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26 May 2011

Sizzling San Antonio

Day 5: Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In San Antonio, in late May, it's not just hot, it's BROILING. 100°F (38°C) with steamy humid air feels simply oppressive. It's like you're constantly under heat lamps.
The heat aside, San Antonio is a worthwhile city to visit. It's the 2nd largest city in Texas, and the 7th largest in the whole country. I've also been told more than once that it's the true heart of Texas and the most authentically Texan place you can visit.

Our hosts had left for work early, so Ueli and I slept in (which we needed) before heading out at 11am to see the main sights of San Antonio. Our first stop was Mission San Jose.

There are several missions that were established by the Spanish in this part of Texas, all with the dual purpose of solidifying Spanish control and converting the local Indians to Catholicism. The mission was very similar to any of the missions I've visited in California, and the history of the mission is very similar to those in California. Again, it was hot hot hot. Like, Asia hot.

From what I have seen, streets in Texas are poorly designed. There is a noticeable lack of left-turn lanes, and of right-turn lanes too. So whenever anyone slows to make a turn, the traffic behind them gets blocked and slows down as well. And then everyone just accelerates back as fast they can, then slam on the brakes as the next light turns red. It's quite an inefficient system.

We drove to downtown San Antonio; I parked a block away from the Hemisfair Park, and we walked through the park. There were a set of fountains/man-made waterfalls in the park, and I decided to take off my shirt and run through them. My shorts were soggy for two hours afterwards, but it was totally worth it. We considered going up the Tower of the Americas, but decided against it (it was $11 and the day was hazy). Then we walked to the Riverwalk.There are a lot of restaurants along the entire walk, it's a great place to go for a happy hour or some chain restaurant-level food. It was reminiscent of Venice, with bridges spanning the river loop in many spots, and there were plenty of tour boats motoring around each waterway. We walked to the Alamo, saw the "shrine" or whatever, took pictures, etc. Then back to the Riverwalk. We walked the entire loop around, checking out everything before deciding on a restaurant to rest at. We had made a bit of a detour so we ended up going too far, and in the heat it was pretty disgusting, our bodies becoming covered in sweat. We ate at the Mexican restaurant with the iconic colorful umbrella shades. We split a small overpriced plate of nachos.

Walked back to the car, started it to get the a/c going (but it didn't work very well against the Texas humidity). Drove back to the apartment, taking side streets and trying to stay cool. I stopped by Walgreens and got some Blue Bell ice cream for Jeff and Rachel.

I hopped in the pool at our hosts' apartment complex to cool off. It felt amazing. It was the perfect thing to do on such a hot and humid day. We had Thai take-out and although it was well-reviewed on Yelp, the food was not very good to me. Note to self: Don't get Asian food east of California.

Ueli and I stayed in, spent the evening couchsurfing requests for our next destinations, while washing down our Thai food with the leftover beers (summer ale, chili beer). We put on Quantum of Solace and stayed in for the evening, saying goodbye to our hosts because they had to leave early for work in the morning.

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