Wednesday, September 29, 2010

San Antonio Trip

Late Saturday night I returned from a weeklong trip to San Antonio, where a co-worker and I attended the ASBDC national conference. I stayed at the Hilton Palacio Del Rio Hotel, which is right on the Riverwalk and I had a nice view from my room. In this picture you can see a tiny bit of the river in the bottom righthand corner.

The rooms at the Hilton are spacious and comfortable, and I certainly couldn't complain about the lovely little balcony where, in the evenings when it wasn't a million degrees and a thousand percent humidity, I could sit and enjoy the view and listen to the sounds from the Riverwalk activity below.

On the day we arrived, I took a nice stroll along the riverwalk. There are areas of constant activity where you will find various restaurants and stores, and there are also peaceful areas like this where you can have a quiet stroll with an occasional cool breeze.

Since we didn't have to attend meetings on the first day, Sebastian and I enjoyed lunch on the Riverwalk, then walked a few blocks to the Alamo.

The Alamo is in the middle of downtown San Antonio, so it looks tiny compared to all of the commercial structures around it.

That evening, we ate dinner at Schilo's Delicatessen, a cute little German cafe around the corner from our hotel. Apparently they are famous for their split pea soup. I had a sandwich and a cup of the soup and I was impressed. I had enough sandwich leftover for lunch the next day (see the little to-go bag in my hand) and I think this was the least expensive meal I ate in San Antonio!

When I checked into my hotel on Tuesday, I noticed that my room was fairly warm, but I just assumed it was because San Antonio is, well, warm. Apparently not, though. On Wednesday I returned to my room at lunchtime and found my room to be pretty hot, with a big wet patch on the carpet under the return air vent. I called the front desk to let them know there might be a problem with the air conditioner, but told them it wasn't an emergency. I just suggested that they send someone up to check it out sometime during the afternoon.

The lady I spoke to said that they were aware of the problem and had already sent a maintenance person up to take care of it, but since it didn't seem to be fixed, she offered to move me to a different room. I thought that sounded fine, so I spoke to the front desk manager who fixed me right up and even offered me a free dinner in the hotel restaurant. Well, I was certainly pleased about that! Even better, when I returned to my room that night, I found that the hotel staff had left me a little treat for the inconvenience! Overall, I would say their customer service was excellent. Not only did they solve problems promptly, but their staff was otherwise friendly and helpful for the entire week.

I really enjoyed the fruit and cheese. I don't like wine, but I did drink ice water out of the nice glasses! I didn't want the bottle to go to waste, so I brought it home for a special occasion. For now, it's sitting on top of my refrigerator looking pretty.

Our conference ended on Friday evening and Sebastian and I were a bit overdressed for the casual "Taste of Texas" closing reception. Sebastian took off his tie when he arrived and saw that we misunderstood the dress code. Here we are in our fancy duds, when many others were dressed in jeans. Notice the wine glass in my hand. Remember how I said I don't like wine? Sebastian had gotten a glass for himself and his date, who hadn't arrived yet, so he wouldn't have to wait in line again when she got there. I held it for him so he wouldn't look like a lush in the photos. Don't we look fancy?

On Saturday morning we had some free time before we had to head to the airport for our return flight. We decided to visit another of San Antonio's five historical missions, Mission San Jose. We walked a few blocks to the right bus stop, then waited in the sun until Bus 42 finally arrived. It was worth the wait. This mission is much larger than the Alamo; it's actually the largest of the five. 230 years ago, Mission San Jose was a major social and cultural center known as "Queen of the Missions." According to the educational video shown in the visitor center, this community became home to about 350 new Christians, who eventually became part of the cultural group now known as Tejano.

Sebastian and I had a great trip. We learned a lot at our conference and enjoyed visiting San Antonio. I was so ready to come home by Saturday, though!