As soon as you enter Santafe you would start realizing that you are entering a very different American town. The compact roads, brownish houses with adobe domes, a European style plaza, artistic Canyon street and the influence of Native, Mexican and European culture gives this town its unique nature. It quickly takes you back in history and before you know you have time traveled into the 18th century. The homes, as well as every other building, follows an architecture quite typical to this region. Some of the forts like buildings lit up with arrays of brownish lanterns provides a different ambiance and the town seems to follow this pattern with inherent passion.
Santafe plaza situated right at the heart has a number of fashion and antique shops and a very beautiful St. Francis church. The place is always busy with tourists. Today it was lit up with Christmas light and the restaurants around were flooded with people enjoying the cold and festive atmosphere. The ambiance of the place, people trying to capture all these beautiful moments with their loved ones on digital media, the violinist playing some melodious song around the corner, makes you feel nostalgic and you become part of this celebration. Kids are excited to get candy canes from a tall Santa and he is happy to spend a couple of moment with you.
Santafe is also home to number of well known artists and it has lot to offer in terms of art, be it sculptures, paintings you name it. A walk along canyon street is enchanting, it would transcend you to a different world of artistic creation, each having its own uniqueness.
Although Taos is more famous for skiing and we had a plan to visit Taos, a visit to SKI Santafe, changed our original plan. Santafé’s ski resort is good enough for amateur skiers. A full ski kit can be rented for forty dollars and you can ski all day.
The road leading to SKI Santafe from Santafe town is extremely scenic. As you start ascending the mountains and enter Hyde Memorial State Park, the winding road would give spectacular views of hills covered with pine forests as well as the cute brownish homes of Santafe town. You would see long stretches of greyish white hills as few species of pine trees shade their leaves during winters. You can stop at a couple of viewpoints for the scenic view and enjoy the nature.
The resort gets busy right from the morning. A ride to the top of the slope by the chairlift is absolutely fun, but the challenging part is to ski all the way down. The expert skiers skillfully making their way down gives an impression of ease. But as soon as you get into those heavy shoes and ski bases your movement gets limited to balancing using the ski sticks. As you start getting a bit comfortable with sliding on the slope, the next challenge is to be able to be able to control your speed and stop without crashing into someone. It does take time to get a little bit of expertise.
Getting familiar with some of the skiing vocabulary like the difference between hard pack or powder snow, the different pieces of equipment, green, blue and black slope, makes life much easier. Also its very important to follow all the safety conventions as accidents on these slopes without proper training can be lethal. It requires a lot of practice to be able to control your speed and keep the balance and so if you are still learning, make sure you are extremely careful.
All and all spending some time with the kids, struggling to balance on those bunny slopes and enjoying the snow fights was a memorable experience for sure.
Puye cliffs is an ancient historic monument around 30 miles from Santafe. This was a home for Pueblo Indians, one of the native tribes from New Mexico. They lived in the cave dwellings carved out in the volcanic rock formations. The dwellings consist of two levels and gave a feeling of a modern-day multistorey building. There are several caves that run across the length of this tall rock that spreads around a central plaza. The orangish, yellow stones glimmering in the sunlight tell the story of a civilization who lives here for centuries in complete isolation between 900 to 1580 B.C.
Albuquerque is one of the largest city in New Mexico, not very far from Santafe. The old town is filled with historic adobe buildings and displays the interesting native American culture and its tribal history. Albuquerque is also known as Ballooning capital of the world.
The Sandia Peak Tramway is one of the best experiences in this town. A ride of 4000 feet takes you to the height of 10,378 feet at the mountaintop giving some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding town. Right on the other side of the mountain are some of the most adventurous skiing slopes. Sandia Tramway was constructed way back in 1966 by a Swiss company and is one of the engineering marvels. Sandía means watermelon in Spanish. Sandia encompasses four different life zones due to large elevation change and huge changes in temperature and precipitation from base to the top.
Albuquerque Bio Park, which houses botanical gardens, aquarium, and zoo, is one more attraction not very far from the Sandia Mountain. Due to the limited time, we could visit the zoo, although not very extensive, we could see some of the rare species of animals there.