We mixed it up Tex-Mex style this week. We left the Texas Coast behind, crossed the border into Mexico for a day, then made our way up to our all-time favorite Texas city, San Antonio.
From Progreso, Texas, we walked across the bridge into Mexico. No one seemed to care whether we had a passport with us. In fact, there is no security and no one to greet us, except for this sign. The return did require our passports, of course, so it was good that we remembered to bring them along.
Immediately, it was apparent that we were in a different country with a much more colorful and vibrant society. The streets are lined with stalls and street vendors selling anything you can think of. This taste of Mexico is quite affordable too: $2.00 Margaritas and $1.00 Cervezas served in lively, open-air cafes. Throw in a wandering mariachi band and you know you're not in the USA anymore.
Next: San Antonio, our favorite city in Texas. We had the pleasure of boondocking at Travlngary's whose hospitality made our visit even more memorable.
Staying with locals usually means finding out about the area's hidden gems. This time it was Aurelia's Kitchen, a nearby Mexican Restaurant. A big menu, all authentic Mexican dishes, made fresh to order, great food, friendly service, and the prices are so low we could hardly eat cheaper at home. In fact, it was so good we ate there twice (and you know we travel frugaly and rarely eat out). I promised to give them a plug on my blog so mention that you're an RVer - they're expecting you!
Aurelia's is just north of Floresville. From Hwy 181, go west one mile on FM Rd 775, then north on Cty Rd 128 just a couple hundred yards. It's on your right.
After a hearty breakfast, we set out to visit some legendary San Antonio landmarks.
But the real treat for us in San Antonio is always the Riverwalk. Miles of pedestrian walkway along the river, oblivious to all the noise and traffic of the city above. Every city that's on a river should be built like this! We never tire of it, although it's now possible to actually have it "tire us out". Since our last visit, five years ago, the Riverwalk has grown from two miles long to many more miles. By 2014 the Riverwalk will be 13 miles long. I'm not sure how far it now stretches but it's well on the way. For the first time, we didn't attempt to walk the entire length.
The Riverwalk links museums and historical sections of the city. It is lined with cafes, shops, art work, and lush vegetation.
In fact, the Riverwalk is now so long that this young lady had gotten herself lost. She was a music student, in town for a conference, and by the time she asked us for directions to her hotel she was visibly upset and asked us if we could walk with her. We weren't heading that direction but changed course to escort her. By the time we got her safely "home" we had gotten to know her well enough that we asked if we could adopt her :-)
For Randy and me, the Riverwalk is a romantic location. How appropriate then; this year we were here on Valentine's Day. We learned at the visitor center that the stage on the La Villita section of the Riverwalk was offering an evening of free music, followed by a movie. This "Romance on the River" evening included a free wine and beer tasting (full glasses with refills all night long). We picked up some Asian take-out and snuggled up to watch "When Harry Met Sally" under the stars. Yes, it's an old movie but still good and, after all, it was free. A perfect Valentines treat for frugal travelers like us!
The romance continued after we left San Antonio. On route to Austin, we stopped in Gruene, where we wandered through an open-air craft market; the general store and other unique shops; the famous and amazing Gristmill Restaurant; and, most importantly, enjoyed more free live entertainment at the oldest continuously operating dance hall in Texas. I would love to report that we danced here but it wasn't really dance music. There was a pretty good crowd there for a Sunday afternoon, though.
Some real legends got their start here and many big name bands still play here. There's daily live music with a cover charge only for the big acts (mostly on weekend evenings). The building itself is more like an old barn and the dance floor is a not-very-level, old, hardwood floor. What an amazing thing just to walk across this old dance floor and "feel" the energy of all those years of dancing, partying, and good music that has literally "shaped" it.
As our friends back home are aware, Randy and I are known to attend a country dance once in a while. We particularly love to waltz. One of our favorite waltz tunes is Waltz Across Texas. And, with that song in mind, our "dance" across Texas continues as we head into Hill Country next.Days On The Road at time of writing: 40