The Alamo to Austin



Day 34 – May 11th.

Going to be another hot day.

We are off to the Alamo this morning. Dowie and Cara had a look at this old historical Spanish Mission yesterday.

I am so impressed with the Alamo and how it has been preserved. Free entry as well. Beautiful gardens/re-enactments, history film and museum of Spanish/Texas artefacts. I spent a few dollars in the gift shop. Not sure Kate would have enjoyed the gardens as the squirrels are very brave. I know that most readers will have some knowledge of the significance of what happened here and how that event shaped Texas and the United States we know today. One might even say like our own Galipolli. Check it all out here

After a few hours we decided that lunch was necessary. We headed to the old Pearl Brewery site which is now high-priced apartments and restaurants as well as nice public-space. Pearl is also the site of the Culinary Institute of America. We found a nice Bakery that offered freshly made sandwiches.

I am a sucker for a good bookshop and there is one next door to the bakery. Got a copy of ‘101 Chillies to Try Before You Die’. I am sure that if you sampled some of the chillies that are listed as Super-Hot your death would be somewhat hurried. Listed at 101 is the Carolina Reaper. The author writes that he tasted the pod. ‘I have eaten a few superhot chillies and some amazingly hot sauces over the years, but I was in over my head with this one – it nearly killed me. A few chews and the rest of my taste was a blur followed by a lot of milk and ice cream,’ – David Floyd.

At 2PM we are on the road for the one-and-a-half-hour drive to Austin. The proclaimed capital of the music world. The slogan of ‘Keep Austin Weird’, will give you an idea that Austin is a hip city.

The drive over was uneventful apart from when a motorbike rider went past with a death wish.

We are staying on South Congress Avenue and arrived around 3:45. I can already feel the great vibe out on the street.

After a bit of a rest, we headed to 6th Street where there are many bars with live music. We called into the San Jac saloon where a guy was up singing in the Americana style. The barman was cool, we got a box of popcorn given to us which has been sprinkled with some hot spice. Good marketing as it made you drink your beer fast. One thing I noted on walking around that there are parking spots designated specifically for musicians to load in and bump out. Between sets, the barman played some Johnny Cash and some music by an unknown (to me) singer. I had to ask who it was. The barman took me behind the bar to show me his Spotify playlist. The singer is Tim Barry and I am going to have to get some of his stuff.

Next, we bar-hopped to the Jackalope Bar. The whole area is now buzzing with young punters. I had some Buffalo Wings (Honey and Jalapeno). Gave my lips a nice burn. By the way, if you don’t know what a Jackalope is then have a look here

Off we went again this time to the Mug Shot bar. Easy to see why so named as the walls are covered with Polaroid shots of the punters over the years. A lot of which are young women with breasts exposed, not that I was looking. I asked the bartender what his favourite beer was. He told me to try the ‘Willie’ named for Willie Nelson. Very spookily that when my beer arrived a Willie Nelson song started up on the Jukebox. I had a few Willies and the girls finished with a Fireball. I like Austin already.

San Antonio




Pat @ River Walk, San Antonio

Day 33 – May 10th

We are out at 9:30 for the short drive to Market Plaza. Dowie is being conscientious and has gone to the Gym. We walked around the Plaza for a while. All tourist shops selling mostly Mexican stuff. Was tempted to buy a Sombrero but common sense won out. We found a Mexican bakery, nice pastries. The temperature is fine now, but it is predicted to get to 30C.

We went down to the famous River Walk just after Noon. Fabulous spot. I asked Pat on the drive over if she had been here before. She told us that she and Bob had spent 4 weeks in San Antonio after being evacuated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They were much to busy just trying to survive those four weeks than simply being a tourist out to enjoy the sights of San Antonio.

The River Walk is a must do if you ever visit this city.

When in Rome etc. We had lunch at Rita’s on the River. Tex Mex food of course. I had the Green Chile Enchiladas. We even got serenaded by three amigos on guitar, trumpet and violin. The singer asked me if we wanted to hear La Bamba. I asked for something more traditional. I guess singing La Bamba for the tourists is like a band playing When the Saints Go Marching In down in New Orleans or Mustang Sally on Beale St. Memphis.

We decided to do the river cruise. I got the Senior’s discount. Didn’t even ask me for proof that I was over 60. Thirty-Five-minute tour on the meandering river. I liked travelling under Crockett Bridge. Brought back memories of watching the old black and white T.V. show.

The 1968 Word’s Fair was on this site as well. Nice statue of Saint Anthony (San Antonio).

We went and had a look at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum.

We worked out last night that there will be a Blues musician playing at the Barriba Cantina tonight. More luck than good fortune, we found the place mid-afternoon and it was happy hour. We went in to have a cold beer and check the place out. The bartender asked where we are from. He had guessed Australia but wanted to confirm it. He is ex-navy and spent some time in Perth in the 70’s. He is originally from Birmingham, Alabama and moved to San Antonio in 1985. I told him that I wanted to get to Birmingham one day. He asked, ‘why’? , For the history of the place’, I replied. He told us he lived there during the violent Civil Rights movement. He said that he was not bitter about what happened during the 60’s and that he had moved on.

After a cleansing ale, we took a long walk along the river to find the shopping mall. I sat with a cold drink while Wendy and Pat had a look around. The Food Hall has a couple of New Orleans themed concessions. One vendor asked me if I would like to try some of their Louisiana chicken. Didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had eaten Fried Chicken at Dooky Chase in New Orleans proper.

Dowie and Cara caught a bus back to the apartment. The streets of San Antonio are very clean, little graffiti and not many beggars.

We got back the Barriba’s around 5:30 and settled in with good seats for the band that will start at 7PM. The musician we are here to see is Will Owen Cage.

Pat told us the story of when Bob M.C.’d on the Riverboat President. The acts on that night were B.B.King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Now that is impressive. The cantina has run out of chardonnay so Wendy is not happy. The staff took the time to send over a sample of a similar wine which was good service. We had a snack of Guacamole and Devilled Eggs topped with crispy Jalapeno Bacon.

Will turned out to be a good guitarist/singer. He is backed by three older guys, drums, keys and bass. I would sooner they played the blues-rock style they started with, after a few songs an older Mexican guy (Little Roger Gonzales) got up to sing Santana covers.

An important lesson for me Cerveza is a Spanish word meaning Beer.

Little Roger then sang La Bamba. Guess they are playing for the tourists. Will welcomed us Australian’s to the Cantina. There is a guy in the crowd who reminded me of John Goodman (the old BIG John Goodman). He told me he likes Australians and went and got me a beer. That was good as the beer is going down easy tonight. We left half-way into the second set. The city looks pretty at night. There are many Cinderella-like carriages lining the street ready for passengers. They look good all lit up with lights. Pat and I finished the night with a Tequila shot as recommended by our waitress Melissa.