Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Day in San Antonio

My family (except for my dad who stayed behind in Ohio to work) recently came to Texas for their first visit of my new "home." They flew into San Antonio, so we spent their first day exploring the Alamo and the Riverwalk. I hadn't had a chance to visit San Antonio yet either, and I was really looking forward to checking out this city that I had heard many great things about.

This sparkling glass tile mosaic was a colorful depiction of the city:

Our first stop was lunch at Casa Rio, a mexican restaurant right along the Riverwalk. The atmosphere was vibrant with a mariachi band playing on the patio among the bright umbrella tables. The food was ok. Most of our group enjoyed their plates, but I wasn't quite as lucky.

After lunch, we walked over to the famous Alamo. I honestly didn't know much about the history of this U.S. landmark before our visit. If you are expecting a sprawling, desert-like compound as you may have seen in the movies, you will likely be disappointed. The Alamo is smack dab in the middle of the city, across the street from stores and the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. I kid you not. You can also beat the heat with a snow cone from the vendor cart on the edge of the Alamo property. Having gotten that disclaimer out of the way, once you pass through the entrance to the Alamo, the surrounding area fades away.

The property is actually fairly small. The hubby and I both enjoy history, and the Alamo was full of interesting information & artifacts. The grounds surrounding the church include green shady gardens and beautiful fountains. There is a large gift shop building beside the main church structure with a model of the former mission complex and a striking depiction of the battle. It brings to life a picture of what the Alamo would have looked like during the well known siege. Only a few of the original buildings are left standing today.

With my brothers outside The Alamo.

After our visit to the Alamo, we returned to the Riverwalk and toured the area by foot. It was HOT and by the end of our stroll along the extensive paths lining the river, I was wishing we had opted for the boat tour! Having worked at a landscape architecture and urban planning firm when I was living in Denver, I had seen many photos of the unique Riverwalk and heard my fair share of discussions about this San Antonio landmark.

The Riverwalk was different than I expected. I had anticipated many shops along the waterfront and a more bustling atmosphere, but rather, the riverfront is lined almost exclusively with hotels and restaurants. There was an unexpected calmness and peacefulness to long stretches of the Riverwalk.
Beautiful landscape architecture lines the waterfront, differing around each turn, with views of the San Antonio skyline peaking out over bridges. The unique architecture of the surrounding buildings, some with a European flair and others with ornate historic detailing, is also a highlight.

It was a tiring but fun day and after cooling off with some Texas Blue Bell ice cream, we headed for Austin. I want to share just one more picture with you of some beautiful blown glass we passed in one of the shops in downtown San Antonio. I am a huge fan of Dale Chihuly, an amazingly talented glass artist, and this sculpture reminded me of his intricate pieces.


Shannon said...

This looks like so much fun! I've always wanted to go here!

Blissful Nikki said...

I LOVE SA! I acutally live in Austin, but have family all over SA too! Looks like you had a great time! :)