Friday, October 17, 2008

Trip Photos: San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is an urban gem in Southern Texas. Founded in 1691, it was named after Saint Anthony, which in Spanish translates to San Antonio. Historically, it's most famous for the Battle of the Alamo, which occurred in early 1836. But its most memorable feature nowadays is the magnificent River Walk.

Street Scenes

River Walk
The San Antonio River Walk is the most spectacular feature of the city and the biggest draw for all tourists. Originally designed in the late 1920's by a young architect named Robert Hugman, it wasn't built until 1939 - 1941, as part of the WPA construction projects across the U.S.

The level of the river is about 3 metres lower than the street level above. What's quite magical though is how completely different it feels to walk along the river than on the sidewalks of the city above; it's like a different world. The bulk of the River Walk is a large rectangle, though there's a T-shaped extension that juts off to the east, connecting the Convention Center and the Rivercenter Mall.

If you have time to go to only one restaurant then I'd strongly recommend Boudro's. We went there a few times and just loved the Mexican Fusion cuisine.

While having lunch one day at Boudro's these "flower ladies" showed up on dining boats. They were absolutely hilarious, propelled in part by copious amounts of alcohol! We got the sense that they were the wives of lumber executives attending a convention.

The Alamo
In the center of San Antonio is The Alamo. It has incredible historic significance both for Texas and for the United States.

One odd thing that my friend, Kristi, and I both immediately observed is how you're walking along and suddenly are standing in front of the Alamo. We were both expecting there to be a much larger open space around it, but it has become integrated right into the city's downtown.
There's some really cool software from Microsoft called PhotoSynth. It takes photos taken of an object from all sorts of angles and meshes them all together into one cohesive 3D object. You can see how it works with the Alamo here.
This photo shows the front of the Alamo, along with the historic Emily Morgan Hotel in the background.

Because the Alamo is, in essence, a monument to where hundreds of people died, it is considered a sacred place. As such, photos are strictly forbidden inside. This is the front of the building.
Here are the 6 flags that have ruled over the area we know as Texas.
In front of the Alamo is this magnificent monument, celebrating the lives of the courageous people who fought and died during the battle in 1836.

This was our hotel, the Grand Hyatt San Antonio. It was a great place, recently built, and absolutely gigantic. It's located beside the Convention Center, on the eastern edge of downtown so is a bit further away from most things than other hotels but we didn't mind the walk.

This prominent structure is the Tower Life building, completed in 1929.
The tallest structure in San Antonio is this one, the Tower of the Americas. It's 750' tall and was completed in 1968, as part of a world's fair, which was called HemisFair '68.

This honeycomb like tower is part of the Bexar County Courthouse, which is currently being renovated.
Here's the Menger Hotel, located directly south of the Alamo.

This is the San Fernando Cathedral, located on the western edge of Main Plaza.
This much smaller church is St. Joseph's and was built by German immigrants between 1886 - 1891.
Here's the magnificent interior of St. Joseph's.

William Historic District
About a mile south of downtown is this beautiful neighborhood, chalk full of some of the most beautifully restored houses anywhere.

This is called The Torch of Friendship (La Antorcha dela Amistad) and was created by the renowned Mexican sculptor Sebastian.

This metal sculpture sits out front of the San Antonio campus of UNAM. In case you're not aware, these letters stand for Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, which is the enormous public university in Mexico City.

I love this photo but need to explain how I captured it. On the western edge of HemisFair are several historic, though deserted houses. Around these homes are a few stray cats. As I approached one I saw black & white cat chasing this squirrel up a tree. The little guy then screeched down at the cat with great fury. It was shortly after that when I captured this. I was a little scared he was going to leap down on me and carve a hole out of my head but still risked it!
4 ducks taking a nap along the River Walk, in between convincing tourists from feeding them.

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