Friday, November 20, 2009

The Historic Menger Hotel

A step back in time, in a good way!

Some rooms with balconies overlooking Alamo Plaza.

Gorgeous interior architectural touches.

A grand marble lobby.

An Irish pub imported piece-by-piece, where evidently Teddy Roosevelt met with the Rough Riders.

Lovely atrium with decorative metal banisters, stairs spiraling up four floors.

It's brochure uses the words, "sophisticated and tasteful" and I agree. Victorian decor looks right with modern renovations.

Original section built in 1859 right next to the Alamo (50 rooms). There are now 350 rooms.

I didn't realize until visiting that it actually connects to the Rivercenter Mall.

Tres Rebecas

"Cultural Design Studio
Boutique, Gallery & Books"

This shop is (obviously) multi-faceted. Also, it's multicolored. The exterior is pastel blue, green and pink. Inside, glowing orange, red and yellow make for a cheerful appetizing atmosphere.

There are items of clothing from a Mexican designer's collection.
A large table in the back which can accomodate parties and classes.
Classes can include quilling, metal-working, and ribbon-and-bead necklace-making.
There is a selection of fabrics with unique latin-themed prints.

I predict you'll like this place. Proprietress Becky Barrera makes her selections with care and an eye toward innovation, education and diversity, as well as a focus on the handmade. Things are beautiful.
An unexpected bonus is the crafts area in the back of the shop.

Really, the combination of books, crafts and gift items is a delicious one.

Ms. Barrera has a background as an experienced educator and this obviously informs her perspective. Tres Rebecas is truly a gathering place.

(Pictured: Book Launch/Fundraiser for Bonham Academy)


Tres Rebecas has since moved to retail online only at their website:

Shipley Do-Nuts


Oversized, perfect doughy texture, cherry kolaches.

Plain doughnuts are delicious.

Evidently the store was "born" in Houston in 1936.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oldest Grocery in San Antonio

Yesterday I was able to pop in and check out Maggot's Grocery, the city's first grocery store, established in 1883 by Theo and Pauline Magott. I met Larry Maggot (pictured) their grandson, who told me that not much has changed over the years. The size of the place is basically the same, there are old, old wooden floors and a low ceiling. The meat section was moved from one side of the back wall to another when they needed to put in drinks coolers in the 60's. I was able to find strawberry wafer cookies that I couldn't find recently elsewhere. The store is in the shadow of the Tower of the Americas, if you're standing across from it looking south. Even though the location has always been the same, the address number changed from #814 to #1314 Commerce after Hemisfair buildings were built in 1968. Larry told me that The Institute of Texan Cultures has a display featuring his grandparents, including information about how Theo contributed to the Polish language newspaper of his day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Temple Beth-El

I find this building fascinating. A Jewish synagogue here in town, on West Ashby Street.

Also nearby is San Pedro Park. The second oldest park in the nation! There is a natural spring public swimming pool that is FREE!

Woodlawn Park Island & Lake

Woodlawn is such a great park! (Thanks K, for telling me about it!) There's a lake with a decorative lighthouse in the middle of it, which has a working light. If you stand on the west bank you'll see some of the largest buildings of San Antonio's skyline, including the Tower of the Americas, shooting up beyond the dramatic roofs of the Basilica of the Shrine of the Little Flower behind the trees in the foreground.

There's a nice, winding walking/jogging path around the perimeter of the park, on which we saw hundreds of joggers, walkers and baby strollers. There was a very active basketball game; people feeding ducks and geese off two short wooden piers; and two ice cream trucks serving goodies.

Neighbors were out in droves enjoying the "cooler" (90's instead of 100's) air, landscape and trees.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Charlott's Antiques

An unassuming building on Austin Highway, this warehouse is packed to the gills. Which makes it a lot of fun to search through. Many, many shelves of dishes - from precious, gloriously rainbow-colored on a blue background, glass dessert goblets, to everyday salt & pepper shakers, with a unique design. There are expensive collectible dog figurines, and low-cost original dog tags from WWII. There is an especially interesting section of vintage clothes which I thought would make wonderful costumes. A fitted sheath dress (handmade in the 50's) with interesting appliques around the collar, furs, a WWI uniform shirt and hat. Charlott has evidently been in business since 1960-something. Her place had a nice feel, fairly good prices and lots of variety.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Broadway Tire & Automotive

Excellent service.  That is always such a pleasure to be able to say.

We needed a new tire the other day, and they were quick and helpful in sourcing it, delivery and replacement.

Then when I was worried about having driven over more than one nail (there was one in the blown tire), Nicky jacked up and checked the other tires and filled a couple which had low pressure for no charge.  

Note on this hot San Antonio weather:
* These high temperatures, combined with bumpy roads, can really take the air out of tires, so it's good to check them often and fill as necessary!


Gabriel Nuno has been in his profession for over 36 years.  His wife also works with him in the shop, specializing in coloring.  The most frequent repair needed is worn down (boot) heels. Excellent prices, service and experience.  The store's interior will be a surprise, with fascinating old, but working machinery & lots of memorabilia.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Botanic Garden

photo by Christopher Borchardt

The San Antonio Botanical Garden is great!  I like all the different themes.  This shot is from the Garden for the Blind, where everything can be touched - much from waist height - and is included specifically for it's scent and/or texture.  This photo is of a decorative sandcastle.  There was even a touch map of the garden.  They also have a rose garden, an Asian-themed garden and a children's (planted by small hands) vegetable garden.

Fourth of July

We started off our day in Terrell Hills for their homegrown parade and city party.  Local residents coordinate this fun family time and are also the parade participants.  I remember decorating bike wheels with interwoven red, white & blue streamers a time or two growing up  - it's that kind of thing.  The booths and food afterwards included items from vendors sponsoring the event.  The kids we were with had a fabulous time getting their hair painted, winning a finger puppet Statue of Liberty, and trying for dollars in the wind machine.

We then headed over to Lackland Air Force Base for fireworks.  It was DUSTY and windy.  A fabulous pyrotechnics show though, and there was a carnival nearby.  I have not experienced fireworks with accompanying music before.  That was enjoyable this time.  Then at the end of the base show some other fireworks began in the sky just to the left.  As we walked to our cars we were able to watch some extras.

Hooray for colored, exploding lights!

... land of the free, home of the brave ...

Silver Stars!

Photo by Daniel Rogers

Photo by Daniel Rogers

We had a lot of fun watching the Silver Stars play the Chicago Sky.  They're a good team!  Go Stars!!  Talented athletes working hard and having fun are almost always fun to watch.  Pictured are a few of their biggest fans, who changed their hats quarterly during the game.  I didn't find out more about these ladies except that they have a lot of personality and that they order their outfits online.

Interesting Ceremony at Mission Espada

So on Memorial Day we were with some friends visiting Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission Espada.  At Mission Espada, we pulled up just as some people were organizing for a ceremony with drums, incense and elaborate feathered costumes.  They gathered beside the parking lot and then walked together to the front of the main entrance of the Mission building, where they chanted and turned together in a prescribed pattern. Then at some point, a classically dressed monk walked by the group of what looked like some kind of Aztec-influenced Native Americans.  No, this wasn't a staged show at Disneyland.  It was Texas, U.S.A.  Sometimes in life, you just hush up and watch.
* photo by Dave Rogers

Shrine of the Little Flower

I happened on this place one day when I was searching for other stuff around town.  It's such an old-looking, European style building compared to it's surroundings (ordinary street with a modern school, convenience stores).  A lady who lives nearby told me that when the Pope comes to town, he comes here.  Is driven a special route from the airport.  I'll leave it to you to visit for yourself and see what's inside the main sanctuary.

Symphony Petting Zoo

Recently at the Laurie Auditorium at Trinity University, the San Antonio Symphony had a chance for kids to be able to touch, handle and try for themselves real symphonic instruments. There was an accompanying short performance by a local children's orchestra. Craft stations were around for kids to make a horn out of a piece of tubing for instance. This was all a precursor to a regular Symphony concert. It was a delight to watch the kids faces as they explored the musical instruments. I think this is a once a year event.

Fiesta Decorations

It's such a fun thing to have an entire city get in on a party. Throughout town people decorate their doors with wreaths, their houses with cut-paper banners of all colors, and sometimes you'll see streamers of ribbons.

San Anto Mural Project

I was curious about this when I first heard about it. Was finally able to join a tour last month along with a large group of Hispanic Studies students.

These are a series of murals on walls of businesses mostly, in an area on the West side of San Antonio. The idea of this non-profit organization is to decorate public spaces, plus give local young artists an outlet for creativity and expression. Plus I think to contribute to the public debate.

As well, we heard that at one store, the presence of the murals has prevented "tagging," which is gang members spray-painting their signs/initials on places around town.

Most of the murals done by this organization are the "narrative" type. I was expecting more Graffiti Art (you know, big, bright letters basically). Instead, their murals tell a story with images.

One project was actually a mosaic. Many pieces of glass were assembled off-site and then mounted onto the side of a house. This piece was very heavy and needed a crane to lift it.

Thank you to Ruth for taking us around with her megaphone.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

W.D. Deli

When I'm inside here, I feel like I'm inside a quirky children's book. Maybe one by Shel Silverstein. There's a wide, creaky wooden staircase that goes up the center of the restaurant. The walls are covered with a mixture of those souvenir States plates, original, bright, local paintings, and some cheaply framed 70's photos. I've had the pimento cheese sandwich (fresh cheddar and bits of walnuts - it's about 3 inches high!) and the potato salad (good). My husband had the spinach chicken salad, which looked very good and had large chunks of chicken. Since there are seats upstairs in this old house, we could look out second-story windows while we ate. There's outdoor seating, with umbrella tables as well.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Charreadas are Mexican Rodeos. A "Charro" is a cowboy.

We were mesmerized watching one of these here in San Antonio.

The same day, we'd been to see the regular Stock Show & Rodeo - bull riding and mutton bustin' event, complete with a fantastic lighting show, the riders in shining, neon chaps with fringe and a professional emcee over a sound system.

By contrast, this was more like a very large family picnic. It was outdoors at a small arena, had a laid-back vibe, yet some of the events were pretty dangerous. I thought the traditional garb was cool. Big, embroidered bowties, specially decorated sombreros with contrasting stitching, girls with huge, bright, full skirts with colored stripes spread across the horses' backs.

There was a large speaker propped up on the bleachers, playing "Viva Zapata!" type music the whole time.

It seemed to be such a family affair. I think most people were there to compete in an event themselves, or to watch family members.

I saw one man ride his horse over to the snack bar, eat his nachos while sitting there in the saddle, and then drop the trash into a can, from up there on high.

We saw the two events listed below.

The following is an excerpt from the San Antonio Charro Association website:

Mangana ... is done on horse and on foot ... [T]he roper on horseback twirls his rope around his horse, springing it over his head at least once, while a wild horse is chased around the arena. As the horse passes, the rider, must catch the front legs. In the second [event], the roper, while standing on the ground, twirls the rope around himself, jumping through and back through the loop as a wild horse is chased around the arena. When the horse is next to him, he catches the front legs.

Paso de Muerte (Pass of death) is the final event. In it, a rider jumps from his galloping horse onto the back of a galloping wild horse and rides until it stops bucking.

Charreada is sometime called the national sport of Mexico, but it is more then that, it is a Tradition. This is because the relationship between men and horses is an integral part of the Mexican psyche, as exhibited in their language. A gentleman is Mexico is called a caballero or horseman.


Wow. I see why it takes two years out to plan all these events ... !

In the ten days, we saw the following:

(Which might not seem like much, but keep in mind that school, work and regular life were still going on the whole time!)

The Battle of Flowers Parade

We ended up buying tickets for Broadway bleacher seats, which is right at the beginning of the parade route. We parked on Cunningham and walked down about 3/4 of a mile. Maybe could've parked a little closer because we got there pretty early (11:45). We had to walk down the east side of the street (which was bad: it was a single file line through standing people, stopped every once in awhile by those trying to set up their foldable chairs, or discuss what to do next - friends took an adjacent street and cut over, which worked much better) and then we had to actually cross Broadway between parade marchers (these were the "Vanguard" - which was military marching units that begin the parade before the floats and things start at 12:30). It being our first year here, I didn't know how crowded it would be (I imagine it varies from year to year; this year there was some rain that morning that might've kept people away). There ended up being quite a few empty chairs along the street that I noticed. Then our section of the bleachers was not crowded. We were able to put our feet up and have plenty of room for our lunch coolers, and a good view up above the street level. The weather turned out to be perfect - overcast and not too hot, with a breeze. The parade was long, but I honestly didn't notice except for my back and legs getting a little cramped. It was not boring! Floats were interspersed with marching bands, alternating with horses and the girls with their gowns. We were right under the overpasses here. Some sections (I think "O" were under the highway and therefore out of the weather). One fun thing about sitting in this area was watching people with those giant floating balloons get them down and underneath. Another thing was that trucks would honk as they zoomed by above us.

The Pooch Parade

Which is also a 5K walk and confusedly listed (for me) as lasting from 8 'til 12 (now I get it). We made our way down to Abiso and Arbutus around 10:15 and they were all walking by. I was fascinated and couldn't take my eyes off all the different doggies. Felt kind of badly for the ones that were dyed pink and blue, but I don't suppose they care! Heck, they're getting a nice walk and time with their owners out of it, plus lots of other friendly people to meet. We saw many of sombreros hanging under furry necks.

The "Coronation"

Not very well-attended by spectators other than those directly involved with the tradition. When the girls came out in their special pose of arms at a certain angle out from their sides with wrists bent, they actually looked like lit-up Christmas trees, the way the stage lights glittered on the dense rhinestones and beads which are attached by hand to three layers of fabric.

Some men wear tuxes and some women wore silk suits to this ceremony. I did however see what certainly must've been a busload of tourists, and one man was no lie, wearing a red hawaiian shirt. There were what seemed like a thousand young people, seating everyone, wearing military dress of navy jackets and white pants, adorned with plenty of gold and ribbons. These were students from the Texas Military Institute, a private school in town.

I was shocked at the deep "bow" that each duchess (24 of them), and the princess and queen execute facing their male escort. It's more of a yoga pose in which they completely collapse to the ground.

The store Julian Gold (on McCullough) has large display windows where they put several gowns and trains after Fiesta, well-lighted so that they glitter and sparkle. Which is nice for getting a closer look. I went to the Witte exhibit of gowns and trains from past years and found it disappointing. There were just a very few examples and they were somewhat crunched into glass cases. Also, Jefferson Bank on Broadway has two trains displayed on their walls for good viewing. They plan to alternate different ones from different years.

The girls and their outfits ride color-coordinated floats that are a big part of the Battle of Flowers parade and I admired their good-natured assummptions of their roles, which really is one of ambassadors of the city. The whole "coronation" tradition is a very big draw for the entire Fiesta event in San Antonio, which of course brings a lot of income to the city. Every few seconds throughout the parade the women are shouted at to, "show your shoes" and they pull up their heavy skirts and wave their feet at the crowds, wearing incongruous footwear instead of the expected high heels - usually cowboy boots of some kind, but I also saw sequin-covered sneakers with ribbon laces.

NIOSA (A Night Out in Old San Antonio)

The theme is, "foods of many lands" meaning to represent all the peoples who settled in this area, and there are sections where you can find escargot and beignets from France, sausage on a stick from Germany, and Mexican condensed-milk dessert bars, plus much more. Booths are decorated with colorful streamers and flags, and participants dress in costumes of some kind. The whole event is a fundraiser for the Conservation Society (preserving historic homes and land in San Antonio). Many people wear big straw sombreros onto which they glue a large assortment of small objects. Some hats had themes, like the Spurs, others looked like people had bought up an aisle's worth of random items at the dollar store, and then set to work with a glue gun. Strangers cracked confetti eggs (cascarones) over each others' heads. Note: I have never before been part of a crowd that moved as one, like an amoeba.

Watched the River Parade on TV

It was a novelty to see floats that were boats. Their riders were a little less active than those on solid ground, seeming to want to keep their feet firmly planted. This parade features the Texas Cavaliers, the men's philanthropic organization that contributes to children's charities and is a driving force behind the coronation tradition.

* The period, red-jacketed "Army Old Guard" Fife & Drum Corps were all over the place during the ten days. I saw them impressively perform at the Coronation, marching down the runway with smooth precision. They were standing in the Arneson Theater for the river parade. They marched through the throng at NIOSA, tweeting expertly. They were in the Battle of Flowers parade.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Latin Dancer

I visited a small dance studio the other day with my daughter's friend and was so impressed with the posture and presence of the instructor, who was in her 80's. Baile Artistico Dance Studio teaches Folklorico, Flamenco, Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop and Jazz. We observed a ballet folklorico class, which involved big, flowing skirts and lots of loud stomping with tap shoes. More than with say, classical ballet, which can get really technical, this style of dance seemed to me to really come alive when there was attitude infused into the movements by the dancers themselves. The more sass, or firm pride there was in the tilt of a chin for example, the better. I do know that I enjoy all kinds of dance more when the soul of the dancer is expressed, instead of it being just about the movements of the body. So not only was the instructor obviously very talented and experienced, she appeared to me to have that extra something which magnetizes one's eyes. I have been trying to improve my posture ever since watching her teach.

Picado Artist

Local artist Kathleen Trenchard hand-cuts decorative paper flags in the Mexican tradition.

I find this rather fascinating and plan to talk with her more soon. See her website here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Brackenridge Park a jewel of San Antonio. It's such a great place. On weekends it's packed to overflowing with birthday parties. Every picnic table throughout the large park is staked out and decorated with balloons, streamers, colorful tablecloths and often a pinata. Parking can be an issue, so be ready to walk.

The river winding through is open for fishing and offers lots of variety, including lily pads, different breeds of ducks and walls for sitting along its banks. At one part cars can drive through a section of shallow water to cross to the other side.

The zoo is next door to the park section. Some birds are visible in trees overhanging the fence.

A golf course is here.

A bright red miniature train runs a two-mile course through the park.

There are baseball fields and open areas for soccer.

Miles of biking/walking paths run through.

A great playground is adjacent to a large stone pavilion with rows of picnic tables.

It's just very pretty, with lots of shade, trees, paths, the picturesque mini-train and sloping river banks. Lots of green.

* This bridge is just one of the faux bois (fake wood) creations all over town done by the Cortes family.  There is a bus stop on Broadway, a pavilion at Landa library, benches at La Cantera shopping center, among others.  I find them very fanciful structures.  They remind me of woodland fairy furniture.

McAllister Park

A San Antone green lung. You'd think you were in the country, except for sometimes the giant belly of a jet flying low overhead. The airport is adjacent to the acres set aside for the park.

Has extensive bike trails - paved and rough. Plenty of party pavilions and sports fields.

A highlight is the dog park. There's a small playground (with canine play equipment). The place is well-frequented and you might want to go watch the antics even if you don't have a pet. So many different breeds to see.


This was just absolutely delicious Italian food.

And I'm tempted to leave this posting at that.

Because who doesn't like delicious Italian food?

There are lots of Italian restaurants, and to be honest, I like most of them. I'm just a fan of pasta and sauce.

This however was a cut above. I had Fettucini Alfredo Primavera and the vegetables were cooked to perfection and tasted so good. The pasta was perfect and tasty; the sauce was the perfect consistency and yummy.

Okay, so the environment was formal. My husband and I went for lunch and there were many people in nice business suits, and many others having some kind of medically-related conversations, since this is located near the Health Sciences
Centers. There were goblets, thick, white, cloth tablecloths and the kind of service from white-shirted, black-trousered waiters that is sort of an event in itself.

Tower of the Americas/Chart House Restaurant

We ate here for a special family dinner. Although it appears to be a very swanky restaurant and we did enjoy the quality of our food, there was actually a variety of priced items to choose from on the menu, as well as a variety of levels of dress among the clientele. We wore middle-of-the-road clothes and saw both tourists, in shorts and t-shirts, and young couples in cocktail dresses and jackets. A few tables had large bouquets of roses which can be ordered when you make a reservation, to be delivered during the meal. We made reservations, but I saw a few people walk-in. This was in January.

The whole experience was much more fun than I thought it would be. The entire restaurant rotates around about once an hour. I've been up in tall buildings to look at cities before, and really am not that interested after a short while. The difference for me here, was that you can sit and have the view present itself slowly in a circle, plus eat and talk while looking out the windows. Also, there were Christmas lights at the time we were there, and we were there right at sundown, so were able to see the city view during daylight and at night, and watch the sky change.

There is not much room to walk around the tables, so I think it's a challenging job for the waiters. You do feel a little off-balance walking, after the moving meal.

This is "our tower."  San Antonio's skyline is enhanced by this structure, which was built for the World's Fair in 1968.

Poteet Strawberry Festival

... ate the little green plastic basket of strawberries in the car on the way home. They were crunchy not with sugar, but with dust. Delicious anyway.

It was very windy and dry for our visit.


Strawberry shortcake; chocolate-dipped strawberry kabob; corn-on-the-cob.

Gunfighters who were convincingly dressed and with real, droopy mustaches. Obviously enjoying their act and the chance to perform exaggerated death jerks during the pretend shoot-out.

There were these giant, wooden rocking horses wearing real saddles.

A couple of really excellent bands. One jazz/rock/blues. One a group of very young and accomplished mariachi musicians, girls and boys.

In the distance was a water tower painted to look like a giant strawberry.

A stuffed, bright red strawberry mascot roamed the festival posing for photo-ops.


There were the usual carnival rides and games.

We noticed that the new live prize to take home is a ferret! Last time we went to a fair in England it was goldfish. I think the ones we ended up with were all three named Amy and lived with us for quite awhile ...

* The smaller-than-usual, homegrown Poteet berries were wonderful. Wonderful.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

San Antonio Swing Dance Society

A friend told me about this organization. I haven't checked it out in person.

It sounds like they have a lot of fun. Teaching different dances around town and meeting to socialize and do the Lindy Hop or the Charleston and other swing dances at rotating locales.

See the website for more information.

Carver Community Cultural Center

I watched a performance of the Garth Fagan dance troupe here. It was incredible.

From what I can tell, they book great acts.


Southtown is a group of artists.

Artists tend to group together for inspiration. The fact is, human beings draw creativity from one another – the mysterious process of being known and being in a community leads to ideas and the expression of those. Observations about life, which is a lot of what art is, cannot really be experienced in isolation.

Check out this area of town next to the King William district.

There are some good restaurants around there (Rosario's - Tex Mex).

The group of shops and galleries along South Alamo Street and North Saint Mary’s represent a nice cross-section of San Antonio's mediums and styles.

The feel of the place is a mix of young and trendy, with fun and creative.

It has a lot of rough, colorful character in its buildings.


I didn't visit this event myself, but check out our friends photography website (under links), or the event website for more information. It looks fabulous.

Lots of arts organizations come together to present a collection of night-time wonders, including colored lights shining on the fronts of downtown buildings (the Alamo), and a Symphony concert.

Guadalupe State Park

Felt like we were in the land of Narnia. These big, bleached grey trees were down at the edge of the (low water) river. They had tangled roots above ground and wind-woven branches.

The river was clear, green, wide.

It was very quiet the day we went and we heard rippling water, screechy birds, crunchy leaves, sausages sizzling, and the bang of kids' feet on a slide.

Bass Pro Shop

... is really very amazing. Yes, it's a store, but really so much more. I'm not even being paid to say that.

It has an artificial lake, waterfall, stuffed animals & fish galore, all over the store - diorama style.

Super customer service. Attentive and knowledgeable; large dressing rooms - tidy, with good lighting.

My first impression was "fake," but it grows on you, with it's reminders of activities people spend time doing, enjoying real nature.

There are lots of boats for sale.

It's a total shopping experience, including indoor archery and gun ranges, and a restaurant.

There's even a climbing wall for kids, a kids' shooting range (pop, pop, pop, while you're trying on clothes), and fishing demonstrations with live sea urchins.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Even if you’re not generally into amusement parks, there is fun to be had at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

To begin with it's built into an interesting location in a former quarry. Stripped rock walls surround the blue, or red metal spirals of The Rattler and Tony Hawk’s Big Spin.

Tweens and teens have voted their favorite ride The Superman, because of its twists, turns and hills.

The Goliath is fun and scary in a good way, for those with older necks and backs. It spins and dips but is also smooth.

In the Boardwalk section, The Frisbee spins and swings almost upside down. It is much more fun than you’d think to look at it.

One might want to sit underneath The Scream and watch people’s faces. The ride teases people with fear.

It goes half-way up, then plummets back down . Then zooms all the way back up to pause for an extra few moments at the very top, before plunging all the way to the ground again.

Shocked, screaming, big-eyed expressions, turn into huge smiles as people unbuckle at the bottom.

During off-season you’ll find shorter lines. There are places to cool off and take a break. Six Flags is a good opportunity to literally hang out together, your feet dangling.

There are decorated plastic bottles for sale on site for $13, and these can be re-filled for $1 with your choice of drink throughout the season.

Although this is a higher cost outing, a good thing is that there’s no long drive. San Antonio is this close to thrill rides.

There are also concerts held throughout the year.

Barney Smith & His Toilet Seat Art Museum

San Antonio's Toilet Seat Art Museum just might be the city's most unusual.

Visiting this museum is a total experience. Long before the concept of "interactive museums," Mr. Smith had the force of his personality, stories and charisma.

Visitors from all 50 states and many foreign countries have passed through the humble, but extensive, museum.

The Toilet Seat Art Museum is located at 239 Abiso, in San Antonio, and can be viewed by appointment by calling 824-7791.


Classic, classic, classic.

Updated diner-style.

Good straw fries. Unique and yummy frozen custard items. Nice red, black, and white decor.

Greasy and tasty classic grilled sandwich.

Broadway Daily Bread

The smell of cinnamon greets you when you open the door of this shop.

Behind the counter are shelves of plump, hearty loaves and other fresh baked goods like blueberry muffins, chocolate-frosted-chocolate cupcakes and sausage kolaches.

Front and center are taste samples of the offerings of the day. The staff are helpful and will slice your loaf for you. Birdman bread is recommended. It has seeds, and will satisfy any craving for hearty, homemade bread.

“You don’t even need butter for that stuff,” my son said about the classic white loaf (there's honey in it).

If you get there in the morning you might see bakers pulling off and measuring lumps of dough onto scales for that day’s baking.

They also serve coffee, and have a few small tables in the store’s front window.

Broadway Daily Bread Co.
5162 Broadway
7 am – 6 pm Tuesday – Friday, 7 am – 5 pm on Saturday
Closed Sunday and Monday

Hung Fong

3624 Broadway

A short ways down from the Witte, on the opposite side of the street. The front wall is decorated with bright red tiles and colorful murals. One of the Great Wall and, “Greetings from the People of China.” After you enter the carved wooden doors, there’s a case of jade and gold jewelry and a table of exotic plants for sale. There’s one large, main seating area. On the ceiling are two neon crossed flags of USA and China. Decorating the walls are mosaic-type art made of butterfly wings. You heard me right. Hundreds of iridescent purple, and shimmering green wings are set in overlapping patterns to form amazing pieces. We had a rather curt but efficient waitress. Very fast service. Other staff were smiling and friendly – all of them very attentive. Absolutely delicious food. I’ve had a lot of Chinese food in my time, but this was truly the best ever. Very reasonably priced. Parking on the street and around the sides.

Asian Festival

Great fun and variety.

Note: Bring cash. There is only one ATM semi-conveniently located within the grounds of the Institute of Texan Cultures where the event takes place. Admission is cash only and you then receive tickets for entrance. Food stalls as well, only take tickets for payment.

Lots of different booths of edibles to try.

Calligraphy, puppetry, informational booths.

Demonstrations of martial arts (many kinds). Sumo wrestling.

Performances of dances of many lands.

Alamo Music

Alamo Music Center has been a San Antonio fixture since 1891. They represent expertise, and old-fashioned customer service involving respect and attentiveness. One example of this is that they naturally and pointedly greet everyone who comes through their doors. It’s evident that the sales staff are into music. They have that depth of knowledge that exposes itself casually when answering questions. You get the feeling that you’re touching the tip of the iceberg with your comments about all the different kinds of pianos.

Our son’s guitar teacher is not only skilled and encouraging as a teacher having great rapport with students, but also a passionate and talented musician in his own right. When my husband recently bought a guitar from the store, he received a personally signed thank you letter from the owner. Which was of course very startling, but also impressive. In contrast to the sterile, people-free interaction of much shopping nowadays, these folks are markedly personable. Their motto is, “Life is more fun when you play music.”

Two locations.

Next door is a German restaurant with delicious rumballs.

Little Aussie Bakery

You'll miss this if you don't know where to look. Overall this place has the feel of a favorite, comfortably worn-in upholstered chair. There are actually a couple of those set around to enjoy. As well as a soft couch arranged in front of the fireplace in this cafĂ© / bakery. It’s located in an old house tucked down a small lane that begins almost opposite the outdoor treehouse at the Witte museum. The menu features gluten-free everything. It’s proprietor is very knowledgeable about special diet options. The cakes are a reason to stop by, in and of themselves. Dense and flavorful, they vary from coconut and lemon, to berry sponge. The staff are casual and attentive and there are a suitable number of attractive pine tables throughout.

Japanese Tea Garden

Another great FREE attraction in San Antonio is the Japanese Tea Garden, near the San Antonio Zoo in Brackenridge Park. It’s a lovely surprise oasis, planted in a former quarry used by a cement factory. Recently renovated and now featuring extensive stone paths spiraling from the low water basin up the high walls of the outdoor space. Gold, silver and mottled-black fish live and feed in the pools at the bottom of the basin. Vines climb the walls and a waterfall spills down three stories from the top edge. Pansies and various plants throughout – from gigantic to tiny - create a lush, tropical feeling.

Outside one building is a Poinsettia plant growing higher than the tallest Spurs player.

There are lots of built-in stone benches, and a suspended wooden bridge, crossing over from the tower of the now-retired factory to a covered pavilion area.

Go for a long while or a few minutes, and repeat visits often.

Earl Abel's

I like Earl's.

Chances are if you've eaten out with your grandparents it was in a place like this. The ambience and smells are familiar and nostalgic. You can hear the murmur of conversation and clink of silverware of fellow diners.

Earl's has been in business since 1933.

Clientele are as interesting as the history of Earl. There are a mixture of people eating. Different ages and professions, as evidenced by the hats (cowboy and baseball) and business suits (or khaki uniforms).

Pies entice and serve as decoration, lining two shelves underneath a long mirror on the back wall. Cakes sit proud and tall, on stands under clear glass at the counter.

There are "petite" menu options. (Instead of "jumbo!")

When Earl began the business it was during the depression. He was trying to diversify, after a career as a silent film organist was ending. One day he hit on the idea of supplying customer's with jokes to go with their drinks, and this increased his popularity and business.

Here are a couple of sayings from plaques in the restaurant:

"The reason a dollar won't do as much for people as it once did, is people won't do as much for a dollar, as they once did!"

"Eat Here, Diet Home."

"It's tough to pay $1.25 for a steak but 50¢ steaks are tougher."

The humor of course adds to the dining enjoyment.

Located on Austin Highway.