U.S. Cities You Should Definitely Visit | Bernalillo, New Mexico

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links to hotelplanner.com. I received compensation in exchange for writing this blog post, although all opinions are my own. 

Usually I’m not a fan of heat. There’s a reason I’ve been to 42 states, leaving the eight states with some of the highest temperatures in the nation for last. Since it’s my goal to go to all 50 states, I’ll admit that I’ve been scoping some spots to see while I’m there. During this series I’ve talked about Richmond, Virginia and today, for that Southwest vibe, I’m highlighting the little town of Southwestern spice: Bernalillo, New Mexico, which is located just outside of Albuquerque.

History

Kiva Painting. Image via Wikimedia via Unknown

This little part of New Mexico has a history that dates back 1,000 years. It’s known as the historical center of the state of New Mexico, possibly because most of this state is a desert, so there isn’t much competition. Over the years, the town has hosted archeological digs that produced kiva murals, some which are considered to be the best examples of Pre-Columbian art ever to be found in North America.

During the 16th century, conquistadors scoured what is now New Mexico for the Seven Cities of Gold, which straight up sounds like something from “Indiana Jones.” The Coronado Monument commemorates the journey of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, who camped near Bernalillo during his expedition to find the golden cities. The good news is that he made some great maps during his trip. The bad is that he was almost killed for failing to bring back gold. Oops.

Cool Things to Do

Since it’s a small town, you might not think that Bernalillo has a whole lot to offer. However, you might be surprised at how many quirky tricks it has up its sleeve. Try out the following fun stops when you’re in town.

Ghost Stories

I’m the type of person who can’t handle visiting any kind of scary place. But I do love myths, legends, and scary stories, as long as they’re told with the lights turned on. Bernalillo has quite a list of scary stories, most focused on the Santa Ana Star Casino. The workers there have claimed everything from hearing children laugh to feeling a presence in the room with them. Rumor has it that there was once a graveyard located where the casino is now standing. For a comprehensive list of haunted locations in this area, you can check out hauntedplaces.org.

Commune With Nature

Seattleites love nature more than life, so Bernalillo is a great spot for us to venture. Since Bernalillo is about 15 minutes outside of Albuquerque, it’s far enough away from the city that you can easily access the Rio Grande and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Accommodations

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Bernalillo, try finding a rustic place to stay. If you’re more in the hotel mood, pop over to HotelPlanner Bernalillo to find amazing spots for cheaper than you might think.

Wherever you choose to stay, hopefully I’ll see you out amongst the cacti. I’ll be the one hugging an ice block.

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Denver, CO: Day 2

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Well, it has been a bit of whirlwind since my second day in Denver, and I lost track of posting, but day 2 was filled with beautiful art and hipster coffee shops, so it is definitely something I still need to share. Denver wasn’t my cup of tea, as a whole, but I did love the art museum. Not only was it huge, but it also had one of the most extensive Native American exhibits I’ve ever seen.

Another happy little surprise was that I got in for free! I’ve been to most of the museums that it covers in Seattle, but if you haven’t checked it out, yet and you bank with Bank of America – look up your city for “Museum On Us.” Basically, the first weekend of every month you get in to museums (general admission, no special exhibits) for free. All you have to do is show your debit/credit card. Which is wicked awesome because I love museums like nobody’s business. On this round, it saved me +$20 dollars…which I then spent on books. But the point is, getting into museums is always a bonus.

Anyhoo, I thought I would share some of my favorite pics from wandering around the Denver Art Museum and Denver itself. One thing that I will say, is that being at some crazy elevation kept me from taking long days of exploring because I could not breathe. It was the worst. But, I did manage to visit a few spots before feeling like I was going to collapse from my faux smokers lung.

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These were all made out of tree bark. Which makes me feel like I do absolutely nothing with the basic resources I have accessible to me.
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One of my favorite paintings, which I bought a postcard for. I never thought of Denver as the “Wild West” but I guess it is. And that makes sense. Shame on me.
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I wish you could see how big these cows really were. Something about cows, but there were statues of them all over the city. (*I know, I know, the city’s history or whatever)
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Beaded purses that probably took a lifetime to make. It’s crazy to think that artifacts like this lasted hundreds of years. Talk about making something that will last a lifetime.
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I love Native American designs so much. Maybe it’s my own heritage coming out, but I’ve always been so attracted to the beauty of intricate and geometric patterns.
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Yeah yeah. A real chief’s feather headdress. As in not from an culturally appropriating ad. That’s right Free People/Urban Outfitters: I’m talking to you.
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This pic does a good, but still not completely extensive job of showing how huge this space was. There was so much to see!
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Be still my heart. I’ll take one of each.
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This picture looks super cool and high-up like I’m one of those awesome photographers who climbs things in the name of their art form. Lies. It was taken out of a museum window. But looooook – mountains!
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Somebody painted this by hand. Appreciate that for a moment.
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So there were a couple of Samurai exhibits. The other one was an additional $20 to go see, so I chose to look at the main exhibit armor instead of the fancy shmancy ones. I don’t regret this decision. It was still pretty cool.
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This picture has no significance except that I love beautiful rooms. And just outside there were two Monet paintings that made my heart soar.

Belfast, Northern Ireland: Part 1 – The Titanic Museum

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Did you know that there are two Ireland’s? It may sound humorous, now (since I’m developing quite a reputation as Irish obsessed), but I had no idea of that fact when I first landed in the Northern one. During my first backpacking trip to Belfast, back in 2013, I made the terrible mistake of thinking Northern Ireland was just an extension of what is formally referred to as the Republic of Ireland. True story. Now thinking back, it’s pretty ridiculous given that you would think that I had learned about Northern Ireland’s history at some point in school. But either I didn’t, or I retained none of it.

Luckily, a rather tart bus driver was more than willing to educate me on the difference as he kicked me off his bus for trying to use the wrong currency (N. Ireland = Pounds not Euro). There’s nothing quite like learning firsthand from the locals.

That was then, this is now. And on our two week backpacking trip me and one of my friends decided to take a day tour up to Belfast to visit (what turned out to be) one of the most beautiful museums I’ve ever been to. I didn’t get a picture of the outside of the museum but you can see, thanks to the interwebs,  what it looks like, above. It’s absolutely immense, and you go through each level learning about a different aspect of the Titanic – from concept to construction to catastrophe. If you’re ever in Belfast I CANNOT recommend the museum enough – it was breathtaking.

In addition to sponging up as much information as possible, the overall bus tour itself was also great (despite the weather, which we’ll talk about in Part II). I’ve done three tours, now, with WildRover tours, and I’ve loved every single one. It really is one of the best ways to learn about the history of Ireland while seeing the countryside. Here are some of my favorite pics from this part of the trip!

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French Favorites For The Week

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1. Fashion Icon: Juliette Gréco

“Still more will remember the pared-down look invented by this muse of Saint-Germain-des-Prés: sheathed in black, her doe eyes rimmed with kohl, her bangs and long black hair framing her pale face and expressive hands. It has been inspiring girls with artistic aspirations for over six decades.” – Vogue August 2014

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2. Cédric Klapisch series: L’auberge espangnole, Poupées Russe, et Casse Tête Chinois 

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This is one of my favorite series of all time. The movies are made over quite a bit of time and show the lives and progressions of a group of student/young adults/adults. Filled with just the right amount of humor, drama, romance and real life experiences they are HIGH on my list of suggested watch, regardless of if you speak French. (They’re easy to find with English subtitles – Amazon has them to stream/buy!)

3. Miley v. Joan of Arc (aka Jeanne d’Arc)

Have you ever watched “Epic Rap Battles Of History” on Youtube? Ok, so this isn’t strictly French, but it does have Joan of Arc in it (aka The Maiden of Orleans, France – where I’ll be going to school). It’s definitely ridiculous and satirical, so watch at your own risk…of dying from laughter.

4. Bla Bla Car

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This is a resource that the French girl Couchsurfing with me right now told me about! Traveling around France can be expensive, and I’m going to pretty much have a budget of nothing while I live there, so it’s going to be really important for me to have little life hacks like this one that I can use to see the country without spending all of my savings. Example: Riding the train from where I live (one way) to Paris is about $40…ride sharing is about $15. So glad I found out about this!

5.  Normandie Armada Festival

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Today I just found out about this festival that happens every four years (the next one is going to be in 2019) where old ships all gather along with millions of people on the coast of Normandy! Definitely on my bucket list.

6. Leboncoin.fr

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Another great resource for the young, broke and not yet famous, I’m really excited about using this website (which is a lot like the French version of Craigslist) to find some necessities at a more accessible for my soon to be financial stays (aka broke).

7. Nolwenn Leroy

My bohemian self is in love with these videos and Nolwenn in general. I’m especially fond of these songs because they’re kind of like a mix of Irish/Scottish music + French which may be the most perfect combination ever.

(Only two more weeks until France!!)

Five Reasons I Love Traveling Solo

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I’m a loner by nature and I love exploring the world in a way that I can fully soak in everything around me. Most of the time that means traveling alone. Not convinced? Here’s why:


1.  You can do Whatever You Want…Whenever You Want

I am unashamed to say that I’ve spent four hours sitting in a museum before. During that time I’m pretty sure I viewed ever single piece of art on all four stories, sat in on a mini lecture about Eleanor of Aquitaine and bought post cards of all of my favorite dead British people. It was glorious – nobody saying they needed to go to the bathroom, they were bored or that they were hungry.

2. You Get to Make New Friends Along the Way and Network

Even beyond Couchsurfing buddies, you can make friends on buses, planes and trains so much easier if you’re traveling alone. It allows you to talk to people who are actually from the places you travel, and to learn more about the culture around you by experiencing it through the eyes of the people who live there. I’ve met so many awesome people in hostels that I hung out with because I didn’t have the crutch of only talking with people I knew. I love the incentive to come out of my shell and have the opportunity to get to make connections with people all around the world!

3. People are More Helpful to a Single Person than Groups

As sad as it sounds, when you’re in a group you’re generally viewed as a nuisance/tourist. When you travel alone you’re a stranger people are much more likely to help with directions, advice etc. There’s something about traveling solitary that I’ve found makes getting help from people around you so much more accessible.

4. No Curfew/Wake up Time

Even if it’s not about having a “bed time”, usually if you’re in a group there’s some kind of mentality that you need to be tucked in at some point, or, at least, that someone needs to know where you are at all times. I love the freedom of being able to go out and not have to check in with anyone whether I want to stay out late or go to bed at 6pm (but, really, when I was in Dublin I slept for 14 hours once).

5.  You Can Try Random Things Sporadically

One of my favorite memories will always be meeting up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, in London. While we were there, we found out about a concert that was going on in the city and just HAPPENED to have one of my absolute favorite artists, James Arthur, performing at it. I loved being able to just drop everything and go…because there wasn’t an “agenda” that I had to stick to or other plans that I needed to keep in mind.

All these things being said, there are a TON of reasons why it’s fun to travel with people as well. But, either way I think it’s important not to have a mentality that you “can’t” travel somewhere without having an entourage. Having a good time is completely up to you, no matter which situation you’re in!

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Me during my first solo backpacking trip. I was a tad bit excited to see James Arthur.