San Antonio, Texas
It was very nice to be back in Texas with the warm weather. I would first make a short side-trip to San Antonio, seeing some of the history of Texas with The Alamo - the most visited place in Texas - where 189 defenders fought to the death against 1,800 Mexican attackers. While the entire defenders were wiped out, it would prove to be the inspiration for redemption and victory a month or so later. There isn't so much of a 'sight' to see (half a small church), but the history is interesting enough. Very strangely and bewilderingly, the street opposite the Alamo, (once an actual part of the Alamo grounds no less), now houses a Ripleys Believe it or Not Odditorium, Tussauds Wax museum, Guinness World Records 'museum', a Haunted House and Tomb Raider 3D ride as well as numerous cheap souvenir stores. You really wonder how a city can let these things happen. I almost felt angry on their behalf.
The river walk on the other hand is a very nice part of the city - a canal with paths, restaurants and shops below street level. I also caught a Spurs home game against the LA Clippers. Patty
San Antonio, Texas
Mills (an aussie) received some court time which was good. I hired a car and drove via Fredericksburg to Austin. Fredericksburg was settled by Germans and still has a very German feel.
I had spent a few days in Austin last time I was in the US and it's a pretty cool city. It still feels like Austin and the world of Formula 1 is a bit of a mismatch, but the city pulled it off pretty well I must say. Austin doesn't really have the infrastructure to host this kind of thing, evidenced by the fact that every single hotel, motel, hostel, campsite, park bench and cardboard box sold out months beforehand. I heard Budget motels were charging over $300 a night towards the end. Just ridiculous. I was staying at a hostel (which had not yet opened at my time of booking), but they were dead set confident of opening some time in September. I did my research and they already had a successful bar opened for a couple of years in the same building so looked legit and a relatively safe option. Ba-bow. I received an email a couple of weeks out saying they couldn't open
in time due to some legal red tape. Gasp! However they were able to locate some last minute accommodation for everyone for no extra charge. Phew! I would have been royally screwed otherwise. I met one of the owners later on who told me their story and was a nice guy. They were rather unlucky it appears so all's well that ends well I say.
The F1 circuit is about 20km out of town and they pretty much forced everyone to take public transport. As in, they were charging $200 to park at the circuit. You read that correctly. The entire car park was full of Porsche's, Maserati's and Mercedes' not suprisingly. They located every available bus they could find it seemed - more than 200 in my estimation. It was quite a sight, and slowly but surely transported people to and from the circuit 30 at a time. The wait wasn't too bad if you got there early as people would arrive sporadically over the course of the morning. However, it was a different story on the return trip to town as everyone wanted to return all at once after the F1 had finished.
They had these
long cattle-like barricades snaking up and down to act as the line for the bus, and you would literally walk about 1,000 metres just to get 20 metres as the crow flies. After the race on Sunday the rush was its worst and there were no security looking after the line. They were all pre-occupied with getting people onto the buses, and in somewhat of a homage to our bovine counterparts a couple of the herd broke free of the barriers causing a mass stampede and effectively made the long line obsolete. The people in front of us who had already been snaking up and down for 30 minutes or more were left in no man's land. Some of them angrily shook their fists and called for help from behind the bars, but there was nobody to hear their cries. Animal instincts took over as I went with the herd and stampeded a short cut towards the bus. I did feel sorry for them, but not sorry enough to remain behind as I saved myself at least an hour of waiting. Mooooo!
One thing they didn't calculate correctly were the food stalls. It was a one hour wait for
Circuit of the Americas
food - no exaggeration. I ended up just smuggling in some muesli bars with me on days 2 and 3 as you weren't allowed to bring in food and drink. I managed to grab one of the F1 drivers autographs - Bruno Senna from Brazil, who is Ayrton Senna's nephew but a bit of a failure in his own career. It was an opportunistic signing as a bunch of Brazilian fans were waiting for him near the back of the Autograph tent in the hopes he'd stop by, so I decided to stand next to them, held out my magazine and joined in the chant for 'Bruno! Bruno! Bruno!' None of the 'other' Brazilians were interested in his autograph - they just wanted to touch him or take his photo. Mine was one of two things he signed. Winner.
All in all the event was a success. It was a great race at a brand new circuit which was very good for viewing motor racing. Sad to say, this would conclude my time in Texas.
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