1. Never-ending construction, and
2. Absolutely nothing, ever, for free
San Antonio is what most non-Texans think of when they think of Texas, now that Dallas is off the air. San Antonio's status as a top tourist attraction is largely due to the historic Alamo, which is nestled in the middle of downtown, across the street from the Guinness Book of Records Museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not. The Alamo symbolizes the never-say-die spirit of true Texans, those brave men who were slaughtered by the Mexican army after telling them the bottled water was $4.50.
In addition to the Alamo, there is the historic Riverwalk, a sidewalk surrounding a river of such historical value that it is repeatedly enlarged to create even more valuable- I mean, historical- real estate upon which to locate even more historical Mexican restaurants featuring real historical mariachis who play historical Mexican music for $10 per song.
I kid. I'm a little cynical about San Antonio, I suppose, because my profession holds two conventions per year, and they are both in San Antonio. Each year of my professional life, with very few exceptions, I am forced to travel to San Antonio for these professional workshops. The hotels in downtown are ridiculously expensive (we paid $200 per night), but parking is also very costly and almost impossible to find. The food is very good and very expensive, and takes forever. There is no free public internet access, and my hotel only offered free wireless in the lobby- to use internet in your room, you could use the broadband connection for only $24.95 plus $.05 per minute.
They finally finished their 10-year renovation to the convention center, so, of course, it's time to completely remodel the Rivercenter Hotel/Mall complex, shutting down the main pedestrian route to the convention center, closing two of the four lanes of the busiest street in downtown, and closing the Brentano's bookstore.
I'm afraid I may be giving the wrong impression. The service in San Antonio is wonderful. The people are friendly, the vendors non-threatening. The workshops I attended were fun and informative, I got lots of free stuff, and bought even more. We had two full exhibit halls, where I got to watch the ShamWow demonstrated live and played a purple violin. We took the kids to eat at The Magic Time Machine, where our waitresses were Dora the Explorer and Daisy Duke, much to Sven Jr.'s delight. (I know he's only 13 months, but he kept dropping things when she walked by, with a look in his eyes I can only describe as hopeful.) Snow White, Tinkerbell, Captain Jack Sparrow, Harry Potter, and Marilyn Monroe were also working that night. The kids slept almost every night, Sven was in a pretty good mood, and our hotel housekeeper, Virginia, timed her cleaning around the kids' naps, even though that meant she had to clean our room at 5:00 p.m.
And Sven stayed out with his friends until 2:00 a.m. Friday night, but I woke up Saturday to Valentine's Day jewelry, much to my surprise. Multi-colored pearl necklace and bracelet, thank you very much.
So, it was a good convention. I got lots of staff development hours, and made memories that would have lasted a lifetime, but I forgot the camera.