By Barbara Veres
“Hot air balloon festival”, is almost synonymous with Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yes, Albuquerque is famous for its hot air balloon festival, but it is also a city full of enchantment, surprises, and hidden treasures.
Albuquerque’s pride is the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. This 16-acre campus covers 400 years of Pueblo history, art, humanities, and boasts a theater, performing arts center, restaurant, and a variety of changing art exhibitions. Dancers perform American Indian Dances outside on the grounds so they are close to Mother Earth. Frederico Vigil’s awe-inspiring Fresco takes you through the past, present, and future of Hispanic culture. Situated in a rotunda on the of the Cultural Center grounds, the Fresco projects vivid imagery, symbolism, and majestic colors.
The Sandia Peak Tramway is the world’s longest aerial tramway and covers 2.7 miles. The observation deck atop 10,378 foot Sandia Peak offers 11,000 square mile panoramic views of the Rio Grande Valley.
Not quite the pride of Albuquerque, but a heck of a lot of fun, Conductors Jess Herron and Michael Silva are tour guides on ABQ Trolley Company’s open-air trolleys. Knowledgeable, and entertaining, they cover Albuquerque’s history, unique neighborhoods, cruising historic Route 66 and local architecture.
Remember to take a walking tour through Old Town. The short, guided walk takes you through the heart of Albuquerque’s heritage. Unusual and hidden architectural, historical details are highlighted; engaging stories bring to life sights and sounds of the Civil War and the early pioneers’ daily struggle to survive.
The National Institute of Flamenco Arts preserves and promotes flamenco’s artistry, history, and culture. Dancers come from around the world to study at the Conservatory. They dance in an unassuming building without fancy scenery or costumes, yet are intimate, exciting, and highly professional.
Northern Italian food in New Mexico? Torino’s Trattoria Italiana & Café serves up fresh, made from scratch Italian goodness at reasonable prices. The restaurant is not fancy, but the food is gourmet; the staff makes you feel like you are in their home. St. James Tea Room pours a little excellence with their high tea. Fresh brewed and simply delicious, they serve their teas and delicacies (even gluten free) in a restful and traditional ambiance.
Albuquerque is a Hispanic treasure that combines history, culture, elegance, and fascination. It is a place where one can explore the unexpected ‘off the list’ hidden treasures. And remember to ride in the balloons!
National Institute of Flamenco Arts
Torino’s Trattoria Italiana & Café, 7600 Jefferson Street
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
St. James Tea Room, 320 Osuna NE
The Sandia Peak Tramway Experience