Monday, October 7, 2013

Albuquerque, NM {International Balloon Fiesta}

We've had so many Aggie football games lately that I was getting antsy for actual travel. I called up my friend, Robin and off we went! We had a few places in mind, but ABQ was our first choice since we both had the International Balloon Fiesta on our Bucket List. The Fiesta happens 2 weekends each year in October - we ended up going on the first day!

I've been to the fiesta before, but years and years ago, so I was really looking forward to it! Robin and I caught a flight from Dallas Friday night and grabbed a quick dinner and went to bed early knowing we'd have a very early morning to see the Mass Ascension. We were out the door the next morning by 4:30 and at the gates by 5:45.

We grabbed a typical "fair-style" breakfast of burritos, cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate - SO satisfying (and warm)! The morning "glow" was awesome to see. We were standing right next to the balloons as they were being inflated and eventually took flight.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the views became more and more spectacular. Over 500 balloons took off that morning and it was amazing to be right in the middle of everything. I think the best (and most unique) part of this event is that they let spectators walk amongst the balloons.

We decided to only stay for the morning session of the balloon fiesta so that Robin could explore Albuquerque, but there are nightly glows as well. We headed to Old Town to explore and looked into the many shops, saw a flamenco show in town square and grabbed lunch at Quesadilla Grille.


The only bad thing about going on this weekend is that there are SO many people in town. We attempted to take a ride up to the top of Sandia Peak, but the line was over an hour and 1/2 long. Waiting in that line is not what we really wanted to do when we only had less than 2 days to explore, so we passed on this.

We had a yummy dinner of green chile stew at a little diner, Frontier, next to the UNM campus. UNM was actually playing the New Mexico State Aggies, so we felt right at home amongst the maroon and white.

The next morning, we had a chance to workout and then head to The Grove Café and Market. There was a 30 minute line to order food at the place, but with good reason. It was really spectacular! Robin got French-style pancakes with fruit and I got poached eggs with asparagus, parmesan, and prosciutto. The most unique part of my meal was the toast with raspberry red chile jam - YUM!

There are a few things I would mention if you're thinking of going in the future:

One: Buy your tickets to the park/ride and fiesta in advance. Even online the night before will save you about 10 bucks!
Two: If you're not at the park and ride by 6:15, you may miss the burn and mass ascension, but truthfully, you'll want to get there closer to 5 am.
Three: Desert mornings and nights get chilly. Dress in layers.
Four: Check the weather before you go - the wind may delay (or cancel) that day's events.
Five: Eat the burritos (with green chile, of course) and drink the hot chocolate to warm up.

I think Albuquerque is a really underrated city in general, but ESPECIALLY during fiesta. I would definitely add this to your bucket list. Also, thanks to Robin for being a great travel buddy!

Next up: I'm heading to Brooklyn next weekend for a bachelorette party. Can't wait!

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