Double Dip

History repeats itself, and I am skipping Fort Worth. Reasons are twofold. Firstly, I would kinda like to spend another night in Austin because it sounds freakin’ awesome and going to a gig tonight really put me in the mood for more music. Secondly, and way more influentially, the public transport system is completely unable to support me in what I want to do. A mixture of rubbish Greyhound times and horrendously inadequate local buses mean I can’t be fussed with the problems I would have to deal with – not for one night in the crappy part of an insignificant town. So I’ll be headed to Abilene from Austin direct.

Today TK took me to three of the five nifty little Missions that surround San Antonio, including the famous Alamo wherein was fought the eponymous battle (which, according to TK’s fiancée, a lot of Texans think they won). It’s a pretty place, sun-drenched, all old white limestone and mortar with well-kept and tasteful gardens. But pictures speak louder than words.

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TK tells me that every Texan takes about two years of Texas history, which I found interesting. Another bit of trivia is that, because Texas was technically a country between successfully defining its borders and joining the Union (albeit making a speedy exit soon afterwards in the Civil War), it may fly its flag at equal height with the Stars and Stripes. Which means the bloody thing is everywhere. JonXP told me as we crossed the Pontchartrain that Texas ‘talks a big talk, but isn’t all that different’ – as opposed to Louisiana, which actually has its own system of laws still vestigially extant from its freewheeling, freebooting colony days.

So we shall see who’s right.

We also drove out to the smaller, lesser-known Missions, that didn’t have the privilege of a ripping good yarn to generate tourism. However, they were the more authentic for it, and had some really pretty interesting architectural stuff going on for such small buildings. Moorish and Spanish influence abounded – but again, why tell when I can show?

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There was also this jolly-looking character, sitting quite happily in the flowerbed with no explanation whatsoever. I’m assuming it was a nod to the indigenous populace and the help they lent to the Spanish missionaries, both as guides and converts. Either way, an uplifting bit of art.

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The reason for the title of this post is that my day was twofold. What better way to compliment the subtle reflection of the historical afternoon than hitting the riot of the night-soaked town?

We tripped to the very scenic and very beautiful (and very hip) area of town known as River Walk, which has more restaurants than really seems reasonable, and – as observed by my ever-gracious guides – no railings, which starts to raise some interesting potential logistics about punch-drunk revelers and readily available swimming. The best I can describe it is as though someone had heard of Venice but didn’t quite have the budget. There are paved walkways running their narrow ways up the side, punctuated every now and again by low, arched, heavy bridges, and occasionally a boatload of people decked with fairy lights comes drifting down the still waters. It’s very charming though, I must say. We ate at a Mexican place where I tried a Pepper Thingy stuffed with shredded beef and then fried, and a cheese filled tortilla Something-Or-Other. I’m not so good with the names. As usual, though, good stuff. Don’t worry mum, I’m walking it all off.

Then, however, we broke away from the scenic, if bustling area, and drove over a mile or two to a tiny little music venue called Limelight to see a couple of bands, the headline act being The Cartographers, a local supergroup (‘probably the biggest band in San Antonio’, I was told) comprised exclusively of, as much as I can figure, sickeningly talented people. They were celebrating their CD release and consequently were bursting with energy, the lead singer stomping and riffing all over the place. The bar was on the small side, tasted of ash, and was crammed with a disproportionate amount of geeky boys and girls. Great fun. For some reason I got my drink on the house, so I sat there bopping away to the support act, which was okay but generically schizophrenic, but when the headline came on they just blew everyone away. They really are very good, check them out.

We stayed the set and then made our way home, smelling of smoke and beer and sweat. In short – a great night. It’s really put me in the mood for more live music, and I’m now very much looking forward to my next stop, Austin: the purported bastion of music in the south.

Or so I’m told. You guys have got something to prove.

8 Responses to “Double Dip”


  1. 1 Eben 01/08/2009 at 2:50 pm

    Great pics, Texas sounds like fun.

  2. 4 Mark 01/08/2009 at 5:13 pm

    Brilliant pics Phill, looks like you’re having an eventful time!
    I can’t believe those missions buildings are in America, they look so Mediterranean.

    Anyway, keep it up, it makes for thrilling reading/seeing – you should publish it once you’re done…”Notes from a big nation”?

  3. 5 Renée 01/08/2009 at 5:57 pm

    San Antonio is one of the cities I would love to re-visit. Aren’t the missions wonderful? So much history and tradition wafting around you. I did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked at The Alamo…my grandmother was not willing to hang out while I read every single marker. hahaha.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your treks in Austin since I’m probably visiting there next summer. I rely moderately on your impressions. 😛

  4. 6 TK-42-1 02/08/2009 at 4:45 pm

    Sadly at the Alamo we didn’t get to walk through the chapel itself. We got a couple raspas and walked around the ground since there were about 5 people in line to get inside. By the time we got back to the front there was probably about 40 or so people in line outside the doors so I said fuck it and went on down the mission trail

    • 7 Renée 06/08/2009 at 12:16 am

      That is sad. It’s so…heavy…for lack of a better word. But then, I suppose part of that is knowing what the men who died there were like, feeling the weight of folk heroes around you. I would be very curious to know how a non-American felt being inside there.

  5. 8 TheRoadVirus 04/08/2009 at 8:52 am

    Chili Relleno?
    The stuffed pepper thingy?


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