Don Messerli’s Blog |

An exercise in self-indulgence.

Texas Trip Part I - San Antonio

Tuesday Apr 15, 2008

The AlamoWe arrived around 1:00 PM on Thursday. Our flight from Houston to San Antonio was delayed because the plane we were supposed to board was late arriving from Austin. Might have had to do with the bad weather. We didn’t get any of the bad weather. The pilot from Nashville to Houston deliberately flew south of the usual route to avoid it.

We got our rental car and went to a place I had found on the Internet for lunch. It was called the Madhatter’s Tea House. They had great sandwiches and 50 different kinds of tea. They also had about 6 kinds of gourmet iced tea. That’s what I had. Some kind of green tea with ginseng. Then we went to our hotel. It was the Wyndham St. Anthony which is downtown. It’s within walking distance of the Alamo and Riverwalk. The hotel was nice. Small rooms; but then again, we were only really using it for sleeping. We relaxed for about 30 minutes before setting out.

We went to a town called Gruene (pronounced “Green”) which is about 39 miles from San Antonio. We noticed that there are a bunch of streets and towns with German names in this part of Texas. New Braunfels, Gruene, Shertz and Schumannsville to name a few. Gruene has a little historic district with antique and craft shops and some interesting little restaurants. We only stayed there about an hour. The drive took longer than we thought because we hit a lot of traffic.

Back to the hotel to wash up and put on some nice clothes. We had a reservation at the Chart House restaurant which is on top of the Tower of the Americas, a 750-foot tall tower with observation deck, revolving restaurant and 4-D theater ride. Regine’s mother told us we had to eat there; so we did. The management of the restaurant has recently changed ownership after more than 30 years. The restaurant was under the previous ownership when Regine’s mother ate there. The food was fantastic and the prices were a bit high. The rotating restaurant was cool. It takes about an hour and a half to make a single rotation. It gave us a great opportunity to see the entire skyline at night. When I needed to go to the men’s room, I had to ask a server where it was. I said, “Can you tell me where the men’s room is? It keeps moving.”

The next morning we slept in a little bit and had pop tarts in the room. Went to the Alamo. Couldn’t find the basement.

Younger people may be more familiar with “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” in which the goofy man-child in the too-small suit embarks on a cross-country odyssey to the Alamo to retrieve his lost bicycle from its basement. Once here, he gets the bad news: “There’s no basement in the Alamo!”

David Stewart, the Alamo’s director, says he hears the Pee Wee question all the time, and that by now he can tell when someone is about to bring it up again.

“They get this little smile on their face and say ‘You know what I’m going to ask,’” he said. “And I always say, ‘No, we don’t have a basement.’”

It was interesting. Don’t remember the whole story. I hate reading all those little information cards below the exhibits. Unfortunately, they don’t allow you to take any photos inside the buildings.

Next was lunch. I’d done my research ahead of time and picked a Mexican restaurant that is very highly rated. Made sure they had “Enchiladas Mole Poblano” which is my favorite. Haven’t had it since moving to Nashville. None of the Mexican restaurants here have it. The restaurant was called La Fogata and was a little outside the city. The parking lot was rather large and I know why. This place draws them in from miles around. The food and service were both excellent.

We headed back toward town and stopped at Market Square. “El Mercado is the the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico. The outdoor market sells all types of Mexican crafts, including pottery and ceramics, turquoise jewelry, leather goods and colorfully embroidered clothing. The plaza has restaurants, pastry shops, specialty shops and craft galleries.” We bought a bunch of little things.

The next stop was La Villita which is right next to Riverwalk. “In the center of downtown San Antonio sits the preserved and restored remnants of the original “Little Village” of San Antonio, La Villita. Built by the Spanish in the 1700s, the historic riverside settlement is now home to artisans, small shops, and restaurants.” There was a lot of cool stuff. We bought two small watercolors at a coop for local artists. Talked to the ladies there for quite a while. Was fun.

Went back to the hotel and freshened up before walking to and around Riverwalk. Sure has been built up since my family and I were there in 1971. Not sure it’s for the better. Ate at an Irish pub on Riverwalk. Food was good; service was terrible. Went back to the hotel; we had to be up at 6:00 AM the next morning for the 2 hour drive to Cuero.