We spent several months in San Antonio this Winter, partly to experience life in a city we have come to know and like very much, partly because we have chosen this city to be our medical Day of the Dead provider. Returning to San Antonio is different from re-visiting other cities where we have made brief visits: it is now feeling like a home for us. We know where we like to shop, where we want to visit museums. We don't have the urge to go out sightseeing every day but we enjoy seeing familiar sights at different times of the year. We have established ourselves as patients at the University of Texas Medical Center, which offers a range of medical specialties. After surviving all of the minor irritations of changing addresses, pharmacies, etc., we now have a trusted primary care physician who will answer our email questions and give advice.
Our eye care is handled by a practice in Austin, where we have both had successful cataract surgeries. Whether it is because of the way this practice handles things, or because we were interestingly complicated patients, the process for each of us has taken several months; Lobby of the Hotel Emma that was one big reason why we stayed here so long. In any case, neither of us wears glasses any more.
We also had another chance to experience winter in San Antonio -- a beautiful time of year. San Antonio is filled with parks, and we have sampled many of them, walking dirt paths in wooded parks and paved paths (greenways) along creeks, which seem to be a specialty of this city. We have occasionally seen deer on these walks, and often rabbits and several different kinds of squirrels. The parks are busy most of the year, and well loved by dog owners who enjoy both the dog parks and the paths. On one of our park walks we came upon a Little Free Library Flamingos at the zoo which has obviously been popular -- and we are seeing more and more of them wherever we travel.
From Halloween through Christmas, this Hispanic city is filled with color and music and events. The Day of the Dead celebration , from 31 Oct to 2 Nov in the U.S., is a Mexican national holiday that is celebrated in cities with sizeable Hispanic population.
One area of San Antonio which has blossomed as a tourist sight since we began to visit is called The Pearl, named from an early brewery. This year we saw the opening of the Emma, a gorgeous hotel which has been built around the skeleton of an old brewery and is named for the wife of the brewmaster. It reminded us of the beautiful lodges built so long ago in the National Parks. It is, however, outside our price bracket!
We also paid our annual return visit to the zoo, which continues to charm locals and San Marcos Springs visitors of all ages. There's a wonderful train ride through Brackenridge Park that begins and ends at the zoo headquarters. We sent pictures of all kinds of cats to our youngest grandchild.
We had a lot of fun in January visiting the giant springs in nearby San Marcos. They have never stopped flowing, with an average rate of 100 cubic feet per second. This may be the oldest continuously inhabited location in North America.
At first the springs were a major tourist destination, with a hotel and various holiday attractions; now it's been purchased by Texas State University and used to study hydrology and Mission de la Purísima Concepción ecology. The water rises through limestone which makes it easy to see fish and even rocks and, best of all, the very places in the creek bottom where one can watch it bubbling out of the rock. It's a useful reminder, also, that Texas students are interested in water issues, so vital here in the West.
San Antonio is home to a chain of missions which includes the Alamo and then stretches out to the South beyond the edge of the city. Now the famous Riverwalk includes the Mission Reach, meaning that pedestrians can enjoy both the lights and glamor of the city and also the more quiet countryside around. The original missions are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, profiting from the designation to do major restoration and beautification. We walked around the beautiful Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña.
And then, of course, suddenly one morning it was Very Warm in San Antonio--time to move on.