Saturday, May 30, 2015

Amtrak Adventure - Day 13 - San Antonio

Our stop-over in San Antonio had been planned purely on the basis of the train timetable. With no daily Amtrak service on the southern route we had no choice but to stay in the city from late Monday night until early in the morning (2.45am!) on Thursday.  We had no idea whether we would find enough to do to fill in the time, but as it turned out it was a real pleasure to have a second day to explore.

We set off on the Riverwalk again, this time southwards towards the King William Historic District, a neighborhood of beautifully restored 19th century homes. The Edward Steves Homestead Museum provides an opportunity to see inside one such home.

  Originally built in 1876 by Steves, a German immigrant who became a prominent citizen in the city, the house was donated to the San Antonio Conservation Society by his granddaughter in 1952. The house is a fine example of Victorian Architecture and the rooms are furnished with many of the original furnishings. All the rooms were fabulous,  but my favorites was the kitchen with its old appliances.

The family liked to keep up with the latest trends in interior design so the wife’s bedroom contained not only a walk-in closet instead of a free-standing wardrobe, but also a plumbed sink. Mrs. Steves obviously liked to sew as in one corner of the room there was a sewing table and in another a dressmaker’s dummy.

The grounds around the house were set out as a formal garden although tucked away to one side was a washhouse – not too many modern appliances there!

The tour of the house was a fascinating insight into how the wealthier immigrants sought to create a familiar lifestyle after uprooting themselves from their homelands to move to such faraway places. I have to admit I didn’t expect to find Victorian architecture in Texas!

From the homestead we continued on down the Riverwalk with the idea that we would walk part of the Mission Trail. The trail connects five missions built along the San Antonio river in the 1700’s in an attempt to convert the native population to Christianity. 

Signposts along the route seemed to suggest it was two and a half miles to the next mission from the historic district, but we discovered that was the distance to the original  Mission trail and Mission Concepcion, the second of the missions, was at least another two miles away! While two miles would not normally bother me, it was an incredibly warm day and although the route was pleasant it was also very quiet and isolated with no convenient options for stopping for refreshments. It was somewhat of a relief to finally arrive at the mission.

The walk turned out to be well worth it however. Although dedicated in 1755 the church still looks the same today as when it was built.  


While from the outside the mission might look like a ruin, it is both a museum and a fully functioning church.

 The museum section outlines the history of the missions and the methods used to convert the natives. It also offers glimpses of original artwork inside the mission.

By the time we finished looking around the idea of walking on to the next mission or even walking back to the hotel  was definitely no longer on the agenda! Fortunately, just outside of the mission grounds was a bus stop with a large leafy tree nearby to provide shade while we waited.

Another fabulous day and San Antonio still ranks highly on my list of places visited. 

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