So two months ago we headed to Texas for a long weekend. The original idea was to see bluebonnets and since San Antonio has been on the wish list for a while, so we decided this spring was a good time to go. More on bluebonnets later.
On this post I’ll tell you about San Antonio. After we had made our travel plans we discovered that our trip fell right over the Fiesta, a 10-day celebration of the Mexican-American city. On hindsight, we would not choose to go over that celebration, mostly because of the many crowds it brought. On the other hand, it was quite interesting seeing all the glitz and glitter and color of the hispanic world. We (my sister Lois and I) met our friend Ruby at the airport in SA and grabbed a little rental car to begin our adventure.
We wanted to make sure to get authentic Mexican food while we were there and the first stop we made was at a restaurant that had been a What-A-Burger. Lots of trucks in the parking lot, surely a good sign. We step into the small restaurant and every table is either occupied or had the lunch remnants of a previous customer. Eighty percent of the occupants hispanic, working men. Sure sign of authentic food! And it was delicious. Sadly I didn’t think to take any pictures.
We took a chance and “Pricelined” a motel for the 4-night stay, and were quite tickled with our deal. We were at a fairly new Staybridge Suites just 5 blocks from the Alamo and the Riverwalk. We were beside the train station, but rarely heard trains come through. There was a very lot of noise coming from The Pavilion that was also by the train station. Late-night, loud celebrations could’ve kept us awake, but thankfully we had a efficiency suite that had a vent fan over the oven, and between that and the A/C, it created enough noise to block out the thumping music.
The motel had complimentary breakfast, including a few hot foods, which we enjoyed outside on the back patio. They had several gas grills available for guest use. Our room was nice sized, even with 2 double beds, and a sofabed opened up there was walking-around room.
One of the bus stops was right beside the motel, and we bought tickets for $4 a day, unlimited on/off. The 90-95 degree weather, though dry heat, was plenty warm. Nights & mornings were usually breezy and warm, but quite comfortable.
[Sunset Station area. Our motel is off-camera, to the right.]
As we were waiting to deplane, we asked a flight attendant about good restaurants, and both she and the passenger sitting behind us recommended Mi Tierra, which is located near Market Square, which contains hispanic shops.
The bakery is a visual feast for the eyes. I’m sure it’s a feast for the stomach as well, although we didn’t actually purchase anything.
The food was delicious! Ruby ordered a delicious pina colada, which she graciously let us taste!
I ordered milanesa, a chicken-fried steak, and it was delicious!!!!!
Lois had something smothered in Mole sauce (pronounced moe-lay) (as in holy mole). Can’t say I exactly like the flavor of mole, though. Thankfully she liked it!
Several groups of serenading senors made their rounds through the restaurant. They were quite good! Quite the full experience of culture.
Meanwhile, outside there were many food booths going up for the weekend festivities.
We headed back to the Alamo area for the ceremonies which marked the official beginning of Fiesta 2011.
I don’t have a good photo of this Alamo bulding surrounded by hotels and other multi-story buildings, but my first thought was how small it looked.
The Emily Morgan hotel. Slightly out of our price range, I’m sure.
Costumes, tiaras and crowns to make any prince or princess weep.
Pomp and circumstance, is what I thought. It seemed to be going on and on so we meandered our way back to the motel.
The next day we went to watch the IMAX film on the Alamo. And then went to tour the Alamo museum and buildings. There was a constant stream of tourists. I never did get any photos sans people.
We took boat tour of the Riverwalk area. A number of years ago the river was nearly diverted but someone thought it would be good for tourism so they preserved it and it isn’t deep at all, but provides a wonderful attraction.
The turnaround area for the boats. On the steps to the right is where a Andean group plays live music nearly every day.
More serenading senors at a restaurant on the Riverwalk.
We then proceeded back to the beginning of the Riverwalk. We had decided to splurge at a churrascaria, which is a Brazilian steakhouse and typically quite expensive (in the states). Ladies, if your husband/boyfriend LOVES meat and you have a bit of extra cash, and you want to treat him to a feast, find one of these restaurants in a nearby large city. We ate for lunch which was quite a bit less than dinner, but still a splurge. They serve the same food for lunch or dinner. We went to Fogo de Chao. In Brazil you can eat at churrascaria restaurants for as little as $5, with access to 10+ cuts of meat, and up to 20 side dishes.
Here they had an elaborate salad bar, including fresh mozzarella cheese balls, sundried tomatoes, asparagus, etc. They had some delicious cheese buns, that I want to try to make sometime, providing I get ahold of some cassava or tapioca flour.
So sorry I don’t have a better photo but the “gauchos” or Brazilian “cowboys” came around with skewers of meat. If the little disk by your plate was green, they stopped by to offer meat. If you flipped it to red, that meant you had enough for now. You can flip it as often as you wanted.
There were chicken legs, pork loin, many cuts of beef, and it was all delicious!
We then walked to a cathedral that we had passed earlier. But guess what was going on?!
More festivities and the blessing on the Fiesta, which meant we couldn’t go in. Arghh!!!
More pomp and circumstance.
And colorful costumes.
So we found a place to sit in the shade, to drink terere and enjoy the show for a bit.
We then went back to Market Square but tonight things were beyond lively. Very loud music and alcohol in every other hand. We grabbed some food from the stands and got out of there.
By the time the bus arrived it was nearly dark. So we walked along the Riverwalk for a while.
A couple of thousand other people had the same idea, unfortunately.
We found the restaurant that had advertised a fabulous looking dessert called volcano something or other.
Mama mia, it was huge. That plate is a dinner plate, and those chocolate looking things were brownies.
And that syrupy looking stuff is fudge topping and caramel topping. No we didn’t eat it all. But we put a dent into it.
Other scenes from San Antonio:
Tower of the Americas, which we were gonna go up but didn’t.
Texas wildflowers (or lack thereof) coming up in the next post.