The Santa Fe Plaza
If you've been paying attention to my tips, you've noticed that the directions I give use the central plaza as a point of reference. It is located right in the middle of town and works well as a base for giving directions or a meeting place if, say one of you wants to go buy some fruit for breakfast and your travel buddy wants to get a beer at 7:04 am. The Plaza used to be twice as large at is today and used to be a location for grazing sheep and holding town hall meetings. Today sheep hang out in the suburbs and the city has a real town hall.
Santa Fe Tip
The plaza has a very special atmosphere, and everybody is drawn towards it. It was here that the famous Santa Fe Trail ended. The Santa Fe Trail was a trading route between the USA and the then Spanish territory. Around, there are cafés, snack bars and arts and craft shops.
Comfortable shoes are a must!! Sandals are fine in summer, but good walking shoes are a requirement at any season on the city's often uneven pavements.
A lightweight straw hat is essential in the summer, and a good idea any time the sun shines to cut glare and ward off sunburn. (Remember, you need to protect the back of your neck too.)
From June through September, no matter how clear the morning is, by midafternoon the thunderheads will build up and a downpour is likely. It's a good idea to carry a small umbrella. On the other hand, thunderstorms usually don't last long, so nip into the nearest watering hole and have a Margarita while you wait for the skies to clear (but cf. below).
No matter what the season, the "layered look" is advisable: even on a warm day, the temperature can drop precipitously if the clouds roll in, and nighttime temperatures are routinely 30 degrees cooler than the daytime. If you go out before sunset and intend to stay out all evening, bring a sweater! Bring sunscreen, and USE IT even if it's not summer -- you can get a nasty burn at any time of year. (I was entirely too casual about sunscreen for my first 8 years here, and now have a standing date with my dermatologist for removal of pre-cancerous thingies.) Remember, we're at 7000 feet! Drink lots of water, and don't overexert yourself for the first day or two until you're used to the altitude. Also, be very careful about drinking -- a Margarita that makes you pleasantly high at sea level will lay you flat here.
Bandelier National Monument
Along with the cave dwellings in Bandelier are interesting rock formations. You'll note some old ruins in the background of this photo. That is what remains from the ancestral village of Tyuonyi. The village was built in a circle and had more than 40 tiny rooms. This village was abandoned by the mid-1500s. No one is certain where these people went.
You will not be permitted to climb on the walls. In addition, you can climb into designated dwellings only.
Though they specialize in knives, you can also find letter openers, flatware sets, manicure sets, money clips, salad sets, etc. Their intricately inlaid pieces (featuring stones such as turquoise, jet, coral amber and mother of pearl) are very unique. As they'll tell you, it's perfectly fine to transport a knife in your checked luggage. Prices are quite fair, considering the quality of the work. Letter openers - $45; money clips - $36; carving set - $150; 4 steak knives - $250 and so forth.