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Old Town Albuquerque and Old US 66

One of the best things about our blog is having the chance to resurrect or completing unfinished pages/projects from the old gribblenation site.  My 2007 trip to New Mexico is an example.  This is the first of a series of posts covering that enjoyable trip.

I landed in New Mexico on a spectacular October afternoon.  Since I had some time to kill before checking in Albuquerque, I headed south a little bit to get myself accustomed to the New Mexico terrain.  The inn I stayed at was the Casas de Suenos - "The House of Dreams" - which is a former artist colony right on the edge of Old Town Albuquerque.  After checking in and exploring the grounds of what I would call home for the next four nights (a photo of my casita is below), I went across the street into Old Town.

 
Old Town, also known as Old Town Plaza, dates back to the city's founding by Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez in 1706.  Old Town covers approximately ten city blocks and includes numerous restaurants, shops, art galleries, museums, and small bed & breakfasts.  Amazingly, Old Town did not become a part of the City of Albuquerque (referred by some as 'New Town') until the 1940s.

 
Like many Spanish settlements of the day, Old Town Albuquerque features a central town plaza and church.  The plaza - which is the center of activity throughout the day - features a gazebo, replica cannons from an 1862 Civil War battle, but also street vendors and musicians.  On this Monday afternoon, a local mariachi band was entertaining visitors to the Old Town Plaza.


The centerpiece of Old Town Albuquerque is San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church.  For over three centuries, San Felipe has been part of the Albuquerque community.  The current church built with five foot thick adobe walls has stood since 1793.  The beautiful church - which saw the addition of two bell towers in 1861 - is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 




After spending the afternoon in Old Town, it was time to get something to eat.  So why not explore Central Avenue, which is an old alignment of US 66.  Albuquerque's Central Ave. is home to a lengthy section of the old Mother Road.  East of town, Central Avenue still has the feel of its Route 66 days.  After passing the campus of the University of New Mexico, six lanes of old 66 heads east towards the Sandia Mountains.  Along the way is a tapestry of neon signs, vintage motels, gas stations, and restaurants that give modern day travelers a taste of what Route 66 was like in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. 
 

Of course at many places along Central, Route 66 is the theme.  This may be the most apparent at none other than a little restaurant called the 66 Diner.  The diner, which includes numerous artifacts from the glory days of Route 66, is a popular stop to tourists, Route 66 enthusiasts, locals, along with college students at UNM.  The 66 Diner is a step back in time, and you can't go wrong with the malts, burgers, and sandwiches.  (Some of which include the extra kick of green chile peppers).
 
After dinner, I headed back to Old Town and retired for the evening and prepared for a very eventful Tuesday.

All photos taken by post author - October 2007

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