Now that I’m home and reacquainted with my beloved computer, it’s time to blog about our trip to San Antonio. First thing’s first. We stayed at the historic Menger Hotel.
We arrived in San Antonio courtesy of Delta Airlines on July 1st. It had been almost six years since our last visit to San Antonio and it looked like there was quite a lot of construction going on in the airport. Consequently, it took awhile to get our bags, since there were only two baggage carousels working. I’m happy to report that San Antonio’s airport offers free wifi and is well-appointed with amenities.
Once we checked into the hotel, we discovered that downtown was just overrun with Lutheran teens. There were many groups of them; they were easily identified by their t-shirts. Each group had its own shirts, in its own colors, with its own slogans. It was interesting to watch the kids. Some of them you could tell were really popular kids, while others appeared to be somewhat socially awkward. I noticed a few kids were wearing very funny paper hats on their heads. One kid had a hat that read, “Downloading puberty. Mustache 10% completed.”
It ain’t Venice…
Most of the kids were reasonably well-behaved, though they often didn’t seem to have much situational awareness. For instance, Bill and I were walking on the Riverwalk and a large group of teens suddenly stopped and formed a circle that almost blocked the way. They were having a prayer break and we had shimmy around them. I was nervous about that, since there’s no barrier on the Riverwalk and it’s not impossible to accidentally fall in the river. I will note that I didn’t see anyone fall or jump into the water.
That first night, Bill and I had dinner at the Mexican Manhattan restaurant on the Riverwalk, which we also visited on our first visit to San Antonio together in 2007. We were there because they have excellent margaritas and good food that isn’t very expensive.
The bartender in this place was great. He was all about helping us save money. We didn’t really feel the need to economize because the prices were already very reasonable. We liked him, though. He was very friendly and service oriented and welcomed us warmly.
Another place we enjoyed was Schilo’s Delicatessen, which is not directly on the Riverwalk but very close to it. We had a big breakfast there our first morning in town and a smaller on on Saturday morning. Their prices are very reasonable and the wait staff is friendly and kind. I would have liked to have tried something other than breakfast. I was impressed with their German beer selections.
Photos of Schilo’s Delicatessen
Housing 1 Source
One of the houses I had put on my “favorites” list prior to coming to San Antonio was listed by Housing 1 Source. I didn’t know it at the time, but Housing 1 Source is a fantastic resource for military folks who are moving to San Antonio. I signed up for the service, which helps service members find housing, jobs, and sign up for utilities at a discount, not realizing just how comprehensive it is. We were contacted by phone and email less than 24 hours after I signed up. We went in, met with a licensed Texas real estate agent who helped us find more rental properties, and he then us drove around San Antonio and the surrounding areas to look at some of the rentals we were interested in seeing.
After two days, we put in an application on a place. We haven’t gotten the results back yet, but I feel certain that if that house falls through, Housing 1 Source will help us find a place we like. Dave, our relocation counselor, was just great. When it comes time to buy a house, if we’re still in San Antonio, we’ll definitely be contacting him for help. Best of all, everything they did for us was FREE!!! Dave told us that originally, the plan was to have Housing 1 Source centers across the country, but it’s a private entity that supposedly competes with military housing offices (which don’t do nearly as much as Housing 1 Source does). Apparently, that is against federal law, so for now, Housing 1 Source is only in San Antonio. Anyway, I would highly recommend this service to anyone who is relocating to the San Antonio area, courtesy of the military.
If you read last night’s ranting, you know that Bill and I were ignored at a bar on Bill’s birthday. We also ran into a street person who got angry because we didn’t want to give him money to serve as a guide. He swore at Bill and dropped the n bomb. And, we also ran into three women at a HEB store who appeared to be trying to rip off the supermarket.
We were there in search of a money order, which we needed so we could apply for a house. There was a very long line of people at the service desk. Many of them had needs that took time to fulfill. There were three women ahead of us in line who were very loud and obnoxious. When it was their turn, they tried to return an item… but they didn’t actually have the item they wanted to return, or something to that effect. Basically, they wanted a refund, but weren’t prepared to get a refund according to store policy. The woman who was attempting to return her item was protesting loudly and was joined by her two accomplices, who made comments like “You’re making us hold all these people up!” and “Why does she have to empty her bag?” and “I’m gonna put this all over Facebook!”. I looked down and noticed one of the women had a prominent tattoo on her leg that said “Only Jesus can judge me.” I immediately figured she had been abused or offended in some way when she was more vulnerable and was now showing the world that she’s a survivor. Maybe she is… but she and her buddies sure were acting like criminals.
When Bill said all he needed was a money order, I caught a look of happy relief in the clerk’s eyes. We had what we needed in less than a minute and were soon on our way.
Shitty bars on the Riverwalk
I have already ranted about the Esquire Tavern. On my main blog, The Overeducated Housewife, I mentioned our evening at The Mad Dogs bar on the Riverwalk. We went in there because Bill was hungry and wanted something light. The place is decked out like a British pub, though the wait staff is curiously decked out in kilts. The guys wear kilts that reach their knees, but the women wear short kilts and midriff baring tops. Some of the women probably should not have been dressed that way… or at least should have at least worn kilts that fit them better.
The beer list was not very interesting and overpriced. The food wasn’t that good. And they had a bathroom attendant in the ladies room. I bitched about this on my other blog. I was very annoyed that they an attendant in there, since I don’t usually bring my purse and really just wanted to pee and wash my hands without “assistance”. Later, when I thought about it and read some TripAdvisor reviews that mentioned disgusting bathrooms, I reconsidered my position. Mad Dogs bar is apparently a place where people go to get drunk and/or hook up. Given the mess that drunk people can make in the bathroom, it probably is a good idea to have an attendant. It still annoyed me, though. When I’m paying $5 or $6 for a mediocre beer, I resent feeling like I have to pay to pee too. On the plus side, the experience caused me to look up bathroom attendants on the Web and I found a hilarious article about them…
Later, a couple of older women started a karaoke show. Two men got up and sang– the first guy was decent; the second guy wasn’t as good. Then the women running the show sang… a duet version of “Turn Your Love Around” by George Benson. They weren’t bad singers, but their attitude about karaoke sucked. They promised the show would “get better”. I felt sorry for the two guys who had sung first. Karaoke is supposed to feature sucky singers. Normally, I like a good karaoke show, but these two women turned me off so much that we lit out of there quickly.
San Antonio’s Culinary Institute of America campus
After the shitty experience at Mad Dogs’ bar, we decided for a more upscale dinner the following night. I used to work at a restaurant that was owned by a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. San Antonio now has a campus and runs a restaurant called NAO that allows students to pick up experience. Prices are reasonable and the food is very good. We were waited on by a “professional”– she had graduated from CIA and also works for a catering company. I enjoyed a meal inspired by Peru, while Bill ordered a la carte. Tipping is not allowed for students, so there’s a 17% charge added to the bill which goes to scholarships and chef’s whites… and if you are waited on by a professional, they get the money.
All this for about $160… including wine and the tip!
We really enjoyed NAO and we’ll definitely be back. Bill wants to take classes there, too. Best of all, the restaurant is located at the old Pearl Brewery, which also has other restaurants and cool stores. There’s free parking, too!
I still have plenty to write about, but this post is getting long and there are other projects that need my attention. Stay tuned for more on our trip to San Antonio. Same time, same channel…