An Afternoon in Santa Fe
[Santa Fe, NM, Aug 31, 2018]
Our trip to New Mexico over Labor Day weekend was inspired by B. He’s always wanted to see it thanks to the 1994 movie Speechless. If you haven’t heard about if before, don’t worry – I hadn’t either before B introduced me to it. The movie is about two speech writers, played by Geena Davis and Michael Keaton, who work for opposing candidates for the governorship of New Mexico. Some of the movie is set in Taos, although we found out later the actual movie locations were in Las Vegas (the New Mexico one, not the Nevada one), Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
We arrived in Albuquerque just after noon on Friday, August 31. We picked up our rental car and headed North. We planned to spend the afternoon in Santa Fe before arriving in Taos in the evening.
Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and is the oldest state capital in the United States. It’s best known for its pueblo-style architecture and its many churches. It’s also an arts capital, which is evident by its many galleries as well as pottery and jewelry stores featuring work by local artists. Santa Fe was founded as a Spanish colony in 1610 and has a traditional Spanish plaza at its center. The city was founded as La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (“The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”), and it still bears that name today, although everyone calls it Santa Fe.
Our first stop was the basilica of St Francis of Assisi, the mother church of the Santa Fe Archdiocese. The cathedral was built between 1869 and 1886.
There is a really nice park right next to the church.
Next, we meandered into some of the courtyards around the plaza. They are full of restaurants, shops and galleries.
In the first courtyard, we visited a funky chocolate shop called Todos Santos.
A second shop called Chocolate + Cashmere had a really nice interior but the chocolate at Todos Santos was better.
Next, we stopped by the New Mexico Museum of Art, the oldest art museum in the state. Designed and built in 1907, it’s an example of Pueblo Revival style architecture. We didn’t visit the exhibits but fans of Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe will find their work in the museum collection.
Wine drinkers should check out Herve Wine bar by St. Clair winery. The space, right in the historic plaza, has been completely renovated and opened in May 2018.
We would have sat down but we were headed to the Bell Tower bar at the La Fonda hotel, which we heard had some of the best views in Santa Fe. The fifth floor outdoor space did not disappoint.
For dinner we went to Geronimo. Located in a 1756 adobe home on the edge of Canyon Road, Santa Fe’s gallery road, Geronimo has won a number of accolades. It has been featured on Open Table’s list of 100 best restaurants five times, most recently in 2017.
The outdoor patio looked inviting, but the atmosphere inside is also amazing, and we decided to enjoy the air conditioning after walking outside on a warm day. We started with drinks at the bar while we waited for our table to be ready. We chatted up the couple sitting next to us, who were also Californians. They had just sold their Orange County home and were traveling across the country in an RV.
I opted for the sea bass, which was amazing, while B enjoyed the elk tenderloin. The service was impeccable and we wished we could enjoy the place longer. Alas, we had a 90-minute drive ahead of us to Taos.
There are two routes to Taos from Santa Fe – the Low road, which follows the Rio Grande, and the High road, which winds through Spanish Land Grant villages in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The Low road is the more direct route, so that’s the one we chose. The sun had already set, so we didn’t have a chance to see any sights along the way, but we planned on doing both roads during the weekend so we weren’t concerned.
We got to our hotel, the Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast, around 8 pm. The innkepper, Mary Beth, met us and showed us our room, the Fetish Bear. Sadly, it was too warm to enjoy the kiva fireplace – a beehive-like adobe fireplace common in Southwestern architecture – but our room was cozy and comfortable nonetheless.