San Antonio APR 17-20 2024

[2024 April 17-20 San Antonio, TX, US]

I received an email from Chart House that said they were having a four course dinner with “The Prisoner” wine pairing. It was from the DC Chart House – where I always visit my intrepid friends. However, I wanted to go somewhere else and looked up all Chart Houses there were and picked a location where I never have been. I always wanted to go to San Antonio but never made it thus far, so I charted a course there.

Stayed at the Omni La MansiΓ³n del Rio which was a super nice hotel. From there went to the “Tower of Americas” for the Char House Dinner and “The Prisoner” Wine Pairing event. The wine was great, the food was great, and the atmosphere was great!

The Alamo

Then made my obligatory visit to The Alamo. Actually, nothing is really left of the Alamo – it’s surrounded by the current modern city. The main building there is the only thing left and that isn’t “a correct rendition” of the remains. During the time period of the infamous battle, that building was already an abandoned ruin. The current building standing there was reconstructed after the battle from the ruins.

If you go into the museum, you can see a scale replica of the “fort”. And to call it a fort is a misnomer. It was a complete and utter ruin. Even with a fully armed proper regiment or two, it was an indefensible position – how they figured a group of a hundred rag tag hooligans can stave off an attack is incomprehensible.

History time: The Alamo was in Mexico, in Tejas. The intruders wanted their own country by taking it away from Mexico by force. They should have surrendered, but self-proclaimed “Lt. Colonel” William Barret Travis, the renegade commander of the so called “Texian Army”, figured he’d be executed by Mexico anyway since he clashed with them previously in an attempt take territory away from Mexico during the “Anahuac Disturbances”. So he decided to make his stand (as he would rather die in battle than a hangman’s loop), callously refused to surrender, basically signing death warrants for everyone in the fort – and it did: resulting in the the deaths of his entire force. Yeah, nothing to remember about that selfish ingrate.

Later, “Texas” became an independent republic from Mexico in 1836. The story gets a little weirder. During their brief “independent country” status, they opened an Embassy in London. I visited there and took a picture of the plaque back in 2017:

You can read about the Embassy on Atlas Obsura if you are so inclined.

Enough talk. Picture Time!

Click on the picture below (or the link below the picture) for all of the pictures from (a) the Chart House The Prisoner dinner event, (b) The Alamo, (c) downtown San Antonio river walk plus “river boat”, and (d) a bar/restaurant I was not expecting: Waxy O’Connor’s in San Antonio! Waxy’s is my favorite when I go to London so of course I went in had their fish & chips πŸ™‚ The one in London is massive, if you ever visit or live around there, go visit: Waxy O’Connor’s in London. Again, click on the picture below to go to the San Antonio album:

San Antonio Riverwalk

London Book Fair 2024 and more

[2024: London Book Fair Mar 11-14, The Shard March 15, Liquid History Tours Mar 16 – London UK]

London Book Fair (LBF) is an annual event (held in Olympia Exhibition Centre) in London. Publishers from around the world descend into London and every square inch of the convention center is filled. I went to LBF to hawk Rebecca O’Donnell’s books as well as my stuff.

The trip was interesting. At MSP (Minneapolis) airport, I boarded the Delta Airbus 330 with a Comfort+ seat (which is between the Economy section and the First Class or Delta One section). The plane was oversold of course. Some guy comes up to me and says I am in his seat. I am like, no, this is mine. So he gets the gate agent ad the gate agent takes my ticket – and returns and tells me I was upgraded to First Class! That was cool.

Pre-LBF trade show, on Monday, there was a Writer’s Conference sponsored by LBF. Met a bunch of writers from all over the world. The talks ranged from how to self-publish and get noticed (social media, social media, and social media) to how to get it published traditionally. Yeah, well, doesn’t everyone want to do it “traditionally” – which is excessively difficult, of course… Anyway, the talks were interesting. The seminar included lunch as well as a wine and mingle afterwards.

The next day at the London Book Fair, the guy who kicked me out of my seat just happened to be the VP of Sales for Lerner Publishing Group! Not missing a beat, I said I represent Rebecca O’Donnell, and here is one of her children’s books! He said he was upgraded to my seat; hence I got upgraded to first class. (He gave me his card and I contacted him a week later… he said he’ll “pass” on it – oh, well, still was cool encounter.)

So I went every day and dumping flyers on tables and trying to see who I can bump into and so on so forth. No luck of course. On the last day I saw the Alliance of Independent Authors booth and went around the corner to talk to them when I bumped into the CEO of a small publishing house. We talked for about fourty minutes and to make the long story short, she gave me her card and told me to have Rebecca O’Donnell call her! (When I got back, I told Beck to talk to her and they ‘clicked’ immediately. So now I am formatting all of Beck’s books to get it pushed through the publisher! Is that cool or what? That was a great last day.

Time to leave Olympia Exhibition Centre. And, the most annoying and worthless tube stop in London is the “Kensington Olympia” station. It’s supposed to be open on weekends and special events (oh, like the LBF) but it wasn’t open, and even when scheduled to be opened, it doesn’t. So, don’t ever count on it ever being open! Use the Overground for that station, even though it’s a pain to connect to the tube (underground). At any rate, continue with more adventures below…

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The Shard

After the London Book Fair, I went to The on a “Mastercard Priceless VIP Tour of the Shard”. (If you have any Mastercard, you can book this, just search on “Mastercard Priceless VIP Tour of the Shard”.) The link always changes, so do a search. (For general information on the building, click here: The Shard.) Go to the bottom of this page to see all of the pictures.

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Afternoon Tea in the Shangri-La Hotel

Back-to-back, went to the Ting Afternoon Tea in the Shangri-La Hotel. I had to take the elevator down from the observation deck to the ground floor, then walk around the building to the Shangri-La Hotel and take the elevator back up to the hotel level. They continually rotate the theme of the tea so you will get a different experience each time. Go to the bottom of this page to see all of the pictures.

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Liquid History Tours

Third time is a charm. I booked this tour twice before but had to cancel due to unforseen issues (conflict of events the first time and the Iceland volcano going off which may have caused flights to be cancelled on the way back…) So made it this time! And the tour stopped at the Black Friar’s Pub so that was awesome – I always walked or “tubed” past it but never went in, so that was a super cool treat. Tours are really inexpensive if you want to go (and the tour does not include drinks but plenty of time to drink at least one pint – or two half-pints.) Go here for information: Liquid History Tours. Go to the bottom of this page to see all of the pictures.

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The Pictures

Here are all of the pictures I took in chronological order, just click on the picture or link below:

During the “Liquid History Tours”, it’s an eight-TARDIS building πŸ™‚

ConPossible Atlanta 2024

[2024 February 15 thru 18, Atlanta, GA US]

Back to Atlanta, the city has more cons (conventions) year round for all tastes. This was the inaugural for a new con, based on a rebirth of the old con, previously known as “The Atlanta Steampunk Exposition”.

The con had the usual vendor room, con suite, seminars, and the like. They had a full time tea room where you can have tea all day and night long, supplied by local tea vendors. It was awesome just hanging in the room – because hanging in the vender hall is dangerous, as in depleting your wallet on cool thing to buy πŸ™‚

There was one party room sponsored by River City Steampunk Expo which will be held 31-May through 2-June. I helped them get their room set up for the party. And the party room was a blast. I will be going to this con and meeting up with the friends I made here, the time traveling fairy Ophelia and her sidekick Otto. (And I didn’t even get a picture of them at ConPossible – I will at do that at River City!

Here are the some pictures from the con. I should have taken a lot more pictures but I was having too much fun to remember to ‘click’ more!

A few of the ConPossible 2024 pics are here!

See you at the next ConPossible in Atlanta in 2025!

Key West Food and Wine Fest JAN 2024

[23-JAN-2024 to 28-JAN-2024 Key West, FL US]

As always, went to the Key West Food and Wine Fest in January. I went to the first one and every one since then, except for 2021. This time around, the festival was lower key than usual – without the trolley tours on any wine crawls; however, I got to met my best friends of the weekend like every year.

I stayed at the Hilton “Casa Marina” hotel (which was previously known as the Waldorf Astoria). The hotel itself was grand as usual; however, the exterior facing the beach still has not been rebuilt from the hurricane several years back.

I only went to two events this time. One was a stroll through Fort West Martello Garden Club on Thursday. The last thing later than night was a light dinner and I sabered my first champagne ever. I thought I would goof, but it went okay; well, other than me looking totally surprised that I did it without a hitch πŸ™‚

Skipped Friday and walked around Key West, mainly on Duvall Street. A bunch of places were out of business but it looked like a few new ones were under construction. On Saturday, had the Grand Tasting at Fort East Martello Museum. Click on link below for all of the pics.

See all the pictures by clicking on the picture or link below:

Key West Food and Wine Fest 2024

The Key West Food and Wine Fest is every year on the last weekend of January and you can get the information here. The program for each year is posted around October of each year at the Key West Food and Wine Fest official site.

(P.S. Went to visit the old La Concha Inn which used to be an IHG Crowne Plaza hotel with a Starbucks and a wine room “Wine-O”. Well, it’s all gone and Marriott took over, everything wiped clean, and it is sell under heavy renovation with daily noise and debris so DO NOT BOOK a room there yet – the reviews are atrocious!)

Thanksgiving in New Orleans 2023

[2023 – Nov 22 through 25: Thanksgiving in New Orleans, LA, US]

I was all ready to go to London, UK for the week of Thanksgiving. However, the volcano in Iceland was about to blow it’s top so I canceled the trip (since I did not want to get stuck in England if it did spew ash into the air).

So I thought I’d just stay in my abode; however, last minute, I decided I wanted (British) afternoon tea and turkey for Thanksgiving. I searched on “british afternoon tea and restaurant open for thanksgiving” and New Orleans popped up. Did some quick sleuthing and I booked Hotel Monteleone to stay, starting on Wednesday. The hotel, although French sounding, was as British as you can get. Had the typical British umbrella in the closet. The room had both ‘still’ and ‘sparking’ water (as opposed to typical US hotels, nothing), and to top it off they had “Gilchrist and Soames” (not imported from the UK, it was made in the US – bummer) ameneties in the lou. Plus the hotel definitely had British vibes to it, like the hallway with stairs jutting out randomly in the hallway.

Once there, I visited their rotating Carousel Bar that night. The bar on the first floor of the hotel just to the right side of the front desk area is very popular. It rotates. It is cool. Never knew about it until I literally was sitting at the bar. =snort=

On Thursday, I went to hit Jack Rose for Thanksgiving Dinner. Three course dinner with wine pairing. It was awesome. For desert, I had their signature Mile High Pie πŸ™‚

Then on Friday afternoon, walked over to Le Salon for Afternoon Tea. It was great. Bottomless tea of course! Although I do have two minor issues: (a) they did not have Pimms! Oh well, I had some minty concoction instead, which was good. And, (b) the serving tray was only a double-decker! Must be three! It doesn’t have to be, but it would have been nice. But no matter, it was great. I had, Earl Grey, hot – of course. (Although I didn’t say “hot”.)

So here are all of the pictures I took in chronological order, just click on the picture or link below:

Thanksgiving in New Orleans 2023