Boomers on the Move took a trip last month to the annual Balloon Fiesta in ABQ New Mexico.
What a trip! Here are some pics and the low-down on what to do and where to stay if you ever decide to go.
Try to go on the weekends (Thursday through Sunday) because this is when most of the events are held like the Mass Ascension or launch of all participating balloons (held early in the morning), and the Balloon Glows and Fireworks (at night). The early and middle part of the week is more for competitions.
We stayed at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town. It was very close to the balloon fiesta and near everything we wanted to see and do. We paid $169 per night for a Junior suite which was very nice, and we thought the rate was reasonable considering all the people in town.
BUT, next time, we will stay at the Sandia Resort and Casino. We were very impressed by how modern and clean it was. Just as nice and spectacular as the finest casino/hotels in Vegas. It's a little further away from all the Balloon action, but we think the few extra minutes of drive time will be worth it for us if we ever go back.
There is lots to see and do besides the Balloon Fiesta...here is a good guide from the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Plenty of authentic Mexican food to choose from in Albuquerque, so you won't go without some great meals. Ask your hotel or locals you meet for recommendations as there are just so many to choose from. Whatever you order be sure to ask for "Christmas on the side". We'd tell you what it is, but it'll be more fun for you to see for yourself. Live a little!
The best part was the balloon ride we took with Rainbow Ryders (the official flyers for city) which cost $170 per person. One thing that surprised us was that there are 12 people in the balloon (11 passengers and 1 pilot). We went early in the morning, which is recommended because the winds tend to pick up later in the day. The balloon co. picked us up at the hotel and dropped us back off afterwards.
Floating is just too cool (and we are scared of heights!). You hardly feel like you're off the ground and moving. The basket is extremely sturdy.
You pretty much land where you land. There is a chase truck that follows you wherever the wind takes you. We landed on a dirt road, but we saw one balloon that found its way onto a football field.