I ended up landing in Austin, TX for a work conference, so I took advantage and booked a couple of days before the conference to check out a new city – San Antonio. I’ve only ever driven through Texas before, so I was really excited to actually delve into the culture a bit.
After landing at Austin-Bergstrom, I had a little time to kill and decided to take a little adventure to the bus station, so I got on public transport to the city centre and then hiked up to the bus station. With my luggage. Sometimes, nothing I do makes sense!
L-R: Inside the airport, the bus stop at the airpot, first Taco stop, first taco, downtown Austin, Capitol building and Megabus station
I took a cheap ($7) MegaBus to San Antonio. The ride was just under 2 hours and was a hell of a deal. Because I’m cheap, and wanted to stay near the Riverwalk in San Antonio, I booked into a Days Inn. It actually wasn’t bad accommodations for the price. They had just done renovations and the room was quite funky.
I got in around dinner time, so I headed out to see the sights. I decided to start with the Riverwalk. I have a friend who grew up in San Antonio and told me that I couldn’t miss this. I managed to catch the sunset on my walk, and oh man it did not disappoint!
Naturally I managed to find an artisan market down by the river and picked up a couple of unique little souvenirs to take home. I stopped at Casa Rio (the first restaurant to open on the Riverwalk) for some tacos, fuelling what became a slight addiction on my Texas travels.
For anyone who hasn’t been to San Antonio, you need to get there now. This city was so magical! Along the Riverwalk, all of the restaurants have patios on the edge of the river and the shops all have entrances down there too so you don’t actually even need to deal with traffic. There are so many amazing restaurants, gardens and things to see that you get a little lost every time you are down there. I was so enthralled by how beautiful and scenic it was, I cannot wait to go back.
Check out this sunset!
The next day, I set out to the Alamo, which was around the corner from my hotel. One of the first things I noticed about San Antonio, was the scooters everywhere. I mean everywhere! First thing in the morning, they are abandoned in the middle of sidewalks all over the city. After doing a little more research, I found out that it was actually a scooter rental system! You just downloaded an app and picked up a scooter nearby and then left it where you got off. It was a pretty affordable way to get around. I found them in Austin too, so maybe it’s a Texan thing?
Anyway, the Alamo did not disappoint. I’m not a huge history buff, but Dad, you would have been proud of me! I learned all sorts of things about the Alamo, however, given that I’m blogging about this almost a year later, I cannot relay much. Other than Davy Crockett was there.
After I was done at The Alamo, I carried on around town (on foot, not scooter, cause I’m a big scaredy cat), and saw the United States Postal Office, the Emily Morgan Hotel, the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum and the Majestic Theatre. All tourist destinations that I just walked by. I often don’t have the attention span to investigate further! I walked all the way to the Historic Market Square that held loads of cool little curio shops full of souvenirs
My next destination for the day was one I had been looking forward to a lot! A little area of town called La Villita, a historic Artisan village – which has two of my favourite things – handmade stuff and old houses!
I decided that night that I would take a little evening (booze) cruise along the river with a guide to get a little more insight into the buildings that were along the Riverwalk. I had to do a little research to jog my memory about the history of the Riverwalk, so here you go. The idea of the Riverwalk began in 1929 by an architect who wanted to improve the city’s aesthetic along the river. It took 10 years to get the funding and was eventually funded by the Works Progress Administration for $430,000, with the idea that it would help pull America out of the Great Depression.
It was an immediate hit, but went seedy in the 50s. It was then revitalized by Disney engineers – that’s where the idea for the shop/restaurant entrances of the Riverwalk came from. The first hotel on the Riverwalk opened in 1962 and they started hosting high-profile events and festivals. Now, it’s all tourists, cruises and river taxis! The archways were actually designed so that gondolas could pass underneath. Anyway, enough boring history…on to the photos, which aren’t great, because I just had my phone.
After my river cruise, I went back to the Alamo to get some haunting evening pics.
The next day, I had to head to Austin for the work conference that actually brought me to Texas, so I killed some time in the morning heading back down to the Riverwalk and La Villita – and of course eating more tacos.
I got to Austin in the event and met up with some people I had been in touch with who were attending the conference. We decided to grab dinner at Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden, which I did not regret! I finally got up the courage to take a scooter back to my accomodations, and I didn’t die! I was saying on South Congress, which is a great little area for trendy hipsters. On my way home I decided to pop in to The Continental Club to check out a live jazz band before heading to bed. I was staying at a Sonder apartment, which was a first for me and I must say, I was thoroughly impressed! It was basically an apartment and the booking and check in process was absolutely seamless. Not to mention the location was awesome and the quality of the apartment was luxurious. I wanted to move in.
The next day, I had some time to kill before our sessions at the conference started, so I wandered along South Congress checking out all the shops and had breakfast (tacos of course) at Magnolia Cafe. Holy Hannah! You need to eat here!
Because I am a glutton for punishment, I signed myself up for an early morning 5K run around the city with some of my conference peeps. It did not start out as fun after having a few glasses of wine with dinner the night before, but turned out to be an awesome start to the day! I got to see downtown, Willy Nelson and the Capitol building on a guided running tour. Post run, I grabbed some tacos (as you do) and a few more pics of the neighbourhood around where I was staying.
So bat-watching is thing in Austin. It is known for the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats that congregate under the Congress Avenue Bridge and then, en masse, head out all at the same time for a dinner of bugs. It sounds wacky, but what’s wackier is this is a tourist sight. Hundreds of people gather around the bridge to see it happen. We were there in late February and they don’t usually start this until March, but we decided to check it out anyway. So we headed to the bridge and waited. And waited. We did see a couple of bats, but nothing like how it reportedly is. This is something I will definitely make sure I catch when I head back to Austin. Because there is no way I am not going back! Anyway, a few pics from our failed attempt at bat-watching.
That just about wraps up my trip to Texas. Wait, unless of course you were concerned I ate nothing but tacos. I did. Well I also ate bbq meat twice, but otherwise it was all tacos. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I ate something like 19 tacos in total (I was only away for 6 days!). Anyway, enjoy the tacos! (well not all tacos)