San Antonio 
January 27-31, 2007

When I found out I had a conference for work in San Antonio, Tammy and I decided to make a trip out of it.  I had been to the city in high school, but we didn't have much time there, and Tammy had always wanted to go.  The conference was Monday-Wednesday, so we flew out on Saturday to have some time to see the sights.  One of my co-workers, Charlie, and his wife Robin decided to do the same.

We arrived in San Antonio in time for lunch on Saturday, and we ate at the first place we came to, Casa Rio, which is also the most well-known restaurant along the river.  We were able to sit down immediately at a table right next to the river, which was really cool.  Except for the pigeons, the setting was perfect...since it was January, it wasn't too hot, there were ducks in the river waiting for a handout, and the occasional tourboat would motor past us.  The food was excellent.

After lunch, we headed down the riverwalk over to The Alamo.  When I visited in high school, we had our picture taken outside, but I had never actually been inside.  It was neat, but there really wasn't a whole lot to it.  From there, we headed to El Mercado, the big Mexican marketplace.  I remembered it from high school...of course, after you've been to a few of the stores, they all kind of have the same thing.  We bought a few things and headed back to our hotel.  That night, we explored the Riverwalk some more, and ended up eating at Rita's Ice House.  We finished the evening with the riverboat cruise that takes you all along the river and gives you a guided tour of a lot of the history.  It was really cool at night, especially on a busy Saturday night...all the restaurants are filled with people, and you're riding in your boat right past people's tables.  It's a very unique experience.

Our hotel was the Marriott's a nice enough hotel, but it is dwarfed by the Marriot Rivercenter that is literally right across the street from it.  One thing we will not forget about it was the new hotel they were building on the other side...we could hear the construction all the time.  It wasn't as loud at night, but they kept on all night.  

On Sunday morning, we slept in and eventually went in search for breakfast.  We had seen an ad for the Market Street Deli, which seemed like it would be a good place for breakfast.  We walked all around the area, obviously targetting Market Street, trying to find this place, and we could not.  We finally gave up and went back to eat at the place in our hotel...which of course was called Market Street Deli.  D'oh!  We had our first ever breakfast burritos, which were very good.  We explored around the inside of the Rivercenter Mall, which was right next to our hotel, until it was time to check out.  We drove the several blocks over to our second hotel, which was where the conference was going to be.  This was the Marriott Plaza, which was just a short walk from the Riverwalk.  Charlie and Robin had a gift card for Tony Roma's, which we no longer have in Birmingham, so we took a break from Mexican food and ate there for lunch.  After lunch, we explored around some more and eventually walked back to our hotel, where we took it easy for the rest of the afternoon.  For supper, we went back to the Riverwalk and ate at Republic of Texas.  My food tasted especially good since Sunday night was the start of when I could start expensing my meals.  After all, the only thing better than a good steak is a good steak that you'll be reimbursed for.

On Monday morning, we hit the hotel's breakfast buffet.  After turning in the rental car, we explored around the riverwalk some's a very different place on a weekday than it was during the weekend.  There were hardly any people around.  We headed down to the Aztec Theater, which is a restored old theater that has a free special effects show in its lobby.  It was a neat place, but the show (and I use the term loosely) really wasn't anything to get excited about.  You get what you pay for.  We then went and explored Hemisfair Park, the central attraction of which is the Tower of the Americas.  We rode the elevator up to the observation deck and were treated to an incredible view of the city.  For lunch, we headed to a place called Shilo's Deli, a very homey-feeling German deli with the best reuben ever.  We walked around some more, then headed back to the hotel knowing that the fun part was over.  Monday night was the welcome reception for the conference, which fed me pretty well.  We ended up ordering room service for Tammy when I got back, which I helped her eat.

I spent all day Tuesday in the conference, which took care of my breakfast and lunch.  While Charlie and I were sleeping through presentations, Tammy and Robin explored La Villita, a group of small shops and artisans right next to the hotel, and eventually made their way back to the Riverwalk.  They ate at Casa Rio again for lunch.  They ate dinner at Guadalajara Grill, which was also very close to our hotel.  Charlie and I had to endure the conference's entertainment at a place called Azuca.  The first hour or so had some flamenco dancers (who were really good) providing the entertainment during an open bar, but neither Charlie nor I drink.  Dinner involved us all being crammed into a room too small for the group and eating really fancy food that we're just not fancy enough to appreciate.  We had been told earlier that we could have brought our wives along, for $95 each.  We were very glad we decided against that.

Back at the room, Tammy ordered me a smoothie from room service, since it was my birthday.

Wednesday, the conference again took care of my breakfast and lunch.  Tammy was starting to feel a little ill, but she and Robin again explored the area and ate lunch at a sandwich place she can't remember.  Soon after, we caught a cab to the airport for the trip home.  Our flight ended up being delayed, then later cancelled, and then they managed to fit our entire flight onto another flight.  We grabbed a bite to eat in the airport before our flight left.  Fortunately, we managed to make our connection in Houston (after trucking it through the airport), and arrived back to Birmingham.  Unfortunately, not one piece of any of our luggage made it back.  We were certain that it just hadn't made the connection and that it wasn't lost, but it's still pretty scary to think about the possibility of not getting your luggage back.

Our luggage made it back the next day, and the airline actually delivered it to our house, which was nice of them.  And so ended our trip.

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