San Antonio, Texas was a complete surprise for me. I expected a typical busy city atmosphere, and instead found myself in an unusual and interesting environment. Yes, there were elements of the big city but they were tempered by other features which made San Antonio a really pleasant place to be.
Imagine a big city which is hosting 70,000 extra people for about 5-7 days. Chaos right? Wrong. This city had prepared for our event and everything was geared up to handle the inundation of humanity. Restaurants were well stocked and had plenty of staff on hand to deal with hungry mouths looking for some good Tex-Mex food and some of that great Texan barbecue.
The police were really well organized and extremely gracious to the thousands of visitors. Everything that I heard from my fellow convention attendees was positive. Accommodations were good and everyone said they were treated well. The hundreds of local volunteers who greeted people at the airport, outside hotels, and on streets corners were full of smiles, joy, laughter and lots of helpful information.
We were in the heart of the city with just a seven to eight minute walk separating our condo from the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center and the fifty thousand capacity Alamodome. But what a walk! This area of San Antonio is known as RiverWalk and is absolutely beautiful. A whole system of canals intertwine through the neighborhood. Small river boats seating about 25 people are piloted through these waterways as informative guides point out places of interest and speak about the history of San Antonio.
Along each side of the canals were cobblestone walkways and shade trees. These walkways were flanked by restaurants and shops and were criss-crossed by pretty arching bridges. It really made me think of a smaller scale Venice. And because the architecture of this area is so varied and interesting I almost felt as though I was in Europe:-).
San Antonio is the site of the Alamo. This is a famous historical monument which stands as a testament to the bravery and courage of the people who fought for Texas liberty. In 1836 the Texian and Tejano volunteers, alongside famous characters such as Jim Bowie, the well-known knife fighter, and Davie Crockett, famed frontiersman and former Congressman from Tennessee, fought against General Santa Anna’s Mexican army. They withstood the onslaught for just over thirteen days before they were overpowered.
On Sunday, before leaving San Antonio, we attended Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. This church was built by German immigrants and is very representative of a miniature European cathedral. It is very beautiful both inside and outside and a wonderful place to come and worship God. I think that about seventy five percent of the congregation was made up of our convention attendees, and the priest made a point of making us feel very welcome.
Because we were involved in a four-day convention, we did not have enough time to do this city justice. I know that San Antonio boasts the 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas, is also home to a SeaWorld, the Six Flags Fiesta, a fine zoo, and the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. I certainly would be happy to make a second visit to San Antonio and would highly recommend it as a vacation destination.