San Antonio Sabbatical

First Visit to San Antonio

Posted on: July 31, 2010

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Last week my sister and I took our first trip to San Antonio, TX for the primary purpose of finding my new home.  We also planned to visit some of the tourist attractions while there.  The trip began with a missed flight (our first) and ended with airline-damaged luggage (my second occurrence), but there was a lot of good stuff in between.  Overall, it was a productive and fun five days.

We stayed at the O’Casey’s Bed & Breakfast, a highly-recommended Irish-themed accommodation owned by innkeepers Linda and John Casey.  The musical couple was very welcoming and made our stay pleasant and comfortable; they prepared delicious breakfasts daily.  We had the pleasure of meeting their two adorable grandsons who were in town for several days.  The O’Casey’s Bed & Breakfast is a great place to stay and it lived up to its many 5-star reviews.  If you want to experience their warm hospitality you should go soon because they will likely retire in a few years.

My sister, who enjoys driving and has a better sense of direction than I do, played the role of chauffeur and led the way as we explored San Antonio in our rental car.  On Tuesday, July 20th — our first full day there — we visited OLLU so that I could take care of a few details.  We picked up a campus map from the library, then went to the admissions office for more information.  By a stroke of luck, I happened to be greeted at the door by the graduate admissions counselor responsible for my program.  We chatted for a few minutes and she gave me a folder of information/application packet.  She also arranged for a campus tour via golf cart with one of OLLU’s students.  This was a pleasant surprise.  My good fortune continued when I went to the psychology building and found the two professors with whom I had prior e-mail and telephone contact.  We discussed my course schedule and fee reduction for auditors.  I was informed that they had been in touch with their dean about this and I will likely get psychologist continuing education hours that I can use to maintain my license to practice.  This is great!  Lastly, the main faculty member with whom I’d had contact took me and my sister on a brief tour of the community clinic where I will be a member of the bilingual team observing the weekly counseling sessions of Spanish-speaking clients.  I’m really looking forward to this unique clinical experience.

The following day (Wednesday, July 21st) I began my apartment search.  Since the apartment I found in a Craigslist ad had already been taken, I had to start from scratch.  I borrowed the San Antonio Yellow Pages from the innkeepers and made a list of several realtors along with their respective addresses and phone numbers.  In particular, I focused on the categories pertaining to apartments, renters, short-term leases, and furnished units.  With this 40-item list, a San Antonio street map, and my sister’s cell phone, we headed out for our search.  Our first stop was to an apartment locator service that had information on several available properties.  This turned out to be a great choice as the woman with whom we met mentioned three or four places meeting my needs and within my budget.  She made a few inquiries and arranged for us to see one of them.  My sister and I went to the desired location, spoke with one of the representatives at the property, and were shown their small (around 400 square feet) furnished efficiency apartment with utilities included.  We instantly loved it.  Despite the tiny space (a Murphy bed pulls down from the living room wall) and the old appliances and furniture, it has everything I need for the next 4-1/2 months.  That day I completed the application and background check and paid my deposit.  The next day I returned to review and sign the lengthy lease and pay my first month’s rent.  (For security reasons, I am not posting the name of the property).  I felt relieved to find something so quickly and in the Medical Center area, a location that was highly recommended to me by several people.  I will be living near major highways and businesses and my commute to OLLU is a short one.  Mission accomplished.  It was now time for the fun part of the trip. 

Thursday afternoon we visited the Alamo.  Prior to that we ate a really nice lunch at a hotel down the street as we dried off from the heavy rain that caught us somewhat unprepared.  The Alamo was prominently situated streetside and it was bigger than I expected.  We walked around looking at the exhibits and listened to a brief history.  When I return to San Antonio, I want to visit the other missions as well.

Friday was spent at SeaWorld.  It was overpriced (even with the discount tickets we used), but we enjoyed a fun nine hours.  We ate, visited animal exhibits, saw two shows (“Azul” with animals and acrobats, and “Cool Vibrations” which is a water ski show), and went on three water rides.  My favorite was Texas Splashdown, a log boat ride.  I got thoroughly soaked on Journey to Atlantis so it was good that we did this one last.  This was our first time at a SeaWorld theme park and we had a great time.

On Saturday we visited La Villita Historic Arts Village and the Riverwalk.  I really like this part of San Antonio.  It’s so cute!  We took the 35-minute narrated Riverwalk cruise and afterwards went to the Rivercenter Mall where we ate lunch and shopped.  I will definitely be returning to La Villita and the Riverwalk once I move to San Antonio next month.

I’m not really the big city type (I prefer the suburbs and small towns), but San Antonio — the 7th largest city in the United States — seems like a good fit for my short-term stay.  I enjoyed my first visit, especially the sights and food.  To save money, my sister and I ate just one big meal each day.  We enjoyed Mexican food at La Fonda and Italian food at Capparelli’s.  I had a large salad with chicken at Hotel Indigo’s Phi Bar and Bistro, and a cajun chicken dish at Tony Roma’s restaurant at the Rivercenter Mall.  All of these main meals were delicious.  We filled in with food from McDonald’s and snacks picked up along the way.  What I didn’t care for was the extreme heat (Texas is hot on a normal day, but we were there during a heat wave) and the crickets (there were so many of these large brown jumping bugs that reminded me of cockroaches).

So far, all has gone well and I am excited about moving to San Antonio.  I feel good about my new home.

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