Feliz Cumpleaños!

Above is the front of the card handmade by my mother. I think we all know where I get my creative streak from. Also, this card made me laugh so hard I am saving it, and probably framing it.

Found out at the last minute that I DIDN’T have work this weekend, so Hubs and I took a road trip to San Antonio for my birthday celebration. We decided to stay in SA overnight, rather than try to make the drive back after dinner, drinks, and walking. This was a brilliant decision on our part. We were able to enjoy the famous San Antonio Riverwalk, for the first time, at our leisure. AND we got to experience a brand new Holiday Inn Express. We love this chain. We recommend it to any and everyone. I think I would be okay living in one of their hotels for a while.

On the road to SA, we came across a cavalcade of cowboys (and cowgirls). No idea where they were from, or where they were going, but along about a mile stretch, there were 30 to 50 horseback riders, all headed somewhere. It seemed very purposeful, and they all seemed like they were enjoying themselves. I want a horse. I also want to know what that group was. After we passed them, Hubs and I sat in silence for a bit, then looked at each other, and said, “we’re not in New Jersey anymore” AT THE SAME TIME. It was just a moment. You had to be there.

Hubs had some homework to get out of the way before our night of revelry. Thankfully, HIExpress set us up with a suite. I feel the need to plug them incessantly. But seriously. This was one of the most affordable rooms we’ve stayed in lately (excluding Days Inn rooms, but they are so terrible they hardly count) and one of the nicest. That’s just how they do.

Actually, before Hubs did any homework, we watched TV for a while. You must understand, all of our tube-watching comes from DVDs. The cable company out here holds the monopoly on the airwaves, and they charge accordingly. So we’re boycotting cable TV. BUT that means that we move from 100+ free channels courtesy of some random South Jersey cable contractor to zero channels. First thing we did when we walked into the hotel room was go, “ooh, TV!!” We were like 3-year-olds with ADD for a while. Totally hypnotized. I think I drooled. But then Hubs disconnected himself to do homework. He’s still got classroom work once a week, for language and law. I think that lasts for a few more months.

Once we were ready to go, we took the Yellow Trolley (four trolley lines run around downtown San Antonio) to a highly recommended sushi restaurant near the Riverwalk. In SJ, our “date night” was sushi once a week, at a very good place in Mantua. There, sushi is an art form, we think because Philly and New York are so close, and the quality has to be pretty high for a place to stay in business. Here, not so much. Sushi standards are about as low as they can get. (But the standard for corn tortillas is all-time-high, so it’s a fair trade, really.) The main point of the story is that we REALLY miss our weekly indulgence, and we were delighted to be in a place that was comparable to Philly-metro sushi. Also, where there is one decent sushi place, there are others. So we were/are excited about that.

After dinner we walked one block and then took a little stone stairway down to the Riverwalk. If you’ve ever heard of San Antonio’s Riverwalk, everything good you’ve heard is true. We LOVED it. The San Antonio River runs through San Antonio (eventually becoming part of the Guadalupe River), and part of it is re-routed into a man-made loop (aka: Riverwalk) a story below street level. The loop is flanked on either side by paved walkways, about half a foot above the water (no railings, anywhere). Arched bridges (see the picture?) crisscross the whole span, which runs a few miles (walkable, but takes some time). River “cruises” make their way up and down the expanse, with tour guides who point out all the interesting old buildings along the way. Hotels, bars, restaurants, and gift shops are all accessible from the Riverwalk. Most of them (all of them?) have store fronts (backs?) that match the general theme of the Walk. Lots of wrought iron balconies on the hotels, lots of stone patios and little bistros. All in all, the effect is very Old World, and very charming. We were thoroughly impressed, and we plan on returning in the near future.

At some point, though, you want to stop walking around and sit down. We found an “Irish” bar, Durty Nelly’s, where they served some beer other than Bud Light on tap. So, obviously, we stopped there. This bar boasted a piano player, complete with huge mirror with which he viewed the crowd. Many raucous songs were sung, including Danny Boy, and several by Bon Jovi. We both agreed that the piano playing, crowed heckling entertainer element would be an excellent addition to Philly’s Olde City nightlife.

All guests are invited to eat as many peanuts as they can, throw the shells on the floor, sing along to any/every song they know, and heckle the piano player as much as they like. He didn’t get much heckling, because he was good fun. We sat in the back corner, drinking quality beer, and observing the crowd (our favorite activity). Guests included a whole wedding party (in formal attire), a group of uptight middle-aged women who were pretending to enjoy themselves, a very drunk older couple, and a table of Army kids (I can say that now that I’m so old) trying very hard to impress each other with their stories and their rum and cokes. Lots of fodder for us.

Around 9pm (bedtime for us, but we were trying SO HARD to be hardcore and stay alert) the good piano player played his last song. The next guy, who got up around 9:30pm sang a ballad for his first number. We stayed around for two or three more, to see if it was going to get any better. It didn’t.

Rather than take the yellow trolley back to the hotel, we decided to hoof it. Definitely a different city from Philly. The swanky hotel district and the industrial district are basically sharing space. I’m glad I had a brawny man with me, but I’m not actually sure that I needed him. It was that kind of place.

Overall, we had a wonderful trip. It was a great weekend, full of good memories. This was the first time either of us has really experienced San Antonio. Hubs has only seen it as we were driving through to Austin. My only time spent in SA up until now has been at the airport (dropping off and picking up) or getting hit by a bus. So this was AWESOME. I’m glad we’re near such a cool place. We think we’d like to retire in San Antonio. You probably should, too.


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