San Antonio Riverwalk
We drove to San Antonio early on Friday morning. We only planned to stay in this city for one day, so we needed to get an early start in order to fit in everything that we wanted to see.
Our first stop was the famous San Antonio Riverwalk.
The San Antonio River walk (aka Paseo del Rio) is a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story beneath the streets of Downtown San Antonio, Texas. Lined by bars, shops and restaurants, the River Walk is an important part of the city’s urban fabric and a tourist attraction in its own right.
Today, the River Walk is an enormously successful special-case pedestrian street, one level down from the street. The River Walk winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks lined with restaurants and shops, connecting the major tourist areas. During the annual springtime Fiesta San Antonio, the River Parade features flowery floats that “float” down the river.
From the moment that we arrived at the river, it was definitely clear why this river is so famous in Texas. The walkways were clean and lined with huge beautiful trees, providing shade and relief from the heat. We walked along the river for a couple of hours before deciding to start looking for a place to eat. There was so much to see… We enjoying taking all the sights in.
Earlier this year, while traveling through Melaka, Malaysia, we visited a similar river walk. You can see that awesome river walk in our previous blog posts ~ here (We Love Melaka) and here (Melaka River Cruise). Even after this amazing journey in South East Asia, we were still highly impressed with the San Antonio River Walk. In fact, it was nice to know that we could return to this river any time we want when we eventually move to Texas.
The love birds.
Due to high percentage of hispanic people (63%) in San Antonio, the river walk is booming with culture. If you love Mexican cuisine, then this is the place for you! There were tons of places to eat here, but most of them served mexican food. For us, it was not so much about what we wanted to eat, but rather which spot along the river we wanted to settle at. We were spoilt for choice!
We eventually decided on a Mexican Restaurant, called ” The Original”, for lunch. This was a great option for us because we sat near the water, and next to the walkway too. We could see the river taxis and people going by. It was graduation weekend at the Airforce Academy in San Antonio so there were TONS of men and women in uniform along the river. All of them were very young and with their parents/ siblings/ partners. It was nice to see so many families out and about enjoying the good weather.
A mariachi band came round and asked if they could sing for us. Fortunately, Justin was on the phone so they didn’t hang around. Why do I say fortunately? I don’t know why but I get extremely shy when people come and sing near my table. For some reason it makes me blush and feel very embarrassed. It’s nothing against them… I just don’t like it. They stopped at a few other tables and sang. It was a nice atmosphere.
There were abut 60 margarita options at this restaurant, so we could not pass up the opportunity to try a deliciously refreshing margarita. We had a few more hours left in the city, so Justin could have a drink with me too before having to drive back to Austin.
Hmmm…. Margaritas with Chips and Salsa.
Burrito for lunch
Also on the menu was a giant burrito called an El cholo Loco (roughly meaning “the crazy latino gangster”). As in you would have to be a crazy individual to try and consume this dish!! Justin was super hungry and I wanted to see him try and eat this, so I encouraged him to order it. You had to finish it in 35 minutes to win the challenge. If you did, it was free. If not… It cost $35.
When the waiter came by, we asked about the challenge. He told us that the burrito weighed over 8 lbs and that he had never seen anyone finish it, so we decided that we didn’t want to carry half of it around for the rest of the day We also didn’t want to have to pay $35 for a burrito, so we backed down. Justin used to eat a lot more than he does now, so he was convinced that he could do it, but after hearing that it was 8lbs, 2 inches high, and almost the length of the table we sat at – We both knew that it was too much! I was going to get a video of him trying to do it, but we will try to look for another challenge!
Oh oops… Great view!
We were having such a great time that we decided to keep walking around after lunch.
The river boat cruise looked enticing but we were waiting until later in the day to hop on board.
Artwork on one of the bridges passing over the river walk.
The Aztec Theatre
The Rio San Antonio Cruise cost $8 each and the tour was about 35 minutes.
We passed by all of the restaurants we had spent the day walking next to. It was interesting to get a different perspective from a seat in the river. Our tour guide told us many facts about the river and its construction. We learnt a lot of useful information.
An optical illusion: This building looks completely flat as you go by it on the river boat.
There is a complete shopping area near one end of the river. This Christmas tree was on an island in the middle of these shops. The river flowed through the middle of the “mall”. A bridge connects the island to the stores. It was a really awesome area!
The Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel
The Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel is a milestone, not only for the City of San Antonio, but for the modular construction industry as well. This 500-room deluxe hotel was designed, completed and occupied in an unprecedented period of 202 working days!!
The rooms were placed by crane in 46 days. Each room module was pre-cast from light-weight structural concrete. Before arriving on the construction site, each room was fully decorated including TV, radio, beds, carpeting, bottle openers, coffee makers, ash trays, and even bed sheets!! They weighed 35 tons each and were manufactured at a plant located 8 miles from the project site!
Along the river there is an open air theatre with amphitheatre seating located on the other side of the river. That means that while a show takes place on a stage on one side of the river, the water follows between the audience and the performers. Stunning!
Our tour guide was friendly and funny!
Feeling very happy after our lunch, cocktails, boat ride and afternoon walk by the river.
We want to check out this place someday…
After the river walk, we accessed the street level and walked around there for a while too.