Santa Fe – New Mexico
Early November – the air was crisp, not a single cloud drifted across the blue skies, and the trees had not yet shed their halos of autumn leaves. We drove from California through the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert via Arizona to Santa Fe New Mexico.
My search for a place to stay where we would be immersed in authentic pueblo style architecture had led us to the Pueblo Bonito B&B Inn, which is as authentic as it gets. Its thick adobe walls, traditional turquoise blue window frames, and outdoor horno (bread oven), bear testament to its age and history. Originally it was a large estate that included accommodation for servants, horse stalls, gardens, fields, and animal barns. Today it has been carefully restored to preserve all its unique historical elements.
No two suites are identical. The interior decor is colorful, warm and welcoming. Native American rugs, artwork, ceramic pots, kivas (fireplaces), mirrors encased in patterned ceramic tiles, scatter pillows with Native American motifs, and one-of-a-kind cabinets, benches, and tables have been lovingly selected.
A hearty, bountiful buffet breakfast, which includes homemade tamales is served daily in the light filled dining room. Cookies, coffee, and tea are available to guests all day long.
To our delight, we were no more than a ten to fifteen minute walk from all the highlights. Old town Santa Fe inspires one to don a pair of comfy walking shoes, walk and uncover its sights. Fall is a particularly beautiful time in Santa Fe which is renowned for its sunsets when aspen trees glow like golden crowns; fruit trees turn to red balls of fire, and ruby-red ristras light up doorways, windows, and archways.
Ristras are pods of dried red chilies strung together during the harvest months. They are hung on front doors and windows and symbolize warmth and welcome to those who enter.
Together with Paris and New York, Santa Fe has a reputation for being a mecca for artists and art collectors. It’s an art lover’s dream.
The State Capitol is a must see! A rotunda with glass ceilings, it is open to the public and houses a stellar art collection.
While there are several fine galleries around the main plaza and its side streets, Canyon Road, is where it’s at! A winding, mile long road, lined with adobe houses all exquisitely renovated to showcase contemporary paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and glass.
There are over one hundred galleries and several restaurants in the area of Canyon Road. My favorite is The Teahouse. As a tea lover, the name caught my attention, but it’s much more than a teahouse. It’s a fabulous place to take a break from browsing the art galleries and have a tasty meal in a relaxed, charming, space.
Talking of restaurants, Santa Fe has an abundance of excellent restaurants, many of them located in old adobe houses where the interiors consist of several interconnecting spaces resulting in a cozy, intimate, ambience.
A few blocks from the plaza on San Francisco Street is the Lensic Performing Arts Center, built in the 1930s. It’s well worth checking their schedule. We attended a jazz concert one Friday night that had the audience’s adrenaline soaring.
We popped into the Loretta Chapel with its white marble altar, relief sculpture of The Last Supper, and famous winding, whimsical, wooden staircase; the San Miguel Chapel which is also known simply as ‘The Oldest Church’ (in the United States) and the St. Francis Cathedral.
On Saturday mornings, an upscale Farmer’s Market, food market, and craft market take place in the Railyard Art District where more sensational art is housed in reimagined old warehouses beside the railroad tracks. If one is looking for one-of-a-kind, high quality jewelry, and handbags, the craft market is the place to visit. The style, creativity, and quality are impressive.
Venturing beyond Sante Fe, we explored small towns and communities nestled into the surrounding hills: The remains of the Pecos Pueblo, which was among the largest of the Native American Pueblos until the Spanish conquistadors arrived, is now a National Park; we went horse riding in the mountains that overlook the tiny town of Cerillos in the area known as the Turquoise Trail, because it was here that the Native Americans found a trove of turquoise which they used to make their famous jewelry; ate lunch at The Hollar in the colorful town of Madrid (pronounced Mad-rid), where cowboys gather for a beer and a chat with their buddies and canine friends, and the winding main street is flanked by stores housed in colorful refurbished cottages that sell an array of enticing New Mexico craft .
Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiu, sixty miles north of Santa Fe. People rave about it. We’ll save it for our next visit.
Following is my list of restaurants that were recommended to us. We didn’t have time to try them all.
315 French Bistro
Raaga-Go (The best Indian Takeout)
Note: We stayed in both the suites pictured in this article. The photographs are from the B&B Inn’s website, as I had a camera malfunction.