fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

San Antonio

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how miserable winter is and how it would be nice to go somewhere warmish for President's Day weekend. I had a $350 off certificate from United, good only for domestic round trip fares, and figured that would help some. I contemplated a Volksmarch weekend in Orange Beach, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida (known as "Floribama," a large event with roughly a dozen walks to do) but wasn't sure I was up to as much socializing as that might entail. But going somewhere with a couple of interesting walks to do was appealing. I settled on San Antonio, which also had the distinction of being the largest U.S. city I had never been to.

My trip started out promisingly, with my upgrade for Friday night's flight clearing well in advance. (That's pretty rare for Airbus flights for a humble Premier Executive. Not that first class on an A320 is anything to write home about, but it is better than coach.) First, however, I had to get to the airport and the 5A bus from Rosslyn was particularly packed. I did get a seat, but I was irked at the group of 8 people who piled up luggage throughout the aisle and extending onto little obstructions like my right foot. If you are that large a group and you are traveling with more luggage than I've taken when I've moved house, you really ought to spring for a taxi or two. Still, I got to Dulles with only minor agony.

I had not quite been thinking when I got dressed in the morning and was wearing a skirt, with a blouse topping it. Which is, of course, deeply suspicious to TSA who selected me for the nude-o-scope. Since I do not believe that the safety of backscatter x-ray scanners to be adequately proven, I opted out. This was annoying in that the area where they have you wait guarantees you cannot see your bags come out of the x-ray. I objected that I couldn't see my belongings and was completely ignored. (Yes, they have cameras, but that just means there is a faint chance they could catch the person who steals your belongings, assuming they don't conveniently lose the video recording.) I should also note that, while under 10% of the people in line were female, every person selected for the nude-o-scope during the time I was there was a woman. I won't claim that's a statistically valid sample, but just another data point to add to the collective wisdom.

The actual pat-down was handled reasonably professionally. The agent did have me lift my blouse so she could see the waistband of my skirt, but did not feel inside the waistband. Nor did she reach all the way up to my crotch while patting down my legs. The greatest annoyance was having been forced to wait for a few minutes out of sight of my bags.

The flight itself was fine and actually got to San Antonio a little early. I took a shuttle downtown to the Homewood Suites, selected for a combination of location and price. The hotel was fine and the location was definitely better than that of the Holiday Inn El Tropicano, which was the start point for the Volksmarch events. The El Tropicano is still on the Riverwalk, but about a mile north of the heart of things. It was an easy trolley ride to get there to do the Riverwalk North walk on Saturday morning.

The 12 kilometer Riverwalk North route took in the new Museum Reach section of the Riverwalk, past the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Pearl Brewery. That stretch was quiet and pleasant. The route then picked up a hike and bike trail along Brackenridge Park, which was okay but considerably less interesting. Had the weather been better, I would have used that section as an excuse to visit the zoo, but it was drizzling off and on. So I opted for checking out a couple of used book stores along the upper reaches of Broadway instead. Overall, the walk was fine, but was a bit more of an out and back than I'd prefer. Still, it did finish off the Museum Walk special program and got me to see a part of the city I might not otherwise have made it to.

The weather on Sunday was much nicer. I did the 11 kilometer Riverwalk South route, which went through downtown, past the San Fernando Catherdral and the courthouse, then along the Riverwalk to the King William area. This is a particularly attractive residential neighborhood, with several historic houses. There is a free cell phone tour to get information about the houses - well, free except for whatever you pay for air time. Heading back downtown, the route then went through La Villita and Hemisfair Park, before heading over to Alamo Plaza and back to the Riverwalk.

Since I believe in visiting the obligatory tourist sites (particularly when admission is free) I did stop to visit the Alamo. The museum inside the Long Barracks has an informative movie, but the museum itself is not very exciting. The most interesting tidbit I picked up is that the distinctively shaped parapet that makes the Alamo so recognizable was not actually added until 1850, 14 years after the famous siege. The actual building (the chapel or shrine) is much smaller and less impressive than I expected. Still, there is enough to see around the grounds that I felt it was worth the time.

Other than the two walks, I ate Tex-Mex food (though I prefer New Mexican and California styles of Mexican food) and browsed touristy shops. The rodeo was going on and I did actually contemplate going, but I decided I couldn't deal with the risk of having to listen to country music. All in all, I found San Antonio pleasant, but it is in the "nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there" category. (That's how I feel about pretty much everywhere in the middle of the country, by the way.)

My trip back was also fine, with my upgrade (on an A319) clearing only last minute at the gate and no TSA grope. (I was wearing slacks today. But it also looked as if the nude-o-scope was not in use.) The flight even got to Dulles about a half hour early.

I have plenty of other things to write about, but they will wait until after I catch up on some household chores. So maybe in a week or so.
Tags: travel, volksmarch

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