Day 8 – San Antonio, Gruene & Austin

Umbrellas and disposable poncho were the order of the day. It was tipping it down this morning! It meant that we had experienced temperatures ranging from 95 to 54 degrees on this journey. In reality the lower end of the scale is what us Brits are used to.

It didn’t take long to arrive in San Antonio and were pleased that there was another identical Buck-ee’s to visit on the road going back to Austin. Parking was a little more challenging here but as luck would have it we found a meter on the street only three blocks away from the Alamo.

Walking along East Houston Street it took us to the side of the Alamo and it’s plaza. The entrance to the site has a statue of David Crockett as the plaza leads you to the tiny historic Mission that is known the world over as The Alamo.

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We had timed tickets that you have to reserve in advance but there are some tickets available for walk-ups. There are paid for options that give you an audio tour. The Alamo is small and it was a major factor in how Texas was formed. There are plenty of positions explaining what you were looking at. The gardens were decorated with statues of the significant participants for the battle for the Alamo. Entering the Long Barrack are costumed presenters demonstrating crafts and skills of the day as well as cinema showing a short documentary about The Alamo. To be honest the story of The Alamo was not what I thought it was so it was good to watch the 11 minute film.

By the time we left The Alamo the skies had cleared so the plastic poncho came off. Opposite The Alamo is a visitor centre and by the side of that is an entrance to the other attraction that San Antonio is famous for, The Riverwalk. It is officially a city park and special-case pedestrian street but the river that runs through it is the San Antonio.

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There are many restaurants and souvenir stores that line this below ground attraction. I imagine in the evening this place is buzzing with tourists and sightseeing boats but it was only just setting up for day and cleaning up after the rain. We went above ground again and then saw a really tourist area of the city. The big players including Ripley’s, Waxworks, Sea Life and the hop-on hop-off tours all within a block of each other. The square was dominated by the Crockett Hotel but led us easily back to The Alamo and returned to the car.

A much briefer stop for more fuel at Buck-ee’s and heading north on the I-35 we were headed for Gruene – pronounced Green. This is a German-Texas town and is famous for it’s dance hall that is apparently the oldest, continuous dance hall in Texas. There is plenty of parking here and an activity centre on the banks of the Guadalupe River. A charming town that is easy to imagine how it was before the car was invented. There were many attractive boutiques to wander in and out of and we got a coffee and sat outside in rocking chairs watching the world go by.

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Hitting the road for the last push towards Austin and the Welcome to Austin mural. The south part of Austin is very ‘hippy’ and within views of the city looming ahead we came across the famous mural. A young couple took pictures of us which was kind of them. It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be but it was beautifully presented.
We kept of I-35 as we meandered towards our accommodation for the next two nights and were taken through the city and across the Congress Avenue bridge famous for the nightly flight of the bats and in sight of the State Capitol building of Texas.