After dropping our kids off with some FANTASTIC friends, we headed out on the birthday date. We were running a little late for our appointment time and we (meaning I) was super-worried we wouldn't make it and that the rest of the group would leave without us. When we got there, my worries vanished because we were the only ones there... the only ones who had signed up for the early time. Awesome Birthday Surprise #1.
Number 2 came shortly with the tour and our guide. He. was. awesome. He only does the Segway Tours as a second job; his first is at the Witte Museum (natural history type place). So, he knew all of these incredible facts about SA that we had never heard before. So, we ended up having a private tour with the best guide possible. Not bad for a birthday celebration.
NEW things we learned about SA:
- It was THE typical Western town you picture when you think of the 'Wild West'
- The Buckhorn Saloon is in its FOURTH location and was the typical saloon from the above time.
- People used to motor/jet ski on the River downtown.
- The Majestic (downtown theatre) was nearly bulldozed to make way for more high-rises.
- There was an underground tunnel between the Majestic, other downtown theatres and hotels so that acts could get to their multiple showings every night.
- The apartment complex from Ghostbusters... you know... the 'end of the world' 'gateway for Gozer' building... yeah, it's here.
- The former headquarters for HEB was used as a weapons facility in WWI... it's right on the Riverwalk.
- There's a federal reserve downtown. If you are an old lady, who is on a Segway tour, and accidentally falls in front of it, you (and your group) will be instantly surrounded by federal agents.
- By the time the battle of the Alamo occurred, the Alamo had been largely abandoned for over 40 years, as the city center had shifted 3/4 of a mile to the west where the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe (San Fernando Cathedral) was established.
- Most of downtown was located west of San Fernando Cathedral (oldest cathedral in the US) until the Riverwalk was improved.
- SA has a beautiful district called King William, the homes are old school turn-of-the-century. It's where all the German settlers resided (hence the name). Today, there are still carriage steps outside most of those homes. Greg and I had a picture taken outside of a house with one of the best porches ever. Our guide teased that would be our house since there's lots of shoes on the porch and a mini-van parked outside.
- Pioneer Flour Mills (Guenther House) is apparently one of the best restaurants to have breakfast at. It's downtown and usually very busy. It's located next to the King William District.
- There is always a fight between city developers and the historical society on pretty much everything downtown that might be worth saving.
After our wonderful tour, we decided to try the good ol' Buckhorn for lunch. This place is SO west it's not even funny. Back in the day, the owner used to give our a free beer to anyone who brought in antlers. The place is literally covered with antlers and animal heads; apparently, you will get laughed out of the joint if you try to order food after 5 pm. We both tried some burgers and they were SOOO good. Seriously need to remember to take out-of-towners here.... or maybe it was just my crazy hormones.
We had a great time and both remarked how lucky we feel to live in such an amazing city.