Santa Fe is one of those towns that caters to all of the senses. Walking through the historic plaza, you’re met with live music, vibrant colors, the smell of corn tortillas and delicious food to be found in every direction. I’d been wanting to visit Santa Fe for a while, as I’ve seen so many beautiful, colorful images from photographers who’ve shot and attended workshops there.
We rolled into town after leaving Albuquerque (another New Mexico town I really enjoy visiting) and immediately started exploring. The first place we hit up was Canyon Road, which is completely lined with art galleries (there are dozens and dozens of them). We only got to check out a few galleries since we arrived near closing time, but I enjoyed just walking down the street and taking in my first taste of Santa Fe style. Most of the buildings have a unique adobe style to them, with weathered wood doors, windows and accents. And then there’s the color. Everything is so vibrant!
We spent a lot of time in the historic plaza area, adjacent to the Palace of the Governors, which I believe is the oldest public building still in use. Our visit overlapped Memorial Day weekend, so the plaza area was alive with music, food carts and loads of people out and enjoying the beautiful weather. There was a couple artisan markets and a Saturday farmers market. We explored a lot of the unique shops in the area, many of them art-related.
I quickly learned that one of the great things about Santa Fe is the food. This is not only an artsy town, but a foodie town as well. One of the travel guide books we refer to a lot (The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada) led us to a tapas-style restaurant called La Boca. We could tell this place was going to be good because the wait for a dinner table was 1.25 hours! We decided to wait it out, and were glad that we did. Everything we had there was amazing. I’d definitely recommend the tapas trio appetizer to start with. We also had lunch at a place called the Rooftop Cantina. The food wasn’t as impressive as La Boca but it was a nice place to stop and people watch. (Two things about this place though: 1. DON’T go there if you’re in any kind of a hurry. 2. Unless you like lite, girly-girl drinks, don’t be tempted by the sangria. We got a pitcher of it and, to me, it didn’t have nearly enough flavor and was 90% ice.) The third place we stopped at was La Casa Sena, which is located in a courtyard within the plaza. The outdoor seating is beautiful, the wine list is amazing and they feature American-Southwestern style food. We only stopped in for an appetizer, but I wish we stayed for an entire meal. The atmosphere was just so darn charming. (And a note about this place: If you find a wine you love, they have a wine shop next to the restaurant where you can most likely find the bottle.)
About 40 minutes east of Santa Fe is the Pecos National Historic Park, and we spent a couple hours exploring there. The area features an ancient pueblo, where visitors throughout the
years centuries have come to visit. Here’s the National Park Service description:
In the midst of piñon, juniper, and ponderosa pine woodlands in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains not far from Santa Fe, the remains of an Indian pueblo stand as a meaningful reminder of a people who once prevailed here. Now a national historical park demonstrates to modern visitors the cultural exchange and geographic facets central to the rich history of the Pecos Valley.
There is a nice trail at the park, where you can follow, see the ruins and enter a traditional kiva, an underground room used for religious rituals and accessible by a long ladder. I was excited to shoot in one of the kivas because I just love the soft light down there, and the sun beam coming down through the entrance hole. We came across the first kiva about five minutes into our walk. Ben immediately started climbing down the latter, but when his head was about to go underground, he cursed, almost fell backwards and shot out of that hole like a bat out of hell. It was THEN that my brain registered what the strange noise we were hearing was. A rattlesnake. It was curled up in a ridge under the entrance to the kiva, so as Ben went down the ladder, he came face to face with it! I decided we were going to skip this kiva. Now, any normal person would have skidaddled from that area in a matter of seconds… but not Ben. Instead, he starts setting up his camera. In the photo below, you can see him trying to shoot the rattlesnake.
In summary here, I ended up loving Santa Fe, just as I thought I would. Actually, I wish we spent more time there, as I’d like to check out more of the museums and other historic sites. But then again, it’s always nice to leave something on the plate for next time! More to come…