My husband and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico October 2, 2015 to attend the first three days of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. If you have never attended, it is a must see. It is hard to explain the feeling of standing amongst hundreds of hot air balloons as they inflate for lift-off, and then turning in a circle and everywhere around you and above you are over 500 hot air balloons in a mass ascension. They have a “main street” area with food vendors, craft vendors, stores, buttons, and various types of merchandise to shop and enjoy.
We spent the first day there from beginning to end, arriving at the park around 4:30 am and leaving as the fireworks were being shot off that night. A long day, but we experienced it all. The second day of the show we left after the morning lift-off and spent the afternoon driving up to Sante Fe to visit a botanical garden. We found we enjoyed the morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off more than the evening glow. It could have been the so-so weather on the night we stayed that left us with that feeling, because the night glows are one of their most popular events.
If you have been following my posts for a while you know that my husband visited Sante Fe and Albuquerque during his trip west a few weeks ago, which I talked about in When Your Husband Returns..
This was my first trip to New Mexico, and here are some quick thoughts about the trip:
- When booking a nice, early morning flight, don’t forget you have to be at the airport 1-2 hours before flight time, meaning a 6:00 am flight requires being at the airport by 4:00 am.
- Don’t book your layovers too tight. We had a one hour layover in Dallas, but by the time we were able to exit the plane and walk to our departure terminal, making only a quick restroom stop, we arrived at our departure terminal two minutes before boarding began.
- New Mexico is a dry heat, so you don’t notice the heat like you do in more humid areas, be sure to wear sunblock.
- The hottest (spiciest) food in Michigan is mild compared to “normal” food in New Mexico.
- Chillies are used in a lot of food (they were even offered in Chinese fried rice), it you don’t like spicy food, ask before ordering.
- A two-hour time difference can work to your advantage when you have early mornings planned
- It is worth getting out of bed to be on the Balloon Fiesta Field at 6 am for the ,morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off.
- Old Towne Albuquerque is a wonderful place of interesting architecture and great shops. Don’t miss Sculpture Park on the east side of Old Towne. They also have a fantastic pizza shop, fresh pizza on a light and airy crust.
- If you want to take the Tramway in Albuquerque to the top of the mountain, plan for it to be a several hour excursion. We waited in line two hours only to have it shut down due to high winds. The next time we arrived 20 minutes after they opened in the morning, but already the line was longer than the day we waited two hours, plus there were five tour buses there already.
- Sante Fe is a photographers dream; be sure to visit the Museum Hill Botanical Gardens.
- When doing all carry on luggage, be wary of what you purchase. Packing for the return flight can be tricky.
- Plan to visit the Fiesta and New Mexico again, because it is an awesome, breathtaking, unique, cultural, event and location well worth the trip.