adventure in san antonio: there’s more than the alamo
This time last week I was in San Antonio. I hear it’s a great vacation spot. But I wasn’t there on vacation, I was there for 8 days of meetings with my company. Eight long days of meetings and tests and certifications! On Saturday, though, we were free to do what we wanted. So my friend Amy came down from Austin and we were off to explore the city!
What I like about Amy is that she’s always up for an adventure. We have experienced may an adventure, even if we have had to create it ourselves (which is often the case). I knew it wouldn’t be shopping malls or river boat rides for us!
We walked up to the Alamo because it is San Antonio after all. The area was packed! I mean wall to wall people. It is vacation season, but this was insane! We wandered around the Alamo, ending up in a gift shop that sold all things Texas, and knew it was time to get out of the area. Across the street from the Alamo were typical touristy attractions because nothing helps you “remember the alamo” like Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, the Guinness World Records Museum, or Tomb Rider 3D. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I dragged Amy into a store that sold tickets for a Trolley ride to all the attractions, but luckily it was sold out. We asked the woman selling tickets what there was to do in the area and she said, well, there is the mall…It was time to leave the Alamo!
We walked along the river walk for awhile, stopping for a margarita, and then decided it was time to head out to explore. Our first destination was the King William Historic District. We moved up to the streets and were in the process of becoming very lost in the twists and turns of the streets, when Amy spotted the bikes.
B-cycle is San Antonio’s city bike sharing program. It was the perfect way to get around! We hoped on and after almost crashing into each other a few times while getting used to the heavy front baskets, we were off pedaling down the busy streets in our short shorts and flip-flops creating our own breeze on the hot afternoon.
The King William Historic District ended up being around the next corner. It’s basically two streets of stately homes built in the 1800s by German immigrants. The homes were beautiful and the neighborhood a quiet, peaceful spot in the middle of the bustling city. We rode around the streets, stopping to take pictures, and then decided to continue on the river walk trail toward the Missions.
The trail passed a couple beautiful parks filled with families picnicking and swimming in the afternoon heat, a huge dam, and continued on clinging to the San Antonio River. Just as we were beginning to feel like we were in the middle of nowhere, the trail would cross under a highway reminding us that this was indeed an urban landscape. Soon we saw the sign we were looking for: Mission Concepción.
We docked our bikes and began to explore the mission which had just closed for the day. Towards the back of the mission we caught a glimpse of an immense building through the trees.
A little further on there was a break in the trees where a crumbling stone wall stood. We hopped the wall and found ourselves on the property of St. John’s Seminary. Amy and I looked at each other and hurried to the front door; of course we were going to explore it!
The door creaked open and we found ourselves inside the seminary. The air inside was still and musty. We were nervous at first, but became braver as we went deeper into the building. Although, I must admit, I was half expecting to come upon a deranged priest or at least a rabid animal. But, nothing but dust and expanse and overturned furniture and stillness.
The complex was huge. We explored another four or five buildings. I jumped back with a gasp as we entered the last building when a bird flew straight at me and then out the door. The sun had left the complex and the shadows were growing. A quietness had overtaken the area and we felt far away from civilization. We felt like we were beginning to out stay our welcome. It was time to go.
We hoped the stone wall back to the sunny property of the mission. In the distance kids laughed; a car drove by. Back on the bikes we began to pedal towards town, passing the overgrown entrance of the abandoned seminary. Its secrets hidden behind those gates.
It was a great day; fun to see what San Antonio had to offer. So much more than malls and amusement parks!