We are now in Santa Fe, having spent 5 full days in San Antonio, then spent two days driving 700 miles to arrive here at Los Suenas de Santa Fe RV Park. It's not a real pretty campground, but it is a central location for the activities I have planned for the area. I had seriously considered the COE campground at Cochiti Lake as it looks like a gorgeous location, but for a quick touring expedition it would have involved a lot of driving. But, let's go backwards and see what we were doing down in San Antonio.
As I wrote in my last entry, we were seeing some pretty high temperatures while here, so we were adjusting our plans accordingly. Up in the morning for a long walk exploring sections of the River Walk, back to the campground for lunch, settle the pups in for an afternoon siesta while we went places they couldn't go (yes, there are places pups aren't allowed, as unfair as it sounds). This actually worked out pretty good, as we soon discovered that San Antonio is NOT an early rising town, leaving the River Walk pretty deserted for our morning rambles.
The San Antonio River Walk is a public park, a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story below approximately 5 miles of downtown San Antonio. It winds and loops along the river as two parallel sidewalks lined with hotels, shops, restaurants and attractions. Monday we had started at the far left of this map, actually off the map in a new expanded section of the Walk called Museum Reach Extension and walked down to about the middle of the u-shaped section. Retracing our steps back to the car that day gave us almost 6 miles of walking.
Tuesday morning we parked at the Rivercenter Mall, near the very top of the map. We then walked down the T-shaped extension as our destination was La Villita (to the right of the top of the u-shaped section).
A favorite section of River Walk, the popular Casa Rio restaurant. We did have dinner here that night and it was very tasty!
La Villita Historic District is San Antonio's first neighborhood, offering shopping, dining and history. The district was once a military post where families of Spanish soldiers lived in simple adobe huts.
The neighborhood became desirable after the 1819 floods destroyed many prominent citizen's homes. European immigrants settled here in the mid-1800's.
Currently the restored structures are home to artisan's shops and a few small eateries.
La Villeta is home to the Arneson River Theatre, an open air theatre where the river runs between the stage
and the moss-covered bench seating.
After we finished poking around La Villeta, we got back down onto River Walk and headed for another destination this morning,
San Fernando Cathedral. It is considered the "heart of San Antonio" both culturally and physically: There is a spot on the floor of the Cathedral marked as the exact center of the city.The original church was built between 1738 and 1749 and its walls form the cathedral's sanctuary. The original church tower was used to spot the arrival of Santa Ana' and the Mexican army in 1836. The tower was removed during the construction of the French Gothic addition in 1868.
The marble coffin said to hold the remains of some of the Alamo's defenders is located in a chapel in the southeast corner of the cathedral. The remains were found buried under the sanctuary railing of the original church in 1936.
It was quite beautiful inside.
After our view of the San Fernando Cathedral we headed back to River Walk, and today I got a picture of the "cleaning boat". See how they open the skimmer wings to clean the debris out of the river? I thought that was really neat.
This interesting building on the river is the original office of Robert H.H. Hugman, an architect who many consider to be the father of River Walk. In 1929 he presented a master plan to the city of San Antonio for the development of the downtown river bend. Hugman's plan proposed a balance between commercial and park-like qualities, while maintaining the river's natural character and preserving old world architecture.
Even the stairways leading back up to the city level are beautifully done.
After lunch, the dogs settled down for their afternoon siesta, and we headed out for our own afternoon history lesson.
The Alamo is one of six original missions that settled along the banks of the San Antonio river in the early 1700's. One mission failed, but the other five thrived for quite a long time. The Alamo began as the San Antonio de Valero, and played a crucial role in the settlement of San Antonio, Texas and the Southwest. The two original buildings were the Convento, or Long Barrack (1724) and the Church (1744). By 1756 however, the walls of the church started collapsing, and remained ruined until the both the Mexicans and Texians fortified it during the Texas Revolution. After the battle, it remained in ruins until the U.S. Army began repairs in 1850. So while the walls of the church are over 250 years old, the facade as we know it is only about 150 years old. The Alamo is now a State Park while the remaining four missions are part of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
The Convento, which has been restored and is now a beautiful museum with many exhibits pertaining to the battle. The complete history of the Battle of the Alamo is extremely interesting, and WAY too involved for me to get into here. It had been suggested by "guides" that we would spend about an hour here, but you know us, I think it was at least 2 1/2 hours before we saw and read everything. We also did the audio wand tour, which we find is an excellent way to self-guide yourself throughout an exhibit like this without missing anything. We had also been told by several people that we would be "disappointed" with the Alamo, but honestly, having never watched the old "Davy Crockett" shows, I had no pre-conceived notions of what it was like, and so found I could readily imagine what it looked like during that time. I found it quite interesting all in all.
We ended our afternoon by taking a barge cruise...everyone said we "had to", so who were we to argue?? It was very nice, and learned a few tidbits that we hadn't known as we were walking around the area.
Going back to the map, we learned that the u-shaped bump-out is the original flow of the river; the section going across it was man-made, to control the flow of water to the area preventing further flooding of the main commercial district. the T-shape off the end is also man-made, and was made for the 1968 World's Fair in the city. Hemisfair Park was the area designed to house the Fair, and the city developed this off-shoot of the river to help move the flow of people from River Walk to the World's Fair.
A section of the man-made canal leading to Hemisfair Park.
Along the way is a bronze statue of San Antonio's patron saint, Saint Anthony. The sculpture was presented to the city by the Portuguese government at the 1968 Hemisfair.
Finally, we ended the afternoon with an early dinner at Casa Rio, at a riverside table. It was a lovely end to a lovely day!
This is now long enough, so our Wednesday and Thursday adventures will have to wait.....