Travel Blog (Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels, TX)

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Voted as the best waterpark in the world, we needed to see where the action was on a hot summer weekend. I knew a little bit about the park, having been to the one in Galveston, TX a couple times, but this was the original.

Schlitterbahn started as a small motel on the bank of the Comal River in New Braunfels, TX. This is around 30 minutes from where I live in San Antonio. Since then, the park has expanded almost as fast as the population of San Antonio. Despite having competition from Splash Town USA, Aquatica at Sea World, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Schlitterbahn has remained the most popular water attraction.

Now I know why.

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First off, the park is huge. The original park outgrew the available land, so a second west park was bought (a former campground of some sort), and built on. As a result, Schlitterbahn has a sort of small town feel, mixed with an old school Disneyland feel. The parking is free. The bus (1970 style with no windows) that moves you from one park to the next is free. The employees are seasonal and Texan, and kind of bring a chill vibe to the whole operation. Is there some complicated thumb print system to triple check if the person paid that day and only once? Nope. They just give you a wrist band and cut off the ends. They really don’t care that much. The colors rotate every so often, so I assume a few people have a collection of the rainbow of bands instead of just springing for a cheap season pass.

Full price admission is around $50. A season pass is a bit more, but not bad if you plan to go a few times, and a really good deal if you plan to go all summer. Online, there are a bunch of seasonal promotions the park does. I remember seeing one in South Padre Island where free food was included (during a 2 hour period).

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I guess this was the original tower. There are tubes chutes that swirl around it, but from the looks of the people, they seemed to enjoy the leisure stroll through, despite hundreds of people looking at them with their shirts off. If they were at the mall, they would be uptight as hell. At Schlitterbahn, nobody gives a shit. This is opposite mob theory, when everyone is chill and takes off their shirt, people are not as uptight to take off their clothes.

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Here was some face first slide of some sort. You sit on your stomach on a mat and hold on for dear life. What? Does that sound like I was scared or something? The thing about sides is the bigger you are, the faster you go. I forget how many different slides I went down, but I swear I got air a number of times, especially one where I don’t even know what happens the last 2.5 seconds of the slide because my face is covered in water.

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The place is fun despite it being about commerce. At the park, you are actually able to bring in your own food, unlike practically any other park who wants $10 for one slide of pizza. Do you want to haul in a 24 pack of water? Go ahead. The park staff doesn’t care. There are bag checks at the entrance, but they are mostly looking for contraband like a big ass bottle of Grey Goose. We figured why stress about it when we can just buy a pizza. $19 isn’t that bad compared to a pizzeria on the outside.

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How was the pizza? I would rate it slightly above Chuck E Cheese pizza and slightly below Dominos pizza. Like with many things, when you have been out in the sun all day and are hungry as hell, this pizza was like an 10/10 (first slice) with diminishing returns on each subsequent slice. Why eat soggy sandwiches in the cooler when you can eat something hot?

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The attractions appeal to all demographics. Are you a young kid? There are kiddie parks and slow riders everywhere. Are you a little older and more adventurous? There is wake boarding and water slides and high angle chutes that might scare some travel bloggers. Someday, I’ll post the pathetic video of me on the Schlitterblast. It was short and tragic but had a brief moment of hope in there somewhere, I swear.

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I don’t think I can look at other lazy rivers the same. Schlitterbahn literally has like 7 of them, ironic since Schlitterbahn is literally next to a river that people tube down in the summer. Why tube down a murky looking river when you can float in an artificial lazy river like this?

Overall, the place was fun. The cost wasn’t too much and the parking (like 30 yards from the gate) was much better than the half mile it takes to walk to Six Flags from your parking spot (after paying a crazy amount just to park) plus another 500 yards to get to the waterpark after passing through the gate (plus the return trip). The staff at Schlitterbahn was more relaxed. And most importantly, the attractions were not packed in with people. I swear, at Six Flags in the summer, I’m not even calling that tiny and narrow thing a lazy river, it is a “mosh-pit river.” The one in the picture above is like 4 times as wide, with an actual current.

Theme Park Rating: 10/10 Floating Alligators (you’ll understand the reference when you go there)

 

 

 

Travel Blog (Traders Village, San Antonio, TX)

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If you have never been to Texas, you have not quite experienced the pride that the people here get by doing everything bigger. This was my first visit to Trader’s Village, and it was one of the largest flea markets I’ve ever been to. The place has so many shops and booths that you might not have the time see everything you wanted. I know I sure didn’t.IMG_1358.jpeg

Almost everything is covered in shed type booths. There are carnivals rides in the “arcade” and food venders, which all seemed to be doing more business than many of the venders. I talked to one owner of a baseball card and action figure themed shop, and he said the rain keeps customers away if the morning looks bad. He pays around $260 a month to keep his shed and seems to be pretty happy with his cash business. His business plan centers of “keeping customers back” by pricing everything for $1, even if he knows he could sell it for $10, so that people check his place first week to week and he can build a customer base weekend after weekend. I nicknamed him the Sam Walton of the Flea Market.

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Do you want to buy some birds? There are plenty to buy for cheap. Cages. Food. Why go to Petsmart when you can go to a flea market? Um …

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I was pretty impressed with some of the booths. This booth specialized in toys and games and most of it was stuff you can’t find in stores anymore. Maybe 60% was still new in the package and the prices varied. I’m not an expert on prices of newer toys, but it seems they were all priced for collectors to buy. I looked for the owner, and he wasn’t even in the shop. He was chilling 50 feet away at a seating area just watching his place from afar.

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And there I was, the reason why I came here. I’ve been searching for an original nintendo, but wanted to find one on the cheap with perhaps a stack of games. I visited one impressive shop and it seemed to specialize in everything electronic. He had gaming systems of all kinds: Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Playstation, Wii, XBOX, and even a few Atari systems. I got straight to the point and asked about the Nintendo in the box, and the owner (who said he’d been doing this since 1990) said he wanted $200 for it. Holy crap. This is beyond even ebay pricing. Okay. He saw the shock on my face, and said he also had two “new in the box’ Nintendos. How much did he want for them? $2000.

I rolled my eyes and now understood why his shed was filled with stuff, all the way to the ceiling as you can see. He had nintendo games, supernintendo games, and Nintendo 64 games in glass cases along with maybe a couple thousand playstation/xbox games for each system. I asked how much the games were, and he told me “depends on the game.” God damn. Where the hell was I? His business model is to actually eye each customer and play the negotiation game with each person?  I had $300 in my pocket ready to outfit my game room, but he lost me with this gimmicks. I didn’t feel like negotiating him down from $60 he probably wanted for the original Super Mario, down to the $5 you can get it for on ebay. He probably feels people will believe it’s a win-win to get it for $30 after he haggles you to death. He did point me to a nintendo (console only) that was slightly cracked, for $80. I walked out around 2 minutes after.

This was my experience with many of the shops: Gem shops, antique shops, comic book shops, book shops … even used baby strollers were priced at $100. This is absolutely ludicrous.

We left after spending a $4 for parking and $2 for a slushie for the kid.

 

 

 

Foodie Review: Pei Wei (San Antonio, TX)

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The last time I had Pei Wei was around 2 years ago. I had been dining there for a couple years since living in San Antonio, and the quality seemed to have dropped over the course of around 6 months until a final straw was broken after a horrible order when our order was over-sauced and the vegetables were overcooked. You know the sight. This is if you threw in a bunch of food in a wok, and just kept layering on sauce until it reduced to nothing because you were not paying attention, and then threw on some more sauce. It was so bad that night, we stopped going, preferring a local Chinese restaurant closer to my house.

I joined twitter in February. I didn’t really know how to use it, and kind of just search through feeds to see what is going on. One day in April, I saw Pei Wei had posted something to which another person had replied (I think it was something to do with their service). I added my opinion, compacting my experience in 140 characters or less, to which Pei Wei actually tweeted back to me.

After exchanging some contact information, they asked me to explain my exact issues to which I said forget about it, it was long ago and I was lost as a customer. My time is too valuable to explain a tweet.

It didn’t matter.

In the mail around a week later, I received the $30 in gift cards to try out Pei Wei again, which was pretty cool. We decided to order a family meal this past week, and I wanted to share the results.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 7.00.37 PM.pngWe ordered the Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Steak, and the Korean Spicey Chicken. IMG_4683.jpegKung Pao ChickenIMG_2711.jpegMongolian Beef

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So how was it? It was pretty tasty. The sauces were just about right this time, and I was especially surprised by the new Korean dish (limited time offer). It had just enough of a little kick to it. The vegetables all in all were not overcooked. Blended on one plate, each of the dishes complimented each other, and unlike the last time I went, I ate all the food off my plate.

Pei Wei just won me back as a customer.

With around 200 locations in the US, you can find Pei Wei in many cities. As a fun fact, I learned that Pei Wei is a fast casual offshoot of P.F. Changs, a restaurant I enjoy eating at.

For the price (total a little under $30) it was a decent value for 3 dishes and exactly comparable to the Chinese restaurant we have been ordering takeout the last couple years at. The service was fast, being ready for pickup in around 20 minutes.