Friday, February 1, 2019

#LeapFrogs on the Move: San Antonio

After all the wind at Lake Corpus Christi, we were relieved but weary upon our arrival in San Antonio. Without a tent, and without a backup plan, we knew we were in for several days of car camping.

I also had some work to do, so our first stopping point in San Antonio was the public library, where I hoped to recharge all our electronics and get a few hours of work done.

The main branch of the San Antonio library is ginormous and busy. The first parking space we found was on the roof of the parking deck - several stories high. The library itself had escalators (out of service while we were there), elevators, hallways, and people giving directions - and they weren't always correct. The place was busier than most malls I've been to in recent years. So busy, I actually couldn't work, so we cut our stay there short and went in search of food.

In case you haven't figured out by now, we're foodies and we search (usually on TripAdvisor) for the best local places we can find that fit a very small budget. For Texas, I also created a list of foods we must eat while here: barbecue, enchiladas, tacos, and tamales, and other Tex Mex as we encountered it. San Antonio did not disappoint!

The first place we went, I still can't pronounce the name, and I cheat by copying and pasting the name when I see it in print. I know Pollos means chicken, but that's as far as my own translation goes. Google Translate gives me the word Roasted, but that's not an accurate description of the food we got.

Pollos Asados Los Nortenos offers charbroiled chicken, served with rice, a grilled onion, lime wedge, and tortillas. You can order half a chicken or a whole one, and add beans to your order for an additional charge if you wish.

Look at this goodness:

We both ordered a half chicken meal, not really thinking that we'd each get one breast, one wing, one leg, one thigh, but we ended up having a full meal leftover for our dinner, so that worked out great! Flavors were incredible, and the prices affordable.

I was working while we were in San Antonio, but after the busy-ness of the main branch, I sought another and found a delightful one in the San Pedro branch, located in the San Pedro Springs Park, the second oldest park in the whole country. 

The park wasn't very large, but seemed slightly inaccessible, at least from a visitor's point of view. Roads through the park had been blocked off, and there was limited street parking around it. The library parking lot had meters - we had to pay to park there. Library staff told us they were the park's meters, so we could stay there to utilize the park if we wanted - but we had to pay. 

When we went back later, we found other parking in the lot of the Playhouse, which is part of the park property, too. 

We ran into another problem while we were car camping in San Antonio.

We woke up one morning and discovered Tim's legs were swollen. We knew he had to get flat, so I found a cheap, cheap hotel on Hotwire and booked it that morning. We drove straight to the hotel, the Super 8 on N. St. Mary's, and they let us check in at 7 a.m. Tim took a shower, crawled into bed, and slept til noon while I worked and washed clothes. The hotel provides a washer and dryer for guests, so that made it very handy. The hotel had recently undergone a few renovations, and apparently, some folks decided to try to destroy the good work, so now the hotel requires a refundable $50 deposit upon check-in. It was refunded to my bank IMMEDIATELY upon checkout, so I got over my frustration about that. (I thought they might delay the deposit several days, like places tend to do, but they did not.)

The hotel also served another great purpose, so although it was an expense we weren't counting on, it ended up paying for itself in several ways. 1) the laundry was cheaper than elsewhere so we saved money that way; 2) free breakfast and coffee; 3) they let us check in very early in the day, so we got maximum use of our time there; 4) they graciously let us leave our car parked in their lot while we took the city bus to see the Alamo and Riverwalk after we checked out the next morning. 

My budget really appreciated San Antonio. An all-day City Bus pass, purchased at the VIA bus office (or can be purchased at most HEB stores and other locations) was only $2.75 for me, $1.30 for Tim and good on any city bus or trolley all over the city. (Not good on the specialty Hop On-Hop Off buses, but still a great option.) Routes were a little confusing but we eventually figured it out, and the more lost we got, the more we saw of the city, so I didn't complain once. 

The Alamo, as expected, was swarming with tourists. They put up these signs to not touch the walls, but that's what I wanted to do most - touching the history somehow makes me feel part of it. And I wanted to touch the walls before I ever saw the first sign - but they made the urge even greater.

We had little hints of sunshine during the day, but it was still pretty dreary and cool. 

Getting to the RiverWalk proved quite challenging. I haven't figured out if they just like to give tourist the runaround, or if they're trying to keep it hidden, but there seemed to be no easy way to get there. For most folks, this may not be an issue, but for Tim, walking has become quite a chore, so we adapt.

Another budget friendly aspect of San Antonio was the RiverWalk boat cruise. The tourist office (across from the Alamo) was more keen to sell us the short cruise, which we purchased. Tim got a senior discount, so both passes were only $21 total. If we ever visit again - in warmer weather and with more time - I think we'd opt to buy the shuttle pass instead of the tour. The tour guide was fun, but I would have enjoyed seeing more of the actual riverwalk than the short loop this tour cruise provides. 

And in case you're wondering, yes, I shot some photos of the colorful umbrellas, too - but I'm turning some of them into art, so you'll see those in the near future!

San Antonio was a great place to visit, and we will one day return. 

Until then, we're #LeapFrogs on the move!

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