Most of us have either heard of Santa Fe, or have been there. It is a part of the southwest that holds something special for each of us. Whether it is the spiritual side, history, arts, the shopping, or the just plain curious side, Santa Fe, New Mexico, attracts any and all of us at one time or another. We have been there twice, and find it both interesting and different.
We fly into Albuquerque and drive up to Santa Fe, about an hour and a half north, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. We are staying at the famous La Posada de Santa Fe just off the main square in town. Parking is a real problem in the old town area, so a hotel with parking is a must. We arrived on Thanksgiving Day and had their fixed price turkey dinner for our Thanksgiving celebration. Little did we know what we had in store for us. And it was very cold there.
We got our own private bird, carved at our table, along with all the trimmings, and of course, traditional desserts of pumpkin pie, and bread pudding. Then, the waiter said he would store the turkey in the refrigerator for us. We could call and have it carved and delivered to our room for sandwiches, or have it again in the dining room. Ironically, in fact, Santa Fe was founded well before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth.
We stayed the first night in the main hotel area, somewhat older and, truthfully, a little spooky. It was creaky, noisy, and just plain unnerving. So, we requested a newer room out from the main building. Much nicer, less spooky, very modern, and far, far away from the main buildings. The other problems we had were the dry air, and the altitude. The combination makes it difficult to acclimatize quickly. We had to ask for a humidifier for our room, that really did not help much. The pool was closed, but their famous spa was open, and fully booked.
Our first morning walk into Santa Fe revealed many sights. The famous church downtown, the main square or plaza, and lots of stores selling southwestern wares. After reading about Santa Fe, it looked like the place to go for breakfast was Pascals, just off the square. It was southwestern breakfast heaven. Every dish had a strong southwestern flair, and was served in huge skillets, brought to the table by the tiniest little waitress we have ever seen. This place is the most popular dining place in all of Santa Fe. No sooner did we sit down, than the line out the door was 25 deep.
If you think prices are reasonable here, think again. We priced some custom made belts and buckles in several stores. Think in the range of $300 for a low end, starter belt. I think I will stick with what I have. But it was fun to look. Of course, there are many stores selling turquoise and related Native American jewelry, along with leather stores, and art galleries. After a while, it all looks the same.
The highlight for me was the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, just a block or so from the main plaza. It is a cute little complex, housing over fifty percent of her work, as well as her biographical history. She was well ahead of her time as an artist. She also broke the gender barrier by her innovative and insightful works, with the help of her famous husband, Alfred Stieglitz. We saw an exhibit of hers a few years back at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. On this trip, her museum was very crowded, and not conducive to a serious study of the artist or her work.
We drove around the town, and found many interesting sites. Besides all of the historical buildings, there are too many 50’s and 60’s era restaurants and stores that remind me of the old southwest. Santa Fe seems to be a nice blend of the old and the new. But, the locals told us that real estate is pricey, and the cost of living is high. Most everything is shipped there from Albuquerque.
Sheri found two items that are typical of this area. She bought a nice Native American alpaca throw, and a small alpaca teddy bear. We made sure the tags did not say “made in China”. The craftsmen and women were very friendly, and depend on tourists to make a living. Many of the nicer galleries and crafts stores were overpriced. We finally found a store in the old part of town that had some nice watercolors, and coffee mugs.
The next day, we decided to drive out to the big Santa Fe Indian Market, north of town. Again, it was a big disappointment. The arts and crafts looked much like what we saw in town, as well as a strong dose of cheap items from Mexico. It is a big production, lots of booths and vendors. Too bad.
We found, of all things, a great Pan Asian lunch place. It was so good, we went back for dinner that night as well. Who would think that we would find such a place there? That night, we asked that our turkey leftovers be prepared for our ride back to the airport on Sunday. They delivered the turkey, complete with sandwich fixings, and containers to carry it onto the plane!!! It is the least they could do for an expensive turkey dinner and leftovers.
When we woke up for the drive back to the airport, we found a foot of snow on the ground. We had an 8am flight back home. So, we headed out into the storm, barely enough light to see, and the roads covered with snow. After we lost about 1500 feet of elevation, the snow turned into rain. We made it safely back, on time, for our flight home.
Santa Fe is a pricey little slice of the world, but a must see and do experience. It has a good feel to it, people are very friendly, and the food is outstanding.