Travel: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

9:31 AM

"Why did you go to Albuquerque?" was a frequent question I heard when I told my friends where I was going on a mid-October trip. The hidden "of all places" hung silently at the end of their question.

No one knows what is in Albuquerque. All I knew was that High School Musical and Breaking Bad (my favorite show EVER!) took place there. According to Walter White and company, it looked like a dismal town where there was nothing to do but fill your days the high from a crystal blue meth. While Breaking Bad portrays the town realistically, I found that there was so much more than hot desert sun glaring on dry, cracked roads.

Prior to my trip, I had no idea that Albuquerque holds an annual International Balloon Fiesta! This was brought to my attention when my friends decided to go celebrate a birthday there. Having never been to anything of the sort, I eagerly agreed to come with. It was a blast!

We woke up the morning after landing in ABQ, before the crack of dawn, to see ABQ's balloon festival's "Mass Ascension". It really is as cool as the event name implies! Everyone gathers to see hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes take flight during sunrise. I would describe it nothing short of magical: it is an utterly amazing sight to see all the balloons float in the air.

Here are some pictures that I snapped of the event.

As you can see, there are lots of adorable balloons in the shape of cartoon characters and animals! We even saw Yoda and Darth Vadar.

The balloon festival has a night event as well, called "Glow". The balloons do not fly (I imagine it would be dangerous), but are secured to the ground and take turns glowing one by one until the sun sets. They reminded me of giant orbs. The night is concluded with an awesome fireworks show - my noob DSLR skills could not adequately capture the lovely fireworks, but I will let you use your imaginations. At one point, there was a light show with lasers. We, being the EDM fiends that we are, jumped up in excitement.

Aside from the balloon festival, we also did the second most popular thing in ABQ - a self-guided Breaking Bad tour! For all my fellow fanatics, here are some shots of locations you may remember!

Jessie & Jane's apartment

Jessie's house

A1 Car Wash! "Have an A1 Day!"

Inside A1 Car Wash

More A1

Replica Walter White poster

Lots of A1 shots... I might have been the most excited about this

Walter White's house! The owners were sitting awkwardly outside and staring at us while we snapped our photos. Note the unwelcoming signs on their houses.

Saul's Office!

LOS POLLOS really a chain called "Twisters". And no, they do not serve fried chicken. They serve burritos or something.

Inside Los Pollos Hermanos

Do the booths look familiar?

The mural remained!
Tuco's headquarters

Combo was outside a candy store! 

I would be remiss if I did not mention the food I ate whilst in ABQ. We tried several restaurants that had delicious, fresh tasting food. ABQ is known for "new mexican" food, which I have gathered is any type of Mexican food with green chile salsa.

We ate at El Patio De Albuquerque (Yelp page here) for brunch. They offered hearty servings of Mexican food - mm delicious! The entrees were so big that I was able to share a plate.

Green chile soup is supposedly a staple in New Mexico. Very spicy and delicious!

The green chile enchiladas was amazing!
We got sopas for the table...the most delicious sopas ever! Soft and the perfect amount of chewy. Perfect to accompany salsas and hearty soups.

We also tried Adieux in downtown ABQ. While more of a bar, they surprisingly had delicious pork belly tacos for only $3.50. $3.50! The meat was seared perfectly and had me stuffed! I also had their brussels sprouts salad - fresh vegetables for only $5 a bowl! 

Pork belly taco!

The manager, Tyler, was really charismatic and had all these great recommendations for us tourists to visit. I recommend giving this bar a try if you are ever in town!

Lastly, we tried Mexican food from a taco truck after going to a club in downtown ABQ. It was delicious - easily among one of the best burritos I have ever eaten. The meat was seasoned perfectly with great carb to bean ratio. 

Have you ever been to ABQ? Let me know how you enjoyed your trip in the comments below!

- Mina

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