ABQ and Santa Fe

Sep 6th, 2009, 02:24 PM
  #1  
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ABQ and Santa Fe

We (2 adults) are going to Santa Fe/Durango for 10 days in October. Will fly into ABQ and pick up rental car. Three basic questions:

1) The ABQ Int'l Balloon Festival will be happening when we arrive. Should we spend the first nite in ABQ and go to the Festival site the next day? Is there anything for us non-ballooners to do? Will rides be available for non-participants? Is it worth seeing if you're not a balloonist?

2) RE staying in SF: I've heard that day parking in the plaza area is expensive - true? The best lodging prices are with the chain hotels outside of the plaza/downtown area. If we stay there, is it easy to get into town - is there a shuttle bus or public transportation? Or, is it better to stay in the plaza area?

3) Any suggestions for reasonably-priced accommodations with character in Durango?

Thank you!
Bobbe
Bobbe is offline  
Sep 6th, 2009, 02:39 PM
  #2  
 
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The balloon fiesta is definitely worth seeing... however it might be hard to get a hotel room if you don't already have one. You can drive yourself to the Balloon Fiesta or they have places around town to catch a bus. You won't be able to ride on a balloon, but it really is amazing to see. If you are going to be here I would highly recommend it.

Can't help you with SF or Durango - sorry.
MomtoCCC is offline  
Sep 6th, 2009, 03:37 PM
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What day (Sat, Sun, weekday?) will you arrive in Albuquerque? The crazy days to drive in and try to park are Sat and Sun - but that's because the major balloon events - including the mass ascension when almost all of them go up at about the same time - happen those days. During the week it's much easier to drive into, apparently - well, I drove in quite easily last year, but it was an odd year. A lot of rain-outs. I drove in on a Monday morning after the previous day had been rained out. I don't know if what happened in the morning really qualified as a "mass ascension" or was just kind of a make-up for Sunday, but it was still spectacular. One surely doesn't need to be a "balloonist" to enjoy it. However, the mass ascension doesn't last all that long. There are events all day such as races and things but after the ascension you may wish to move on fairly quickly, as I did (winds canceled another morning event anyway).

Some evenings there are "afterglow" events where the balloons are lit up - supposedly really something to see - but I missed it.

Anyway, depending on your timing you might be able to enjoy part of the balloon festival in just a few hours without hanging around too long.
Andrew is offline  
Sep 6th, 2009, 04:44 PM
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#1- Balloon Fiesta is most definitely worth seeing. When else will you ever get to see 750 hot air balloons filling up and floating in the sky above your head??

While you may not get a room very close to the park, there should still be rooms available, but maybe not cheap ones. I would suggest that if you are going to do this, you take a Park & Ride bus. It will help you avoid the traffic surrounding the park. http://www.balloonfiesta.com/node/42

You are aware that the morning launches take place at first light - around 6:30 or so? It is usually pretty cold, with hats, gloves, jackets etc needed. Dress appropriately or you can really be miserable.

The vast majority of visitors are "non-balloonist" like yourselves. They come to watch the awe of the launches and the fun of the evening glows. You can actually fly on balloons via commerical balloons, but it is very expensive.

The balloons only launch in perfect conditions, so if there is any rain they don't go up. A bigger issue is wind, they will not launch if there is more than a gentle breeze. IT can and does happen alot.

You can also be involved by signing up on the web site to be a part of a chase crew. Lots of fun to be part of the festivities [balloonist are a fun group!].

#2 The motels along Cerrillos Road will be less than by plaza. There isn't any kind of "shuttle" to the Plaza. You would have to drive. IT isn't so much that parking is expensive, it is that there isn't a lot of it available. There is a new garage that should help ease the parking issue, but if you are willing to walk a bit, there is metered parking north of the plaza, near the post office, that is usually where we park. Taking a public bus would work, but it would take a fairly long time,what with stops etc.

Have you used Priceline? The Inn of the Governors can sometimes be had for around $100 with parking and it is just on the corner of the plaza. El Rey is another reasonably priced place where you could walk to town.

#3 - What is reasonably priced? A motel, hotel or B&B? I should warn you that you are talking prime season here. Here is an old thread with some info on hotels.
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...nd-durango.cfm

This has restaurants in Durango
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...by-debitnm.cfm

I live in SW CO and also ABQ, so please feel free to ask or email me.

Also, if you do a search on here for Durango and my name,you should get lots of my threads. I have lots for ABQ and SF too.

Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 10:33 AM
  #5  
 
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>>1) The ABQ Int'l Balloon Festival will be happening when we arrive. Should we spend the first nite in ABQ and go to the Festival site the next day? Is there anything for us non-ballooners to do? Will rides be available for non-participants? Is it worth seeing if you're not a balloonist?<<

Yes, yes, and yes - plus everything Deb said.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 01:26 PM
  #6  
nlg
 
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When we were in Santa Fe we stayed at the Inn of the Governors and it was within walking distance to the Plaza. We got a rate of $100 on their website-it has been several years since we were there so don't know the rate now. They had a great breakfast included in the rate-one of the best we have had anywhere and there is a cute restaurant in the hotel-great place for sandwiches and drinks. We were there on our anniversary and they sent a bottle of wine and two glasses with Inn of the Governors logo-I still use the glasses and fondly remember our trip to Santa Fe.
nlg is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 07:18 PM
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If you can stay for the ascension then do so and then you can head north possibly stopping along the way for a visit to Acoma Pueblo and up Turquoise Trail into Santa Fe.

Santa Fe lodging will be somewhat busy due to the balloon fiesta but this has been an off year for tourism so you may be able to find your choice of lodging without using Priceline. I'm too picky to rely upon priceline's choice on a busy weekend so I can't help with that aspect.

Parking isn't expensive but can be an issue during a fiesta in Santa Fe. Parking lots and parking garages seem to handle the overflow from street parking well. At most, we've paid $8 for all day at a garage. We didn't mind that as we didn't have to continue going back to fill the street meter during our day.

Shuttles run from Bishop's Lodge which is located up from the plaza area about 10 minutes. I'm not aware of other shuttles other than that one and the one from ABQ airport. Most hotels and inns are walking distance to the plaza unless you're out on Cerillos Road, which is commercial and busy.

Regarding El Rey Motel, it isn't walking distance to the plaza. A cute motel with a loyal following that has been decorated in southwest decor but requires driving to the plaza area.
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 07:35 PM
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How long a walk is El Rey? It seems walkable to me, not that I have walked it.
Deb
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Sep 7th, 2009, 07:40 PM
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Deb, it's pretty far down Cerrillos. 2 miles from the plaza in between St. Michaels and Cordova (home of Maria's Mexican Kitchen - YUM).

We've stayed there a few times and it's a great place but not a walkable place to stay. Too many other choices closer to the plaza for the money.
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2009, 07:52 PM
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I will go with your take on it! I won't be needing a hotel in SF in about 7 weeks, so no matter to me.

Deb
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Sep 10th, 2009, 09:48 PM
  #11  
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THANK YOU everyone! Those are all excellent suggestions and are very helpful - that's what I love about this Forum. Now, to get to work and plan this trip! -Bobbe
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Sep 11th, 2009, 01:59 AM
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Bookmarking.
volcanogirl is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 10:05 AM
  #13  
 
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I stayed at the Fairfield Inn on Cerrillos Road in SF and it was fine. Pretty decent breakfast is included. If you're looking for something else to do in ABQ, I highly recommend a ride on the Sandia Peak tram. In terms of parking in the SF plaza, you'll probably be able to find a metered spot for 2 hours.
PamEwing is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 10:38 AM
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Metered parking in Santa Fe, especially around the Plaza is nearly impossible. You need to go to outlying streets, past the plaza [nearer to the post office and capital]to find spaces most of the time. Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 11:14 AM
  #15  
Don
 
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We stayed at the Courtyard on Cerrillos Road a couple of weeks ago--$50/night on Priceline. No free breakfast, but there are plenty of places to eat in the 4-mile stretch between the hotel and downtown Santa Fe. (We liked the Tecolote Cafe for breakfast, and Los Potrillos (if you're not vegetarian) for dinner--both right on Cerrillos Road.)

Have fun on your trip!
Don is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 11:26 AM
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BeachGirl--

Acoma Pueblo is about 1.5 hours west of Albuquerque - not exactly on the way north to Santa Fe!

Were you thinking of another pueblo?
Cranachin is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 12:37 PM
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>>Metered parking in Santa Fe, especially around the Plaza is nearly impossible. You need to go to outlying streets, past the plaza [nearer to the post office and capital]to find spaces most of the time.<<

Right - plus you'll want to stay longer than two hours in Santa Fe without having to run and feed the meter.

Cranachin, Acoma Pueblo is about 40 minutes west of Albuquerque. As you say, it's not on the way to Santa Fe, but it's a nice half-day trip in and of itself.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 02:00 PM
  #18  
 
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Sorry, I guess I was having a senior moment. I didn't remember it being that long of a drive.
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 08:07 PM
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Lee Ann--

An hour and a half from Balloon Fiesta Park to Acoma is probably an over-estimate, but 40 minutes seems too little (although from the West Mesa maybe it is right). I think it took at least an hour from my place in ABQ when I lived there years ago (near Candelaria and Eubank).

And I agree - it is a nice trip. I just didn't want the OP to think it was on the way to Santa Fe. It's also important to note that the last tour on October 9 is at 11:00 AM and there are no tours October 10-12.

Bobbe - A ride in a balloon is an amazing experience. I really enjoyed the one I went on during Balloon Fiesta - there is nothing like being up in the sky among all the balloons! But they make you sign a liability waiver before the flight for a reason. Not to scare you, but there are power lines all around the Fiesta Park, and some people died that year when their balloon hit some power lines.

A few people from our balloon saw them hit. I was facing the other direction, so I heard it but did not see it, but I did see the envelope floating away without the gondola underneath (the power lines melted the cables connecting them). It was just after what our pilot called his roughest landing ever - we hit the ground, bounced several times, and tipped over. We were dragged a good distance (tipped over sideways) before the gondola finally stopped, with a huge (live) tumbleweed blocking the only way out - so it couldn't just be rolled away!

Of course, most people go up and come down with no problems, just like most people fly in airplanes with no problems. But there are risks involved.
Cranachin is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 09:40 PM
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That's true, Cranachin, depending on where you live or are staying..

Lee Ann
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