People sometimes laugh at the speed I travel.
I’m a mover whereas some move at a snail’s pace. I am never one to say you should travel at one speed or the other. What works for me, doesn’t always work for you. It is most likely why I travel by myself. Because not everyone likes to be speedy.
It was in March of this year that I showed off just how fast I am willing to travel when I took a trip to San Antonio for a mere 27 hours.
And maybe spending 27 hours in San Antonio is no big deal if you live in say, Texas. But I live in Idaho. So it required getting up at 3 am, catching a 6 am flight and flying 2013 miles, and landing in time to see my beloved Jon Bon Jovi… OK, he’s really someone else’s beloved, but I still love him from a safe “non-stalkerish” distance!
In addition to being a quick traveler, I am also a nervous traveler. I had a 5-hour buffer from when I landed to when the Bon Jovi concert started. But of course, I was stressed out until my feet were on the ground in San Antonio. Becuase you never know when you travel in winter time.
I calmed down a bit once I got out of the San Antonio airport and made my first stop at the Pearl District. As I pulled into the neighborhood I was shocked to find FREE parking!
I always feel finding free parking in a big city is about as likely as spotting a unicorn. So I took advantage of the unicorn and walked around the former Pearl Brewery area.
For a Thursday afternoon, the neighborhood was lively with people and their dogs. I instantly missed Boomer and Jovi. They had been left at home for my whirlwind trip. Although both are Bon Jovi fans – I’m sure concert security would not be a fan of Boomer and Jovi attending the show!
I had scoped out the Pearl District prior to my arrival and found that this former brewery campus was in the midst of a posh rebirth. Trendy restaurants and shops were scattered about while tracing San Antonio’s famous River Walk. The Pearl area is located near the north end of the river walk.
After wandering around for a bit I found myself a spot at the Southerleigh Brewery and ordered up a flight of 4. You would have been shocked if I didn’t find myself a seat at a brewery, right?
Standouts were the Flying Purple Eater, a fruit beer that had some sour characteristics. I also liked the Don’t Haze Me Bro Double IPA, flavored with citrus and pine notes and a good amount of bite followed up with a 100 IBU. Food is upper scale pub style and mid-tiered priced. It was a decent amount of food for the price, however.
With a few hours left before the Bon Jovi concert, I decided to head downtown to the heart of San Antonio. The unicorn had left and free parking was no longer an option. I do recommend pulling into a parking lot if they charge less than $15. They are harder to find but had now become the unicorn for downtown parking.
At the U shape part of the River Walk is where most of the action for the river walk is going to be. This is also where you can hop on a riverboat cruise. It is a quick 30 to 45-minute tour of the river with a guide offering up tidbits of historical and cultural significance. In addition to purchasing your riverboat tour ticket, beverages are also available for purchase. That includes adult beverages as well!
It was nearing the time of when Bon Jovi was going to grace me with his presence so I made my way over to the AT&T Center where he awaited my arrival. I hustled through security and found my seat, which was about 8 rows back and off to the side.
Although I was gitty with glee about how great my seat was Jon upped the ante later in the show and performed Bed of Roses about 10 feet from my seat where I got to admire the handsome man up close.
I awoke the next morning, pumped from my awesome concert and quickly got ready for the day as I only had 8 hours left in San Antonio before heading home.
My mission (pun intended) for the day was to visit San Antonio’s five missions.
A little background on the missions of San Antonio. Led by the Spanish, in an attempt to teach Catholicism to the Natives, the missions were established in the 1700’s. The Spaniards were coming in through Mexico and fanning out throughout Texas. The priests who led the missions were never meant to stay long at the missions, just long enough to teach the way of life to the Natives and move on to teach more, while leaving the Natives behind to live the life they had learned and practice Catholicism.
My first mission of the day was The Alamo. You’ve probably heard about The Alamo, hopefully for its history and not for the fact that Ozzy Osbourne once peed on The Alamo.
For those of you who do not know about the Alamo, I’ll leave you with this brief history lesson:
The Alamo was established in 1718 in present-day San Antiono Texas. The mission was abandoned in 1793 only to be reoccupied in 1803 by the Spanish military. Mexico had gained their independence from Spain in 1833, leaving the mission to the Mexican military.
Another battle for independence happened between Mexico and the Texians, known as the Texas Revolution (October 1835 to April 1836). The Alamo was surrendered to the Texian Army in December of 1835, leaving it to be manned by the Texian Miltary until March 6th, 1836, also known as the final day of The Battle Of The Alamo, a 13-day siege that ended with a catastrophic outcome for the Texian Army with every soldier killed in the battle and only a few civilians that survived. Further reading can be found here regarding The Alamo’s history.
The Alamo is the most visited out of the 5 missions, with about 2.5 million people visiting per year, but in my opinion, it is not architecturally the most exciting. There are ranger-led tours here as well as self-guided audio tours, both for a nominal fee. And not to dwell on parking again, but if you drive a few blocks away from The Alamo you can find cheaper parking like I did, $5 for 2 hours. There are plenty of $20 lots located nearby The Alamo, but why pay more when you don’t have to?
After I finished up at The Alamo I decided to visit the remaining 4 missions. I drove out to the furthest distance mission from The Alamo and worked my way back towards The Alamo. I did not have much time left in the area, so I divided up the time I had and decided I would spend about an hour at each mission.
The next mission of the day was Mission Espada, the oldest of the missions in the San Antonio area. Originally built in 1690 by the Spanish, Espada is the oldest mission in the state of Texas. It was relocated to its current location in 1731. By 1756 the mission was in full operation. This mission is also located near an impressive aqueduct that was put to use by the Spanish Missionaries, for watering nearby farming fields.
My next mission would have been Mission San Juan, however, roads in both directions were blocked, thus preventing me from visiting the mission on that day. It did result in freeing up some time, giving me a little more time at the other missions as well as not being rushed back to the airport.
I moved on to the Mission San José, the only other site of the 5 missions that offers ranger-led tours as well as a gift shop. San José Mission was founded in 1720 and like the other missions (except The Alamo) still hold weekly services to this day. The mission has been restored over the years, under the direction of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and San Jose parish.
It is the largest of the 5 missions in the area and offers up some impressive baroque architecture, which is a personal favorite of mine.
The last mission of the day was Mission Concepción. Mission Concepción is the oldest unrestored stone church in America. This mission was relocated to its current location in 1731 from Eastern Texas. The mission holds an annual event on or around August 15th called the Annual Double Solar Illumination Event, where beams of light pass through a window and a dome in the church, illuminating The Virgin Mary’s face in a painting located above the altar. Apparently, it is quite the site to see and only happens once a year due to the tilt of the earth and the angle of the sun on that day.
I finished up my visit to the missions and was ready to head to the airport. Then I remembered I was in Texas and no trip to Texas can be complete without beef and tequila. So I made a quick stop for lunch back in the Pearl District and grabbed myself one of each because it would have been irresponsible not to.