Thursday, July 9, 2009

Visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico

Today's weekly themed post on ABC & 123 is to talk about vacations: favorite places to go, where you'd like to go, what your plans for this summer are, or anything else vacation related. This really isn't about what I did while visiting Santa Fe, because I lived there for two years. But I certainly played tour guide enough times!

We moved from Santa Fe, shortly after ER turned one so she won't remember anything of her birth state. Brad and I plan to take her back one day so here are some things you have to do when you're around New Mexico's state capital, there's really a lot more to do than this post lists. I'm only going to scratch the surface. Santa Fe is really a wonderful place to visit, coming from the Midwest it really feels like you've been somewhere, maybe even to another country. The historically accurate pueblo architecture is iconic to the city and new buildings cannot be more than three floors tall, the height that could traditionally be made. I think it's some place everyone should see at least once.

Let's start downtown around The Plaza, which is actually the center of Santa Fe the city itself. One one side is the Palace of the Governors, located in the oldest public building in the US. The other three sides have unique shops specializing in, you guessed it, Southwestern: art, clothing, and jewelry, along with restaurants. Since it is the heart of the city and downtown, many people will refer to where other places are based on where it is from The Plaza.
Near The Plaza, is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, which another major landmark in downtown. If directions aren't based on The Plaza, they're probably based on the Cathedral. If you go make a point to come inside and be overawed by the architecture and history. There are usually volunteers on hand to answer questions. However, be respectful as it is a church and worship services do go on there. If you are in town over a weekend and looking for a Catholic mass, I highly recommend attending service there. Be forewarned, checked the schedule as some are conducted in Spanish and many are bilingual.
You will probably feel the need to take touristy photos, like this one of my Dad and Mom. Near by the Cathedral is The Shed, one of my favorite places to go for lunch be prepared to wait! It may sound boring but I always order the taco plate with two soft blue corn tortillas filled with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions & choice of lean ground beef marinated in red chile with red chile, green chile or salsa. Served with pinto beans & posole.

I have never cared for posole, which is a pueblo stew of Nixtamal corn, lean pork, coarse red chile, garlic & oregano. I substitute the calabacitas made of is zucchini, yellow squash, corn onion, green chile for it every time. Both sides are pretty common place at most restaurants so you'll see them listed over and over. You will find almost everything and every meal can be served with chili sauce on it. I prefer green as the red tastes kind of bitter to me. Having your meal served with both is called Christmas and that's how my brother likes things.Also near The Plaza is the Loretto Chapel, where the miraculous staircase can be seen. Two mysteries surround the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel: the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction. Could it perhaps have been built by St. Joseph himself?

Near by the Chapel is a really pretty good pizza place if you want a break from New Mexican cuisine but still want something local. There is also a tourism office right there that is worth a stop to pick up pamphlets and to ask questions. It's also a good place for a restroom break too☺ On Sunday you can park in their lot for free.
Don't be surprised to see many of these little critters everywhere. When we first moved there Brad and I thought they were pretty darn cute. We really got a kick out of seeing them pop up all over the place; especially by the train tracks. It wasn't until we started blending in with the locals that we realized we were supposed to find them a nuisance, probably because we weren't home owners and didn't have problems with them coming onto our land. Be warned many Santa Fean take protecting these Prairie Dogs very seriously, there is even an ordinance safeguarding them.Most people take a day or at least a long afternoon to browse the many art gallaries along Canyon Road. Don't plan on buying much unless you like writing really big checks. There are some little shops with affordable jewelry, artistic knick knacks, and clothing boutiques my mom bought Southwestern style skirts at. It is worth the time to browse and be inspired by the varied and often stunning paintings, photographs, and pottery but I'd wait and eat downtown.
Here is another pretty common tourist thing to do! Yeppers that me and my mom when she came out the March before ER was born. She came out on my spring break to see ER on the monitor and help me register for baby things. Little did she realize she's be coming right back for the last seven or so weeks of my pregnancy, when I was on bed rest. She still has the string of dried peppers we bought that day hanging up in her kitchen.Besides Canyon Road there are countless places to purchase Southwestern jewelry, pottery, etc. but I'd recommend right by the Palace of Governors, right off The Plaza. All along the walk, different vendors lay out their wares each day and you can be assured that they are the real deal. The rules are pretty strict and there are regulations, so if they tell you they represent a particular Native American Nation, they do.

That's my brief overview to Santa Fe! I didn't even mention all my favorite shops, my other favorite restaurants, or all the neat day trips you can take from Santa Fe. Those will have to be in another post, I think this one is long enough as it is☺

12 Friends Said:

Diana said...

We live "next door" in Arizona, and have tried to plan a trip to Santa Fe a few times, but have not gone yet. Thanks for the virtual tour. It makes me excited for the time when we actually make it there. Maybe next year...

Crystal said...

My family recently moved to New Mexico and a few years we drove by Santa Fe but didnt stop. It looks like there is a lot to see. I guess I should make them take a detour next time we are down that way.

Preschool Playbook said...

What a wonderful place. My husband and I just love going to catherdrals. They are always so gorgeous. And the miraculous staircase? I have read a book about that, but to see it in person? How great.

Jenny said...

What a neat place!

Happy birthday to your husband!

Ticia said...

I am so making note of this so I can remember it later when we go through NM next year.

Mama King said...

I drove through Santa Fe on a cross country trip with my baby sis. We both loved it! I especially loved all the art and crafts. Plus, I had the yummiest food! Unfortunately we were only there for a day and night. I'll have to go back. We didn't get to see those stairs.

KC at The Wonder Years said...

Oh, I love Santa Fe, and New Mexico.

I spent 6 years living in Albuquerque when I was growing up. I miss it so much and want to bring my husband and daughters there someday and visit my old home (if it's still there).

I'd like to go sometime in October when they have the hot air balloons, and then take time before or after that to go to Santa Fe...and Carlsbad Caverns...and other places I didn't get to go to as a child but wanted to.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

I graduated from Alamogordo High School, Alamogordo, NM... and met my hubby there in 1980!!! and our oldest daughter was born there. great memories for us.

Total time living in NM...5 yrs.

Vickie said...

Okay Chick-a-dee, I will read this tomorrow. I really need to go to bed;)

Vickie said...

Looks like a nice place. I love shopping at local vendors and buying their homemade objects! I have never heard about this staircase. I will have to look it up.

Dawn said...

Thanks for the "tour". I'd love to visit some day.

Tara said...

Thanks for the mini tour of Santa Fe. I've never been there but I love the architecture. My favorite part of the whole post was reading about the food...imagine that!

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