I started to write this post today, even though we’ve been here for a couple of days. In case you’re wondering at my choice of pictures for this post those are Steelhead trout (with some sort of flower on their heads). The Steelhead trout is the New Mexico state fish. But let me back up a bit.
Santa Fe it’s a lovely city with oh so lively downtown plaza, here you can find shops, art galleries, restaurants you name it it’s there . The weather in May is fabulous with blue skies and lots of sun but very pleasant temperatures in the mid 70’s (it helps when your over 7000 feet above sea level). We drove in on a Saturday and the town plaza was closed to traffic because they had a local festival going on with food and music, mariachi bands and folk artists. Needless to say parking became a major concern but luckily they have plenty of public parking available ($10 per day) so it was very accesible. We walked around, taking pictures, darting in and out of art galleries. Santa Fe has a large selection of art galleries but they are not too easy on the wallet, the art here is very pricey but if you have that one piece of art you must invest in, this is the place to probably find it.
We decided to take a city tram tour that was the best $15 we spent in awhile. The tour gave us a very good perspective of the city, helped us orient ourselves into the various parts of the city that we would want to explore further. Overall I would give this tour a 10 rating, our guide was very informative. BTW the tour company was Loretto tours.
To top right picture is of the Indian ware sale that happens on the weekends on the plaza. This market has been going on for over one hundred years. It is only open to local Indian tribes (PC clarification: The locals call themselves Indians here not Native American). Every morning there’s a lottery and only 80 lucky merchants/winners are allowed to sell their wares. So if you’re here and you see something you like, buy it, because today’s winner might not be here tomorrow!
The patron saint of this city is St. Francis of Assisi, which is the patron saint of animals and nature and seems very appropriate for a town like this. The church is dedicated to St. Francis and located right off the main plaza. It is a beautiful representation of classical European architecture and makes you feel you’re in Europe (if you keep your eyes focused directly on the church itself).
There is another smaller church, the Loretto Chapel. the Chapel has what is called the ” Miraculous Stairs”. The stairs are for the choir and the locals claim that even after “advanced scientific tests” they have never been able to determine the type of wood the stairs are made out of. They are beautiful and in my opinion worth the $3 cover charge to see them. Here is the legend of the stairs.
Loretto Chapel staircase. There are two mysteries surrounding the spiral staircase in the Loretto Chapel: the identity of its builder and the physics of its construction. Below is what the locals recant when asked:
“When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters’ prayers.
The stairway’s carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.”
Our guide gave us a taste of the Canyon Road Arts District, which we toured the following day from end to end. This street is lined with art galleries and you can see the artists at work in their studios, the art is fabulous, and pricey. I saw at least ten pieces I would have loved to take home with me, Leo kept reminding me of the price of diesel.
One of the things we love to do is experience the local restaurants and in this respect Santa Fe has plenty of temptations. We had a fabulous dinner at Cafe Pasqual, just off the main plaza. I had the Cochinito pibil which is cooked in a banana leaf and Leo ordered the skirt steak which was cooked to perfection. This restaurant has a wonderful decor and the food is fabulous but before I let you go….dessert!!! There was everything in the menu to make your knees buckle. We ordered the burnt chocolate sea salt caramel ice cream, which is made in house like all their desserts and they served it with the most scrumptious short bread Mexican cookie I have ever had. I’m in love with Santa Fe starting with Georgia O’Keeffe and ending with sea salt caramel ice cream, we plan to return here for and extended stay.