmark was the site of the very first documented Shopping Mall in history.  The Arcade in Cleveland, built in 1890, is one of our country's first indoor shopping malls and is now owned by the Hyatt Corp.  Ancient Greeks used to assemble at the Agora to discuss and debate the issues of the day, and you can do that, too, over a great Chocolate Martini at the Chocolate Bar.

State Capitol Building
Lincoln, NE
The Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln, NE;  The Agora was also the government center and considered to be the birthplace of Democracy.  While Route 6 runs through five US State Capitals, the Capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska is arguably the most stunning. It took ten years to complete the art-deco mosaics that cover almost every inch of the vast interior and is more colorful, cooler (in temps and aesthetics), and wondrous than that Greek seat of Democracy.

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