Happy Thanksgiving


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Our Final Hours in San Antonio

Usually my vacations are go , go , go while I try to cram in every possible attraction and sight because who knows when I will get to return. So the first day in San Antonio with the City tour filling the hours was right in style with the way most of my vacations go.

Day two was much more laid back. Being on our own with no car limited the amount of running around we could do. The rain was another deterrent. In the end once we returned from the botanical garden and got dried off, we had lunch and retired to the back veranda of the hotel. There they had tables and chairs which overlooked the River walk.

I confess I embraced the Southwestern tradition of siesta and snored my way through the afternoon comfortably ensconced in the  cushioned chairs.


Dinner was with our travel voucher at the Hard Rock Cafe on the River Walk. Sandy had Salmon and I had the only Bar-B-Que of  the whole visit. It was so good and in true Texas fashion, way too much food!

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While we were at the Alamo I was pleased to learn that they have an Alamo Cat. We spotted one large, fluffy, orange and white cat while we were at the Alamo but it didn’t look like C.C., the official Alamo Cat.

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We missed out on the San Fernando Cathedral thanks to the rain. Founded in 1731, it is the oldest, continuously functioning religious community in the State of Texas. The Cathedral building has the added distinction of being the oldest standing church building in Texas.


The Cathedral of San Fernando is said to be the resting place of the remains of the heroes of the Alamo. At night there is a light show that is projected on the sides of the structure.

We also missed visiting the Tower of the America’s.  Maybe next trip.

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But these were small oversights. The next morning we’d be on the train heading to New Orleans and bidding adieu to the Lone Star State.

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A Rainy Day in San Antonio

As I was thinking about this post I thought it was appropriate that I write it today as it’s a rainy and dreary day in Massachusetts. Perfect for putting me in the mood for telling you about our rainy day in San Antonio.

We’d had a full day with the City Tour and the rain had held off until the end at the Japanese Garden so I guess we don’t have too much to complain about.

This morning we woke to more drizzly rain. This was our personal day. We got the grand tour yesterday and now we had the whole day to explore on our own – in the rain.

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We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant looking out over the Riverwalk while we considered our options. I wanted to go back to the Alamo to pick up some gifts I’d spotted the day before. The various tours, trolleys and buses all leave from the square in front of the Alamo so that seemed a good place to start.

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We didn’t want to start the day soaked so we asked the valet to call us a cab. Let me tell you, New York City doormen have nothing on our guys! A piecing whistle and a leap into the street and we had our cab.

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Walking would have been a couple of blocks straight down the street but taking a cab was an adventure because so many streets are one way. Once again I was happy I didn’t have a rental car!

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After loading up with souvenirs and gifts we  crossed back to visitor center where we spotted another T shirt that Sandy wanted to get. Unfortunately they were all out of the size she wanted. Thus began the great T shirt hunt while we explored  up and down the street in every T shirt store and gift shop within sight. Eventually we found a shirt similar enough to satisfy  Sandy.

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Now it was time to figure out San Antonio’s transit system.

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We each bought all day tickets for about $3.00 each and climbed aboard a trolley that would take us to the Botanical Gardens.

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It was in the Botanical Gardens that I got my angel wings. I must say they are pretty heavy.


Along with the Angel Wings were “birdmen” sculptures throughout the gardens. These were from an exhibit by famed Mexican artist Jorge Marín called “Wings of the City.

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The rain wasn’t letting up so eventually we found ourselves relaxing in an arbor that did a pretty good job of keeping us dry.

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We may have been wilting from the rain but the dry desert was coming to life. Cactus was blooming and flowers were perking up.

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All in all it was a nice morning. We didn’t let a little rain put a damper on our day.



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Sunken Japanese garden

As we left the Buckhorn Saloon and boarded our tour bus the first rain drops splashed on the bus windshield. It looked like our luck had run out and the rain was finally going to move in.

Since the rain was light and sporadic we continued on to the last stop on our tour, the Japanese Gardens sometimes called the Sunken Gardens.

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These gardens, bridges and waterfalls are situated in an old quarry. What a great way to beautify what could have been an eyesore.

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There is supposed to be a small train that runs through the grounds but the rain seemed to have sidelined it as other than catching a glimpse when we first arrived, I didn’t see it again.

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I loved the tower when you first arrive. It made me think of the mysterious Newport Tower in Rhode Island.

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Newport Tower

Newport Tower

In spite of the rain and overcast it was easy to see how pretty this area is with bridges, Koi fish and waterfalls.

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I can imagine this would be a beautiful place to explore in more detail or to just sit quietly and appreciate the beauty of nature.

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Buckhorn Saloon and Museum

Located in the heart of San Antonio, 2 blocks from the Alamo and 1 block from the Riverwalk, it was easy to get the tour itinerary back on track after our riverboat ride. The rain was still holding off but at least we’d be inside if the skies did decide to open up.

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The Buckhorn Saloon and Texas Ranger Museum is a taste of the Old West. The walls are covered with stuffed animal heads. If you are a fan of taxidermy you will love this place.

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As you enter the museum you’ll come face to face with a long horn steer.

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Other preserved animals follow.

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The Texas ranger museum is interesting but I really hoped Chuck Norris would show up to give a tour.  (Walker, Texas Ranger)


One of the most interesting exhibits in my opinion was the map of Texas with all the different Texas Ranger Badges.

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But by then I was surprised to discover that I was getting pretty tired  so after exploring the museum a bit I wandered back to the saloon to relax until the tour was ready to move on to the next stop.

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Riverboat Ride on The San Antonio

With an eye to the sky our guide made an executive decision. She swapped the Buckhorn Saloon and the Riverboat Ride. We could see the dark clouds heading our way on the horizon. Although it was still sunny and only partly cloudy  so no one complained of the change in itinerary.

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We followed our guide down the stone stairs from street level to the tropical gardens and cafes to the boat landing for the start of the Riverboat ride down the San Antonio.

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As with all such excursions our riverboat captain had an entertaining and informative banter to help us pass the time.

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Our Riverboat ride was about 35 minutes long and fully narrated. According to the guide we covered about 1.5 miles of the San Antonio River.

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Along the banks is the River Walk, a public park that is open 365 day a year. Our hotel was located right on the River walk.

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We cruised past the restaurant where we had dinner the night before.

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Adorning the Lila Cockrell Theater at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center is a stunning mosaic mural by Mexican artist Juan O’Gorman.

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Entitled “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas”, it was created as part of the 1968 HemisFair World’s Fair. The mural is visible from the Riverwalk as well as the convention center.

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San Antonio’s version of the Space Needle is the Tower of The Americas. Topped by a fine dining restaurant and observation towers, it would be a great place to visit if the weather holds out.

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The green roofed building we spotted is the Bexar County courthouse.

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The building was designed by architect J. Riely Gordon, and borders Main Plaza, along with such other architectural landmarks as the Cathedral of San Fernando. The style is Romanesque Revival, and the main material used is red sandstone. Ground was broken for Gordon’s structure on August 4, 1891, and the cornerstone was laid December 17, 1892. After several delays, construction was fully completed in 1896. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

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Other buildings were crowned with gargoyles and many sky scrapers peered down on us as we passed in the shadows of these man made canyons.

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This riverboat ride was really enjoyable. I highly recommend it.

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The Yellow Rose of Texas

So far we’ve been to the Alamo, the mission San Jose and Mission Concepcion and it’s only just approaching time for lunch.

The tour guide was keeping an eye to the sky because if it starts to rain the riverboat ride will be canceled.  But first it’s time for lunch.

Our tour takes us to El Mercadao or Market Square where we are turned loose for shopping and lunch.

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We headed to the food court for lunch although some of our group chose to eat in the Mexican Restaurants. We kept watch for a street entertainer known as the  Mexican Elvis but he was no where to be found on this day.


In the middle of the food court was a display of brightly painted skulls . I refrained from taking a picture  because they had a sign that it was a religious display and to please treat with respect. It was set up in preparation for Day of the Dead Celebration.

It was also in El Mercadao that I spotted the large display of Yellow Roses. I don’t know the whole significance of the Yellow Rose of Texas but I do remember growing up with the folk song so I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the huge flowers.

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Finally having explored the stalls around the food court we ventured back outside and crossed the road to the other side of El Mercado. This side reminded me of a Mexican Quincy Market in Boston.

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More stalls of souvenirs between store fronts with more trinkets. People sat outside  on benches enjoying lunch and as in all places like that, little birds arrived to steal away the dropped crumbs.

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It was a nice, relaxing break but soon we were back on the tour bus to head to the next stop, The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum.

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