Monday, January 19, 2009

San Antonio

San Antonio – what a great city! I drove to the heart of downtown yesterday morning and parked within a block of the Alamo - just off Crockett St. Alamo Plaza was already crowded and I joined the crowds walking through the Alamo itself. 189 people died there in 1836 after trying valiantly to turn back the troops of Mexico’s General Santa Anna. The Heroes of the Alamo listed inside what’s left of the fort included their home countries and I was surprised to find places like Denmark and Ireland among them.

San Antonio, with a population of just over a million people, has a vibrant downtown that was bustling on the Sunday I was there. After the Alamo I walked a few blocks to La Villita, the original settlement that is now filled with little shops and restaurants. Then it was on to the Riverwalk – truly a civic masterpiece. The Riverwalk is 20 feet down from street level and lined with restaurants and shops and places to sit and people watch.

Designed by an architect in the 1920’s, the Riverwalk is a wonderful, man-made place that draws people to the heart of the city. It is ringed with hotels that have been carefully designed so that their entry level from the Riverwalk blends with stone work that lines both sides of the river. I actually took many pictures including some of the foot bridges that allow travel across the river but later discovered that I hadn’t brought the proper connection to download the pictures into my computer. I’ll try to pick one up today.

I stopped at a lovely Italian café for lunch on the river. When my order (penne with chicken, artichokes and sundried tomatoes in a creamy garlic pesto sauce) arrived, I burst out laughing at the portion size – easily enough for two or three people. The server gave me a smile and said “But Madam you are in Texas!”) I packed up as much as I ate and will have it for lunch again today. After lunch I took a narrated boat tour of the Riverwalk, a great way to learn the history of the area.

After touring the Alamo, La Villita and the Riverwalk, I retrieved my car and drove to Mission San Jose a restored historic mission that dates from 1720. It is both a national and state historic site and is still and active parish. It is an imposing stone structure that had me in awe of the people who built this sacred site by hand, stone by stone. I sat in the sanctuary for a time soaking up the centuries of prayer that had been uttered there. I added some of my own.

After a day spent mostly walking, I headed out to find a place to spend the night. Today, I will north and west on my way to New Mexico.

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