Jolene goes to Albuquerque
Welcome to my first official #jolenegoes travel blog! I will do my best to put readers in my shoes so to speak. I would like to share my personal experiences with you all, related to my trips.
Food and lodging blogs will be written and posted separately, so keep an eye out!
Trip dates: 4/27-4/30
Trip purpose: My cousin's wedding
LAX to ABQ
Honestly, I should have foreseen how the weekend would go. A series of seemingly insignificant obstacles arose, but we pushed through and made our way to the airport (after leaving the house 3 times). When we arrived, we grabbed something to eat, since our flight wasn't until 9PM, scheduled to land in Albuquerque around midnight their time.
Upon arrival at our gate, I was confused. I saw the number of the gate but did not see a podium, any screens or a gate agent. To my surprise, we were ushered down a set of stairs, luggage in tow, outside to take a shuttle to another terminal. The shuttle ride was less than 10 minutes, and we drove on the tarmac to another terminal for smaller planes. After sitting at the wrong gate for about 15 minutes and getting snapped at by a gate agent, we migrated to the correct gate and awaited our flight.
I do not normally fly American Airlines, and this experience solidified that decision for me. After nearing our original boarding time, the screen flashed before us and our new departure time was 10:45PM. This would put us almost 2 hours past our original arrival time, causing us to miss our rental car reservation and producing waves of anxiety to flood all of the passengers. How would we get a car? How would we get to our bed & breakfast? How expensive was Uber? Would there even be an Uber driver available? Long story short, a saint of a man on our flight called AVIS, with whom he had a reservation, and one of their employees decided to remain at the counter until our flight arrived, knowing that several passengers who'd made reservations with other companies would be left with no car.
Pro tip: If you have a late flight, call the rental counter to make sure they are open. Even though online I had options to pick up at 3AM, it turns out they closed at 1AM. Sometimes you are allowed to make reservations even when the counter isn't open.
When we finally got past the rude gate agent, waded through vague answers and contentious glares, we made it onto the plane. We were told that "it would be a little bumpy" coming out of LA due to wind conditions, but nothing could have prepared me for the rollercoaster we experienced for the hour and a half flight to Albuquerque. My aunt was in tears, and for the first time in my 28 years of living, I almost had to reach for a motion-sickness bag.
When we arrived, we were lucky enough to be able to get a car... However, it was less than ideal. The three of us got stuck with a Ford Mustang Convertible. While it sounds flashy and luxurious, it ended up being inconvenient and uncomfortable. You will also see later in this post that it became useless at one point of our trip as well.
For a detailed post about where I stayed in Albuquerque, please click over to my lodging section.
Because we arrived at our bed and breakfast close to 3AM, we decided to sleep in so we'd actually get a reasonable amount of sleep. Some time in the morning, our food tour guide called me, left a voicemail and let me know that there was a snowstorm in Santa Fe (an hour north of Albuquerque), so it was likely he wouldn't make it back to Albuquerque in time for our tour. I was already disappointed, and frankly I was worried how the trip would pan out given its poor start.
We made our way to The Grove Cafe & Market for brunch. After that, my goal was to make the best of what we had, with regard to time and weather. Unfortunately, the weather was definitely working against us. I had checked the weather before the trip and noticed many fluctuations between the high 40's and low 60's. To me, these temperatures are totally bearable and require little more than enough light layers and a jacket. However, as we went on, we found that these temperatures weren't exactly accurate and we were not prepared for the rain, cold winds and sleet we faced on and off.
After brunch, we headed to Mama's Minerals, a large shop full of rocks, minerals, beads, fossils and more. The inner geek in me was very excited to see items ranging from African Jasper to Pyrite to giant Amethysts. My aunt is very much into jewelry-making, so she spent all of her time in the bead section, collecting stones and beads unique to New Mexico.
PRO TIP: IF YOU ARE LIKE ME AND ORDERED A LARGE OBJECT, ASK IF YOU CAN HAVE IT SHIPPED HOME INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT PACKING IT.
For an afternoon pick-me-up we headed to Rebel Donuts before heading back to our B&B. While we were at the donut shop, we got a call with a last-minute invite to a family gathering that night. We hadn't made plans, so we decided to get dinner at a local Cracker Barrel before driving 20 minutes north to a beautiful Airbnb rented by the families of the couple. After snacking and dancing for a few hours, we headed back to the B&B to get some rest before the wedding.
We were hopeful that a relatively good night's rest and a fresh new day would prepare us for a better day. I had made reservations at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Farm for breakfast, and I was very excited about it. Lavender is my absolute favorite (color, flavor, scent), so I was really looking forward to visiting a farm that grew lavender. I knew that the flowers wouldn't be in bloom, but the pictures made it look so wonderful.
I'm pleased to tell you all that I had a wonderful experience, granted we did not escape without any bumps in the road.
We had a reservation at 10:30AM, but when we arrived the dining room was quite full. The hosts graciously offered us a spot in a private dining room, which we accepted. The only downside was that it was a bit cold since the room had been empty. Someone came in, lit the fireplace and the room warmed up. I felt like the staff was extremely accommodating and friendly - it felt like we had been invited into someone's home. The other downside was related to the chimney. Now, I am from Southern California. We don't really do chimneys here, but I knew something was going wrong when the room became almost overwhelmingly smokey. The good news is the staff was more than apologetic and immediately acted to remedy the problem. I felt very taken care of even though it really wasn't THAT big of a deal. They even gave us a discount for the inconvenience. The meal was wonderful, both in food and service, and we got to explore a little bit after we ate.
What made this time difficult was nothing related to the farm itself, but we really struggled with the weather. At this time, it was very cold and rainy. While the farm was gorgeous and I wanted to walk a bit more, I didn't want to risk getting myself sick or feeling too tired/uncomfortable the day of the wedding.
We did walk to the Farm Shop to do a little shopping - if you are like me and love artisan products, this is the place for you. There were fresh lavender satchels, flavored salts, and while we were there, a baker delivered a box of freshly baked bread. The aroma filled the room and one of the men behind the counter started rolling the baguettes in kraft paper. It was so beautiful in its simplicity, like something straight out of Pinterest. He was so excited about the fresh bread that he held it out to my mom and me, telling us to feel how warm it still was.
Based on my experience, I could tell that Los Poblanos is authentic and genuine. Not only is it historical, but the people who work there believe in a fresh, beautifully simple but elegant experience. I found it to be well curated both in decor and what it offered. If I go back to Albuquerque, I will likely stay at the Inn.
We decided to make a couple stops before resting and getting ready at our B&B, so we headed to PIñon Coffee. On the way there, we stopped at a local vineyard for photos and just to explore.
Unfortunately the weather was still quite bad, and we found out that four-wheel drive was recommended to get up the mountain for the wedding. Even though I had previously mapped the location on Google, I had no idea we would in fact be up a mountain. We ended up carpooling with a friend, and for good reason. The ground was covered in at least a foot of snow when we got to the top!
Our last day in Albuquerque proved to be the best one. It seemed that the weather had a change of heart, forsaking her previous gloomy, gray days and trading them in for sunshine and blue, cloudless skies. We began our morning with breakfast at the B&B, then headed off to a church meeting. Afterwards, I wanted to try Old Town Albuquerque again, since our original plan of visiting on Friday had been cancelled.
PRO TIP: IF OLD TOWN SEEMS CROWDED AND YOU CAN'T FIND PARKING, PARK IN THE LOT WE DID, ON THE CORNER OF ROMERO AND RIO GRANDE NW. IT'S A BIT MORE OF A WALK, BUT IT SEEMED LIKE THERE WAS LESS TRAFFIC THERE, AND IT'S $5 ALL DAY.
We started off at another bead store, then the basket/rug shop, where my mom asked one of the employees which restaurants she recommended. We received a wonderful recommendation from her and I had life-changing guacamole there. We did some more walking, stopped in at some shops, and I got a handmade sterling silver ring with two turquoise stones.
From there, we continued our adventure at the ABQ BioPark. When I first read about it, I thought that all the parts of it where in the same area (the zoo, aquarium, etc.). However, I was wrong. When I plugged it into my GPS, I was taken to the zoo. We got out of the car and saw that the signs only mentioned the zoo. We had to get back in the car, drive 10 minutes, then we finally made it to the Botanical Garden and aquarium.
Even though both were smaller than I had anticipated, the Gardens were so well-landscaped that I temporarily forgot about the tumultuous weekend I had just had. The sun was shining and there was something so serene about the whole scene. The aquarium was a little more chaotic, as there were more children there, but I did enjoy seeing the sharks and jellies.
For the last couple hours we had in Albuquerque before heading to the airport, we decided to make a stop at the Rio Grande. I have to admit, I wish I had done some planning for this part of our adventure. I quickly Googled a trail or something similar that went along the Rio Grande. I was directed to a residential neighborhood with a sketchy looking footpath. Needless to say we tried something else.
Eventually Google led me to the Rio Grande nature Center State Park. The only catch was that the Nature Center itself had closed at 4; by this time it was about 4:30. An ominous sign on the entrance gate informed us that if we stayed inside past 5PM, our cars would be locked in. Seeing as we had to catch a flight in a few hours, this was not a chance I was willing to take.
I parked residentially and we began our fairly long trek to the river. I was traveling with two older women, so I was worried that this was far too much walking (especially after the weekend we had). Fortunately they made it in one piece - we walked along a bike trail adjacent to the park. It didn't have a closing time and we saw many a pedestrian, biker and dog on the trail.
We made it to the river side, and it was 100% worth the walk. The river was one of the most serene I had ever seen, and due to the rain the tide was high. We could walk right up to the water itself.
Fortunately and unfortunately, our day had come to an end. We headed to the airport, returned the car I had despised, and made our way home. Thankfully the flight was actually smooth going back (massive kudos to our captain!), and despite being told we had some delays, we only arrived a few minutes later than originally scheduled.
Overall, I can see the appeal of Albuquerque. It isn't the largest, bustling city, but even in this short time I could tell it has many hidden gems to offer to those who are willing to seek them out. Almost none of my plans worked out, but we still managed to explore a new place and go on an adventure.
Until next time,