Much to my surprise (or chagrin), San Antonio does have more to offer than a variety of margaritas.
Friday was spent exploring the missions of San Antonio. The area is incredibly rich with history, as it was the backdrop for Spanish settlements and conflicts itch Native Americans from 1691 to the mid-1800’s when the San Antonio de Valero mission became known in history as the Alamo.
The Battle of the Alamo began February 23 and came to a final close on March 6, 1836. Davey Crockett, James Bowie (um, David Bowie, if you ask my mom) and 3 other men stood their ground in defending the mission, but the outnumbered Texian force was ultimately defeated. These men were remembered as martyrs for Texas freedom and “Remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry in the Texian Army.
Six national flags have flown over Texas – Texas under Spain, Texas under France, Texas under Mexico, Texas as a republic, Texas in the confederacy and Texas in the US. And we learned that Texas is the only state in the US that can fly its state flag at the same height as the US flag. That is one colorful history!
San Antonio has a number of other missions, so we rented a couple bikes from Blue Star Bicycles and peddled our way about 5 miles to the San Jose mission.
These missions were built by catholic religious orders to help spread Christianity during colonization. The settlers believed the natives who lived under the stars were uncivilized and needed to be organized into villages with walls and roofs.
Mission San Jose is home to the main visitors center and has a nice museum, gift shop and offers guided tours. We happened upon the site right before a tour began, so we learned a lot of details about the construction, use and later devastation of the mission.
We were told that these missions were never meant to go on forever, that they were built to be temporary structures so that when the natives were properly assimilated and civilized, they could go off and create their own villages and churches. After a few decades of use, all of the missions were abandoned.
I seriously know more now about Texas/Spanish-American history then I learned in school!
Once we’d wandered the grounds, we made our way back up the river walk extension via bike. It was a bit of a hike, so a pit stop in the shade was in order!
Saturday continued our exploration of the river walk…this time north! We made our way to the Saturday farmers market at pearl brewery, an old Texas brewery that now houses boutiques, shops and a lively crowd on Saturday mornings.
We enjoyed some coffees and teas along with the most delicious slice of pumpkin loaf. It had nuts and craisins baked right in with a crumbly top….yuuum!
We meandered back to town via the river again, stopping to enjoy the sights along the way. It was a peaceful walk with many things to explore along the way. A lily pond with a bench to relax, tile murals and art work under the bridges, big fish hanging from an overpass, bridges and dams, and a few water taxis zipping around the river. Can’t do that along the Potomac in DC!
Goodbye San Antonio – we loved you!