Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Despite its desert connotations, New Mexico has a landscape that ranges from seemingly endless desert to the south and dense forests to the north, to snow-capped mountain peaks and tall mesas. In O’Keeffe Country, the landscape turns to red rock, and at Bandelier National Monument it switches between rocky canyon and lush backcountry.

Its mixed landscape is just one of the reasons why we’ve wanted to go to New Mexico, plus it also provides ample opportunities for hiking – our first of which was to Bandelier.Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBandelier National Monument visitor centreBandelier is located in Los Alamos and protects more than 33,000 acres of beautiful backcountry and more than 70 per cent of the monument is wilderness. backcountry 2, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicobackcountry, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBecause of its varying elevation, ~5,000ft along the Rio Grande, to more than 10,000ft at the peak of Cerro Grande, Bandelier provides an ideal habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna.sign 2 Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicosign Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicosign 3 Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoFence lizard, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoOn February 11, 1916, Bandelier was designated as a National Monument by then President Woodrow Wilson. It was named after Adolph Bandelier, a Swiss-American anthropologist who researched the different cultures of the area and was a big supporter of site preservation efforts.In addition to backcountry, the Monument protects Ancestral Pueblo archaeological sites, such as cave dwellings in the soft rock cliffs of the Frijoles Canyon that date back more than 800 years. Evidence of human history in Bandelier stretches back more than 10,000 years.Bohème and Bourbon beside petroglyphsBandelier National Monument, New MexicoToday, you can walk trails through the canyon, see ancient pueblos, climb ladders up into the cave dwellings and down into a Kiva, a ceremonial chamber. Along the trail are also numbered markers that correspond to information in the trail guide that tell you more about what you’re looking at.Cave dwelling, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBohème and Bourbon in a cave dwelling, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoKiva at Bandelier National MonumentA hike around the Main Loop Trail of the Frijoles Canyon can easily be done in an afternoon and is very enjoyable. There is a lot of climbing involved, as the trails are located at elevations of more than 6,000ft, so be prepared with water and proper shoes.

A nice feature of this trail is that is has numbered markers along various points. If you pick up a trail guide for yourself, or borrow one from the visitor centre, you can follow along and learn more about the history of the Frijoles Canyon and Frey Trail.

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La Plazuela, Santa Fe

While on our day trip to Santa Fe my boyfriend and I wanted to go out for lunch somewhere that had a nice atmosphere, and we found just that at La Plazuela at La Fonda on the Plaza.

‘La Plazuela’ is Spanish for ‘the square’ – which makes sense given the restaurant’s location. ‘La Fonda’ is Spanish for a space that is used as an inn, tavern or restaurant. It all makes sense!La Plazuela menu displayed outside of the restaurantThe hotel is located at the historic Santa Fe Plaza, and it’s here where Old World charm and modern life converge. When you walk through the doors into the hotel lobby, you feel transported back in time. Everywhere you look there is authentic New Mexican architecture and history – from the wooden beams, to the furniture and decor, La Fonda’s got the look.La Fonda hotel lobby, outside of La Plazuela restaurantWhen you step into the restaurant, it’s like you are transported into a dream – if you thought the atmosphere of the hotel compelling, that of the restaurant is a whole other story.

Built in the 1920s, the restaurant is a lofty space with high beams, lush foliage and an expansive skylight that bathes the entire dining room in natural light. At its centre is a fountain and a wrought iron chandelier with yellow glass shades. I can only imagine how romantic La Plazuela looks at night.La Plazuela, Santa Fe 2La Plazuela, Santa Fe 3The dining room itself is surrounded by large wooden pillars with sconces that match the chandelier, and a series of hand-painted windows.La Plazuela, Santa Fe 1Sconces and windows at La Plazuela, Santa FeIn addition to its looks, we chose La Plazuela as our destination for a special lunch in celebration of our anniversary that was at the end of April. Since our trip to Santa Fe was so close, we thought it would be best to go out for lunch, or dinner, there instead.La Plazuela MenuLooking at the La Plazuela MenuIn true Santa Fe fashion, our waiter brought us complimentary tortilla chips and house-made salsa while we read through the menu – delicious!Tortilla Chips and Salta, La PlazeulaAt this time we also ordered drinks. We both chose the Nut Brown Ale from Santa Fe Brewing Company – also delicious!Chips and salsa, and beers - La PlazuelaWhen it was time to order, we chose to share the ‘Local Heirloom Tomato Salad’, which consisted of brightly coloured tomatoes, sliced and served with extra virgin olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, roasted garlic cloves, local feta cheese and fresh basil, with a side of crunchy croustades. It was so fresh and flavourful! I just love a good balsamic reduction, especially on tomatoes.Local Heirloom Tomato Salad, La PlazuelaClose up of tomato in Local Heirloom Tomato Salad, La PlazuelaFor our main, we chose to split the ‘Torta de Borrego’ sandwich, which had the most tender braised lamb shoulder I’ve ever had, served on toasted telera bread and topped with sliced seasonal tomatoes, sliced avocado, caramelized onion, arugula, local feta cheese, and lemon-cilantro aioli. We also got a side of seasoned French fries.Torta de Borrego sandwich, La PlazuelaThe service was perfect; our meal was filling, flavourful and delicious. We couldn’t have asked for a better dining experience.

The only thing I would have done differently was saving some room for dessert! (And maybe going for dinner, just to take in the romantic atmosphere at night *wistful sigh*)

More information about La Fonda and La Plazuela, as well as historic photos, can be viewed in the La Fonda history book From Every Window a Glimpse of the Past. If you’re in Santa Fe, I highly recommend La Plazuela if you’re looking for a relaxing and romantic dining destination.  Reservations for dinner are highly recommended, as La Plazuela is very popular at this time.

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The City Different – Santa Fe

San Fran/Santa Fe street signsEstablished in 1610 by Governor Don Pedro de Peralta, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S. at 407 years old. Downtown Santa Fe has numerous unique shopping opportunities, and boasts more than 250 galleries making it the third largest art market in the country.

The Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously used building in the U.S. Built in 1610, it is both a National Historic Landmark and an American treasure. The Palace of the Governors completes one side of the Santa Fe Plaza, built in 1609, which has been the heart of the downtown area for more than 400 years.The Plaza, Santa Fe, New MexicoMy boyfriend and I visited the downtown on three occasions: the first time was a short trip with his Oma when we first arrived in New Mexico. The second was also with his Oma to see the Canyon Road galleries.

The third was a day trip for just the two of us, where we explored the downtown, checked out the galleries and shops, took in the scenery and hunted for souvenirs.Boyfriend and I, Santa Fe, New MexicoHere we are at the visitor centre in front of a vintage Ford Falcon in light blue. I had to share this photo because 1) the vintage car, and 2) we were well coordinated!
Adobe House, Santa Fe
Just off of the Plaza is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It contrasts dramatically with the surrounding adobe structures – its stone façade, bell towers and stained glass windows it looks like it has been transported from the Old World in Europe.Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe(Boyfriend for scale!)

Designed in 1886 by Archbishop Lamy, the cathedral was built on the site of two former churches, the first of which had been destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. A statue of the Virgin Mary, now called La Conquistadora, was removed from the church during the revolt and returned to her place of honour in 1693. Today, she presides over a side chapel.Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New MexicoCathedral stained glass, St. Francis of Assisi, Santa FeCathedral stained glass, St. Francis of Assisi, Santa FeOne of my goals while in Santa Fe was to find some turquoise jewelry that really caught my eye. I was very successful at Wind River Trading Company, the largest Native American jewelry store in Santa Fe. It is famous for its selection and size – the store is one block long, and is located between the Plaza and the Cathedral.

I was also successful on finding other souvenirs. I visited many shops, but found success at The Original Trading Post and Sunwest on the Plaza. We were also fortunate enough to take in an art show put on by the Santa Fe Society of Artists where I found an art print for my Mom by Sondra Wampler.Sondra Wampler ArtIf you’re looking for art shows and galleries, Santa Fe is the place. The show I mentioned above is held on weekends from the end of April until mid-October.

Down the street from the Cathedral is the Loretto Chapel, the one with the famed staircase that was built without nails!
Loretto Chapel, Santa FeWe wanted to see it for ourselves, but unfortunately the church was closed to the public for a special event. I think someone was getting married, because a couple of hours later, we could hear a bell tower chiming for a long period of time.

We loved the beauty and simplicity of walking around downtown Santa Fe. It was a very enjoyable day, especially when you have your best friend by your side ♡
If I could have spent more time here, I would have. There is so much to see and do!Sculpture, Santa Fe, New MexicoOld Santa Fe Trail signmailbox 234, Santa Fe, New MexicoFlower, Santa Fe, New MexicoCarpet, Santa Fe, New MexicoAnother plus to Santa Fe is that you can see nature in pretty much all directions.
For example, if you look out to the east, you can see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New MexicoIf you travel just outside of the city, you will find 1.5 million acres of national forest, several national parks and monuments, as well as northern Native American pueblos and historic sites.Bohème and Bourbon - StephWe can see why Santa Fe’s motto is “The City Different” – it is a place unlike any other.

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The Land of Enchantment

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged because my boyfriend and I were away on a wonderful week-long trip to the Land of Enchantment – aka: New Mexico, USA.New Mexico True/Guest Life Magazines 2017We flew in to Albuquerque and made out way to a beautiful house in the countryside just outside of Santa Fe.

When you travel around New Mexico, you’ll be immediately impressed with its varying landscape, mesas and deeply rooted culture. It’s easy to see how the 47th state got it’s moniker. Native art, Madrid, New Mexico Native art, Madrid, New MexicoNew Mexico has Native American, Hispanic and Anglo heritage. It joined the Union on January 6, 1912. It has 33 counties. Santa Fe is the nation’s highest state capital at 7,000 feet above sea level. New Mexico is 121,589 square miles, making it the fifth largest state!Scenery, New MexicoSanta Fean Harry P. Mera designed the state flag in 1920 to highlight New Mexico’s Native American Pueblo and Nuevo México Hispano roots. It features the ancient sun symbol of the Zia people in red, in the centre of a field of yellow.The New Mexico state flag flies under the national flag of the United States From its centre, the sun symbol has four rays pointing out from the circle in four different directions. The number four is sacred to the Zia and symbolized the four points of the compass, the four seasons, the four stages of life and the four times of day.

The circle binds these elements together. The flag’s colours evoke the red and yellow of old Spain: the flags of Habsburg (the Cross of Burgundy) and the Crown of Aragon brought by the conquistadors. The flag was officially introduced in 1925 and has been used ever since.

New Mexico at a glance:
Capital: Santa Fe, founded 1610
Largest City: Albuquerque, founded 1706
State Animal: Black bear
State Bird: Roadrunner
State Flower: Yucca
State Tree: Piñon
State Vegetable: Chile and Pinto Beans (Frijoles)
State Fossil: Coelophysis
State Gem: Turquoise
State Nickname: Land of Enchantment

I’m looking forward to sharing my New Mexico adventure with you – stay tuned for more!

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