Some things are worth braving throngs of tourists. The Royal Palace in Bangkok, the Sistine Chapel, Yosemite Valley: these are attractions so extraordinary and unique that being constantly jostled by my fellow men and women is bearable, even if unpleasant.
Last night, I visited the San Antonio Riverwalk. It is a spur off of the San Antonio River lined with shops, restaurants, fountains, and lovely trees. Paths meander down both sides, with the occasional bridge so one can cross. On a weekday evening it might be nice. On a Sunday night of a holiday weekend? It is a special kind of hell.
Most of the restaurants seemed to be chains: Joe’s Crab Shack was right across the river from the overpriced (but decent) Italian restaurant at which we dined. There was even a CVS a few doors down, next to Rainforest Cafe and other spots that felt very out of place in central Texas.
But it was the sheer number of people that really got to me. The paths on both sides of the river are narrow, and do not have railings. Pushing past people walking in the other direction and those who are just standing about or waiting in line for a restaurant, one could easily be knocked into the water. Walking a few steps took a significant amount of time, and carried with it the incredibly fun experience of children trying to dodge their way between my friends and me, their parents pushing to keep up. Even stepping over to take pictures, I worried I’d be pushed from behind.