29 May 2011--It has been a couple weeks since we did anything worth blogging about, but Cathy and I, along with our friend Hallie, set out to see the sights of downtown San Antonio yesterday, so I thought I would fill you in on our day.
We had read an article in the paper saying that the city had a self-guided walking tour, covering 2.6 miles, pointing out 79 different sites of historical interest, and you could get your pamphlet telling you all about these spots at the Visitor's Center. We knew it was going to be a hot one, this is afterall Texas in May, but it was supposed to be pretty breezy, so off we went. What we didn't know was that the heat index was going to hit 105 degrees, and any breeze to be had was blocked by all the buildings downtown...I couldn't have stirred up a breeze if you had spun me in circles!!!
So, our pamphlet told us that in front of each historical building/site we would find a large circle with half a star at the top (signifying the Lone Start state) and the outline of the Alamo at the bottom. We also were to look for the small circles along the streets that would guide us in the right direction as we went from site to site. (We had a map also, but the circles were helpful.)
The Alamo and the River Walk (across the street from each other) are the number one tourist attractions in the state of Texas. It probably helps that 50 weeks a year Basic Training graduates from Lackland AFB have their town pass on Saturdays...there are an average of anywhere from 500-700 graduates a week, so along with their visiting family members they pour a lot of money into the city.
Here we are as we are about to set off on our hike. Notice how "fresh" we look, especially Hallie! (We are not long out of the air-conditioned car at this point.)
The Alamo was originally built in 1718 as a Catholic Mission, but became known as we all know for the beating that was delivered by Santa Ana on Texas troops in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. The Mission/fort once covered a lot of the downtown area, but now is down to maybe a couple acres in the heart of the city.
Directly outside the Alamo, on the plaza, is this monument to the men who fought and died there.
(Bowie, Crockett, Travis and Bonham are singled out with their names above their likeness.)
This is the building that housed the 1st federally chartered bank in San Antonio, built in 1866 and operated straight thru 1970. It is now the law office of a very prominent San Antonio family. The 2nd pic is just a mural of a parade in old San Antone!
This building was once a bank built in 1929, but is now a hotel. We went inside more to get cooled off than anything else, but once inside I just had to take these pics. I took them to show to Walter and my friend Barb...they are the only ones I know who read the book "Atlas Shrugged"...don't the 2 pics depicting Thrift and Trust look like something out of that book???!!! That's all I could think of when I saw them.
Just a short note here: I said earlier that there were 79 sites listed in our pamphlet of historical significance. Well, a lot of them were empty buildings looking for tenants, from old grocery stores to furniture companies and everything in-between, so I will spare you that (haha). At this point, however, we were into our tour for about 1 1/2 hours of what would ultimately take us almost a solid 3 hours, so we were not only a bit tired but hotter than we had been in years. It was really brutal surrounded by all this concrete! I don't know how anyone ever talked the newspaper into promoting this tour, but I thank God we didn't pay for it!!! (But I digress!)
This is the old courthouse, built in 1891.
The San Fernando Cathedral, on a site established by the Spanish crown and built in 1737, is the most famous church in the city. It is really pretty inside, but as you enter the doors on the left, the 1st thing you see is this casket with the remains of the heroes of the Alamo.
The view from the back towards the front, and then from behind the actual altar facing to the back of the church.
The altar area is really beautiful...and for those of you who don't know this, Hispanics are very much into the Virgin Mary.
I wish I could say that Cathy, Hallie and I were smart enough to rent these Segways (sp?), but we weren't...didn't want to mess up our hair with those helmets, I guess?
This was the Spanish Governor's Palace, built in 1749.
Between the concret-like walls and rock floors, it was a lot cooler in here than outside even with no A/C. Looks like this has been a hot tourist spot for a while...that is Baron Von Trapp and his wife, from the famed Sound of Music movie, that visited here in 1942.
Cathy hoping for, and then ringing, the freedom bell!
This was a sort of cool kitchen stove. Notice that beneath the pots holes are punched out so they could heat things up in what they thought was a controlled manner back in the day. Hadn't seen one like this yet.
The O. Henry House...all I know is that he was famous short story writer.
La Villita and Hemisphere Park, shopping spots. In the pic of Hemisphere Park is the Tower of the Americas, the top of which is a revolving restaurant. Very expensive, but has a great view of the city.
This sculpture is supposed to denote "Friendship" of some sort, and was given to the people of San Antonio by the Mexican government about 15 years ago. It is smack in the middle of downtown, no one really likes it, and wasn't even mentioned in our pamphlet.
This Catholic Church was built by German speaking San Antonians back in 1868. I somehow deleted the pic I had of the outside, but I thought the inside was interesting in how different the altar is from the San Fernando Cathedral. Big difference between the Germans and the Hispanics. Cathy and Hallie are sitting there, not praying for anything, but offering thanks for the A/C!
We have finally, after 3 hot and increasingly miserable hours, arrived back where we started and are about to get something to eat down on the Riverwalk. But I want you to take a good look at Hallie...she is struggling to get her breath in the 1st pic, faking a smile in the 2nd, and finally just has to sit down before she passes out in the 3rd. What a trooper!!!
This was probably the busiest person in San Antonio yesterday. Set up right outside the Alamo, just think of all those familes from northern states who came to visit their Basic Trainee. If we were beat by the heat after all these years, I can't imagine how hot those people thought they were! I bet they made a bee-line for the sno-cones!!!
Cathy and I are heading to Austin tomorrow for a few days of sightseeing up there, so i should have a coupleore postings over the next couple days...hopefully a little more compelling, and I pray cooler, than yesterday's excursion. Time will tell!