Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Our Road Trip Out West: Day Four, Part Two: Old Town Albuquerque

Hello!  Welcome to Part Two of Day Four of Our Road Trip Out West.   If you missed our morning adventure on The Turquoise Trail, you can read all about it HERE.  There are also links on that post to all my previous travel posts of our road trip out west if you missed those too.

When we finished The Turquoise Trail it was still quite early, so we decided to find our hotel in Albuquerque.  The wonderful staff at The Hyatt Hotel, let us check in three hours early so we were able to unload the car and freshen up a bit before heading out again.

We had plans to meet my daughter Ashley and her husband Jason for dinner in Old Town Albuquerque.  We knew they wouldn't be able to get there till after 4:00 p.m. because Ashley had a full day of rehearsals, and the shops and church would all be closed around then.  So we decided to go early and check out the town on our own before dinner.

Old Town is a historic district in Albuquerque, New Mexico that dates back to 1706.  Today it is a popular tourist and shopping destination that has over 150 stores and restaurants.  It is centered around a plaza that has a lovely park and a famous church.  There are many lovely brick paths and nooks and crannies to explore.  It is very similar to Santa Fe, but much smaller and a lot more inexpensive.  I could actually afford to shop and eat here!

We parked our car at the very end (or beginning, depending which way your coming from), of the entrance to the Old Town.  The first area of shops we visited had a back door which led to more little shops and even steps to a balcony, which led to even more little shops.   Old Town is filled with winding brick paths and balconies, just waiting to be discovered!  At the base of the stairs to an upstairs shopping area was this beautiful floral mural.  Because I paint murals myself, I am always interested in them.  What I liked about this mural, was how the theme was carried to the upstairs balcony too.  They had lovely birds and vines painted  on the walls upstairs.

 This was the view from the balcony.  Albuquerque is a beautiful city.  It is nestled at the foot of the Sandia Mountains, and you always have this gorgeous mountain view no matter where you are.
 Below the balcony is the cute brick courtyard where musicians play and people can relax a bit and enjoy some good food or drink.  Todd and I usually don't eat lunch when were on vacation, because we always take advantage of the free breakfast hotels offer, so were never hungry by lunch time.  So we snack instead and on this day we found a ice cream shop and bought some delicious malts.
 This is a view of the small fountain in the courtyard as seen from the balcony.
 This is the San Felipe de Neri Church which is the focal point of Old Town.  It was built in 1703 and is free and open to the public.  It is the oldest building in the city of Albuquerque.  Surrounding the church, many settlers built their homes, businesses, and government offices;  most of which have been converted into the shops and galleries that compromise Old Town today.

 One of the things that surprised us about the west was how the communities still sold toy guns and/or 'cowboy and indian' toys.  You don't see this stuff where we live anymore.  I'm not sure if it's illegal, or just politically incorrect.  Nevertheless, my husband really enjoyed playing with the toys of his childhood for a few minutes in one of the gift shops we visited.  It brought back a lot of memories.
 I really loved all the beautiful flowers I saw all around New Mexico.  By now, we've already had our first frost in Wisconsin, so it was nice to see color again.  I really admired these large cactus plants.  It was the second time I saw cactus in the area.

 There was a lot of interesting architecture in Old Town.  Most of it was Pueblo-Spanish style with flat roof buildings.  There were also long porches called 'portals' that lined the fronts of most buildings to protect them from the mid-day sun.

There were lots of quiet hidden patios and gardens to explore.  I loved the wrought iron gate and ivy covered stucco walls of this hidden garden.

 Just like Santa Fe, Old Town Albuquerque also had their own area where the Native Americans sat outside and sold their handmade goods.
 We were very surprised to see this man wearing a Green Bay Packer shirt in New Mexico, so I asked him if he was a Packer fan, and he said 'No, I just like the shirt'.  He was quite the interesting person.

In the picture above, I'm standing in the doorway of yet another 'politically incorrect' store.   Pretty humorous isn't it?

The next few pictures show several patio gardens.  I love patio gardens.  If I ever move again, the only garden I would want would be a patio garden.  No grass, just a little brick or slate covered patio with lots of pretty pots and fountains.  Low maintenance, private, and no grass to mow or weeds to pull.  My kind of yard.

 This canon replica was located inside the park across the street from the church.

If your wondering what I'm wearing (for those of you who follow my Fashion Over Fifty posts), I have on my new boxy-style shirt from my fall Stitch Fix.  My pants are also from a previous Stitch Fix, and are a high waisted crop style.  I wore black flats for easy walking, and the cowboy hat I bought in Santa Fe the day before to protect myself from the Western sun.  The black and silver scarf kept me warm in the cool mornings and evenings, but was fashionable as well.

Here are more garden and patio pictures.  By now all the stores were starting to close up for the evening, but we could still enjoy visiting the gardens until it was time to meet Ashley and Jason for dinner.

 This is the restaurant where we had dinner.  We sat outside on the patio you see on the left, and talked for hours as the sun set, enjoying Mariachi music.
 I read before I even got to New Mexico that they had beautiful sunsets, and I found that to be so true.  There's something about how the Terracotta colors of all the buildings just glow and become richer and deeper as the sun goes down.  The same color of the buildings is the same color of the mountains, and it just looks gorgeous as the sun sets.   No words or photographs can describe it's beauty.  You have to see it to believe it!
 This sign is located in the park right across the street from the church.  It always amazed me how drastically the temperatures changed in New Mexico.  Because of the altitude and the mountains,  every morning starts out bitter cold, then it gets hot during the day, and as soon as the sun sets, it gets cold.  You go from freezing, to hot, then freezing again in a matter of hours.  Only about two hours before this picture was taken we were sheltering ourselves from the blaring sun.  Now my husband has his coat on and his hands in his pockets.  So funny.

If your wondering what I bought with all my shopping adventures in New Mexico, not much.  I really don't care for souvenirs, and I always prefer to buy something that is useful, but still has a memory of my trip.  So other than the cowboy hat which I put to use during my two days of shopping, I also purchased a beautiful, colorful blanket (I'll show you that another day), a inexpensive, fake turquoise bracelet, and a t-shirt which I will make into a travel t-shirt quilt someday.  That's all folks!

Have a great day!  Amy

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