Surprisingly quick trip from Nanaimo BC to New Mexico. Spent most of my travel time in airports and the least amount of time in the air. It’s only about 3 hours to Denver Colorado from Vancouver and an hour more to Albuquerque.
My first stop on the way to Santa Fe was Placitas, a rural town about 40 minutes north of Albuquerque. I stayed on an acreage surrounded by hills and mountains, dotted with juniper and aspen trees. The background is mainly brown rocky terrain and the dust is kicked up by the winds, but there is a certain charm to this desert landscape. Certainly artists and artisans have capitalized on the unsung beauty of the place and the history and culture of the peoples who live here.
Placitas is just outside of the city of Bernalillo and is part way between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. After a tour around Placitas with a friend, we headed into the Sandia mountains for some hiking to a cave that is accessible from a spiral staircase. Way above the valley, it was a good viewpoint to see New Mexico’s terrain. It is spring time so the temperature is reasonable and the trees are in bloom
I took the train from Placitas to Santa Fe. The Road Runner as the train is known, is great and runs from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and it cost me a grand total of one US dollar. The train runs through ranch country, passing through Indigenous Pueblos and small settlements. The rural areas of New Mexico look a little poor in places with run down looking homes and collections of old broken down vehicles. This is in stark contrast to the city of Santa Fe,
An hour on the train and an easy walk to the hotel San Ensendor Motel, I stashed my bags and had an afternoon to wander. Santa Fe is definitely a tourist destination. It was very busy and as I discovered, home to many events, including this car show in the main square.
Santa Fe itself is well worth the visit. It has literally miles of museums and galleries, a world class opera (which sadly was not in season) and ancient traditions that continue to flourish. Everywhere you turn there is an impressive array of paintings, sculpture, pottery and photography and artisanal crafts. Easily walkable the streets of Sante Fe are full of life, bright with colour, music and good food ranging from Asian to local cuisine.
A fun place to visit for a few days, wandering the streets is exactly what the old city seems to be laid out for.
In addition to it’s artsy nature, Santa Fe has a rich history and is supposed to be the oldest capital city in the United States. The central Plaza and Catholic Churches, including the Loretta Chapel and its famous spiral staircase, are reminders of it’s days as a Spanish Colony established in 1610. Also well visited is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
The number of museums and public galleries is staggering. Three days in Santa Fe are not sufficient. In order to see them all you would need several more days. Visiting the museums reveals the pre-colonial peoples and their history and the blend of cultures that resulted post contact with the Spanish. In Santa Fe you will find the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and Museum of New Mexico of Contemporary Native Arts and many others.
The week flew by and after the wedding of my friends, I returned to Albuquerque and flew home to Canada. Luckily the covid travel restrictions of the past few years have started to relax and made the trip much easier and more relaxed.