San Antonio was a great little trip. I spent two days touring around the downtown area of the city (pic, pic, & pic), including the two most well-known attractions, the Riverwalk and the Alamo.
The Alamo (pic & pic) is the historical site of one of the most famous U.S. battles. I enjoyed learning about the details of the battle (even if they were skewed in favor of the Texas Rebels) and about the various personalities that took part in the battle. For example, I wasn't aware that Davy Crockett, someone I assumed was a fictional character, actually fought and died at the Alamo. I happened to be there during the anniversary of the battle and they had a special presentation of the Travis letters, so there were a lot of memorial events and crowds of people. Because of this, I skipped going inside the main building, where it was a five hour wait to get inside.
Traveler's Tip: Across the street from the Alamo is a theater that plays an IMAX presentation of The Alamo: The Price of Freedom. It's a 45 minute ham-handed reenactment of the events, in which a disproportionate amount of time is spent on watching men shout from the barracks or shout while charging into battle or shout in approval of someone's speachifying. I went in hoping for a documentary that would provide some background on the Alamo, but was heavily disappointed. I left there and went directly to the historical site, where I found a museum in the courtyard and a 15 minute History Channel presentation that gave me all the historical background I wanted. So, I recommend skipping The Price of Freedom and just head straight into the Alamo.
The Riverwalk (pic) is a groovy little trail at river level, which loops around the downtown area with various shops and restaurants right on the water. An extension of the walk also runs both North and South of the downtown area. There's lots of good eats on the Riverwalk and it's fun to take one of the tour boat rides that gives a bit of history of the local buildings. The Riverwalk also has a great outdoor amphitheater (which appears in the movie Miss Congeniality), where I was lucky to stumble upon a live band, playing some great music on one of the nights (pic).
One of the most memorable aspects of the Riverwalk was the great food. The Iron Cactus, which I ended up at by chance had fantastic food and really, really, really, really goooooood margaritas. In fact, they had the best margaritas on the Riverwalk, as far as I was concerned. (I highly recommend trying El Perfecto.) Another great one, which falls on the very pricey side was Boudros, but the price was worth it. They make fresh guacamole, right at your table, and the food is fantastic. I also ordered a Texas Tea there, and they didn't skimp on the liquor.
A walk south of downtown San Antonio led me to Rosario's, a great little Tex-Mex place with artsy vibes, where the tacos were delicioso! I followed some of the roads around and strolled down King William Street, which has some of the oldest mansions in the area. The street has a lot of beautiful old traditional buildings, some restored, some given over to time and starting to look run down. A few you can go in an take tours of, though I didn't go inside any of them. It was a nice relaxing stroll.
At the end of the walk, I intended to go to an art museum or gallery, called the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, but I think it was closed that day. It was alright though, because I discovered a coffee shop at the spot called Halcyon. It was the only local coffee shop I was able to find in the area (believe me, I searched and asked) and provided a much need latte and ginger cookie. I loved the mix and match furniture and the loungy, relaxed atmosphere. Also, the staff had lovely smiles and made me feel very welcome to be there, which is even better.
Sunday took me on a bike ride up to the San Antonio Museum of Art, or SAMA. The museum had a large collection of ancient Egyptian, Asian, and Mediterranean art, as well as contemporary art. My favorite part of the collection was the Latin American folk art that was presented while I was there, including a look at the different portrayals of Our Lady Mary across Spain and Central and South America. She's referred to as La Virgen Guadalupe in Mexico, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and other names in other regions or to suit other stories. One example is this Black Virgin from Spain. I loved all the the Our Ladies, as well as many of the Saints, such as this Saint Teresa of Avila, from Guatemala. The only problem I had with the museum was that after viewing the art I was starving. However, the cafe was closed for reconstruction and there is no where else to eat for blocks and blocks. *sigh*
Anyway, those are the highlights of the trip. I also did some work stuff, which went well, but I won't go into. Overall, San Antonio was fun. Maybe not the most interesting place I've ever been, but fun and worth the visit.
Andrea Blythe's blog about writing, reading, and everything else
- So long, San Antonio! Thanks for having me.