In 1706, Spanish explorers and Catholic priests established a settlement centered around a plaza and named it after the Duke of Albuquerque. Today this spot is known as Old Town Albuquerque, a unique village of quintessential southwest architecture; adobe, wood post beams, vigas ceilings. The small area is pleasantly walkable and a completely different experience than the surrounding modern city. I enjoyed wandering about the shops, galleries, and cafes while Jimmy took in a bike ride. We met up for lunch and ambled about a bit more, taking in the cathedral and the pretty park filled with families, many dressed in Sunday best for a christening or Quincinera or some other special event. It was lively and made for great people watching.
Along the sidewalk in front of the cathedral, local artisans had set up shop selling a wide array of lovely items, many inspired by the fusion of catholic iconography and Hispanic culture. The Native American jewelry sellers were a highlight, too. Jimmy struck up a conversation with one of the vendors, a sweet young man who, despite his challenging disability, proudly shared his story of how his family made the jewelry and their unique, contemporary designs. He was their primary sales person, and he did a good with Jimmy who surprised me with a necklace/ earring set that I treasure.
Much to our delight and surprise, Albuquerque is a hotbed of Flamenco dance; given its rich Spanish colonial heritage, it really makes sense. There are multiple Flamenco schools run by families in town. We attended the Tablao Flamenco housed in the Hotel Albuquerque. Tucked in a corner of the hotel complex, the performance room is a sophisticated space inspired by sultry Iberian flair. Tapas are served, and we enjoyed several with glasses of Sangria; the Albondigas were memorably delicious, all lamby and orange glazed. We splurged and purchased front row tables, stage side for the Flamenco performance, and it was worth every dollar. The dancers, most from the same family, took the stage, taking turns expressing a story through stomping feet, clapping hands, gracious and powerful arm movements. A guitarist skillfully played … Passion, fury, despair, love and lust… vividly told through dynamic body movements, facial expressions and the occasional yelp. It made for a thrilling evening of entertainment!
The next day we ventured north along the Rio Grande through the horse pastures and sprawling haciendas of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque to Los Poblanos Inn and Organic Farm. A mini village of eclectic structures set amidst wild gardens, lavender fields, pomegranate and fig trees, with mountain views, this dreamy place blew our minds!
Built as a working ranch by Congressman Albert Simms, his wife Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms transformed it into a sophisticated oasis in the 1930s. Artistic flourishes abound in the Spanish colonial main house and the “La Quinta Cultural Center” structure, both made cozy with sophisticated southwest design accents. Flower gardens abound beneath massive cottonwoods, threaded by meandering paths, perfect for romantic meanderings on a summer’s night. Overnight guests enjoy clusters of casitas, designed in both southwest or farmhouse chic styles. Through a lovely vine-covered courtyard, cooled by a tiled fountain, is the modest entry to the special event dining space. Housed in the former living quarters of the original owners, the comfortable space is light and bright with windows all round. The intimate dining room is like visiting family members in their country home. The Farm Shop and seasonal farm stand welcome day visitors. (NOTE: CAMPO is their new onsite restaurant for breakfast/dinner, Wed. – Sun.) Los Poblanos is a must see spot when you visit Albuquerque!
Learn more about Albuquerque, here.