Since January 14th, the Rose and I have been living on the 14th floor of the Majestic Theater in the heart of Downtown San Antonio. And while we’ve been working pretty much non-stop, our 6 minute walks to and from work have over time combined to paint a picture of life in San Antonio – the people, the places, the personal of the city. And while we have more to learn, it’s already quite obvious that San Antonio is not Texas.
The Texas I know is a land filled with oil rigs and cattle farms. Where everything is “big’, from the trucks to the highways to the iconic Texas skies. It’s where the deer and the Antelope play, right?
San Antonio (SA, for short) has none of those things, dispute being the 7th largest city in the nation (way ahead of little Boston at #13). The climate feels like LA, the food is basically mexican / tex-mex (just like LA), and unlike LA, the people are super friendly. Sure, they say “Y’all” all the time, but that’s the most you’ll hear of the stereotypical southern accent, and I’m convinced they only say “Y’all” because it’s a way to just be more friendly.
The Downtown area of SA is quite walkable. And it’s second-most noteworthy attraction, the River Walk, provides a peaceful, cool place to grab lunch or dinner, or even to take a run — being 30 feet down and away from the hustle and bussle of downtown helps a lot. It’s no wonder why I’ve heard the locals call San Antonio the vacation land of Texas — it’s where the Texans come for some good ol’ fashioned R&R.
The downtown area actually has a Disneyland feel, with it’s horse driven carriages all lit up with sparkly LED lighting to resemble a lady’s fairytale dream, and with the abundance of people everywhere, walking from restaurant to bar to theater to hotel, laughing and screaming with drunken joy as the night goes on. There is even a team of Disney-Like city employees who dress in yellow colored shirts, dark pants, and a cowboy hat, who walk the streets picking up trash, cleaning public spaces, and handing out maps and directions to anyone who looks lost. Because the street team works 7 days a week, the city sidewalks, bus stops, and public spaces are kept very clean.
And so, while the city is clearly in the heart of Texas, the physical appearance and “vibe” of San Antonio is anything but what you’d expect of a Texas town.
Perhaps the most noteworthy reminder of the lone star state, besides the giant Texas flags flying atop of every Downtown building, and beyond the Alamo, the national historical landmark signifying what put Texas on the map, is the Train.
At 1:30 am every single night, a freight train makes an appearance for all of San Antonio to bare witness to. This train doesn’t just pass silently during the night. Noooo. It honks it’s horn once, twice, three times…and more… as if the conductor was taking great pleasure in waking up the entire sleeping town with his billowing horn that ochos off of every down town highrise, including the Majestic theater on the 14th floor. Sometimes there are two trains, and they take turns seeing who can make the louder, longer sound. Just when you think you’re not in Texas, the train somehow brings you back to where you actually are.
A local explained something after hearing us gripe about the train:
Ahh the train. First you hate it as it keeps you up at night. Then you learn how to deal with it, as it comes every day at the same time. And at some point, you find that you can’t live without it. Hopefully we never get to step 3.