Monday, December 15, 2008

San Antonio, Texas

I recently visited San Antonio, Texas. I had been there once when I was a child, but that was -- um -- a while back. My memories of Texas were dim and generally unpleasant, primarily because, as I recalled, driving across Texas in a car with no A/C in August was kind of miserable.

In recent years people who have visited San Antonio have waxed rhapsodic about the beauty of the city. It has been on my list of places I wanted to visit for some time. I was definitely not disappointed. It helped that the day I was there, the weather was absolutely fabulous: clear and crisp, but not cold. There was not a cloud in the sky. I arrived around mid-day, and had the afternoon free before an evening business function.

I took advantage of the opportunity to go sight-seeing. I am an unrepentant tourist at heart, and I'm not even embarrassed to say that. A person can learn a lot about a place (and yourself) if you grab your camera, a map and put on some comfy shoes.

San Antonio is every bit as beautiful as it had been described to me. I only had a few hours, so I started at the Alamo, then I worked my way out from there, wandering around the downtown both at the street level and along the River Walk to the Market Square area.

I detoured off the main drag to make a pilgrimage to the house/office of the writer, O. Henry, who ran a newspaper in San Antonio for a couple of years. I even violated my "no shopping on pleasure trips" rule to do a little Christmas shopping at the River Center Mall. After dinner, our host invited us to walk along the River Walk to see it lit up for Christmas. While we were out and about, he asked if we wanted to see the Alamo at night. We said we did, and it was amazing.

San Antonio knows a thing or two about how to treat visitors. There are chamber of commerce folks standing around on the sidewalks in the heart of the tourist area, offering information or directions and, if you don't need either, they simply welcome you to their city and invite you to enjoy your stay.
Even most of the people in the shops were friendly. They actually made me think they were glad I was there. How cool is that? [Living in a tourist area, where our merchants specialize in being as rude as humanly possible to tourists and locals alike, it came as almost a shock to be treated so graciously.]

Perhaps I should rethink my generally negative attitude about the Lone Star state. ... or, then again, maybe, I'll just make an exception for San Antonio.

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