While my grandparents visited for Thanksgiving, we went to neighboring town San Antonio for a day trip. It was nice to finally travel a bit more, especially with them! Although I had been in San Antonio earlier while accompanying a friend for our job, we didn’t get the chance to explore the touristic sights. This time, we did.
What is The Alamo?
A brief overview of the history, mostly because my knowledge is quite fragile. The Alamo was an old mission in Mexican Texas during the time of the Texas Revolution, or the Texas War of Independence. For years, American colonials had been setting up colonies in Mexico’s territory in the state now known as Texas. Similar to any other time territory wars begin, things got tense between the Mexicans and the American colonials, leading up to Texas annexing into the United States. During the war, the Mexican army surprised the old mission by storming the grounds. The battle here lasted for 13 days; although the possibility of retreat was there, the Texan colonials viewed it as a key battleground that could not be lost. Ultimately, they were defeated, but The Alamo became an instant symbol of Texas. The site describes it as the “Shrine of Texas.”
I didn’t know this, but today, The Alamo is one of the most popular tourist sights in Texas, which would explain the useless tourist street across lined with attractions such as Madame Toussant’s wax museum and a few other ridiculous schemes.
Unfortunately, they didn’t allow photos inside the shrine, so all I have to offer are the ones from outside.
My favorite thing about The Alamo? Cost of entry is free-99! But it’s also a wonderfully preserved historical site. There were audio guides for lease for around $7—I didn’t get one, but it would’ve been extremely useful in telling me what I was looking at while walking around. Instead, I had to rely on the little sign markers by each display, and let me tell you, explanation is not done very well inside the museum. If I had no indication at all about The Alamo’s history, I would walk away from the inside of the museum still without a clue!
Also, when I visited, they had a special display they were showcasing. It was very Texan and it titled Firearms of the Texan Frontier — Flintlock to Cartridge. So a lot of what we saw inside were… guns. I have little to no interest in guns and it became an exhibit of Things That Look the Same. Handgun? Basically a smaller rifle. I’m not sure if that’s what’s usually on display, but given that it was a special exhibit, my guess would be no. This confuses me because… what else would be on display then? Even in the rooms unaffected by the special exhibit, there were mostly firearms (the non-special kind?) also on exhibit! If I were naming the exhibits, I would call the normal one “The Gun Show” and the special one “For those that aren’t satisfied with just 50 guns.”
I wandered around, searching for the answers that my grandma kept asking me—facts on history that I didn’t know enough about. Nothing. Alongside the artifacts displayed in the normal exhibit, the placards said only things like “This is a doctor’s bag. Normally, doctors carried these things around when they went to treat their patients. Because that is what doctors do.” Finally, on the ground, I saw a statement engraved in a bronze plate that read:
From the people of Mississippi, in memory of the native Missisissipians, and the many others, that gave their lives defending the Alamo on March 6, 1836.
In another bronze engraving on the ground:
This is where some bodies were interred.
We finally found the explanation we’d been looking for on 5 large billboards outside. Ah, these were much better and gave more explanations of what exactly happened here. I noticed many travelers wandering around the grounds here and I’m pretty sure they were also looking for exactly this. It would be interesting to see how this event is portrayed in Mexican history books, though!
I got a little obsessed with the doorways here.
And the surrounding gardens where I found a little critter hiding in plain sight!
Like any tourist attraction, there had to be a gift shop. But, lucky me, there was a miniature reenactment display! I had fun pretending I was photographing parts of the real battle.
Overall, we spent about 2 hours wandering the grounds. If we had more time, we would have been more thorough, soaking up all there is in this quiet little spot in downtown San Antonio. I say the grandparents had fun that day… enough to make up for the 3-hour traffic jam due to a huge collision on the way back into Austin.
As always, parking is a pain in Texas. Thankfully, right around the corner, there’s a dedicated parking spot for The Alamo. 3-hour minimum for $10. If you’re going to be in town for the whole day, I suggest just buying the maximum time because parking all around the downtown area is about the same price. The riverwalk is an easy 10-minute walk from The Alamo.
San Antonio is about an hour’s drive away from Austin.
Linking up for Travel Tuesday!