On Thursday morning in San Antonio, we walked a couple of blocks from our hotel to have breakfast at this little cafe, SIP . . . considerably less expensive than having breakfast in the hotel! It was a good place to grab some coffee, a croissant or yogurt and granola. The River Walk area must be "convention headquarters." All along the River Walk are high rise hotels, but they're slightly set back, so you don't really notice them while you're on the river. But it's very creative planning how many hotels have a section along the river and access to it. The River Walk area is one flight down from street level, so the river and walk itself seems to be in a world all its own. If you want access to a regular downtown city, you just walk up one of the flights of stairs at the street/intersection of your choice. The River Walk reminded me of a combination Venice, Mardi Gras and Deliverance (especially at night, along some of the off-the-beaten-track areas.)
Doug and I decided to grab a River taxi to get to the starting point for the River Walk tour/cruise. The River taxi runs throughout a loop around the downtown area, along the river, and we bought an all-day ticket for $10 each. As Jason, our guide said, to flag down the taxi, you have to wave your ticket around or do something emphatic to get the operator's attention; just a "wave" won't do, because people wave to him all day long, just to wave. It's kind of like flagging a taxi, but it operates more like a bus. Only later did I recognize this as a problem.
In theory, the taxi will pick you up anywhere along the river. One problem is that there are very few taxis operating and lots of tour boats operating. The only way to tell the difference is by the checked black and yellow flag on the back of the taxi. There's about 2 taxis operating on the river and 25 tours at any given time.
Could Doug look any more blissed out? (Well, yes he could, but that's private.)
We took the taxi to the Rivercenter Mall, where we could catch the tour boat. This tour cost about $13.50 for both of us, and was a 40 minute narrated tour all along the river. It was a nice way to learn some of the details of the River Walk area, and to get more photos from the river. The guide told us that during the day, he's seen many children fall into the river, and at night, it tends to be drunk tourists who topple into the river. Fortunately, it's only 3 feet deep, so most people simply stand up.
This set of umbrellas is supposed to be one of the most photographed stretches along the river. The San Antonio overran its banks in 1921 and Robert Hugman challenged the plan to cement it over through a 1930's WPA project. In the 1960s it was refurbished for the HemisFair and became very popular as a tourist attraction. It's certainly popular with me right now!