After changing our travel plans, Heather and I left Holbrook and headed out for Albuquerque, instead of Taos. First stop was in Old Town for a bit of a walk around and to find a place for lunch. Monica’s El Portal Restaurant was the lunch stop where we got to taste sopapillas for the first time. A sopapilla is a kind of fried, light pastry served with honey that the New Mexicans love. You can get them at all New Mexican restaurants it seems.
I should warn you about the red sauce. It’s not so much an enchilada sauce as it is liquid fire. I like mild to medium heat on my enchiladas and most red chili sauce here at home is wimpy, but there – well, I still sweat when I think of it.
From lunch we walked over to the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, and spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the exhibits. This is an outstanding museum. I love their exhibit, “Hollywood Southwest: New Mexico in Film & Television.” It’s amazing how many of the movies I like were filmed in New Mexico. The other exhibits were just as good and I could have spent more time there, but by tea time, my legs were complaining and it was off to the hotel.
I shall refer to the hotel as, “The Hotel Which Shall Not Be Named,” as we came to know as a place of discomfort, disquiet, and disrepute. The room doors slammed closed with the loud crash of steel prison cell doors slamming shut and being locked by the guards. The A/C unit had two settings, off and jet engine. Hallway conversations were clearly heard in our room, and the arguments, TV, shower, comings and goings at all hours in the room next door was clearly heard by us. Sleep was not something we got a lot of here.
Don’t get me started on the hotel restaurant – worst service in New Mexico. A person could starve to death waiting for a meal there. I did lodge a complaint with the staff on-site, via email to hotel management, to the customer service people of the hotel chain, and a few acid worded reviews on travel review sites.
What I received in return was: emotional satisfaction from the negative reviews I posted. Neither the hotel or the customer service people made any effort to address the issues.
Our second day in Albuquerque, after a disappointing breakfast at the hotel, we headed up the road to Santa Fe. What a wonderful place. We loved it – especially the art. We went into a few of the galleries and spent a long time looking at everything. At one place we found a very nice ring for Heather and I finally found a great new hiking hat. I have trouble finding hats that fit me because of my large head size.
Great now, I know what kind of comments this post will generate.
Lunch was at this place with low doors, crowds, slow service, and liquid fire. Heather was smart and ordered green sauce on the side. Me, not so smart as I just let them pour the red sauce on and three bites later I was sweating and breathing fire.
After lunch we walked around the Plaza and did a couple more shops, plus we walked by the artists stalls. There is one sidewalk next to the plaza where native artists set up their wares for sale and there is an amazing amount of jewelry and other art made by these artists.
About halfway down the row of artists, my eye fell on a highly polished brass bracelet. From a distance I could see a pattern and thought that it might look good on Heather. She had seen it too, so we stopped for a closer look. Once I’d gotten close enough to see it, I knew I wanted to get it for Heather, but didn’t say anything right away as I wanted to see if Heather had any interest.
The man knew both how to make fine art and how to sell it. Clearly he sensed our interest in the piece and started in on what I assume was his standard sales pitch describing how he made it with metal stamps and polishers plus adding how long it took him to make. At some point Heather asked where he was from and set him down another path of stories. Turns out he was from Farmington, New Mexico, about a four-hour drive away.
It was a cold day in Santa Fe and likely we were likely his only sales prospect of the day and he was shoveling fast to make the sale. At one point he offered to put it on Heather and when she accepted, we all knew he’d made a sale. My mind started thinking about how much I’d pay for the bracelet and to my surprise our man said, “$40.” My hand flew into my pocket as I was expecting double that.
My guess is that the $40 was either gas home or a few beers as consolation for a bad sales day.
Either way, we both walked a bit happier – us with a treasure and him with cash.
After that we walked up the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and toured the church. Being the middle of a weekday afternoon, the building was open and docent was on duty to answer questions. The architecture is wonderful and beautiful.
After this, it was back to the car and off to the, “The Hotel Which Shall Not Be Named,” for a sleepless night and a quick get away at 6:00 am the next morning, just after I had a bit of a hissy fit with the front desk staff.
The new day would bring a new adventure, but you’ll have to wait till next week for that.
Till next week,