Thursday, February 25, 2016

Teddy Roosevelt Slept Here

Bronze along the River Walk outside the Western Art Museum.
Tired after walking through the Alamo, Fred and I headed down Alamo Plaza to the old Menger Hotel. Established in 1859 the historic Menger is the longest continuously run hotel west of the Mississippi. (West of the Mississippi is a big deal in Texas).  After the Civil War and following the arrival of the railroad the Menger grew as the city of San Antonio expanded. The Menger bar was added during improvements in 1887. It was built as an exact replica of the House of Lords Pub in London.

We walked in through a small door with a simple sign on the street side of the building and entered a dark wood paneled room that oozed atmosphere. There are no windows in the bar. The only light is from incandescent ceiling bulbs and wall sconces that look like they were once gas lamp lights. The bartender invited us to sit where ever we wanted and brought us ice cold drinks a Lone Star for Fred and a Bloody Mary for me. (Just an aside here, why did I never think to rim the Bloody Mary glass with celery salt? It was beautiful and delicious.)

A picture from Teddy Roosevelt's photo gallery.

Both were perfect thirst quenchers after our morning walkabout. We enjoyed  lunch while learning that Teddy Roosevelt used the Menger Bar in 1898 as his headquarters while recruiting westerners to form the First United States Volunteer Calvary that he called the Rough Riders. Roosevelt was searching for excellent horsemen and expert marksmen  He found many of them here that had served as Texas Rangers.
The Rough Riders he recruited here were that same Cavalry that followed him up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish American War.
We were also told that the biggest and most significant cattle deals in the state are made right here.

 The Menger has a small lunch menu. I had a Reuben Sandwich and Fred had the Menger Club both were quite good. The service was friendly and both the Bar Tender and our Waitress were happy to answer questions about the bars History. They were very gracious to several groups who came in "Just to look around" and even let me take pictures.

One of many pedestrian bridges that cross the River Walk

There were many ducks in the walter
We left the Menger and walked two blocks West to find an access point for the River Walk at St Mary's Street.
The River Walk is  San Antonio's pedestrian walkway that is the heart of the city. Located one story below street level we found a narrow concrete bermed canal that winds below the streets. It has multiple access points to allow one to enter or cross over to the other side.. We were delighted with it's cool and shaded atmosphere, it's sidewalk restaurants and the river barges that ferry visitors from one end of the city to the other.

Fresco on the River Walk

It was also nice to be out of the traffic and away from most of it's noise. There were protected pocket gardens with public artwork that included benches, statues and tiled frescos. The Museum of Western Art was installing a bronze statue the size of a large SUV along the water in front of it's stairs.

It was great to spend a couple of hours getting used to where things are, and to discover many places to add to our must do list.
To see more photos of the Menger Hotel and San Antonio River Walk visit our Flickr album.

The Ameson River Theater.. Scenes from the Sandra Bullock movie Miss Congeniality were shot here.


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