New Mexico is beautiful.
It’s different to every other part of the USA that we have visited. There is a very strong Mexican and Native American influence on the culture and way of life.
The scenery is breathtaking. The colours of the desert soil and rocks change through the day.
The Sandia Mountains rise behind Albuquerque, creating a dramatic backdrop to the life of the people who love there. At sunset they turn a dramatic pinkish-red colour, for which they are named: “sandia” translates to “watermelon”.
We went up into the Sandias in the late afternoon and looked out over Albuquerque, the desert around it, and the volcanoes in the distance. We would have loved a chance to visit those lava fields, but our time was too limited.
As the city lights began to flick on and the dusk deepened, I could clearly see Route 66 passing right through town.
The people of New Mexico are very friendly and engaging. They love to stop and talk. They smile a lot. They love to be helpful and are very welcoming to visitors.
My first visit here has been very special. This place has touched me in quite a powerful and almost spiritual way, which I had not expected.
I am not sure whether I have fallen a little bit in love, or whether I’ve enjoyed a beautiful flirtation.
Either way, I am leaving with some delightful memories which I am sure will make me smile for many years to come.
Diner 66 on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is super cool.
There’s lots of neon lighting, retro-styled waitresses, a Classic American style menu, and great rock’n’roll playing on the jukebox.
The service is quick and friendly, and the food is good. The chili chese fries are a must if you visit here: it’s worth having those as a starter and ordering a 66 Burger without any sides, or even just having them as your meal. They are sensational.
This was a fantastic Route 66 dining experience. I absolutely loved it.
Albuquerque was established in 1706 as an important south-western outpost.
Some of the town’s early character and Native American influence has been maintained in the “old town” sector. The streets surrounding the old town square are home to shops, restaurants, museums and galleries. Most of the buildings are stucco and painted in assorted shades of terracotta, yellow and brown with accents usually in white or turquoise.
There is some beautiful jewellery and artwork created by Navajo and Zuni artisans for sale at quite reasonable prices. There are also some more individual pieces that are more expensive and unique, for those with a budget that allows them to be more discerning. Of course, there are also the cheap, junky “souvenirs” that come from assorted places across the seas.
It’s true enough that, as the saying goes, there is always something for everyone.
I refuse to come to a place like this and buy things that come from someplace else. For me, it’s important to support the economy and people of the local area. I want to take home something that has something of the character of the place I have visited.
The old town of Albuquerque has plenty of character. The people are very friendly and apparently don’t have many Australians visiting here. They were all very enthusiastic about our “cool accent”.
The shops are all quite different even though they sell similar types of things.
The Church of San Felipe de Neri is prominent in this part of town. It has been beautifully maintained and still operates as a working church. It offers visitors a place for prayer or reflection as well as the freedom to take photographs as long as it’s done respectfully.
The restaurants offer mostly Mexican food, as is only to be expected. We had lunch at Hacienda del Rio. The decor was very attractive and the restaurant was clean and well maintained. Tables did not remain messy for very long at all.
The waiter was very friendly and attentive. In response to my food allergies, the chef was more than happy to create my meal using only wheaten tortillas and no corn at all. I had a chicken fajita salad in a crispy tortilla bowl. The salad was fresh and crisp; the chicken and the salsa were both feisty. The combination was sensational.
We also had sopapilla – a warm, dense bread eaten with warm honey. I had never had that before, but really enjoyed it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day I spent in this part of town. I will leave Albuquerque with some very happy recollections as well as some beautiful locally crafted souvenirs.