Do you remember the Alamo? Who doesn’t, right? I know I do. But then I was there only last week.
The thrilling Formula 1 race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin was sadly over. Our last day in Texas had arrived. So we travelled down to San Antonio, from where we would fly home the next day.
Like so many other visitors to San Antonio, after checking into our hotel, we headed straight for the Alamo. I’d been told several times there wasn’t much left of the famous fort, so I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much there was to see.
Essentially, two of the original buildings (or at least parts of them) are still standing: the Long Barrack and the Alamo Shrine. Crossing Alamo Plaza, which would have originally been the main open area inside the fort, I tried to block out all the other tourists and imagine being there back in 1836.
The Long Barrack now houses an exhibition telling the story of the events running up to the Battle of the Alamo. For me though, as is always the case when I visit an historic place like this, it was the building itself that held the most interest. Somehow, just being within walls that witnessed such a significant chapter in history brings you closer to the events that occurred there, makes them more real.
That’s not to say I didn’t pay attention to the various displays within the Barracks. In fact, I learned a great deal from them. I’d heard of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis, of course, and how they and their comrades refused to surrender and so died in the Battle of the Alamo. But there was so much of the story I didn’t know. Like the fact that Mexico, which governed Texas (or Tejas, as it was officially called at the time) prior to the Texas Revolution, actually encouraged colonisation of the area by the same pioneers that eventually rebelled. Or that Jim Bowie’s many business ventures included slave trading and smuggling. Or that the majority of ‘Texans’ that died at the Alamo weren’t actually from Texas. And about a 6th of them weren’t even from America. Rich was particularly interested to learn that a Welshman – Lewis Johnson – was among the casualties.
After exploring the 1920s enclosure around the Alamo buildings, we visited the Alamo Shrine. This building was originally to have been the church for the Spanish Mission that later became the fort, but was never completed. Today it’s a memorial to those who fought and died at the Alamo, with flags representing their home states and countries.
We spent that evening exploring San Antonio’s River Walk, an unusual mixture of the Southwest, the Caribbean and Venice, Italy! But before we knew it, the last day of our vacation was coming to a close. After 20 days, seven states (six of them new for us), 5397 miles, a couple of hundred geocaches and one Formula 1 race, it was time to head home.