36 Hours in Santa Fe

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We are in love with the city – if it can be called a city. Certainly doesn’t feel like one, especially an American one. Santa Fe feels to me like an adult toon town, with the red clay buildings with their rounded corners.

We had such a wonderful time strolling about, wandering at will into the dozens of art galleries that line the streets. Santa Fe, we learnt from the gallery directors, is the third largest art market in the world, after New York and Paris. Though the art is getting more diverse, a substantial chunk of it seems to be focused on the Southwestern landscape and the Native Americans.

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I think we both were tempted to bring home a few of these art pieces with us, but I guess this is for people with the means, and we are already spending far too much on wine. But we collected handfuls of brochures from the friendly and enthusiastic gallery owners, some of whom were showcasing their own pieces. It was illuminating chatting with them, particularly with a young guy who showed us how his bronze sculptures were made.

In the evening, after an early dinner at Tune-Up Cafe (phenomenal Mexican food), we headed over to the Santa Fe Opera house for the season finale of Faust. We were very tickled – and a little envious – of the parties we saw tailgating in the parking lot of the opera house. They had proper tables and chairs set up, and were dressed to the nines, kicking back with glasses of wine while watching the sun set in the distance.

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From the opera house, which sits on top of a hill, we could see yonder, across the plains, to where a storm was in it’s full glory, sending down thick sheets of grey, and occasionally illuminating the sky with lightning.

Thankfully for us, that storm never hit us. At certain points during the opera, the translucent ceilings would flash with lightning, very appropriately onto Méphistophélès who was bent on creating hell. The wind also picked up, and billowed his cape menacingly behind him whenever he moved. You could not have asked for better special effects!

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The next morning, we toured the compound we were staying in. It’s 20 acres, with 4 buildings in total, including an older guest house that needs some serious rehab work but which Aldous Huxley had reportedly stayed in before. But it was the main house that literally took our breath away. It’s a multi-storied affair, with a mirador at the top of a desert garden that overlooks the entire city of Santa Fe. The house itself felt historical – it’s maybe a hundred years old and was last updated in the 1950s. Because work needs to be done for it to be habitable, walking around the empty rooms felt like walking through the hallowed walls of the Alhambra in Granada.

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I was determined to see a bit if nature on this trip too, so after a sumptuous breakfast at the popular and crowded Cafe Pasqual, we left Santa Fe for the Kasha-Katuwe National Monument.

“Kasha-Katuwe or *white cliffs* in Keresan*the traditional language for the Pueblo de Cochiti*is an area that features large, tent-shaped rocks that hug the steep cliffs of Peralta Canyon. These rocks were created by the powerful forces of vulcanism and erosion, which have built up and then torn down this landscape. During the last million years, a tremendous volcanic explosion northwest of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks spewed rock and ash for hundreds of square miles, leaving volcanic debris up to 400 feet thick. Over time, water cut into these deposits, creating canyons, arroyos and other area features. The cone-shaped rock formations are wind- and water-eroded pumice and tuff deposits. Their hard, erosion-resistant caprocks protect the softer “tents” below. While uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.”

We arrived in the nick of time. Beyond the cliffs we wanted to hike around, a storm was in full progress. Thunder rumbled long and deep, shaking the loose rocks beneath our feet as we scrambled around the awesome formations. But the rains stayed safely on the other side of the hills. The ranger had warned us to make quick exit as soon as it started to rain, for the area was known for sudden flash floods. We hiked around for an hour, enough to get a teaser.

It was time to head back to Alberquerque, to end the amazing weekend trip. But. There was just enough time to squeeze in a short detour to the Casa Rodena winery. 🙂

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I’ve enjoyed sparkling wine from New Mexico before, but we were still surprised by the quality of the wines we tasted. The bordeaux-styled Meritage was quite delicious, as was their Viognier. It’s definitely worth a more in-depth visit to scope out the wineries on our next trip out.

For a short weekend getaway, it really doesn’t get any better than this!

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