|Our son announced his engagement and alas, I looked in my closet and
had no "wedding clothes" of any sort or kind! This situation can
set off near panic in a future "mother in law to be"! <grin>
Plus, we live in South Texas, home of handmade tortillas and cowboy boots, spangled rodeo queen outfits, and teeny weeny bikinis for wearing on nearby Padre Island National Seashore. Obviously, this area is not known for haute fashion!
Fortunately, my best friend Chris Ann called and wondered if I'd meet her in Santa Fe. Her husband (a 50 year old with a Harley Road Hog - pronounced as "Hawg" in Texan) was joining a group (of other Hawgs) to ride through the Rockies and wanted her to meet him in New Mexico at the end of his trip (with car and trailer so they could pull the Harley the rest of the way home to the Hill Country of Texas). What luck! We women would arrive a few days ahead of the Hawgs and shop 'til we dropped! Was this "female heaven" or what?
I flew to Albuquerque and grabbed the 70 minute Sandia Shuttle Express service to Santa Fe. The old ShuttleJack is no more, but Sandia has about the same time schedule. I also found that Santa Fe Shuttle (Herrera bus) service is good too, however, they only stop at major hotels in town, whereas Sandia will drop off almost anywhere in Santa Fe if you make a reservation in advance.
We stayed at Garrett's Desert Inn at the corner of Alameda and Old Santa Fe Trail - one of the few motels near the plaza and a bargain at $99 a night for a spacious room with two beds. It's only a block from the Pink Adobe restaurant and within easy walking distance of Canyon Road. The Desert Inn has a huge parking lot (big enough for cars, travel vans, and Harley Hog trailers!), and a fresh pot of coffee perking in the lobby for guests at sunrise. (800) 888-2145 or (505) 982-1851 or FAX (505) 989-1647
Bistro 315, a excellent restaurant,
is right next door and has become one of the best dining spots in Santa
Fe. The Pink Adobe is just a
First, let's talk about maps. While several good ones are available
(for free at most stores) in Santa Fe, especially "The Original Santa Fe
& Canyon Road Walking Map", I still have problems remembering where
all my favorite stores are (in the maze of endless Santa Fe shops), so
I created a couple of maps to share with you.
I checked into the Dessert Inn at 1:00 and within 15 minutes was already heading for a late lunch spot and my first round of shops. Pasqual's noon crowd had dwindled and I popped in for a half order of enchiladas and a glass of their flavorful ice tea. If you haven't had breakfast, lunch, or dinner at this tiny, popular eatery, add it to your list. Breakfast is outstanding and singles can always find a seat (and interesting local conversation) at the big community table.
My first shop stop was a half block up Don Gasper at the Purple Sage Boutique and I found the perfect ensemble to wear as "Mom of the Groom" - a three piece painted and washable silk set of broomstick skirt, top, and a flowing cape which also could be tied to become a jacket. I choose the purple and jade color, but they also have cobalt blue/jade and red/green tones in this line. I added a matching pair of slacks and long sleeve top to complete a 5 piece travel ensemble for under $500. Visit their website.
This became one the best buys I made ... quality silks, versatile enough to mix and match for a trip or special event. Besides having a wonderful selection of stylish women's' clothing, the Purple Sage specializes in outstanding art glass of all colors and shapes.
Spirit of the Earth was right next door and also had lots of fashionable ladies wear. I found a long straight skirt with tunic top in a lovely shade of aqua.
As usual, my third stop in this area was Origins on West San Francisco which is has some of the most interesting and varied boutique clothing in Santa Fe. I found a couple things for my future daughter-in-law and also a long flowing evening dress for me. Prices range from moderate to expensive.
I suddenly realized that new dressy shoes were needed too, so I added that to my list of "must finds" the next day.
By this time, I'd had a long day of airline travel, shuttle ride, and
adjusting to the 7000' altitude from my home at sea level, so I wandered
over to The Travel Bug and coffee shop for
a cup of java (brewed every way possible) and browse their large collection
of travel books. It is near the Inn of the Alameda.
The next day, I planned to visit every ladies clothing boutique and shoe store in downtown Santa Fe (with a few stops at my favorite "Indian Stuff" stores). What a day! My route and what I found follows:
* Hotel Loretto has several interesting shops with one called Hand-woven Originals specializing in hand-painted silk clothing. If you don't find what you like or the right size, they will custom design or fit your favorite selection. $500 and up per outfit.
* Street Feet near the La Fonda Hotel has casual shoes of all kinds.
* Wind River Trading Company is huge and occupies a narrow, but long strip between E. San Francisco and Palace Avenue. They specialize in Native American jewelry and collectibles in all price ranges. Fun place to browse.
* Sena Plaza has a zillion little
shops holding all types of things. A really good shoe store is in
this complex (can't remember the name of it) with dressy shoes. Unfortunately,
they couldn't fit my size 10-1/2 feet!
* Blue Rose has elegant fashions for special occasions. One of a kind, wearable art.
* Several name brand shops such as Eddie
Bauer and Ann Taylor are
in the Lincoln Place.
* Ortega's and an adjoining ladies shop has a great collection of native American jewelry and wearable art fashions.
I had lunch at a French restaurant on Burro Alley called the Cafe Paris owned by a husband-wife team who prepare fabulous food! The desserts are heavenly and not for those on a diet (I'm on a diet, but hey, when in Santa Fe, why diet?)
Another good place for a quick lunch is the Plaza Restaurant Cafe - large menu with everything imaginable on it with a New Mexico twist. The "Santa Fe" meat loaf is one of my favorites.
* Santa Fe Weaving Gallery is a must see! An article I read said "If you want to put on the dog, this is the place to go." No kidding - I once spied a gorgeous hand-woven winter jacket which turned out to be made from dog fur! They also have wonderful silk and natural fiber jackets, vests, and coats.
* Walking on Water has an assortment
of casual shoes for men and woman as does Street Feet just a block away.
The third day, Chris Ann and I browsed down Canyon Road.
* Silver Sun - easy to spend hours looking through contemporary jewelry of Indian motifs set with coral, turquoise, and other semi-precious stones.
Most of Canyon Road is lined with fine art galleries - some people spend days browsing it all.
Down Old Santa Fe Trail is Fenn Galleries, always a must stop for us.
It offers all kinds of fine art and also has a wonderful sculpture garden.
I particularly liked a set of three groups of children playing with water
This is a medium sized mall with the usual assortment of shops, plus a huge bookstore/video/cd store.
* New Territory Leathers had a nice
assortment of apparel and accessories.
Just outside the mall are some excellent stores - don't miss them!
* On Your Feet has one of Santa
Fe's largest selections of casual shoes and boots for men and woman.
I didn't find any dress shoes there, but purchased a great pair of apres-ski
boots last Christmas.
Santa Fe is located about an hours drive north of Albuquerque, and visitors should have an automobile to see all that the town and region has to offer. While Santa Fe has a tiny airport served by commuter flights, most people fly into the Albuquerque airport and rent a car there.
Since my friend had a car, I used the "Sandia Shuttle Express" service to reach Santa Fe. Non-stop vans make the 70 minute trip 10-12 times a day and will drop riders off at most any hotel with a prior reservation. The cost is $20 per person one way. For information, reservations, and current schedules, call (505) 474-5696 in Santa Fe or (505) 243-3244 in Albuquerque.
Herrera Coaches, also known as Santa Fe Shuttle, provides bus transportation
service between the airport and major hotels. For more information,
call (888) 833-2300 or (505) 243-2300.