TRAVEL THERE: SAN ANTONIO – MY FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION
If someone asked, “If you could choose only one city to visit for the rest of your life,” what would it be? I’ve seen major capitals in Europe, ridden a camel in Egypt and enjoy big American cities like New York, but I love San Antonio, Texas again and again and again.
Of course, I enjoy the Riverwalk, but the river’s not San Antonio’s most important attraction. My first piece of advice is, “Don’t miss the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum.” The art alone is worth a visit, but the real reason to go is the courtyard. The home housing the museum was designed in the late 1920’s, but in my imagination I can see caballeros and senoritas from an earlier era dancing in the moonlight.
Visit El Mercado. You’ll want to experience the exhilaration of hard bargaining for a carved agate donkey, but don’t spend all your money there, because the art galleries outside have wonderful treasures and you’ll want to enjoy a pastry at Mi Tierra, too.
Thinking of museums again, I recommend The Institute of Texan Cultures, a fascinating cross section of artifacts from many ethnicities. Another lovely museum is the San Antonio Museum of Art. It’s divided into two parts. On the left side of the large lobby is ancient art from pretty much every civilization you could name and a few that would surprise you. The other side is supposed to be contemporary art, but I can’t testify to that, because I always wear out my companions before we get there.
But what about the Alamo? Well, certainly you should go there if it’s your first visit, but it doesn’t beckon me back every time I enter San Antonio. The famous missions are another story. If at all possible, I plan my visit to include a Sunday,to attend the Mariachi Mass at Mission San Jose. Even if you’re not religious at all, you shouldn’t miss it. You’ll be amazed to see people from all over the world and every walk of life, but more importantly, when the musicians begin to play, hair will stand up on the back of your neck and your heart will beat in tempo. First timers should obediently follow the Mission Trail, but no matter how many times I return, I love to go to the remote missions at the far end of the trail and walk among the ribs of edifices which only whisper of their past.
I’ve only scratched the surface of San Antonio. You should see La Villita and the hip gathering place created out of the old Pearl Brewery. You should hop aboard VIA’s downtown streetcars, have dinner on a Casa Rio Fiesta Boat and spend the night at the Omni La Mansion del Rio. There’s Six Flag’s Fiesta Texas and Sea World. And of course, there’s always the river. You’ll want to see it all, but to do so, you’ll have to visit again and again and again.