San Antonio! I was looking forward to this visit for two reasons; the history of the city and the fact that it would be only a short hour and a half drive from Austin!
I left Austin around 9:30am and arrived in San Antonio a short time later, well before I could check into my hotel. With the whole day ahead of me, I followed the signs to downtown, parked my car, and headed towards the universal San Antonio recommendation: The Riverwalk. I didn’t realize that it was actually below street level, and spent about an hour walking up and down the length of it, looking into the shops and watching the river boat tours as they traveled down the river.
I still had plenty of time left in the day, so I walked upstairs and headed north to the Alamo. When I finally saw it, I smiled as I remembered how everyone told me it was oddly placed in the middle of hotels and shops. Nonetheless, I got chills when I finally saw it in person. I stepped into the line, which was not very long, and was soon inside the walls of the historic building. I walked through the cool, dark interior and reverently observed the stone walls and the old artifacts of that famous battle so long ago – the rifles, knives, and other interesting items. I finished inside that building and then walked around the grounds behind, entering the long stone barracks building where I saw even more artifacts and read the history of the Alamo Mission and the independence of Texas.
After my history lesson, I headed towards Market Square, or El Mercado. This is where folks in the know recommended that I go to shop and eat while in San Antonio. It was a decent walk from the Alamo, and for a time I thought perhaps I might be headed in the wrong direction! But soon I came upon the square with its brightly colored flags down the center and had a fantastic time visiting the wonderful shops. I came upon the highly-recommended restaurant Mi Tierra, but it was so crowded that the wait was over an hour and a half, even at the bar. I walked out and right over to another highly recommended spot, La Margarita. This time I had no problem getting a seat at the bar. The bartender came over and I said that I’d heard that one could get a pretty good margarita there. He gave me a look and said, “Not the house margarita, I will make you a good one.” And he proceeded to serve me the BEST margarita I’ve ever had (sorry El Mundo!). I ordered the lunch special of four little steak tacos with a tasty tomatillo sauce and a cup of delicious beans, along with a second margarita. This was some authentic food!
After that rather late lunch I checked into my hotel, changed my clothes, and headed off to my first crossfit visit in over a week. Crossfit Unchained was a short 3 mile drive from the hotel, located just next to the I-35 overpass on E. Houston Street. I walked in and introduced myself to Arthur, the owner, and he welcomed me to the gym and pointed me in the direction of the foam rollers. Shortly thereafter the class began, led by Coach Calla from Minnesota, a tall young blond with a distinct Minnesota accent. The first part of class was heavy squat cleans, and it was quickly apparent that it had indeed been an entire week since I’d had a good workout, and that I was paying for indulging in all the NOLA food and drink! After the strength component and some excellent coaching tips from Calla, we were given a very challenging WOD: OTM for 10 minutes, 3 hang power cleans, 6 pushups, and 9 airsquats. It sounded innocuous enough but it was anything but. Coach Calla encouraged us to complete all the reps within 30 seconds and I managed to keep up that pace. After the 10 minutes were up we took off on an 800 meter run in the blazing evening sun. A thorough butt kicking! The rest of the evening consisted of nothing more than a nice long shower, some inspirational reading and an early bedtime.
The next morning I rose and headed back to Crossfit Unchained for a second helping. This morning’s class was led by Coach Alisia, Arthur’s wife. She was a beautiful, lithe, strong girl with a huge smile and even bigger energy. The morning’s class was great fun – Alisia expertly taught us two different rope climbing techniques, and the workout was a 20 minute AMRAP of 1 rope climb, 10 sledge strikes on a tire, and a 25 meter sled/prowler push. I’d been up a rope before but it was nice to try out a different technique and was proud of myself for being able to get up and down the rope for 20 minutes (although I did get a pretty bad rope burn on the inside of my leg!). A great class, with more excellent coaching and a super welcoming community. I’ve been so lucky on all of my visits to crossfit boxes so far!
After that workout, I headed back to El Mercado and walked into Mi Tierra for breakfast. At this hour of the morning I had NO problem getting a seat, and sat in the brightly lit, christmas tree decorated restaurant. I gratefully sipped some strong coffee as I scanned the menu and was overwhelmed by the breakfast selection. So many choices and they all sounded wonderful! Although I felt hungry enough to order everything on the menu, I settled on three breakfast tacos – huevos rancheros, barbacoa, and lengua. They arrived quickly, wrapped simply in foil, but hot and fresh. They were absolutely delicious and perfect after a strenuous crossfit workout. After I was finished, I paid for my meal and then walked through the bakery, which is known for some amazing Mexican pastries. I chose a caramel filled turnover and was not disappointed. Flaky light crust that could only come from using lard, and a delicious filling that wasn’t too cloying or sweet. I urge anyone going to San Antonio to head straight for Mi Tierra and some of the best food you’ll ever eat.
The rest of the day was spent blogging and dealing with an annoying computer issue. So see, life on the road on my adventure is not always glamorous and full of fun and games! After a non-productive call to the Geek Squad, I got in my car and drove to a local Best Buy and walked up to a Geek Squad member, who proceeded to wave a magic wand over my computer and fix it in less time than it took to drive there.
I had one more restaurant to hit for my last night in San Antonio. My sister Renée had given me a long list of recommendations from a friend living in the area. The very first rec on the list intrigued me: Puffy Tacos from Teka Molino. I’d never heard of such a thing, and it sounded interesting. Thanks to the magic of Google, I discovered that puffy tacos are the signature creation of San Antonio tex-mex. So, I made my way to this place that really looked like a hole in the wall! I ordered three puffy tacos: chicken, beef, and guacamole. Ok, folks….they were so incredibly delicious that I completely inhaled them in no time flat. They are made with corn tortillas and it’s like they are inflated with air, all “puffed up.” There were crispy and light and crunchy and greasy and juicy and succulent and AMAZING!!!!!
I’m not sure I’m really a fan of the geography, weather, or traffic of Texas so far, but I will say that the food has been a huge and pleasant surprise! Next stop is Houston and surely there will be more good eating ahead!