Just after I returned from Switzerland, a friend invited me to join her in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a weekend. We chose Labor Day weekend, so we could enjoy an extra day or two. Following my work trip to Denver, I drove to her place in Colorado Springs, and from there, we rode to Santa Fe together.
Our first stop was The Pantry for lunch. Huevos rancheros were a really good choice! And it was served with the softest, most delicious tortilla I’ve ever had!
We had some time to kill before checking into our apartment, so we went to visit Loretto Chapel to see the mysterious staircase. The chapel is beautiful, but the building of the spiral staircase inside is inexplicable. Literally. They still don’t know who the builder was.
We had dinner at Restaurant Martin and called it a night pretty early, since I’d been up before the sunrise.
Saturday was such a fun day! After breakfast at The French Pastry Shop, we visited the Santa Fe Railyard. I don’t know if this existed when I visited last (about 5.5 years ago), but if it did, I totally missed out! There was a huge farmers market as well as lots of artisans selling all kinds of goods. I loved it!
We walked back into the center of town around lunchtime and found a restaurant with a delightful second floor terrace called Estevan. After lunch, we visited the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. I had a strange sense of deja vu when I entered, but I couldn’t remember if we went during my last visit. As it turns out, we did. I think I’ve come to appreciate art more in the past five years, because I really enjoyed it this time. We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling through the historic square and perusing some of the (outrageously expensive) galleries on Canyon Road.
It was a GORGEOUS day, and I couldn’t get over the beautiful blue sky full of puffy clouds!
We had a delicious tapas meal at La Boca before our evening activity. This was one of my favorite meals of the trip!
After dinner, we headed to the Santa Fe Opera House, which is an open air venue. It has a roof over the seats, but the sides are open as is the space at the back of the stage. You basically get to see the sun set while watching the performance. Had we come a week earlier, we would’ve seen an opera. However, their season ends at the end of August. We got to experience a Mariachi Extravaganza instead. I kid you not.
The musicians were amazing! I don’t think I realized how many violins were part of a mariachi band. I was definitely attempting to practice my non-existent Spanish, since this was DEFINITELY a Spanglish event.
We were up REALLY early the following morning for our hot air balloon ride. The last time I visited New Mexico, it didn’t work out for me to ride in a hot air balloon. As you can imagine, it’s on the goal list, so I was determined to check off that experience on this visit! We went with an amazing company called Santa Fe Balloons. Johnny Lewis is the balloon pilot, and per his website and the stories that were shared during our adventure, he’s recognized as one of the world’s most experienced balloon pilots. The whole operation was impressive, and I’m so glad we chose to go with them. I asked Johnny if he’s ever flown in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race here in St. Louis, and he has – multiple times! We had beautiful early morning views as we made our way to the launch site.
I’ve had many other flying experiences – skydiving, parasailing, and paragliding. This was completely different than all of those. I’m sure I won’t explain it well, but because you are traveling with the wind, you don’t feel like you’re moving. You know you are, but you don’t feel the wind in your face. It’s a strange, peaceful experience – except for the very loud and terrifying blow torch going off repeatedly above your head during the flight. I was so terrified that my hair was going to catch on fire! (I don’t even know how that would be possible!)
Lots of work went into preparing the balloons and blowing them up! Ours was the very colorful one! (I was so curious as to the color that I asked about it before we even arrived at the site! As if that really makes a difference!)
[Now do you understand why I was afraid of my hair catching on fire?!?]
[With our pilot – Johnny Lewis!]
I have some pretty great shots of the other balloon that was flying with us. Wish I had some of our very colorful one, too!
[All I was able to capture of our balloon was our shadow]
[Our chase cars are down below]
[Squeezed into a corner of the balloon basket. I think there were 9-10 people in the basket!]
When we landed, we celebrated with some champagne and snacks. The champagne toast tradition after a hot air balloon ride started a long time ago in France (of course).
We spent the rest of the day at Ten Thousand Waves spa. It was really secluded, and it’s a Japanese style spa that was unlike anything I’ve experienced. We had a very relaxing time, which was really wonderful.
We managed to snag a table at La Fonda for a drink before dinner. This rooftop terrace is supposed to be the best place in town to watch the sunset, because the building is higher than just about everything else. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t set before we had to leave for our dinner reservation, but it was still a beautiful outdoor setting with live music. After such a hot summer in St. Louis, I was LOVING the comfortable temperatures!
Our final dinner was at Geronimo, which was beautiful. We had an encounter with THE MOST AWKWARD valet driver EVER! He misunderstood something we did or said as we were exiting the car and thought we were asking for him to take our picture. We went along with it, even though the electrical boxes on the side of the building aren’t really a desirable background.
Huge thanks to this sweet friend who planned the whole trip! After meeting her for the first time in February when she visited me in Europe with her cousin, it was fun to get to know her better and to make some more memories together.