So we're back from yet another trip! And a completely different experience that was. For one, everything went off EXACTLY as planned!! Not a single hitch.. not a single deviation. And that was all thanks to the Hubby! Usually I decide where all to go..what all to do.. when to go.. how to get there.. and all that planning. This time, we divided the effort. I booked the tickets and the hotel. And I decided what places to see. The rest of the planning and logistics was taken care of by him.
Usually we end up deviating from the plan so much that everything becomes a hotch potch! We change plans on the fly.
The live band at the market
.. miss buses.. forget to eat... all kinds of disasters!
But this time, thanks to the Hubby’s fantastic planning and seamless execution of the plan, the whole trip went off as if on oiled wheels! Right down to the connecting buses that would take us to and from the various places we wanted to visit. All the bus schedules and all were available online. And buses are almost always on time here. So he was able to plan out the entire trip sitting at home with the help of the internet! And his ipod touch is such a magnificent device. It can download maps of any given area and give you shortest paths to walk from one point to another. So even though we were complete strangers to the city, we knew exactly where which road was and exactly where it lead to! Pretty amazing!
San Antonio is a quaint little city in Texas and is supposed to be the cradle of Texan liberty.
and Mel the caricature artiste with his depiction of me!
There's a lot of history associated with the place... the whole American-Mexican conflict and all. A famous war was fought right there in San Antonio and today there stands a memorial dedicated to the soldiers of that war. Its called the Alamo . That was our first destination. The whole battlefield has been converted into a memorial... they have a museum where they have various guns..swords...knives.. and all kinds of stuff they found during the excavation of the place. They also have preserved some of the rooms where the women and children hid during the war. And then they had a movie playing ... which shed some light on the reasons behind the war and the whole journey of the Texan liberation.
There is such a strong Mexican influence in that city. It was really very nice. Old run down buildings... little shack like restaurants serving food that left us licking our fingers!! The Hubby was feeling quite hungry the first morning and so we entered one of these little run down shacks.
the romantic walk at along the San Antonio river :)
. and they gave me thick rotis (Tacos) with spicy gooey beef curry stuffed into it! And the Hubby kept going "mmmm.....mmmmmmm!!" :) .. The gravy kept running down his fingers.. the beef kept slipping out... All in all, quite a messy affair. But the content and delight on his face was an expression worth seeing!!
After the Alamo , we headed for the relatively developed part of the city. There we saw several entertainment places.. A haunted ride.. a wax museum.. all kinds of things. The Hubby and I went to mirror maze! It was such fun! A whole maze made of mirrors... we had to enter through one door, find the other door, and then turn around and return to the main entrance door! Just to make it more fun, we decided to split and take separate ways. We had been asked to walk slowly and with our arms stretched out in front of us so that we wudn’t bump into the mirrors! Sometimes it got so scary.. I would look around and all I would see was me! And the whole place was dark with only a few small lights on the floor. Quite dramatic! And then sometimes, I would see the Hubby and would head towards him - only to bump into a mirror! And since there were mirrors all around, I wouldn’t know where he was even if I could see him!!! Finally, after much running around, he found the route and found me and lead me out :D
Next we went to a laser game.
The entrance to The Natural Bridge Caverns.. deep dark and terribly inviting!!
We were supposed to be thieves or something.. breaking into a high security vault! So we had to, one by one, enter a dark room which was filled with laser beams criss crossing all around.. And then we had to bend and jump and do all sorts of things to make sure we didnt cut any of the laser beams. So we had to clear the obstacle course without settling off a single alarm!
Needless to say, both of us set of quite a number of alarms! But it was fun. Only one of us could enter at a time. And the other had to wait outside. And the best part was, there was a camera through which we could see the person who is inside the laser room! The Hubby went in first. And I was sitting and laughing outside look at him bend and crawl and try and jump over the beams!! It didnt seem all that tough to me when I saw him at it. But when I stepped inside for my turn, I realised what a task it was! We had to be gymnasts or somehting to get through that! Nice experience that was :)
After all that we set off to the local Mexican market. That felt like a whole new world right in the middle of America! Suddenly everything was bright and colorful! And all the merchandise was so inviting! I saw a couple of hats (Sombreros) that I so wanted to buy! But then I couldn’t imagine wearing them and walking around in Chennai (India)!! :D .
. So I just looked at them long and hard and saved them in my memory! There was a racoon cap which I almost bought because the Hubby also thought it was very cute. It had a little tail and all attached to it!! :)
And we saw Ponchos too!! Just like the one Clint Eastwood had on in the Dollar trilogy!! I was looking for spurs all over the market. I thought that would make a nice souvenir. It definitely would’ve been easier to carry than the huge shocking pink sombrero that I was eyeing! But unfortunately (and strangely), I couldn’t find spurs anywhere. Maybe they are illegal or something. No idea.
At the marketplace, there were some live musicians too. A Mexican singer. And a flute artist! He was sooo good. He had these strange little flutes.. and he made magic with them! Then we saw a caricature artist. We'd seen some caricature artists on some other trips too. But this one seemed to be really good. So we decided to go for it. The Hubby insisted that I get a caricature done.
. but wudnt get one of himself done! He felt my face was more suited to a funny caricature! So I sat down, and within 10 minutes this guy had produced such a cute drawing! It was really amazing. The Hubby was so impressed he started clapping and told the artist that it was a perfect depiction of me! Big eyes. Big smile. Small pug nose!
By the time we were done with all this, the sun was setting. So we set off towards the river! Yes, they have a river flowing right through the city! And they have a nice riverwalk all along the sides... and there were dozens of little eateries littered all along the riverwalk. There were boat rides on the river too, but we decided to walk. That was a very pretty sight too. Especially in the night when all the lights were up.
With that, the first day came to an end and we headed back to our lovely hotel to get some sleep.
For the next day, we had some adventure planned! We were going underground cave exploring!! Just outside the city limits, there is something called the Natural Bridge Caverns.
So that’s where we headed. It took us a lot of time to get there since we were traveling primarily by bus. But it really was worth the effort! Our guide took us and 3 others into the caves and we saw the most magnificent formations imaginable! Hard to believe such formations can be formed without the intervention of the hand of man. Some of the columnar formations seemed to have such intricate patterns on them. All natural! Really something. It was warm and humid and wet and slippery in the caves and the guide kept telling us to be careful and not slip! At one point there was such a steep climb that I thought I may just crash right onto some of those lovely formations and ruin them all! I believe the cave has been developing these formations for centuries now. And that the formations grow about an inch in something like a hundred years!! To think that some of the columns we saw were about 20 feet tall!! Imagine how long it must’ve taken for that to form!
All that little adventure, we were almost at the end of our trip.
We set towards the city for once last glimpse of it before we had to leave for the airport. The hubby quite liked the city… especially the whole run-down look it had.. The best part was, there were almost no commercial or industrial establishments!! No big brand names strewn all across the city.. no monstrous shops… Nothing BIG..
More than anything, it was the whole vibrancy in the environment of the place. Compared to it, places like Chicago and Minneapolis and all seem so dreary and dull!!
I guess that also has to do with the climate. San Antonio was cold, but not uncomfortably so.
People were walking around with just a light sweater on. I guess that adds to their jolly mood. In Chicago and Minneapolis , its too cold to be chirpy!
Even the San Antonio airport had a very fun atmosphere… with music played and bright colors splashed around!
I’ve realized that we enjoy cultural experiences a lot. So I’m going to try and focus on that for our future trips too. I’m planning a trip to New Orleans which is supposed to have a very strong French influence! That should be fun too!