It’s official: I am citied-out. I’m sure there are plenty more nice and interesting cities out there, but I don’t need to see them. Our budget no longer permits me to do the types of things I like to do in cities: eat trendy food, rack up expensive bar tabs, shop. Sure, it’s fun to find the authentic budget food options, but not all places excel in cheap Mexican food. I like to check out historic districts and houses, but not all places have historic districts and houses. For the most part, most cities are exactly the same. I think it’s safe to say the city exploration portion of this trip is over.
I came to this realization awhile ago, but it was cemented in Albuquerque. Coming into Albuquerque, my list of things to do looked like this: Old Town, Petroglyphs, Taco Cabana. Hit the good things, then get out.
But, damn it, Albuquerque’s old town is just like Santa Fe or Taos or Old Town San Diego! Yeah, it’s cool, but if you’ve been to one of these places, you’ve been to them all. If you’re really into shopping for Southwestern arts and crafts or Native American jewelry, or you haven’t been to any of those places, then by all means, stop by Old Town the next time you’re passing through Albuquerque. But if you’ve already stopped in Taos, you’re going to get Taos-deja-vu.
The highlight of the Old Town area was the Golden Crown Panaderia, where we were given a cookie by the cheerful guy behind the counter as soon as we walked in (“all kids get free cookies here”) and where we enjoyed some tasty coffee and garlic cheese bread on the porch. We wanted a loaf of the famous green chile bread, but at $8.95 per, we couldn’t justify that kind of outlay. The interior of the place looks like a combination historic adobe building and science experiment. We sat next to three guys on lunch break from their rocket scientist jobs. It’s a wild, interesting place and gave us some insight into what it would be like to actually live in Albuquerque.
But the petroglyphs, damn it, weren’t saved in time, or haven’t been patrolled well enough. Unless you like to see L-O-V-E scratched next to a centuries old depiction of a human figure, you’re going to find Petroglyphs National Monument a little disappointing.
At least Taco Cabana hit the mark. I don’t know what it is (lots of MSG, maybe?) but their Tex-Mex food drives me crazy — I just love it, and Albuquerque was the last outpost of the chain past Texas and my last chance to hit up the Cabana.