Remember (To Go To) The Alamo . . .
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As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, part of the appeal of Port Lavaca for us was its proximity to several Texas cities which we could explore. Next up on the list to visit, San Antonio. Yep, home of the Alamo and the Riverwalk. That’s pretty much all we knew about the city before our visit. Oh, did we have a lot to learn!
While we were in the process of planning our trip, our full-time RV friends (and my sister and brother-in-law!) Annette and Mike had mentioned they would also like to take in the sights of the Alamo City. Annette and Mike are staying in Mission, TX for the winter so their four hour drive would be a little longer than our drive, but it would definitely work to meet them in ‘ol San Antone. Betsy put her famous search skills to work and located a cute, and fairly inexpensive, Airbnb for us in the city. The rental was the third floor of a beautiful home on the north side of San Antonio, across the street from San Pedro Springs Park. (More on the park later.) So we were all set, two nights booked, let the sightseeing begin. Consider this trip a bucket list checker, as this would be our first Airbnb rental which would include a visit to the Alamo and walk along the San Antonio River Walk. We had always wanted to do the Airbnb thing, but the opportunity never presented itself. Unfortunately we didn't know about the friend's referral program prior to signing up for an Airbnb account which could have saved us 4 Hamiltons or 2 Jacksons also known as $40. So if you don't have an Airbnb account yet, we would love to offer you our referral link. Friends don't let friends miss a discount! You save $40 and I believe we may get some travel credits too. BONUS! We would most definitely love that. If you book a trip you love, let us know about it as nothing beats a great getaway.
Betsy and I were up bright and early on Monday to finish some last minute packing before heading out for our little adventure. The weather was pleasant and the company good, so the two and a half hour drive went by quickly. As we’ve experienced several times during our stay already, driving between Texas cities is fairly easy. Lots of farmland and cattle ranches, 75 mph speed limits, and everything seems to be 2 - 3 hours apart. We rolled into the San Antonio area shortly after noon, so our initial concern was lunch. During the drive Betsy had already jumped on the topic and had discovered a couple of gluten-free places worth investigating. Unfortunately they were either closed or not convenient to where we were headed in the city. With a last minute decision (and a free entree coupon!), we ended up at one of our favorite “chain” restaurants, P.F. Chang’s. Not only is the food tasty, but they have a plentiful gluten-free menu, and understand the need to isolate the gluten-free food while cooking and preparing the meals. A perfect fit for us, and a good choice for lunch.
After lunch we were still a little too early to check into our rental, so we parked by the house and walked across the street to San Pedro Springs Park. The 46-acre park is the oldest in the State of Texas, the second oldest in the country only behind Boston Commons, and has a history dating back hundreds of years. Today, the park serves the same purpose as many parks in America’s cities, a green oasis which provides residents of a city a place to walk, sit, eat, and enjoy a little green space. We crossed the street and strolled through the park towards its main attraction, the San Pedro Springs Pool. The pool was built on the site of the original lake bed and spring, and is one of the largest pools I have ever seen. The day we were there, the pool was being prepped for the summer and did not have any water within its walls. But even without water it was still an impressive sight. Without any water swimming was out of the question (well, that and the fact we didn’t bring our swimmies!), so we found a bench under a shade tree and settled in for some reading. We both had library books to finish before they needed to be returned.
A short time later our roommates for the next two nights arrived just in time for us to check in. Well, there really wasn’t much of the traditional “check in”. After booking through Airbnb Betsy had received instructions on how to get into the house (key pad on the door) and she was reminded several times that the unit was on the third floor . . . without an elevator! Hey, we can all use a little exercise, right? Actually, it wasn’t really that bad, even carrying suitcases and some food. Annette and Mike? You can comment if you feel differently! The unit was exactly as advertised in the pictures in the ad. It was pretty much the attic / third floor of a southern, antebellum-looking house. It had a small, but full kitchen, a full bath, a living area with television and small futon. The two queen-size beds were sort of hidden in what appeared to be old closets in the dormers. This layout allowed a little privacy for an open floor plan apartment. We settled in and finalized our plans for the evening, which was to visit with a long time friend of Annette and Mike’s daughter, Nicole. Stacey, and her husband Rocky, live in the suburbs of San Antonio along with their three sons. Yes, their lives are busy! We enjoyed a nice visit and some Texas BBQ with Stacey and her family. Sleep came quickly upon our return to our third floor retreat.
On Tuesday morning everyone was up and ready to get out and explore. (Well, truth be told, Betsy would have preferred some more sleepy time!) We utilized the small galley kitchen that was available to us in our apartment and cooked up a full breakfast of eggs w/ ham, bacon, cinnamon coffee cake (GF, of course, thanks for Betsy!) and beverages. Now we were ready for some sightseeing. We made the short drive downtown and decided to start with one of the most well-known attractions in San Antonio, The Alamo. The Alamo Mission in San Antonio is commonly called The Alamo and was originally known as Misión San Antonio de Valero. It was founded in the 18th century as a Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, and today is part of the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Site in San Antonio. It was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and is now a museum in the Alamo Plaza Historic District.
The compound was one of the early Spanish missions in Texas, built for the education of area American Indians after their conversion to Christianity. The mission was secularized in 1793 and then abandoned. Ten years later, it became a fortress housing the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras military unit, who likely gave the mission the name Alamo. A relatively small number of Texian soldiers then occupied the compound for several months. They were wiped out at the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, United States), killing all of the Texian defenders. Santa Anna's cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.
We spent quite a bit of the morning walking around the Alamo complex, reading, learning and understanding what had occurred on the site. We’ve obviously heard the saying, “Remember the Alamo”, and now we all probably appreciate a little bit more what the story is behind that saying. After our history lesson, it was time for lunch. Sounds kinda like school, right? History lesson, then lunch! Well, this was a little better since lunch wasn’t in a school cafeteria, but rather at a Mexican restaurant on the scenic San Antonio Riverwalk. Yes, after our Alamo visit we wandered over to the Riverwalk, which is a city park and network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story beneath the streets of San Antonio. Lined by bars, shops, restaurants, nature, public artwork, and the five historic missions, the River Walk is 15 miles in length and an important part of the city's urban fabric.
Our planned afternoon activity was a bus tour of the city on an open-topped double decker bus. Betsy had snagged a Groupon (She adores a good deal!) for $8/person for the bus tour, so we decided to get to know the city via a guided tour by the Alamo Double Decker Bus Company. Betsy and I have found that if we only have a day or two to explore a city, these types of bus/trolley tours are a great way to learn the layout of the city and get a lot of general information about its attractions. Many of them are also hop on - hop off style, so you can do some additional exploring if something piques your interest. To make it even more exciting, this was Annette’s first time on a topless double decker bus. No, not that kind of topless, all of our clothes stayed on but the bus was topless! We chose not to hop on or off the bus during the tour so the loop ended up being about an hour long. Again, a nice way to get around and see the city and enough to entice Betsy and I to come back and see some more.
After all of our sightseeing it was back to our little home away from home. We relaxed a little and took advantage of the large covered second floor porch that overlooked San Pedro Springs Park. Nice shade, a cool breeze and a good book, just what the doctor ordered. Dinner was made in-house by once again using our kitchen facilities. A tasty pasta dinner was just what the doctor ordered.
Wednesday morning's breakfast looked a lot like Tuesday’s, and was just as delicious. After breakfast, we packed up our things and carried them back to the cars, down our three flights of steps. Going down was better, right Annette and Mike? We said our good-byes with hugs and we all agreed our visit to San Antonio was well worth the time and effort and Betsy and I agreed that another visit to San Antonio was definitely in our future during our time in Texas.