Think Southwestern chic and you've got a handle on Santa Fe. Even the fast food joints near the historic downtown are built to look adobe. Santa Fe is the second-oldest city in America and should rightly celebrate its heritage.

Hispanic, Native American and European traditions meet here. Chili peppers are a staple. Art flourishes. Recently, the city has become a magnet for artists and dealers. Dozens of galleries and museums dot the city (and the Web).

The art is often inspired by the southwestern landscape, which also attracts outdoor enthusiasts.

Santa Fe has a scenic train ride that goes from Santa Fe to Lamy. Lamy is one of the stops on the East-West Amtrak track. It used to be a popular stop with over 5000 people at one time. Now Lamy has about 100 people.

I took the train ride, called the Santa Fe Super Chief, from Santa Fe to Lamy and back with my friends Dan and Sheila and then we explored Santa Fe.

One of the interesting things in Lamy is its oldest building, which used to be a brothel. Until not too long ago, it was run as a restaurant called Legal Tender. Now it's boarded up.

Another interesting building is the church, which the locals are working on restoring.

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New Mexico has a "Paint the Pony" competition and you can see these painted life-size ponies in many places. Every artist starts with exactly the same pony to paint over.

The Trail of Painted Ponies has filled Santa Fe with more than 50 individually painted, life-size quarter horses interpreted by some of Santa Fe's most renowned artists. Each is a genuine, one of a kind work of art. This public art extravaganza is spread all over the city with horses seemingly peeking around every corner. An auction of the ponies will be held to benefit numerous local agencies.

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If you want to see more painted ponies, click here .

Around and about Santa Fe

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Loretto Chapel is famous for its winding staircase, which was built by a mysterious carpenter who vanished after building it.

The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.

The staircase has two 360 degree turns and has no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails -- only wooden pegs.

 It was used by the nuns to get up to the choir loft.

This staircase was featured in "Unsolved Mysteries".

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