OH, THE HORROR...

Ken Hoffman's 2 true travel tales from troubling trips

Hoffman shares a New Orleans horror story. Photo by Mario Tama, Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

I have some very smart friends. Really, I do. I know government officials, doctors, lawyers, comedians, and lots of really bright journalists. And then...

True story: My buddy, we’ll call him “Bob” to protect his stupidity, flew to New Orleans a few days ago on “business.” He checked into a hotel on Canal Street. At some point during his visit, he lost his driver’s license. I think it’s best not to question how or where or what time of night. Let’s move on.

File this one under "Travel Horror Stories (self-inflicted)."

Losing your driver’s license is always a pain — even at home. On the road, losing your license can be a crashing headache. You can’t cash a check. You can’t check into a hotel. Some of New Orleans' more elegant five-star restaurants and regal drive-through daiquiri stands require a driver’s license before accepting a credit card.

Most important, you can't rent a car to drive home, or board a plane back to Houston.

Not to worry. My friend had it all figured out. He called his wife and asked her to find his passport and FedEx it to his hotel in New Orleans. At least a passport will get him on a plane.

Next day, "Bob" went to the front desk and asked if there was a package for him.

Receptionist: "Yes, the package arrived. Let me get it for you."

Bob: "Thank goodness, you have no idea what problems I'd have without that package!"

Receptionist: "Glad to help ... I'll just need to see your driver's license."

TV sleepers
The "Bestest Poll the Planet" RV stopped in Houston last week. The RV is on a national tour, interviewing Americans about their habits, beliefs, and opinions on hot topics. The "Bestest" app team gave me a couple of samples.

Sixty percent of respondents were against Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed to the Supreme Court.

More people use "haha" than "LOL" in emails.

I figured as much. But one poll result shocked me: According to the "Bestest" app, 33 percent of American adults can only fall asleep with a TV on.

Only 33 percent (including me)? Here's another true story, about a sleepless night that radio superstar Sean Pendergast and I spent in La Grange a few years ago.

Pendergast, a dedicated all-night-TV sleeper like me, decided to give the BP MS 150 charity bike ride a shot. Pendergast, another friend named Jeff, and I reserved a room at the ritzy Motel 6 in La Grange, the overnight halfway point between Houston and Austin.

Continue reading on CultureMap.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

The best places to visit in San Antonio

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

One of the great mysteries of Houston life is that so many locals don't take better advantage of San Antonio. Not only is the Alamo City a cultural jewel with more than 300 years of history proudly on display, it is also a strikingly modern city with chic boutique hotels, innovative restaurants, and some of the best shopping in Texas.

In a time when cities across the world are starting to feel numbingly the same, San Antonio has kept its identity. What's travel if not a chance to experience some place unique?

Where to eat and drink

Eastside Kitchenette

After a long period spent renovating its 1906 building, this project from owner chefs Jenn and Jeff White debuted in January with a comforting menu melding the best of Southern and Hill Country cuisine. The dishes — catfish, meatloaf, and even spinach artichoke dip — certainly appeal to traditionalists, but Eastside doesn't exactly deliver home cooking. That catfish is stuffed with sweet blue crab, the meatloaf comes with a side of black garlic broccoli, and the bacon Parmesan streusel topping the dip was never in a Junior League cookbook.

Jet-Setter

The newest player in the downtown bar scene is literally underground, giving it an exclusive speakeasy vibe. Still, once revelers descend the steps, it's clear that its head is in the clouds. Taking style cues from midcentury airports, the lounge has vintage vibes without looking like a Mad Men set. The cocktails are fully contemporary, using ingredients from destinations all over the world.

Lala's Gorditas
The owner of this Southside restaurant, Steve Pizzini, is San Antonio restaurant royalty. His aunt Ernestine Pizzini Chapa founded Teka Molino in 1938 before father Herman Pizzini launched Taco Hut in 1958, and both quickly rose to become some of the Alamo City's most beloved concepts. That's a lot to live up to, but Pizzini rises to the occasion with extravagantly overstuffed gorditas, shatteringly crisp puffy tacos, and deep caramel flan baked every day.

Swine House Bodega
This downtown sandwich shop is serious about its sourcing, using only ethically raised breeds from area farms. For owner Joe Saenz, it's not just a matter of being a responsible global citizen. Pasture-raised meats also taste better, a fact readily apparent in the Swine House's New York-style subs and biscuit sandwiches. Be warned that the shop is only open weekdays for breakfast and lunch. What better excuse to extend a weekend day trip?

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out the best places to shop.

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