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The pride of San Antonio, Texas is the "River Walk," a charming area filled with a lot of restaurants, cafes and shops. When I first arrived in the city, I kept searching for the "river," and was really confused. Being native to the Washington, DC area, I'm accustomed to huge rivers like the Potomac, which cover larger areas and can be seen from multiple vantage points.

The River Walk is more of a canal, Venetian style, or at least how I imagine Venice to be. I've never been there, or anywhere in Italy. You can float on a boat down the strip of waterway and look at a lot of interesting architecture, quaint bridges, and many diverse people walking along the corridors. People watching - it's a fun way to spend the afternoon in most places, so let's take a look.

1. The downtown area of San Antonio was prone to flooding and a disastrous one hit in 1921, killing 50 people. All sorts of proposals were submitted to solve the problem and build dams, but the winning design went to an architect who realized the commercial potential of such an area. If you dangle the carrot of money in front of officials' eyes, many of them are quick bunnies, jumping to take a slice.


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2. The River Walk sits below the main streets of downtown San Antonio, and can be accessed at various points in the city, including directly from the River Center, a big shopping complex. This is how I made my way there, but it's not the most accessible route and can be a bit confusing, unless you like shopping and will be easily distracted along the way. :) I don't like big malls like this, and prefer to shop in, and financially support, small boutiques in all cities I visit. I guess it's because I represent only big corporations in my legal work, and it bothers me.

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3. Development of the area began in the 1940's and remains ongoing, with continued expansions of the walkways throughout the city, connecting various points of interest. One of America's strengths is tourism. We know how to build attractions that appeal to the masses, and make them easily accessible by providing infrastructure and comfort. It's a win/win for everyone. Money for the local economy and entertainment for visitors from all over the world. I don't know the name of all these arches and bridges, but they are aesthetically pleasing and always surrounded by a lot of trees and plants.

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4. The easiest way to learn the history is to hop on one of these boats and float down the river for about an hour. The cost is $8.25 and the boats run constantly, about every 15 minutes. Plus, you get to meet cheerful locals in the process and hear their unique Southern dialect. :) But it will probably be difficult for you to understand them. When I traveled with Russians in the Southern USA, they didn't understand a word of the local speech, and I had to serve as their interpreter.

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5. What is this smiley young girl doing? I assume taking a selfie. It seems everyone is carefree now, young kids are out and about on weekdays when they should be in school, and adults are everywhere in the middle of the workday. Perhaps they work from home and have flexible schedules, or simply don't work at all. If the latter, then I'm jealous. :)

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6. Sad love locks I wrote about yesterday.

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7. Simple shot of ordinary Americans enjoying a sunny afternoon. There's a restaurant or cafe every few feet here, any type of food you want, but the main cuisine in this region is Mexican or Tex-Mex. There's not much difference, in my opinion, but others might disagree.

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8. Most restaurants have these colorful umbrellas, and a few are even decorated to resemeble the Texas State flag. Texans are very tied to it, and Americans love flags, as I've shown before. We hang them everywhere.

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9. I like this photo, and the design of the glass building. It feels at times as if you're in a tropical paradise here, with palm and fruit trees hugging many of the walkways. Yet, there's no beach. :) The climate in San Antonio is very hot, and in early April when I was there, it was already +25. In summer, it would be unbearable for me, and locals even advised against visiting during July and August.

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10. At one point, this was the tallest hospital in America, towering 23 stories. It's known as the Nix Professional Building, and has a rather tragic myth associated with it. Some tour guides claim the developer, Joseph Nix, committed suicide in 1932 by jumping from the roof. His project was considered the most innovative at the time - a hospital, multiple physicians' offices, and a parking garage all in the same facility. He was burdened by financing during the Great Depression, but eventually the structure was built...and now lives on.

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11. Away from the River Walk, you can find all kinds of parks in San Antonio. I was completely shocked by how lovely this place is after visiting Dallas - which I consider one of the ugliest cities in the USA.

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12. Due to the extreme heat, most of them have water fountains, or other cooling units where children can jump around and play.

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13. I can't understand the appeal of this? I like these carriages, but only when you can ride them on a snowy or cold winter day, wrapped up in a blanket with warm cocoa in your hand. They can be lovely in Central Park, or some other enchanting landscape, but asphalt or city streets? It's quite expensive also - around $60.

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14. I was in the city for work, and only had one day to roam about without a car. The housing I saw is typical of small town America, basic single story homes, some of them in disrepair. Lots of pick-up trucks. :)

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15. Nicer neighborhoods also, with the festival wreaths and ribbons hanging from balconies and windows. A Mexican tradition. Texas is appealing due to the very low cost of living and healthy job market. The average home price is around $190k. Half of what it cost in my area of Northern Virginia.

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16. Local dive bar. I like such places! :) Eccentric and wild characters can often be found in them in all countries.

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17. If you visit this city, it's worth the effort to go to the Tower of America for sweeping aerial views of the city landscape. The 750 story Tower has a circular observation deck, and was built as the theme structure for the 1968 World's Fair. Cost for admission is $10.95.

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18. City landscape, the same as all others, with a lot of highrise buildings. The reason I can survive in Washington, DC is because such structures are prohibited for security reasons, and there are strict zoning regulations and height restrictions for developers. The thing that caught my eye from above is the blue, flower like design on the top of the circular unit, but I don't know what it is?

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19. This shot gives you a better idea of a typical San Antonio neighborhood.

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20. Traffic on a late Friday afternoon wasn't so bad, and I read online that the average commute time in San Antonio is only 25 minutes! Compare to my commute of 90 - 120 minutes EACH way per day. So, you can see there are many benefits to living in this city, however they do not outweigh the cons for me.

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21. Your ticket to the observation deck also gives you access to a cool 3-D film called "Skies Over Texas." You put on these red frames, and are taken on a visual adventure through the State, highlighting all of the social and cultural nuances that make it unique. It's really fun, as the seats in the theatre shake, a watery mist sprays into the crowd at various points, and you really feel like you're on a journey. :)

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At the end of the movie, you're reminded that "Texas isn't just a State...it's a state of mind." This is true. Texans are probably some of the most prideful residents of any State in the USA, and very Republican. It's one of the most conservative places in the country, so it's best to keep your mouth shut and avoid the topic of politics if you're a raging social liberal like me.

You only need to know that current Presidential candidate Ted Cruz formerly served as the State's Solicitor General. In this capacity, he tried to ban the sale of dildos and successfully argued before the Supreme Court that a Ten Commandments Monument on the official State grounds is constitutional and should remain. He's really a brilliant lawyer and arguably one of the best advocates for conservative positions in the USA, at least from a legal standpoint. But as a leader of my nation - I can't even imagine it.

The San Antonio locals are friendly, lively and cheerful. It's a great town to visit, or spend a weekend, but to live there permanently - no thanks. :)

P.S.: some readers often ask why I capitalize the "S" in State when referring to places in the USA. The quote above is a prime example of why. "Texas isn't just a State...it's a state of mind." The word "state" is used to convey two entirely different meanings, and capitalizing the word when referring to a place simply distinguishes the thoughts and concepts. There is no official grammar "rule" on this point, just my personal preference.

Other posts from San Antonio

Tell me a story...San Antonio style
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Life hacking: how to have a psychedelic experience while eating tacos
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What lifts you?
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Comments

( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
qi_tronic
Apr. 27th, 2016 02:40 pm (UTC)
So how do you feel visiting occupied Mexican territory? :))
peacetraveler22
Apr. 27th, 2016 02:41 pm (UTC)
Honestly, it feels like it's still Mexico. :)) But I like the Mexicans, so no problem! Nice town, worth a visit.
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2016 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 28th, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 28th, 2016 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - c0smopolit - May. 1st, 2016 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - May. 1st, 2016 09:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 1st, 2016 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - May. 1st, 2016 11:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - c0smopolit - May. 1st, 2016 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - May. 1st, 2016 11:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - c0smopolit - May. 2nd, 2016 08:59 am (UTC) - Expand
anna_sollanna
Apr. 27th, 2016 02:53 pm (UTC)
Beautiful city! I adore water, canals and bridges and miss them here in Lublin...
peacetraveler22
Apr. 27th, 2016 02:55 pm (UTC)
These types of canals where you can float by boat aren't so popular here in the States either, so it's a refreshing change for me. I still prefer mountains over any type of water though. :)
maksipes
Apr. 27th, 2016 03:52 pm (UTC)
yea.. pretty nice place. the only thing i'm concerned is it is actually mexicans territory. americans dishonestly took this place over and continue to occupy it. and you know? they killed thousands mexicans. o man.. how could you.
peterkaymd
Apr. 28th, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
Well, it should not concern you. The Texas land was populated by "Tejano" who were always semi-independent from Mexico. They eventually won their independence in 1836 in the bloody Battle of San Jacinto. Texas only joined the union in 1845. In other words, it existed as a free state for nearly 10 years before joining the USA.
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
pin_gwin
Apr. 27th, 2016 04:58 pm (UTC)
I like the city images... but I wont survive the climate. It looks like they are using steel roofs, probably because of hail...
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, the climate here is very temperamental!
notabler
Apr. 27th, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC)
I like this city very much. Beautiful and with character
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
Come visit us in the USA! Have you ever been here? Maybe I've already asked you this question, if so, I apologize. :)
(no subject) - notabler - Apr. 28th, 2016 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
new_forester
Apr. 27th, 2016 06:58 pm (UTC)
I told you you'd like SA better than Dallas;)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2016 02:58 pm (UTC)
Absolutely - there's no comparison! :) Just a lovely place to visit, there's not much else to say, as you can tell from the lack of comments to the post. :))
mybathroom
Apr. 28th, 2016 10:41 am (UTC)
Thank you for the post, Shannon!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2016 02:58 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! How will you spend the May holidays? Just relaxing, or you will go somewhere?
(no subject) - mybathroom - Apr. 29th, 2016 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 29th, 2016 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
peterkaymd
Apr. 28th, 2016 02:19 pm (UTC)
I think san antonio is a fairly charming city with easy living. The downtown is a good attraction for tourists but most of the good neighborhoods are to the north - in the Hill Country. There if you get a house at a nice elevation, the nights will be a lot cooler than in the city. There are also many small picturesque old german cities in the hill country - like Gruene and Fredericksburg - located near natural springs where small rivers make for a nice comfort.

The harsh heat of the summer has some compensation - the winters are very mild. It hardly ever goes below freezing. Another nice feature of the san antonio is that the beaches and fishing of the texas gulf coast are only 1-2 hour drive away.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2016 02:59 pm (UTC)
Well, I love cold weather, so this climate is not suitable for my taste. I also visited some of the Missions there, and they're quite interesting.
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2016 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 06:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2016 06:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peterkaymd - Apr. 28th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
saccovanzetti
Apr. 28th, 2016 04:46 pm (UTC)
Somehow I thought San Antonio would be much more arid.
On Cruz: you are not alone, here is another unlikely critic: http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/04/28/john-boehner-ted-cruz/
peterkaymd
Apr. 28th, 2016 05:15 pm (UTC)
San Antonio has a very dry and hot climate. The greenery you see in the downtown is in the contrast to the rest of the areas where brown color is dominant.
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 28th, 2016 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
elarbee
Apr. 29th, 2016 01:24 am (UTC)
Ugh, my husband is going there for a conference in October. Whereas I was tempted to grab the kid and go with him to Portland, I have no desire to visit Texas again.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2016 11:09 am (UTC)
My brother-in-law is from small town Texas, in the middle of nowhere. He informed me the only cities worth visiting in this State are San Antonio and Austin, and thankfully they are very close to each other. I will only go to Texas if forced to for work, as we have an office there. :) But San Antonio isn't such a bad place to be stuck for a few days. I really want to go to Oregon...maybe I'll make it there for a short trip this summer.
(no subject) - elarbee - Apr. 29th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
just1user
Apr. 29th, 2016 12:54 pm (UTC)
18 - Villita Assembly Building, a convention center
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2016 12:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
alekseletskih
May. 3rd, 2016 05:18 pm (UTC)
Очень красивый и уютный город! Классные фото и информация! Люблю прогулки на воде. В карете тоже доводилось, но очень давно, в Ливане. А такая "загруженность" дорог - мечта автомобилиста в Москве! Спасибо, Шеннон!
peacetraveler22
May. 3rd, 2016 05:26 pm (UTC)
Пожалуйста! :)
esc
May. 4th, 2016 03:42 am (UTC)
Really glad you liked San Antonio! I feel somehow proud of this fact. It is the best city of Texas, Austin doesn't come close.

But don't eat at Riverwalk! It's full of tourist traps. Walk south for 10 minutes and find the beautiful Azuca restaurant!

I don't know if you remember my recommendations around San Antonio. That was quite some time ago. But if you like colorful people consider visiting Luckenbach. It's a popular bikers destination.
peacetraveler22
May. 4th, 2016 02:29 pm (UTC)
Hi! You should be proud, it's a wonderful and friendly city! :) I was there on business, with almost no free time. That's why I was mostly in the tourist spots, but I took the trolley ride and got out of the city a bit to visit a few of the Missions and look at some of the neighborhoods. Next time I'm there for work, I will stay longer and rent a car so I can venture off into other places.
(no subject) - esc - May. 4th, 2016 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 4th, 2016 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 57 comments — Leave a comment )

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