Kish and I are staying at a very nice bed and breakfast here in Jacksonville. It’s a bright, cheerful place — the sun-splashed solarium where we’ve had breakfast, by itself, makes you happy to greet the new day — that is run by a friendly couple and is very conveniently located near Richard’s apartment.
We’re normally hotel people (and the older and grander the hotel, the better), but it’s nice to mix in the B and B experience every once in a while. The people who run B and Bs typically are eager to please, and when you have a hostess or host who’s a good cook — which is the case here in Jacksonville, with fresh-baked breads, hot egg dishes, and fresh fruit every morning, along with good, hot coffee — it’s icing on the cake.
One other aspect of the B and B experience is worth keeping in mind: You might be seated at breakfast with other guests. If you’re a grump in the morning, that might be a downside, but it’s something we find kind of refreshing. It’s a chance to haul out those often-rusty social conversation skills, make pleasant small talk, and learn something interesting about people who hail from another neck of the woods. Unless you’re somebody who regularly goes to dinner parties with people you don’t know, how often do you have an opportunity to exercise your chit-chat capabilities? And having a nice meal with complete strangers makes the world seem like a friendlier place.
During our visit to San Antonio we are staying on the second floor of the Aaron Pancoast Carriage House, in a bed and breakfast arrangement. On trips like this we look for an alternative to hotels if possible, and Kish did a great job in finding this place.
I’m a fan of old hotels, but when you’re staying somewhere for more than two days they can begin to feel cramped and sterile. Under those circumstances, the bed and breakfast can offer some real advantages. You’re in a real neighborhood, rather than a downtown hotel district, and often that allows you to get a more rounded perspective on the town you’re visiting. It’s also nice to camp out in a place that has a refrigerator, a large common area where we can spread out and read, and other agreeable amenities.
Our lodging here is one of three locations owned by Noble Inns. All of them are located in the beautiful King William Historic District area of San Antonio (more about that later). The district is on the RiverWalk, which means we’re just a short stroll away from downtown. It’s nice to be able to walk rather than driving, and we’ve taken advantage of that convenience.
We eat our breakfast in the lushly decorated Oge House. It’s got a historic landmark sign outside, and inside it has all of the fantastic carvings and moldings and nooks and crannies that make me marvel at how unique these old homes were, and how soulless and cookie-cutter our modern homes have become. It’s a pleasure walking in the front door and eating a home-cooked meal in the dining room.
We stay in the carriage house found right across the street. It’s a pleasant place with one huge advantage: a fantastic pool complete with statuary that makes you feel like you’re hanging out at a Roman villa. I am not much of a pool person, but when you’ve been walking along in 90-plus degree heat and bright sunshine it’s nice to take a dip in cool water and then find a shady spot for some reading and conversation. The Romans knew what they were doing.