USA 2015 Day 4 – The Alamo

Still feeling incredibly tired I woke up at 05:30 without an alarm, after at best 3 hours of sleep – perfect timing for going out for a run. I had originally planned for 14 miles however the area I was staying in did not look good and didn’t really offer any routes that would be 14 miles. My best choice was to do identify a loop and to do laps. I found a route that was just under 4 miles but on my first run of this loop I was chased by two dogs that two different owners had left out overnight.

I think the increase in pace didn’t help, as I found that as with some of my other recent runs I needed to walk at a few points. This did have an advantage though as it gave me chance to sip some water and to wipe the sweat from my eyes (it was still incredibly warm and humid in San Antonio). By the time I got to 8.5 miles I decided I’d had enough and went back to the hotel. I realised that this was short, but then I thought some more and realised the week before when I should have been doing 8.5 miles I’d actually raced a half marathon – so I rationalised that these balanced out.

After a shower I went for breakfast; or rather, what they were calling breakfast. This was porridge oats – something I’ve never eaten before and found myself not very keen on, along with juice and a cup of tea. I decided to take the tea with me back to the room and drank it as I ate one of the cereal bars I’d packed.

For the next couple of hours I packed and confirmed with Hotel Contessa that following the issues I’d experienced that they would be happy for me to leave my luggage there as I looked around the town. With this knowledge I checked out and got a taxi back into town (another US$30 which the Hotel Contessa should have paid for as it was their mistake that led to this). When I got to the Hotel Contessa they didn’t understand that I wasn’t checking in or out, and was only leaving my luggage there, but eventually they took it and I was on my way to the Alamo.

When I arrived at the Alamo Plaza I found there was quite a queue waiting to get in – most of which was in the sun. After about 10 minutes in the queue I found that it would be free to get in and I’d only need to pay if I wanted to use an audio guide or pay for a battleground tour guide. Eventually I got to the front of the queue waiting to go in and at that point I found that they don’t allow photography inside the buildings there.

Inside the building I then realised something else – I wasn’t queuing to get into the Alamo, I was queuing to look around this one building. Inside they had a number of different state flags, a few artefacts from the battle and the original door.

Outside of this main building there is a courtyard you can walk around, and also a couple of other buildings. The long barracks is another you can’t take photographs in, but in the shop they didn’t seem to mind. I then tried to get a few external photographs of the mission without people in the shot, however this proved to be almost impossible!

Having given up on this I went over the road to the Subway to have some lunch. This didn’t cost quite as much as it normally would as a kind person in the queue behind me gave me a voucher that reduced the cost of a sub. What was good about going here for lunch was that I could have a drink, and then refill it to take away with me.

I took a slow walk to the San Fernando Cathedral to take more photographs – I arrived there just as Sunday mass ended which meant again it was difficult to get a shot without people in view. I then wandered over to the City Hall and the Spanish Governor’s Palace but decided they were not worth taking photographs of – instead I walked back to the steps down to the River Walk.

For the next few hours I wandered along the river walk, taking the different routes available and trying to see as much as possible. It was hard work in the heat and by this time the drink I’d taken with me had run out also. By 14:10 I’d seen as much as I was going to so sat down on a set looking over the river walk by the Hotel Contessa.

Not being one to stay sitting for long, after 10 minutes I went up to the hotel to collect my luggage and get a taxi to the airport which cost around US$30. I’d arrived and was through security by 15:00, but again after paying US$25 for checking in my luggage! The downside to this though was not many choices available for food – I’d wanted to get a sandwich I could take away with me, but nowhere did this. My best choice was to have a sit down meal instead, but I did at least get to use the free Wi-Fi.

For my meal I decided to go to Gourmet Burger, though not before trying one place and not getting any service. I went for a Philadelphia burger with a mango drink – it wasn’t amazing but it was at least something to eat. I realised at this point how thirsty I still was – I consumed the drink and found myself still in need of more.

The flight from San Antonio to Dallas was a full one and got in at 18:58 – by the time I’d de-planed, collected luggage, transferred to terminal B via the shuttle link, checked back in and through security 70 minutes had passed. It turns out it was a good idea to have had that buffer there between landing and available check-in time for the flight. Unfortunately this flight again cost me US$25 to have my luggage checked in. I did think the ones that work had arranged had luggage costs already accounted for, but I guess with this flight they managed to miss it out – same as I had for the flights I’d booked.

I was due to board the flight at 21:50, but as it got close to that time it was then reported that the flight had been delayed by 77 minutes – looking at the flight tracker application on my phone indicated this seemed to be a regular occurrence. I now wouldn’t be getting into Wichita until 00:55 and I had no idea if I’d be getting a shuttle service, or getting a taxi for the 1 hour journey to the hotel in the town of El Dorado.

During the flight I saw an incredible thunderstorm that flashed with increasing ferocity. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and at times there were flashes from multiple places at the same time and on occasion to flashes in what appeared to be the same place (who said lightning doesn’t strike twice?!).

When we landed the airport was quite empty, and the luggage appeared on a different carousel to what was advertised. I was then able to confirm that there was not an airport shuttle available so instead I went over to the taxi rank.

At 01:20 I got on what I was told was the last taxi and began the journey to El Dorado. It wasn’t a pleasant journey though – the taxi driver was chewing tobacco which was making a foul smell, and it appeared he was trying very hard not to fall asleep either. At 02:05 the taxi arrived at the hotel, though the driver then took this opportunity to tell me the card machine wasn’t working and that he’d need cash. This was an incredible annoyance as at US$90 this wouldn’t leave me much cash left for the remainder of the trip.

Finally I was able to get to my room and sleep, even if there was a lot of noise from the air conditioning unit from the corridor causing vibrations across the room’s floor. Sleep was welcome.

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