When I told a few relatives that I was going to New Mexico the following week, I got some blank stares. And then some awkward silence. Huh? What’s in New Mexico? Well believe it or not a LOT. I have wanted to go to Santa Fe for more than a decade. It has always been on the proverbial “bucket list” but not high enough up in priority to make the trip a reality. Last week it soared to the top of the list and became a reality when we packed up the lil guy and headed out on a three hour plane trip to Alburquerque. I’ve never been a huge fan of the desert landscape but I had enough NYT articles on Santa Fe clipped out over the years to know that it would at least be an interesting trip. Well I was blown away. Santa Fe is about an hour’s ride from Alburquerque (We took the Sandia Shuttle) and it took 45 minutes. The first thing I noticed as I dragged my 49 pound bag outside the airport was the cloudless perfect blue sky and abundant sunshine. Gorgeous. I then noticed that after walking twenty feet I felt like I had just sprinted up 20 flights of stairs. Yup. Altitude is an issue. You are about 7,000 feet above sea level. For those travel lovers who have been to Machu Picchu that is the exact same altitude. They recommend hikers stay in Cusco Peru which is higher altitude for three days to acclimate before hiking Machu Picchu. I quickly became used to it but it is something to think about before booking the trip especially if you are prone to altitude sickness. Not fun.
Santa Fe is a terracotta colored artist’s dream. For a girl who grew up in Massachusetts, it is a strange and colorful land. Packed with museums, art galleries, shopping, restaurants and just a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. It is a fusion of Mexican, Native American, Western, and might I say Southern hospitality. If you are shopping, gorgeous textiles, rugs, art and beautiful silver and turquoise pieces are EVERYwhere. In fact, it is dizzying the amount of choices. Canyon Road offers more than 140 art galleries so you can take your time and spend an entire day just looking at art and enjoying the city. Santa Fe is extremely walkable and while everyone seemed shocked that we were walking as much as we did I found it so easy to get around. One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Georgia O’Keefe Museum which displays many pieces of her work but more importantly gives you a sense of her one of a kind spirit and trailblazing talent that made her one of the most influential female artists of her time. If you don’t know much about O’Keefe, her most famous art was painted at Ghost Ranch about an hour from Taos and depicts mostly scenes of nature, flowers, skulls….all very reminiscent of this beautiful land. She married an artist from NYC twenty years her senior but after he died she left NYC and she moved to New Mexico and lived by herself for the rest of her life painting the landscapes. She was 98 when she died.
The food of Santa Fe was incredible. They have everything from Spanish tapas, to French, to Mexican and a lot of organic and vegan options. We ate at Cafe Pasqual’s which is in the center of town and has the most delicious, healthy and interesting menu full of options from classic Mexican dishes like Enchiladas to Quinoa Mushroom Burgers to huge healthy chopped salads. Jack enjoyed a pear.
We also ate at a dive spot in a residential neighborhood called the Tune-Up Cafe. It is run by a family from El Salvador and serves classic El Saladorean dishes like Huevos El Salvadorenos….which I LOVED…and had to go back the next day and get the same thing. I highly recommend visiting this tiny and charming spot with very friendly owners and wonderful very affordable food.
After spending several days enjoying Santa Fe we packed up and headed two hours north to the mountain town of Taos. Spectacular scenery and great skiing brought us to this town for just two days before heading home to Chicago. Our trip home was nothing if not difficult…you can read about it here…but the trip itself was fantastic and was truly a step into a different culture, topography, and way of life. I will be back!