“Don’t go to Albuquerque. It’s just ‘another’ city.” What?! This recommendation couldn’t have been farther from the mark.

Scratch that, reverse it: Go to Albuquerque. It’s not just another city!

We only spent one day, but were very impressed with the wide range of natural attractions, foods to be tasted and wine to be sipped. Not to mention the hospitality and passion ABQ’s locals have for their culture and environment. We were particularly captivated by the proprietor in one of Old Town’s artisan shops, the Tanner Chaney Gallery He spoke at great length about the Oaxacan carvings, wool Zapotec rugs, and hand-pinched Mata Ortiz pottery, going so far as to let us feel the finger impressions on the inside of the pottery and handle the tools used for carving and painting each piece. I think if the prices weren’t [rightfully so] as expensive, we would’ve left with crates full of the pottery and several rugs!

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On the 200 block of San Felipe Street across from the San Felipe De Neri Catholic Church, vendors set up shop early in the morning.

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According to ABQ ordinance, these multi-cultural artists must make all the crafts they sell.

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Petroglyph National Monument – amidst volcanoes, mesas and canyons – contains an estimated 20,000 carved images. We hiked the 2.5-mile Rinconada Canyon trail mid-day, while the sun was high and temperatures soared above 100 degrees; all in the name of discovering prehistoric petroglyphs.

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Lunch at the Red Ball Cafe beforehand helped us trudge on, instead of withering away in the arid canyon.

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This mom ‘n pop joint was founded 75 years ago, and has long been an ABQ tradition. Red Ball claims to be the “home of the original Wimpy burger”, sold for a bank-breaking 99¢. Traditional New Mexican cuisine rounds out the rest of the menu, including some of the region’s best-known green chile cheeseburgers. We dined on both and give the burgers rave reviews, especially the Wimpys.

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An afternoon treat, mostly to cool down from the ABQ heat, was a shared wine flight at the St. Clair Vineyards Tasting Room [discovered when we walked to Starbucks for iced lattes that morning – already overheating at 8:30a!]. Back to front: St. Clair Rosé, DH Lescombes Fumé Blanc, St. Clair Riesling, Blue Teal Pinot Noir, DH Lescombes Brut, and Enchanted Vineyards Chocolate Port.

Motivation for this trip was so he could visit a good college friend working in ABQ, who incidentally was hopping a plane to Wisconsin that night. Fortunately we were able to snag a few minutes and be his escorts to the airport.

Before meeting up, we stopped at the evening farmer’s market in Nob Hill – a quaint and eclectic gathering of vendors and patrons. Supper was a quick slice at Saggio’s and some good conversation. Our to-go cannoli eaten on the scenic drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.

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