The Texas Expedition: San Antonio, The Alamo and the Riverwalk

After we walked/drove around Waco (where one RV park owner told us that he “didn’t want us lowering his environment” once we told him we had a converted school bus) we headed south to San Antonio.

When we had started planning (and I use that word very loosely) we knew that there were two things we wanted to see- the mammoths and the Alamo. Neither of us had been to either site so it was going to be a new experience for us together.

It took us forever to get to San Antonio. This was the first kind of long stretch of driving that we did and we were in separate vehicles. Mike was driving the bus and I was driving our regular car (as it turns out the car that we recently purchased can’t be flat towed and tow dollys are hideously expensive. No thank you.). We eventually made it and arrived safe and sound at the San Antonio KOA- which is a pretty cool KOA and there is a bus stop at the entrance that takes you downtown so you could use public transportation the whole time from which I love. Give me more public transit! We prefer KOAs and campgrounds owned by the National Park Service if we’re going to be parking somewhere. WiFi, showers, pools, and laundry facilities are great.

Bright and early the next morning we headed to downtown San Antonio to check out the Alamo.

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What up Alamo? Did you know it’s right in the middle of the city? I didn’t. 

It was still fairly early and we were hungry and coffee deprived so we decided to hold off on the Alamo and explore the Riverwalk and get breakfast.

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So the Riverwalk is basically a series of canals that run below street level through downtown San Antonio. It was so lovely. I adored it. It was very shady and significantly cooler (in temperature) than the street area above. It was quiet. Like a little oasis in the middle of the city lined with cafes and restaurants with ample outdoor seating. There were tour boats that floated through, joggers, ducks begging for treats, and it was just fabulous…and not at all what you expect to see in the middle of Texas.

 

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We ended up not getting breakfast at all but instead ended up at a place called Casa Rio which had ample seating by the water under brightly colored umbrellas. As it turns out, Casa Rio was the first San Antonio business to open its door to the river and take advantage of the water. The Riverwalk businesses basically began here and moved outward creating what is now the Riverwalk.

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The “gondolas” and the patio of Casa Rio.

So we, totally by accident, ended up at THE establishment. Pretty cool. And good food. Excellent beans. And a surprising amount of vegetarian options that involved things other than beans. We decided that a suitable replacement for a mid-morning coffee was a mid-morning pitcher of sangria and we had a blast. Mike even made friends with a particularly charismatic duck.

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He stared lovingly at us the whole time. I blame Mike- he gave him a chip.

We finally headed up to the Alamo after our early lunch and it was teeming with kids on field trips. I was amazed at the sheer quantity of children there. We were there during the peak season (March-September) though. But it was very cool. There’s a museum in one of the outer buildings- the Long Barrack- that goes over the history of the area and the events that led up to the fall of the Alamo which, while crowded, was very well put together.

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Long Barrack

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This display talked about the men and women at the Alamo and contained excerpts of eye witness accounts of what happened. Lots of cool information but the round displays themselves had a tendency to sort of snap and quickly roll to the sides which could pinch your fingers. 

The main iconic part of the Alamo feels more like a church when you walk in because, well, it is. I had always thought of the Alamo as a fort rather than a church so that was surprising to me. No hats and no photography is allowed. Which makes sense since it’s really a memorial to the lives lost.

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The Alamo Church and the Emily Morgan Hotel in the distance.

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Admission into the Alamo church and the Long Barrack Museum is free (which is great!) and it’s open from 9am to 8pm during the peak season (March 4th-September 3rd) and from 9am to 5:30pm during the off-season (September 4th-March 3rd). There is no parking directly at the Alamo because it is quite literally in the middle of the city (no joke, there’s a H&M on the other side of the Alamo Plaza) but there are ample parking lots within walking distance. I found parking to be a little steep (we paid $12 for the day) but Mike pointed out that it’s actually fairly cheap for downtown parking in a major city. We took our daily driver for this and I doubt that we could have found parking anywhere close by for the bus. Had we not had our regular car with us we would have taken the bus into town and walked around from there. Like a lot of older downtowns, the lanes are narrow and not exactly super bus friendly. However, San Antonio is a very quiet city. There was barely any traffic and it was a weekday when we went and other than the amount of kids at the Alamo the rest of the city seemed fairly deserted for a workday. I really liked it. Seemed very chill.

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All in all, we really enjoyed this part of trip and decided to stay another night. Which worked out because the car broke down right as we were turning into the KOA. We repaired it and went swimming, relaxed for the night, and moved onto South Padre Island.

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