Not just for family reunions, we love this city. We have been coming here for years to see family, but always enjoy what the city has to offer.
by two cruisers on April 5, 2012
What do you do on a hot day in a big city? Go to a museum, and Albuquerque has a particularly fine museum. It is located adjacent to Old Town. Park the car in the spacious lot, do one in the morning, have lunch and do the other in the afternoon.The museum building has an unusual floorplan, however we had no trouble moving from one gallery to another with out missing something. Outside was a vast campus highlighted with sculptures. Inside in addition to the galleries there was an auditorium, museum school, small snack bar and an excellant museum shop. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed inside. The day we were there a special exhibit was in place. It was African Sculpture from the New Orleans Museum of Art. How wonderful that they share. Oher galleries contained Art in New Mexico which was my favorite exhibit; a bizzare showing of collage art made from found and household items; PhotoShopped artwork from local school children (an exhibit only a mother could love); and a hallway of tribute to famous Albuquerquians (Tony Hillerman was the one I knew). I applaud the diversity and the challenge of creating some of these exhibits. If I lived here I would return for each change of special exhibits.On the lower level of the building was a fine tribute to the discovery, settling and growth of The Duke City. The exhibit is called Four Centuries and started with dioramas of indigenous peoples. Next was an exhaustive study of weapons and armor worn by the conquistadors. Bill really enjoyed that. I was surprised at the variety of armor. Definately a case of you get what you pay for. Some pieces looked like the best protection they could give you was against the sun. We moved on to the infant town of Albuquerque were there is part of a hacienda. One section is dedicated to the rise and fall of Route 66. In a recreated movie house we watched a well done movie Route 66. Admission was only $4 at the most, with discounts for residents, seniors, and children. You can't beat that price/quality ratio.
by two cruisers on April 4, 2012
We have attended balloon festivals, helped with balloon crews, rose in a tethered balloon in Iowa and I soared in hot air balloon in the skies over Albuquerque. We enjoyed the party atmosphere the vibrant colors and often unusual shapes of the hot air balloons. It was only natural that we wanted to see this museum. Located on the Northwest side of Albuquerque adjacent to the large field that is the location of the Albuquerque International balloon Festival, the museum even has an indoor viewing room for VIP use at festival time. I can imagine how crowded it is in October. But this wasn't October and we had no problems seeing all the displays in the beautiful building. No cameras allowed, too bad.There are several exhibit areas, a special events area and a gift shop. The first exhibit coverd the beginnings. First balloon flight occured in Ferance to amuse Louis XVI.The passengers were a sheep, a rooster and a duck. Marie Antoinette added the sheep to her pretend shepardess flock. No word on the rooster or duck. Exhibit 2 continued ballooning history as it spread across the English Channel and eventualy to America. Exhibit 3 addressed reacreational ballooning and how Albuquerque became the center for this activity. We had met some of the key players in this story Sid Cutter and Tom Rutherford. That is our brush with fame. Exhibit 4 covered military applications. Balloons were used in the Civil War. Japanese used balloonse with incendiary devices attached, using prevailing winds these balloons traveled across the Pacific Ocean and landed in the United States anc Canada. This was a closely guarded secret during WW II to prevent panic of the citizenry. Exhibit 5 covered scientific research. The remaining exhibits were "Firsts". The first to cross the Atlantic, the first to cross the Pacific and the first to fly around the world. There were many attempts and few victories.I do remember we tried one interactive exhibit, that allowed us to fly a balloon from lift off, using what few controlls there are (burner and vents) to a goal. We did have an altimater and a fuel gauge to aid us in making decitions. Wind direction was a big factor too. While working this simulator we could see our progress on a big monitor. One of us made a perfect flight...by accident, I'm sure.
by two cruisers on April 3, 2012
To the North of Albuquerque is what I consider the jewel in the city's crown. Located in the village of Corrales is the Gutierrez / Minge House, dating back to a 1704 Spanish landgrant, this complex of buildings inside adobe walls visually shows a colonial ho0me as it grew and adapted to the centuries. The rather plain exterior is adobe the color of the sandy soil. A few scraggly trees offeer shade from the glistering heat. We were not allowed to use our camera inside the home. You can go to their website ( www.cabq.gov/museum ) to see many photos of the artifacts and rooms inside.Our host brought us into the complex through the door within a door. The small door is for people, the larger for carts. Next we entered the Zaguan gates which opend into the Palazuela or inner courtyard. Here we were assigned a tour guide and then entered the main building. She took us straight to the oldest part of the house, the Lower Kitchen. Many artifacts of the colonial era were seen here including treasures brought with them and things acquired form the Native Americans in the region. We did notice something very unusual here and in the dining room...no wood furniture. There was one small three legged stool. This part of New Mexico was not timbered, wood was precious and could only be used for transportation and farming equipment. Solution was all meals were served on the floor. The other pieces of colonoial furniture we saw were 6 plank chests. These were the packing crates they arrived with. Some had some fancy hinges and locks, but most were very plain utilitarian pieces. The only art on the walls were repuposed tin containers made into religious icons and candle holders.When the railroad arrived things changed. In the next section of the house we saw a gallery, sitting room, and two bedrooms that were furnished with lovely Victorian chairs, tables, beds, chests and mirrors. The railroad also brought in window glass, fancy doors and floor boards. Outside the main house we followed the coverd walkway to see the small chapel where visiting clergy performed services. Next to that was a lovely large bedroom with Spanish lace counterpane on a four poster bed. Deep windowsills offered an inviting place to sit and read. On the furthest side of the inner courtyard is the Sala Grande. This very large, high ceilinged room is also sparsely furnished but that works for a party room. The owners entertained here and also held weddings and funerals. A small balcony could be accessed only from the gatekeeper's apartments. The gatekeeper was the main security officer. Continuing aroung the inner court was a storage room for food and a weaving room. Outside the gates was an outer courtyard where the more utilitarian parts of life occured. That is there were barns, blacksmith shop, cook house, bunk house, and sheds for carts and carriages and farming equipment. Along one wall we saw a collection of manos and metates (pestle and mortar) used for processing grain or seeds. At the furthest end was a gate to the outside. Our guides were eager to share information with us. We were the only tourists there that morning. I hope others visiting this area find this gem. Check with the Albuquerque Museum for directions if needed.
by two cruisers on April 2, 2012
My cousin's wife, a local of Albuquerque located this step saving attraction and it became the highlight of our trip. In Old Town at the corner of Romero and North Plaza we boarded the touring trolley. The brochure assured us this was the only trolley in the world covered in stucco. The tour could be called Two Men and a Trolley. It is a small operation, the two owners take turns driving or speaking. They have organized the tour of the City by neighborhoods. I had always thought of the city as Old Town and Other. Now I know how the town grew neighborhood by neighborhood . We started in Old Town and next saw Museum Row. Country Club neighborhood had beautiful large homes with manicured lawns. Looks like many other affluent neighborhoods across the country. Our guide told us Holly wood has found the versitility of Albuquerque and the predominent weather conditions make for ideal filming. This neighborhood was Cinncinnati in one movie. We saw the Jesse's house from the TV show "Breaking Bad". As our tour of the city continued we saw lots of background used in "Breaking Bad." I was a fan of that show, now I am an enthusiastic fan! We drove through Downtown and East Downtown intrigued by the diversity of architecture. In Nob Hill area we followed Historic Route 66 and saw where one State Governor divertied that highway to favor rival town Santa Fe. This area is known for shopping and eateries. North of this neighborhood we saw a cluster of very typical New Mexican casitas and bungalows.. Most had natural dirt and rock and with cactus yards. But there are two houses that stand out. Both futuristic looking, thy locals have given them nicknames like "the submarine" and "the space ship". Being from Iowa, I thought one of them looked like a covered bridge. From here we entered the University Neighborhood. Be prepared to learn the Lobo's cheer "Woof, woof, woof!" It is a beautiful campus with a large cultural auditorium, and sports stadiums. Our guides made sure we learned of one of Albuquerque's biggest mistakes. They tore down a historically significant railroad station (we saw a huge railyard). After much protesting the building put on the site at least mimicked the style. Large murals decorate parts of old buildings and one tells the story of the demolition and restoration. We also saw an abandoned motel the last of the Route 66 heyday. It has been proposed it be converted into a museaum to celebrate the famous highway. Before finishing the tour we saw the backside of the Albuquerque Zoo elephant compound located across the Rio Grand from our highway.The tour was just long enough to be enjoyable without being boring. Price was $25 for adults. $22 for seniors and children, $12 for under 12. The guide would hand out treats to whoever answered his questions correctly. That created a rivalry between the four in our group. What fun! The owners suggest this be the first thing you do when visiting Albuquerque and that is a valid point. We now know where we want to go back to visit.
by two cruisers on April 1, 2012
Tourists love Old Town Albuquerque. I suspect residents of the city like having company so they also can go to Old Town. First of all it is enchanting with adobe buildings, walls and banquets. Its not just sand and adobe, there are lots of flowering plants and lovely trees. We enjoy the shops that range from high ticket galleries, to clothing, to souvenir, and one I always go to, a card shop. I always pick up notecards and greeting cards here.The gallery shops feature sculptures, baskets, prints, weavings and jewelry of incredible design quality. Surprisingly, we didn't have trouble parking on the street. However, if there aren't places available there are several large parking areas just out side the walled area. We visited a museum once and then entered Old Town through a gate. And when it comes time to pause for lunch or refreshments, there are several places available. We ate lunch twice at the Church Street Cafe. The second time we brought our Albuquerque resident relatives and they really liked the place, too. The cafe is located in one of the oldest if not the oldest buildings in Albuquerque. When you enter theoldest section the rooms are dark with low ceilings. We were seated in a large room with high ceilings and a view of a patio. Live music is performed on the patio. New Mexican cuisine prides itself on being different from the usual Tex-Mex you find in the Southwest. I was impressed with how you could still taste the flavor of the food, rather than have it masked with overpowering amount of spices. One decidedly New Mexican tradition is the question "Red or Green?" That means do you want red or green chili. If you aren't sure as I wasn't ask for Christmas on the Side. They will bring you both types, in containers on the side. I found I liked the flavor of small amounts of the green. My husband didn't try either, and was quite happy. My cousin used all his red and green and what I didn't use...wow! I had Chili Rellenos and Bill had quesadillas, both very good. By the way, the second trip here I ordered off the Non-New Mexican section of the menu and had an excellant Reuben. In otherwords, if you have a more delicate palete, you can come here to enjoy the atmosphere and still have a good meal..
by two cruisers on March 31, 2012
Usually when we visit Albuquerque we stay with family. This time we were celebrating my husband's birthday and our anniversary. We wanted somewhere different and very special for our memories. At Casa de Suenos we got what we wanted in multiples. Located within walking distance of Old Town Albuquerque, we were were thrilled to find a place with local flavor rather that chain hotel sameness.Our suite was in a duplex building just outside the walled garden. The good thing about that was we could park adjacent to our unit. The potentially awkward part was the entrance gates were locked at about 10:00pm and not reopened until breakfast. Best not to be on the wrong side of the gate at lock-up time. Our suite, or to use their terminology a casita was named Taos. Each room or suite was named and several were decorated by famous artists. The focal point of the Taos suite, was the artwork of a famous New Mexican artist Amado Pena. The main attraction was a wall mural by Pena that was awesome with bold colors and angled faces. Framed prints of his work and coffee table books were in various locations in the room. The New Mexican style continued around the suit with kiva ladder towel racks, antique sideboard in the dressing area, A Kivah style fireplace was built into one corner of the room. Niches in it held r art objects.A turquoise tiled cattle skull was the main fireplace decoration. As for creature comforts, the bed and chairs were comfortable. Endtables were custom built to go with the brick dividing wall. At the end of the bed was a massive Spanish style trunk that worked great for a suitcase rack. My only complaint of the whole experience was the large window blind was in disrepair. Our privacy was not guareenteed. The desk clerk told me they were planning on replacing the window treatments soon.Inside the gate a footpath wound around through gardens and passed other lodgings. One open area can be rented for weddings, or other gatherings. Almost every doorway is decorated with a chili ristras, a colorful and very New Mexican tradition. Interesting modern sculptures were settled in amongst the plantings. Elusive cats peeked out from under plants along the way. At the end of the path was the main building. The front desk is in this area along with a common lounge area. The traditional tiled floors, Southwestern colors, art and furniture make this a lovely room in which to gather. The staff was genuinely interested in making our visit pleasant. They helped us locate good restaurants and told us about the featured artisits.The other part of the main building is the kitchen and dining area. Casa de Suenos serves a lovely breakfast as part of your room package. When you arrive you choose items from a continental buffet and take them to a table of your choice. I gravitated to the sunny room with garden views. Once settled the chef comes to your table and takes your order for cooked items. He did a wonderful job of preparing exactly what I wanted, even though it wasn't one of the standard menu items. What a lovely experience.
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