Day 12 Route 66 - Santa Fe 15.5 miles

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North America » United States » New Mexico » Santa Fe
June 17th 2012
Published: June 20th 2012
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Since we are not moving on today we slept in a little bit this morning before going over for our complimentary breakfast. We have been doing pretty well this trip for complimentary breakfasts most of which have offered a reasonable selection of food to choose from. On earlier trips to the US a complimentary breakfast has consisted of a glazed donut and coffee!!

After breakfast, we drove in to the old railway station area of the city. With it being Sunday it was very quiet down there, despite there being an artisan's market in one of the buildings behind the old station. We wandered around looking at all of the beautiful art and jewelry, managing to get out of the building having only purchased some honey, calendula and passion cream for dry skin and three cards featuring Golden Retrievers!

We drove the Mustang into the historic centre of town and found somewhere to park it for a set rate of US$5.00. We then wandered up to the Plaza where we found half the population of New Mexico! No wonder there was no one at the station - everyone was at the Plaza. The were more artists and artisans set up all around the plaza plying their wares. There is no doubt that Santa Fe's main purpose these days is to extract cash from tourists!

After wandering around the stalls we walked up to St Francis Cathedral. Of course with it being Sunday we couldn't go in because our arrival there coincided with a service being in progress. From the cathedral we walked around to the Loretto Chapel, the home of the miraculous staircase. The staircase is miraculous because the sisters needed a staircase to reach the choir loft, but there was no room to build a conventional staircase. So they prayed and a skilled carpenter arrived, spent six months crafting the staircase (although none of the sisters ever witnessed him working) and then left without requesting any payment for his work or materials.

Determined to consume fewer calories today we shared a boring old footlong sub from Subway for lunch. In the building where we found Subway, we also found the details for a walking tour of Sante Fe commencing at 1.30pm. That gave us half an hour to scoff down our sub and meet the guide.

There were only five of us for the walking tour and we were all Aussies. Although one of the girls is now living in the States having married an American. Her sisters (friends?) are over here visiting her and they were determined that they wanted to see more than just her lounge room while they are here, hence their trip to Santa Fe.

As is usually the case, the walking tour was excellent. Our guide was very knowledgeable and passionate about her home town and shared a wealth of information with us including: native American art, history and culture, the arrival of the Spanish and the legacy they left behind in this part of North America through to the acquisition of the lands by the Anglo settlers.

The tour also included a visit to Casa Sena at 109 East Palace where people used to report during WWII to get their paperwork cleared to proceed to Los Alamos to work on the Manhattan Project which developed the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. At the time this was all very clandestine and few people knew how many people were going to 'the town that never was' (Los Alamos), let along what was being done up there.

After the walking tour, our guide Arlene gave us directions to get to Canyon Road, where all of the artists galleries are and San Miguel Mission the oldest church in the US. We walked to Canyon Road and found a small cafe where we enjoyed gelato ice-creams and a bottle of much needed water. It is hot! We had a quick look at a couple of galleries and then walked back to the San Miguel Mission which was just around the corner from the oldest house in the US.

Arlene had told us that we really should walk through the foyer of La Fonda - The Inn at the End of the Trail - before leaving Santa Fe as it is an impressive building and architecturally significant. We decided to do better than that and walked through the foyer and took the elevator up to the Bell Tower Bar for drinks overlooking the city and the mountains in the background. I really am getting a taste for margaritas!!

During our walking tour we had started to think that we should spend one more night in Santa Fe so that we could make a side trip to visit Bandelier National Monument and Los Alamos. Feeling pretty hot and dusty we headed back to El Rey where we booked in for an extra night without any trouble, before making use of the pool again. Very refreshing! Revived from our swim and a shower we went back in to Casa Sena for dinner. It was a beautiful evening for dining al fresco in the courtyard.

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