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By: Zdenko Kahlina
Visiting Texas, USA
In September 2007 Vera and I spent delightful week in Texas. We used my business trip to San Antonio, to travel and explore Texas.
We managed to travel around for few days (on the weekend) with rented car and went to visit places like Austin, Corpus Christi, Fredericksburg and other smaller places on our way. It was a week well spent!!
Downtown San Antonio is a fantastic place to visit. It is exceptional, at least for a Texas city, at the street level. Undoubtedly it lacks an impressive skyline for a city/metro of it’s size but I would still say it’s the best built environment of any Texas city’s downtown. Most of the taller, newer buildings do seem to be hotels, and I get the impression much of the retail, restaurants, etc. rely on tourism rather than office workers, and other locals.
My wife and I walked through the well known River Walk while in San Antonio. Everything is so well taken care of and beautiful, we must have taken a dozen walks along the river during our visit. It isn’t exactly a peaceful walk as it was pretty noisy and crowded in spots but that’s probably to be expected in the evenings. San Antonio’s River Walk is a wonder as far as I’m concerned.
We took the boat tour and enjoyed it. Hint: eating spots on river had happy hour specials ($2.50 margaritas etc.) just look around and ask. I feel sorry for people who don’t appreciate this wonderful place, but of course I wouldn’t go there in the summer! San Antonio has a very hot and humid climate, even in September.
If you wish to tour the town you can do almost everything using the VIA $4.00 day pass which lets you use all city trolleys to main attractions. (Not to be confused with the $20.00 hop-on-off trolley) which I am sure is nice but if you’re on a budget VIA worked very well for us!!
Must do: Eat at Mi Tierra Cafe in the farmers market – get there on VIA trolley. Pedro Casas who was our Waiter gave us a tour of all the rooms, brought us four different regional sauces with great explanation of what was in them. The ambiance of this large cafe and the staff is Five Stars and made my stay!! And note, our bill was only $24.00!
The 18th-century mission church where Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and 188 others waged their last stand against the Mexican army for Texas independence has become a state symbol. It is located right in the middle of the city, only a block or two from our hotel. The most famous historical site in Texas, the mission has been restored to its original condition and offers tours, relics of the past, and a gift shop with memorabilia for history enthusiasts.
San Antonio mission: San Jose
The explorations of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado of the Texas High Plains and the Luis Moscoso expedition into East Texas between 1539 and 1543 formed the basis of Spain’s claim to Texas. More than a century would pass before the Spanish extended their settlements into what is now Texas.
Spanish interest revived when Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, who founded Fort Saint Louis on Matagorda Bay in 1684, claimed lands for France that included Texas. This expansion by France posed a threat to Spain’s territory and Spain responded with the establishment of the East Texas missions. A chain of five missions along the San Antonio River became the largest concentration of Catholic missions in North America. These five missions survive today, still relatively intact, as examples of the Spanish colonial missions of the Southwest. They serve as a general architectural record of the mission era and examples of building styles from every period of mission history.
Founded in 1720, this Spanish frontier mission, the largest of the five San Antonio missions, is best known for its rose window. On Sundays, this Texas and U.S. National historic site offers a mariachi mass. This mission will give you the best idea of how things were in the past. Excellent staff here as well. San Jose is alive with people, in contrast to the emptiness of the other missions. I would even say that it would be safe to ignore the other missions unless you are really interested in their history.
There was a very good visitor’s center and the mission is interesting to see. Don’t forget to check out the mill. We didn’t get to go inside the church. I’m not sure if it is open to the public all of the time.
This is a very quaint area with historical structures that are now all shops. These are mostly local artists that sell unique items. There are some very affordable things…and some very not affordable. There is a brochure that you can pick up that will explain the history of all of the structures there as well.
Worth a quick walk through, old buildings, friendly people, artsy stuff for sale. We were there on a Monday evening and a lot of shops were closed. The amphitheater right on the River walk with grass seats was pretty cool.
Have a good and healthy season.
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