Day 15 - Thursday 24th September 2015

Written by Kev

The holiday is rapidly racing towards its conclusion with only two full days left.
I have a really good nights sleep thanks to Benydryl and various other lotions and potions to cure my collection of various insect bites.

Tam messages Deb and Sharon and we agree to meet up in the lobby at 10.00am.
Tam and I take a stroll along the Riverwalk and stop at Ostra for breakfast. We have a table close to the water and enjoy a really nice meal. We split a smoked salmon bagel and cinnamon raisin French toast. The service is excellent as well and the $50 total includes a good tip.

The Riverwalk is particularly pleasant at this time of day as it’s not too hot yet and there are not many people about. Of the few people we pass, many greet us with ‘Hello Sir, Maam’.

Back at The Contessa we meet up with Deb, Matt and Sharon in the lobby. Sharon books up a Segway tour for me, Tam, her and Evan for tomorrow. It’s due to start at 9.00am, but Sharon tells Tam that we have to be there at 8.30am ‘for lessons and such’. Tam mishears and thinks that Sharon tells her that we have to be there at 8.30am for lessons and sex! Now that would be an odd sort of tour, although I’ll be surprised if someone hasn’t started a website called

We get The Beast out of valet parking and Matt drives us to our first stop, Mission Concepcion. There are not many people around, so it’s pleasant to look around and learn about the Spanish missionaries who founded a chain of missions in this part of the world and tried to convert the local Native Americans to Catholicism. Many did convert as it allowed them to stay within the mission walls and provided protection from other aggressive Indian tribes.

On to mission San Jose, which isn’t quite as big, but still very interesting. Inside the church there is a man playing piano. Classical tunes only, although I wonder if he might bang out a bit of Chas and Dave if we tipped him $10. Maybe not, they’re probably not all that big in Texas.

We drive past a third mission (San Juan) before heading back north to park up at the Japanese Tea Garden. We wonder why the archway above the entrance says Chinese Tea Garden until I read the nearby plaque. It was the Japanese Tea Garden until Pearl Harbour when it got changed to Chinese Tea Garden. It was changed back to Japanese Tea Garden in the early 60’s.
This place is a little oasis in the middle of the city. There are ponds full of carp and a large waterfall at one end. Little paths meander through flowerbeds and over bridges. We all agree that it’s very pretty and well worth a visit. Oh, and something else – none of the places we have visited this morning have charged an entry fee, it’s all free. Highly commendable.

Deb and Matt didn’t have breakfast, so they are getting hungry. Sharon suggests a Mexican restaurant called Paloma Blanca.
Tam and I have margaritas and a shrimp quesadilla each from the appetisers menu. Both are exceptionally good and our bill comes to $35 including tip.

Matt drives us back to The Contessa where Tam, Sharon and I go to the rooftop pool for an hour or so of relaxing in the shade (it’s 90F again today).
After showering we go to the Esquire Tavern at 6.00pm where we meet up with Deb and Matt.

After a cocktail and beer we make our way to Bar 414 in the Gunther Hotel where we meet up with Evan. This is a dark cocktail bar and very nice indeed. The place is quiet as it’s still early and I ask the bartender when they close. He tells me it depends on how many people are in, but normally around 2.00am. That puts our hotel bar to shame.
I have an Old Fashioned, which I enjoy a lot. The bar is named after room 414 in the hotel where Robert Johnson, a famous blues guitarist and singer, recorded a number of songs in 1936.

At 8.00pm we go to Bodrou’s to eat. The place is packed and our server is very slow. He’s quite an old guy, tall but slightly stooped over and wearing glasses. He reminds me of Mr Fredrickson from the Pixar film, Up.
The drinks take a little time to arrive and Deb, Matt, me and Tam share a bottle of wine. We all share fried oysters and guacamole, made fresh at the table, to start.
Our meal began at 8.00pm, but by 9.15pm we still haven’t had our main course. We have been ekeing out the wine trying to make it last, but in the end we have to give in and order another bottle from Mr Fredrickson.
The main courses eventually turn up, but Mr Fredrickson isn’t the most courteous of servers. He hands out plates of food that we have to pass to each other. The food is reasonable, but we have nearly finished by the time our second bottle of wine turns up. None of us really feel much like it now, so we ask Mr Fredrickson to put the remaining wine in a bottle and we will take it away with us. He brings the cheque and it is for $459 with automatic tip included. Tam and I are paying, but I only have $450 in whole bills and we decide to leave that, as the service has been poor. As we leave Mr Fredrickson calls out to us ‘You’re $10 short’. Sharon and I look at each other, ignore him and walk out the door. I don’t think I’ve ever had such poor service in America before; it’s usually so good.

As we walk back along the Riverwalk, Deb finds a phone on the floor. Evan rings one of the numbers on it and we establish that the owner is staying at The Westin, which is only a little way further on from The Contessa. Evan and I walk along and leave the phone at the reception desk.
Back at The Contessa we say goodnight to Sharon and Evan. The bar is shutting (as normal) so Deb, Matt, Tam and me go to our room to sit in the living room and enjoy a glass of our left over wine. I hope Mr Fredrickson didn’t spit in it.

Bed around midnight.