I honestly wasn’t expecting much from Albuquerque (ABQ), no offense NM. I figured it was a pretty small town in the desert. My coworker Adelaide is originally from ABQ, so she sweetly put together a list of must-see attractions and great local restaurants to try, which was great because we had a better idea of what to aim for when we got into town. We decided to head to Nob Hill for dinner, since Adelaide said it was a great place to walk around and people-watch. We went to Il Vicino, a wood-fired pizza place. Interesting choice, I know, but I guess we were missing some Northeast food. The pizza turned out to be amazing – perfect soft, thin, wood-fired crust, great eclectic, fresh toppings like goat cheese (!) and artichokes, and gooey cheese. Our one complaint was that the pizzas were small, only 10 inches. Clearly they didn’t know we both had CSTS – Continuously Starving Traveler’s Syndrome. So we ordered another pie.
After pizza and wine, we strolled down the street (Route 66!) in Nob Hill and checked out the shops and other restaurants. We stopped at Tractor Brewing Company for a beer, then called it an early night, since we had super exciting early morning plans–a hot air balloon ride!
By far, this was one of the coolest and craziest things we’ve done so far on this trip. ABQ is the hot air balloon capitol of the world, and they have a huge balloon festival in the fall. We really wanted to try it, definitely a “honeymoon” thing to do. We found a great deal on Groupon for ~$190 for 2 people for a champagne flight and called them up to book it right away. Their customer service was great, and got us in on the next flight. Groupon was also doing an additional 5% off on “Local” deals, so we managed to get an additional ~$10 off, which was a sweet deal, considering we called around first, and one company was going to charge us $350! The deal gods were good to us. We did a deal dance to thank them (not pictured).
We flew with World Balloon and had a fantastic experience. The crew was great, laughing and making jokes – you could tell they enjoyed their job – and our pilot, Murray, was really experienced. There is no landing gear, nor can you steer hot air balloons, so you have to pick a large enough field in which to land. He landed us safely in a school ball field, and the neighbors came out to meet us and gave us some tea and coffee. How sweet!
When you go up in a hot air balloon, you get a unique perspective on life, both literally and figuratively.