It’s not raining!
We again agreed to an 0800 start and again set off on Route 90; the main difference being we weren’t getting wet. The forecast suggested 50% chance of rain in Del Rio and 10% chance in San Antonio, but we didn’t see any. It was even a bit warmer. There was quite a strong wind, but you can’t have everything.
Route 90 took us through Brackettville (which claims to be the drive-in movie capital of Texas), and a few miles later we were stopped at another of the now familiar border control inspection centres. We went on to Uvalde (known as the honey capital of the world), where we stopped for fuel. Here we encountered a strange fiery orb in the sky. Apparently it is called the sun and is generally quite common here in Texas, although we hadn’t previously seen it on our journey.
After a few more miles we came to Hondo. I’m sure Hondo should have an ‘a’ at the end! It is also the name of a 1953 John Wayne film, but Hondo is the characters name, not the location. For us the main point of interest at Hondo was a very nice Mexican diner where I had my first slice of pie: pecan.
Before long we were on the outskirts of San Antonio. The usual freeway chaos ensured, but it was remarkably brief: we could see the hotel from the freeway and it didn’t take too much effort to find our way in.
Although we were extremely early our rooms were ready for us, allowing us to drop off our kit and head straight out to do some sightseeing.
San Antonio is the seventh most populous city in the US and the second most populous city in Texas, with a population of almost 1.5 million people. Two of those are our friends Kirsty and Andy who are currently living out there, and even more temporarily our friend and Kirsty’s brother Matt, who happens to be visiting at the same time! We have therefore arranged to meet them for dinner later.
Meanwhile we went off to visit The Alamo, a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress whose main claim to fame is as the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, a pivotal event in the Texan revolution. It is located in Alamo Plaza District of Downtown, walking distance from the hotel and, surprisingly, free to get in.
Outside we bumped into some of the Hadrian V-Twin guys, who arrived yesterday, and they recommended the River Walk cruise. The cruise was good value at $8 each and gave us an opportunity to relax for a while as well as find out a little about San Antonio: we had a good time; our guide imparted information in rhyme. It was all very nice and scenic, but a bit man-made looking for my tastes. Importantly, it went past the restaurant that we are meeting in later, so at least we knew where it was.
We returned to the hotel for a bit and decided that, as we were so early, we should go for a drink before meeting the others. Our bar of choice was the Leaping Lizard, but we weren’t sure where it was so we ended up in an Irish bar on the waterfront instead. It was OK: beers and margaritas were drunk (eventually) but service was not great.
We met up with Kirsty, Andy and Matt at the Texas Land and Cattle restaurant. They were late and blamed traffic, which considering the distance we had travelled to be there didn’t cut much mustard!
Food was good – I finally got ribs, but settled for just a half rack, which I think was probably wise. I really liked the restaurant, but again it was very fake: the decor and ambience was all nicely rustic until you went out to the toilets (sorry, restrooms), when it became all too clear that it is actually part of a large hotel: the rustic air suddenly evaporated and you were faced with shiny granite floors, glass doors and modern elevators.
Having finished eating we headed for a bar. Our first choice was the Esquire, on the opposite side of the canal, but this was a bit of a bust: it was incredibly busy and all booths were taken. In any case, the booths only seated four, which was unhelpful for the nine of us. We seemed to be discouraged from drinking at the bar, so decided to move on.
We then found the Leaping Lizard, which we’d failed to find earlier, and this was much better – although not all in our party shared my enthusiasm. The place was packed and jumping and much more what we think of as a bar. They had a wide selection of beers on draught, including an exceptionally good porter.
For reasons I couldn’t fully understand, almost everyone in the bar were wearing false moustaches. I asked a nearby moustachioed person what it was all about: I still wasn’t entirely clear on the reason, but it seemed to boil down to “why not?” I was offered one but declined.
We managed to stay out until the giddy hour of 10pm before heading back to the hotel.
Kickstands up at 7:15am tomorrow…
Miles today: 156
Total miles: 1664