We spent yesterday in Santa Fe, NM, absolutely the artsiest town we’ve visited. The day started cool and sunny, with morning temperatures in the low 50s. The bright sunshine warmed us enough so our trolley tour around the city wasn’t too cool.
The trolley tour was a good intro for first-timers to Santa Fe, like us, to get a feel for what’s here. The driver sounded exactly like one of the red bus tour drivers in St Augustine, FL, explaining bits of history and mixing squeaky clean little jokes into his banter. This tour gave us a peek all around the primary sites of Santa Fe, a great start to a day of walking and shopping.
We followed the tour with browsing of the Native Americans’ authentic silver jewelry, and somebody might have another birthday present. Don’t tell her! She picked it and I want it to be a surprise for her. The Puebloans sign up for a lottery for spaces in the vending area on the terrace of the Governors Palace (now a museum) one year ahead. Great exposure to tourists on their way to lunch or just relaxing in this pretty plaza.
An army marches on its stomach and we had some serious shopping ahead, so we voted for lunch before marching. One of our group had Santa Fe dining recommendations for La Casa Sena, a very nice restaurant occupying most of a plaza near Santa Fe’s main plaza. The menu has a nice variety, all eight of our group found great choices. Jim’s sampler platter with shrimp, tamale, mango relish, and guacamole might have been the best, Debbie’s chicken quesadillas were excellent, and the chocolate chili soup dessert was divine.
We entered the old Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and were immediately greeting by Mr. Chavez. He provided us an explanation of features and history of this pretty church. He told us how fortunate it was, in the early years, the church could not afford to demolish the old 1714 chapel. So it remains, a lovely feature of this church.
We probably spent the most time in Wiford’s Gallery. The wind sculptures drew us in from our walk up Canyon Road. The large yard has as many as 100 wind sculptures all rotating various ways. Some were singing as the wind vibrated their tuned strings and the sound resonated from the chamber.
The gallery held even more fascinating art — carved lead crystal, brilliant paintings and beautiful wood furniture and sculptures. We were attracted to a lot of this art work and will book mark Wiford Gallery for some day when we want that special piece.
Our walk up Canyon Road was wonderful, browsing lots of shops and galleries. We not so narrowly avoided buying a pair of cowboy boots ($3,650) or so many beautiful art works for the i-House we don’t yet have. We were galleried out and were ready to walk down the hill. We crossed over from Canyon Road to Acequia Madre Rd to walk along the acequia (upscale irrigation ditch). Several trees have self-servingly rooted all along the acequia to drink, drink, drink. It’s so convenient having your water fountain RIGHT THERE, and the water is so good!
The legend says the Sisters of the Academy of Our Lady of Light (Loretto) realized they must have steps for the new chapel’s choir loft but couldn’t determine how to arrange the construction. The 22′ ladder height to the loft was too great for the girls to safely climb. Space was at a premium as were funds, and the sisters prayed nine days to St Joseph, patron saint of carpenters, for an answer to this conundrum. And a carpenter knocked on the door and offered to build a staircase. When he completed this wonderful work he disappeared without asking for payment or receiving thanks.
Our touring day almost complete, we retreated to La Fonda Hotel for refreshment and relaxation. La Fonda claims to be on the oldest hotel site in the U.S., dating back to the 1600s. One local told us, “If the Pilgrims had instead arrived in Santa Fe they could have worshiped in San Miguel Mission and enjoyed a hot meal and a bed in La Fonda hotel.”
We only needed table and chairs for six, and the bar in La Fonda was very nice. Great selection of beverages, great service, and wonderful atmosphere. Lots of shops too — arrive late in the day (the shops are closed) and you can concentrate on drinking instead of shopping.
Today we’re on to Durango, CO, and more adventures with our caravan. See you later!