Our last day in New Mexico was a quick one, partly because we did not have a lot of time until we needed to go to the airport, but mostly because there is nothing to do there anyway.

Although it is the largest city in the state, Albuquerque is often overshadowed as a tourist destination by Santa Fe, 60 mi (97 km) to the north.

After some chaos in our hotel where the fire alarms went off and everybody was freaking out until they told us it was a test (an early warning would have been nice, you know), we started walking towards downtown.

In the 1920s the federal government officially recognized a series of highways that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles as Route 66, and Albuquerque was one of the towns “The Mother Road” passed through.

Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as a small Spanish settlement on the banks of the Rio Grande and was named for the Duke of Alburquerque (hence Albuquerque’s nickname, “The Duke City”). In the 1880s the railroad came to town, and almost overnight a new city grew up around the train tracks a couple of miles away from the original settlement. This “New Town” became the hub of commerce for the state, and the city grew exponentially.

Most stores were closed for some reason, so the town looked more like a ghost town.

Fortunately, the downtown plaza had some souvenir stores open where we spent a couple hours browsing.

San Felipe de Neri Church is a historic Catholic church located on the north side of Old Town Plaza in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city and the only building in Old Town proven to date to the Spanish colonial period.

The whole town was praying, so we were quiet.

There is a lot of turquoise accents on the city decorations.

Lots of tourists…

Sarah always getting in trouble.

Eitan wanted to go eat at  “Los Pollos Hermanos”, the fried chicken place made famous by the TV show Breaking Bad. Unfortunately, we did not research well and just followed the google maps direction to this place. Apparently, the restaurant does not exist anymore, or ever? what a nice waste of time!

We had some time to visit a couple of local breweries.

During all our trip, we were trying to find the authentic sopapilla without success. Somehow, this traditional “dish” was harder to find than we expected. But Sarita came to the rescue, and at the Airport restaurant she asked if they had them there, and they did!!

The sopaipilla is a kind of fried pastry and a type of quick bread served in several regions with Spanish heritage in the Americas, they usually are served with honey. They were very disappointing though.

Bonus Pic of The Day: Why everything is Turquoise in New Mexico? well, hundreds of years before the Spanish explorers arrived, the Indians were mining and fashioning ornaments out of this gemstone in combination with shell and coral from the California coast they acquired in trading with other tribes.

Chemically, it is a phosphate of aluminum carrying small quantities of copper and iron and a green mineral, variscite. These give the gemstone its color as well as its value and beauty. This is the only phosphate that is considered a precious stone.

The Navajo and Pueblo Indians of the Southwest call turquoise chalchihuitl, as did the ancient peoples of Mexico and Central America who used the same word to describe jade or green turquoise. Turquoise set in silver by numerous silversmiths is a big industry in New Mexico and beautiful and authentic pieces may be purchased on reservations or at fashionable stores throughout the United States.

The State Legislature adopted the turquoise as the State Gem on March 23, 1967.

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