Thursday, August 14, 2008

San Antonio Part II

A bright sunny morning greeted us as we prepared to continue on our San Antonio trip. Today's destination was SeaWorld, its a famous water amusement park. We had booked our entry tickets the previous day itself. We expected a huge crowd since it was a long weekend, so we started early to beat the crowd and it was around 30 miles from where we stayed. It took a 30 minute cab ride to reach the water park. Almost a quarter mile long queue of cars had already formed around 10.30. We rented a locker to keep our personal things and headed towards our first section, "The Lost Lagoon", a wave pool and cluster of other smaller rides. Our timing to enter the pool was perfect as the waves were about to start and before crowd could fill up we found ourselves a nice spot (although it doesn't really matter :-P). After floating around in the waves we moved on to water slide. First we went to the tube slide later the same run without tubes called "Body slide". And trust me the Body slide was better than the tube slide.

Dolphins show called the "Viva!" was our next stop. Its a 30 minutes artistic performance by Pacific White-sided Dolphins. The main attraction of this show was a dolphin jumping out of the water and hitting a ball suspended above 10-15 feet from the water surface. After meeting the Dolphins, it was time for some high octane adrenaline rush filled ride the "Steel Eel" the famous roller coaster ride. Its 3700 feet long and the ride last for about 2 minutes from start to finish and has a 15 story drop!. And you don't have to describe roller coaster rides they are always awesome no matter what!

Photographs taken during the ride are sold outside, we got one each for ourselves before we continued on to "The Great White". This is Texas' first steel roller coaster ride. In this ride your foot will be dangling in the air as you flip around in loops, like in one of the soft drink commercials (although we didn't carry any such thing on the ride). This ride is again around 2500 feet long and takes close to two minutes from start to end. By the end of this ride we were quite hungry, so we made a quick dash to the nearest food court and had our lunch. After lunch to went to "Pirate - 4D", its a 3D movie with water sprinklers, under the seat vibrations and other special effects. It was a nice time pass and kids really enjoyed this. We went on to meet "Shamu", a giant killer whale. Highlight of this show was water splashing by the whale, which can reach up to 16 rows! A half-an-hour presentation featuring various acrobatic maneuvers. Then we took a plunge in the "Atlantis". Half roller coaster half water ride, in this ride we climb 100 feet in a small boat and then we splash into the water!

Our last stop for the day was "Castaway crusin'" a long stream of water where you can swim, walk or float along and rest your body from the day long activities. After couple of round of this stream we went straight to the wave pool to catch the last wave of the day. Nice 20 minutes in the water and we headed back to our locker and made our way out as it was closing time. We were in no mood to wait for a cab and to our luck an empty cab was waiting and we approached the cab driver and asked if it was free. That cab driver said, "No, the cab is engaged, but people who called the cab don't seem to be insight. You guys wait for a couple of minutes and then if they don't come I will take you." We were more than happy to wait. We waited for few minutes and when we were about to leave the group that has actually called the cab turned up. But the cab driver was not amused by there delay so he agreed to drive us instead of them! Cab driver guessed from our looks that we were Indians and was telling about his close family friend being a Indian, the local Indian restaurants anything and everything related to India in San Antonio. He also felt that India is taking over the world from all the "Science" education that we have in India. At this point to re-assure him I had to quote Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's words that, "For 2,500 years India has never invaded anybody" and added my own words, that it has no plans to invade in the future too. We continued on with our discussion, then the cab driver said he had to refuel and we pulled into a gas station a.k.a petrol pump, this station happens to have an Burger King outlet too, so we packed our dinner and took off heading towards our hotel. After munching down our burgers and cola we decided to call it a day.

Next day was our last day at San Antonio and we had a hectic plan ahead of us. First stop Natural Bridge Caverns. These are naturally occurring caves formed due to underground rivers which have spectacular limestone structures. This place is a 30 minutes drive from our hotel. Since we had lot to cover we started a bit early. There are two kinds of tours, one is a guided tour and another one is a self guided tour. We chose the self guided tour called the "Discovery Tour". Along the route you will have guides giving you details about the important locations inside the cave. The cave formations are just mesmerizing.

The tallest formation is 32 feet tall.

And if you let your imagination run wild, you will "Discover" many interesting formations like this one, the King's throne

The white spot on the photo is just a tiny droplet on the camera lens and not a moon! The deepest point of the tour is 180 feet below ground level. The ground can get quite slippery. We had spent more than 2 hours exploring and taking pictures and we didn't realize the time pass by. After a quarter mile trip down the cavern we emerged at the other side of the natural bridge. Next pit stop for the day was the famous and historical, The Alamo. A mission converted to a fortress in which approximately 187 men under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis tried resisting 6000 strong Mexican army led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. This fortress has been converted to an museum to stand testimony for the brave men who laid their lives defending Texas on 6th March 1836.

The main entrance leads us to a big hall which houses the memorial, a scale model of the original structure of Alamo with the positions taken by the soldiers. As we exit the hall there is a park and a library. Near library is this pool. Go ahead toss a coin into the pool and make a wish!

At the back of the complex we have the medical center used during the war. It was time for lunch and head to the bus station. We had some more time before bus departed so we decided to take a stroll along the River Walk. And finally the long weekend was drawing to an end and our San Antonio trip. We covered all the places that we thought of covering and a bit more too.