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Published: September 2nd 2012
30th-31st Aug ’12 San Antonio, Texas Davey, Davey Crockett King of the Wild Frontier!
Just had to get that out of the way as that song has been stuck in my head for days now! So we arrived in San Antonio after a hair-raising race track of a journey on various interstates as we approached the area. We stayed at the Travelodge on Broadway and 4th street which meant we were really close to the River Walk and The Alamo and after changing rooms as the one we were given wouldn’t lock we were ready to go out and find some tea.
We had decided to save all The Alamo stuff for the next day as it was 5ish when we arrived, so we went to the River Walk instead. This is a loop of river right in the heart of the city which has a walkway right around it, with cafes and restaurants, trees and flowers, small bridges to cross over sides and is an absolute delight. It was so incredibly hot that despite the shade by the time we had done the circuit we were sweating like mad and worn out and so
we ended up at the first eating place we had seen – Mad Dogs British Pub. This was a place where all the staff wore kilts and little Union Jacks were wrapped around the cutlery and on flags in your food. The menu offered Fish and real British Chips made like in Blackpool!! So I was sold straightaway and they had Strongbow Cider at the same price as the beer!
It was really funny when the food arrived as they even wrapped the chips in a cone made of pretend newspaper! However the chips had their skins on, so how they thought that was British I will never know! Still the food was good, the pint most welcome and we gradually recovered.
The next day it was cloudy!! All I could do was thank God for that miracle, it was still hot but bearable. We headed off to The Alamo, saw the famous church front and went inside. Apart from the church there is not a lot of actual structural remains left, but it is a lovely setting with plaques explaining who died and where. Inside one of the mission buildings they had a smallish room in which
they showed a documentary about the Battle of the Alamo. Before it started we were welcomed by one of the volunteers who was an amazing guy, he set the scene, explained the background leading up to the battle an got everyone involved. He explained that the small room we were sitting in was the size of the one that the final 200 defenders made their last stand in and got us to imagine what it must have been like to have been there on that last day. I was really impressed with his passion and communication skills.
I had no idea that there were only 200 men against the 3000 Mexican troops, I had no idea that Colonel William B Travis was only 26 years old when he had to take over command as Jim Bowie had pneumonia and the youngest fighter was only 15. When he described the speech that Travis gave to the men on the last afternoon and the drawing of the line in the dirt I had a tear in my eye.
Taken from an account of Travis’s speech - "We must die," he began. "Our business is not to make a fruitless effort
to save our lives, but to choose the manner of our death."
He saw three possibilities: Surrender and summary execution, trying to fight their way out only to be "butchered" by Mexican lancers or "remain in this fort…resist every assault, and to sell our lives as dearly as possible."
Then, with a flourish, Travis drew his sword and slowly marked a line in the dirt. "I now want every man who is determined to stay here and die with me to come across this line."
Young Tapley Holland made his decision quickly, proclaiming "I am ready to die for my country!" as he jumped over the line. All but one crossed the line. Jim Bowie asked some of the men to carry him across on his sick bed.
I learnt a lot today and felt I gained a better understanding of the pride and passion that Texans have for their state. (I still think all the things that carry the slogan In Texas We Don’t Call 911 with the two crossed rifles above it is taking things a bit too far mind.) Another thing that surprised me was that the Government don’t own or run the
Alamo site, it is the Daughters of the Republic of Texas who manage the place and have done since 1905.
There was also a really impressive white marble sculpture tribute to the Heroes of the Alamo in the square outside and everything is free! But donations are obviously very welcome.
From the plaza outside we caught one of the red trolley buses up to El Mercado – The Market. Again a lovely area with a park and two indoor market style halls selling everything Mexican that you could possibly wish for, he did draw the line at carting a dozen hand painted wall tiles back even though we now have a suitcase. However he did buy a really nice cowboy hat so he’s all set for HRH in December!
After a good look round we started walking back, unfortunately the clouds had all gone by now and we were back to searing heat, but the route took us past the San Fernando Cathedral and we saw the final resting place of the heroes of the Alamo. From there we headed down to the River Walk and a bit of shade and made our way round it and
then across the three blocks to the motel. It's no wonder i'm so hot, it's 104 degrees!
We drove out to Augie’s BBQ place for tea that night, it was on the edge of a huge park and the food was plentiful and cheap. I am really impressed with San Antonio, it has lots of piazzas and parks and small green areas and seems a very friendly city.
1st September ’12 San Antonio to Austin
Austin is only 80 miles up the road so we didn’t have to rush to get up and set off which was nice. We passed the turn off for Waco but didn’t go for a look! The whole route was built up and busy and thanks again to Howard’s detailed notes we picked our way through the maze of fast traffic and found the motel without any problems.
As we were too early to check in and there were lots of people waiting to see if they could get rooms we decided to head into the city and see some sights. Luckily we managed to find a parking spot right by the Capitol Building. It’s a very impressive piece of architecture
set in lovely grounds and we walked up to it and joined the queue to go inside.
The cupola is a vast, round, high ceilinged section of the building and right at the top in the centre is the Lone Star. There are galleries on several levels all hung with portraits of the Governors of Texas. One family made a bee line for the picture of George Bush and had their photo taken on the bench under it, I was so tempted to get mine taken but the fear of being apprehended or thrown out made me chicken out!!
We had a good look around and climbed up all the giant wide stair cases to the different levels. You could go in several of the rooms and see where the House of Representatives and the Senate met, as Howard put it, it was a good mix of the old and the new, the original furnishings but fitted out with all the modern technology. The door hinges were amazing.
From here we drove down Congress, the big main road that goes from the Capitol Building right the way down to and over the river. There was a really
interesting area here of small shops, an artisans market and lots of hustle and bustle, unfortunately there was no parking. We drove up and down and around the side streets but couldn’t find a space anywhere so sadly had to give up. So we decided to head back up again and on to find an area which supposedly had a big craft market.
By now we had seen a lot of people walking around in orange t shirts with Texas Longhorns on them, it turned out that today was the first match of the football season and by the time we got to the other side of the Capitol Building the place was a sea of orange. No wonder there was nowhere to park the whole of the city had been taken over! In the end we had to abandon this plan too, you just couldn’t get anywhere.
As it turned out there was a shopping mall near the Travelodge so we managed to get there easily and it had a food court so we just ate tea in there, at a stall selling Peruvian food. We got chatting to the owner and she was so excited when
she found out we were from England and then even more excited when we said we were going to Peru next year! The food was delicious.
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