Tuesday, August 22, 2017

San Antonio Riverwalk

5-24-17

On this day my kids got to take their first river barge tour of the San Antonio River. Can you believe it? It never worked out to take them when we lived there. The rides are a bit pricey. Most of our travel budget would go solely for "summer vacation" instead of local places. However I was determined to get them on the barge when we studied the Gilded Age, but by then, we were whisked away to our new home in Virginia. After 8 years in beautiful Virginia, it was so much fun to see the Riverwalk again! It was always a fun place to visit, even just to walk around. With all the water we have in Virginia, living near the Chesapeake, we have yet to find anything that looks like this oasis. And it's truly an oasis...even historically. San Antonio was founded by travelers from the Kingdom of Spain because of this river...which was their oasis...and became their capital. So...you're probably wondering where the Gilded Age comes in. Just wait...      

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This is Rivercenter Mall, several stories of shopping and an IMAX theater abound. I highly recommend the Alamo movie at the IMAX btw. But we aren't here for shopping. It was a beautiful day! Not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was cool and it was low humidity! That is rare in May! It was definitely a day to be outdoors! Here we boarded our barge. Each one is named after a lady of San Antonio or Texas. Can you guess whose name graced our barge?

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This is the Hilton Palacio del Rio...built very quickly in 1968 for Hemisfair in a most unique way. You must watch this video of how it was built. Each room was decorated and furnished, then lifted in place. Ta da! That's how you get the job done quickly for Hemisfair!

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Another angle of the Palacio del Rio.

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La Villita is  the original little town across from the Alamo where the Spanish soldiers and their families resided. This is the seating for the Arneson River Theater.

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Across the river from the seating is the Arneson River Theater. Nearby is one of those beautiful arched bridges named for Rosita Fernandez...she was a famous dancer. Her named graced our barge.

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I think this is the famous "Wedding Island."

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This is Big Red, otherwise known as the Bexar County Courthouse which was built in the 1890's. I have been called to jury duty there several times.

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This is the Tower Life building...era 1929...complete with gargoyles. Four hundred three feet is perfect for...flags! Stay tuned for oodles of flags, from American to Texan to...can you tell?

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Now can you tell? San Antonio is famous for flying the American flag (some are so large they rival that of Fort McHenry), the Texas flag, and even certain times of the year this other flag. Can you tell?

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Ah! Gilded Age building with gargoyles! I love the economy of this architecture as a homeschooler. When I lived in Texas, I didn't think I could afford to take my kids anywhere Gilded Age-ish like the East Coast is famous for. Nor did I think I could afford to take them to see any Medieval structures. So...I decided to wait until they were older, after we had studied the Medieval and the Gilded Age. But before that happened, we moved to Virginia. Since then we've visited many  Gilded Age buildings in the North East. We have also visited the National Cathedral which drips with Medieval gargoyles and such. So nowmy kids got to compare all of that with the Gilded Age architecture we have in San Antonio. I'd have loved to have had time to take  my kids to the Gilded Age hotels of San Antonio, like the Saint Anthony and the Gunther. But we were on a tight time schedule that day. In the morning my nephews had award ceremonies at their school, and then we were to have dinner at their house that evening, so we squeezed the Riverwalk in between.   

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Oh, here you go! My kids and I just went nuts taking pictures. The next had to be better than the last. We were careful not to rock the barge though! And can you tell what the black flag is?

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Ah, one of the many gargoyles.

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The Omni La Mansion del Rio...which drips with Old World charm.

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More of La Mansion del Rio.

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If this building looks completely two dimensional...that's because...of an optical illusion. It's actually wedge-shaped. Wish I could have gotten more angles of it. It was the tallest hospital in the US when it was built in 1931. It had everything: hospital beds, doctor offices, and even parking. Carol Burnett as well as Oliver North were born here. Originally called the Nix Hospital, it is now the Nix Professional Building.

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Want to do lunch overlooking these Texas flags?

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Or how about doing lunch under these Texas umbrellas?

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Choices, choices. Where to eat? We actually wanted to eat at Alamo Cafe...where a river runs through it...with great decor...and the absolute best quiet outdoor eating...with the water trickling by...oh did I mention the indoors has twinkling lights overhead...and the great Texas murals...and cheap and delicious eats! I highly recommend the chalupa plate. Do they still serve it? I don't know. We didn't have time to visit on this trip.

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The several flags of Texas, including France. Yes, France owned us for a very short time.

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The Tower of the Americas...lunch is too expensive there. However it is interesting because the floor spins, ever so slowly, for a 360 degree view of the city. I had wanted to take the kids here when we finished the Dialectic cycle of World History. Oh well. Maybe someday. There is an observation tower at the top, but having a meal there is kind of fun.

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So now we were off the barge and walking to lunch...

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The view from the top of one of those beautifully arched bridges. Which set of umbrellas should we eat under?

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Now can you tell what the black flag is for? The San Antonio Spurs! They are always flown when they are in Championship season...except they had lost the series by this point. They've won five championships, but only one of those have been won since we moved to Virginia. (I think they miss us.)

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Oh, how cute! Mamma duck and her babies!

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We ate at Casa Rio...it's the best price on the Riverwalk and the food is great. I ordered a Taco Salad because I haven't had a decent one in 8 years. Yum!!!! The shell was actually crispy! (Hint to Virginian restaurants: buy heat lamps to keep your chips, taco shells and taco bowls crispy and warm. I used to work at Tex Mex restaurants. I know. Also iceberg lettuce for taco salads. Romaine is for Caesar. ;)

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This duck was begging for food...

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...tugging at my skirt...

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...and begging some more.

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Casa Rio was the first restaurant on the Riverwalk. If we are going to eat on the river, this was always our go-to because is has the best price and the consistently best food. Service is always great.

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And that is the barge that we had ridden on.

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Ladybird Johnson named Rosita Fernandez, "San Antonio's First Lady of Song." She appeared in the 1960 movie, The Alamo, starring John Wayne. (I haven't seen that movie since I was a little girl. I'm going to have to watch it again and look for her.)

On the way home we drove by the Fairmont Hotel, which is just down the street from the Riverwalk. The Fairmont is another architectural feat. It was most carefully and cautiously moved five blocks in order to preserve this stunning Gilded Age hotel.

Resources:
Hilton Palacio del Rio-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t3-PeLcIYg
Rosita Fernandez-http://www.thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu/exhibitions/past/Rosita-Fernandez.html
Rosita Fernandez-https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffe29
Fairmont Hotel-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oNEeULPs_Q&t=943s
Fairmont Hotel-http://www.thefairmounthotel-sanantonio.com/fairmount-san-antonio-history.php

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