However, Mario didn´t realize that San Antonio is three hours north of the border. We are three hours south of the border. And one can never tell exactly how many hours one might have to wait in line at the border on a given weekend in mid-December. One three-day-weekend, 6 hours each way, no driving in the dark in Mexico--it made for a quick trip!
But it was well worth it.
What does a family with small children do for 24 hours in San Antonio?
Get a hotel very close to the Riverwalk. I asked people who had been there, what exactly we should see. Every answer? The Riverwalk. Mario also wanted to see the Alamo. Fortunately, the Alamo was right between our hotel and the Riverwalk. Perfect.
We arrived in the evening on Friday. We knew we wanted to take a Riverwalk boat tour. The hotel had all kinds of helpful magazines and pamphlets, so within a half hour, we bought our tickets and were standing in a short line to board the Miss Laura (Bush), piloted by Captain AJ. Oh, yeah . . .
Furthermore, the weekend we were there (December 12, 13, 14), the Riverwalk was hosting an arts fair. Hundreds of artists and crafters--spanning the gamut from oh-la-la to string bracelets--set up booths along the Riverwalk. It made walking tricky in parts, but I love me a good art fair, anywhere.
Living in Mexico, we had no need for Tex-Mex food (which seems to be a must in San Antonio). We came ready for real Texas barbecue. It did not disappoint. Word to the wise--there are oodles of excellent restaurants lining the Riverwalk. I´m sure they´re all lovely. But if you dine just off the Riverwalk, both your wallet and your belly will stay full.
The kids were not as excited about the Alamo as Mario and I were. There were carriage rides parked off the sidewalk by one of the exits and Joey happily spent nearly an hour watching the horses. Then he discovered the the koi swimming in the canal. Clara was just not amused. Can´t win ´em all.
So we finished off our tour of San Antonio by heading to LaVillita. It´s a tiny neighborhood which is now composed of art galleries. Having somewhat grumpy children by that time, we didn´t venture into any of the galleries. But the neighborhood was charming, reminding me of my time in New Mexico. Plus, they had a Coffee Expo in La Villita´s square. Coffee shops from all over San Antonio were boasting their wares. It smelled amazing. But I was not willing to stand in the long lines, so we just smelled the loveliness.
Cutting through the Riverwalk once more, we ended our 24 hours in San Antonio with lunch at Shilo´s deli, celebrating central Texas´s German heritage. You thought the German immigrants mainly congregated in the midwest? No, my friends--Texas was a big draw for Germans in the nineteenth century. Shilo´s deli has a fantastic sausage selection to prove it. They even offered imported German beer. No small feat in the land of Shiner. And don´t get me started on their interior decorating--they opened shop in their present location in about 1920, and I don´t think they´ve changed a thing. Floor tiles, ceiling moulding, high-backed booths--I could have just sat and stared. But their food was excellent. And so were their prices. If you need a meal in San Antonio, please go to Shilo´s.
Unless you´re a vegetarian.
San Antonio, we will be back! 24 hours were just not enough.
Where is Shilo´s?
424 East Commerce St. Not far from the Rivercenter Mall and Menger Hotel.