Starling Travel

October 10, 2006

San Antonio Missions: The Bells at San Jose

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Tourist Attractions,Video — Laura Moncur @ 4:31 pm

Sometimes I can film exactly how I see things. I don’t need to edit the footage or anything. The film looks exactly how I remember it. It makes me feel exactly how I did the day I shot the film. That’s what happened this day in September when I filmed the bells at the San Jose Mission.

Click here to see the video

The bells seemed to tell me that we had to hurry and leave, but I hadn’t even gotten near the church when they rang. I wanted to capture all of it, but my traveling companions were hot and bored. They waited in the car while I hurriedly took photos. I just wanted to relax and listen to the bells.

Where: San Jose Mission
2202 Roosevelt Avenue San Antonio, Texas 78210 – Google Map

Phone: (210) 932-1001
Fax: (210) 534-1106

October 9, 2006

San Antonio Missions: Concepcion

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 4:33 pm

The GPS system had been mispronouncing street names and tourist attractions throughout the entire trip, but it pronounced Mission Concepcion perfectly. Mission Concepcion had the most visitors we had encountered. At Mission San Juan, we had been alone except for two giggling teenage girls who left quickly. Here, however, I felt self-conscious. There were people sitting in the pews. I felt like an Ugly American snapping photos, but it was too beautiful to let it go undocumented.

They warned us that the mission was constructed for people who are much shorter than the average modern-day man, but Mike still bumped his head on the stone. I checked the stone for blood and his head for a bump. He rubbed the sore spot and shook his head, embarrassed by the accident. My fussing made it worse.

It was quiet outside in the grotto. We enjoyed being alone for a moment and took pictures of the statuary. Overheated, we retreated to the haven of air conditioning in the car and drank our water before we drove away.

Where: Concepcion Mission
807 Mission Rd San Antonio, TX 78210 – Google Map

Phone: (210) 932-1001
Fax: (210) 534-1106

October 6, 2006

San Antonio Missions: San Juan

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 4:38 pm

The day we visited the San Juan Mission, we had spent three days consistently overestimating ourselves and ending up dehydrated. The San Juan Mission was no different except we had water waiting for us in the car. We would dash outside, take a few pictures and then retreat back to the car when it was too much for us. I’m sure if we spent a couple of weeks in San Antonio, we would have become acclimated to the heat, but we didn’t have that kind of time.

Fortunately, we didn’t let the heat stop us. San Juan has the most preserved of the mission churches. The inside of the church was beautiful and quiet. The only noises we could hear came from the ceiling fans above our heads. I was surprised at the offerings at the statue of Guadalupe. There were photos, dolls, action figures, jewelry and flowers. I have never seen anything like that in Utah. That’s why traveling is so invigorating. We get to see things we would have never seen at home.

Where: San Juan Mission
9101 Graf Rd, San Antonio, TX – Google Map

Phone: (210) 932-1001
Fax: (210) 534-1106

October 5, 2006

San Antonio Missions: San Jose

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 4:39 pm

There are four missions in the San Antonio area. Mike and I were able to visit three of them. San Jose Mission was the first we saw. I was surprised at how much detail survived over the years. It was only a couple days later that we learned that San Jose wasn’t even the best preserved.

The heat was in the lower 100s and the humidity was much higher than my desert skin is used to. After our trip to this mission, I was dehydrated and desperately needed water. When you go to the missions, make sure you pack water and crank up the air conditioning.

October 4, 2006

San Antonio: My Favorite Moment

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Video — Laura Moncur @ 4:41 pm

My absolute favorite moment of the trip to San Antonio was the half hour or so that I sat outside just listening to music and feeding pigeons. I was shocked that they would take the food right out of my hand. The unpalatable brownie suddenly became a treasure of bird attractant. I recorded a brief glimpse of what it was like here:

Click here to see the video

I felt more at peace and calm here than I did during our pilgrimages to the missions. I find it strange that I can find God at a shopping mall more easily than at a church.

October 3, 2006

San Antonio, Texas: Andean Fusion

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 4:45 pm

When you head out of the Rivercenter Mall toward the Riverwalk, you hear the haunting sounds of Andean Fusion. You can’t escape it. They play there live almost every day of the year and in the evenings, when they finally go home, the overhead music plays their music. You might think that the sound of flutes playing classic hits might be irritating after a week in San Antonio, but I loved them even on the day I left. Here an example of what you can see:

Click here to see the video

Andean FusionI love to find local musicians wherever I travel, so I immediately bought a CD from the table by the players. Imagine my surprise when I found an album by Andean Fusion on You can find even more of their albums on their official website:

Over the week that I stayed in San Antonio, I noticed that there are many members of the group. They switch out every day and even switch instruments during a set. One of my favorite moments in San Antonio involved just sitting in the open air, listening to the music and feeding the pigeons.

Where: Rivercenter Mall
849 E Commerce St San Antonio, TX 78205 – Google Map
Phone: (210) 225-0000

Andean Fusion Concerts
Monday – Saturday, 1:00 – 8:00pm
Rivercenter Lagoon

October 2, 2006

San Antonio, Texas: The Alamo

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 4:40 pm

“Don’t forget The Alamo.”

I think I heard that phrase manipulated into a joke about twenty times over the course of our trip to San Antonio.

You are not allowed to take photographs within the Alamo buildings, but I was able to click many, beautiful pictures outside. What you can’t experience from here is the size of the place. It is both large AND small. The church, (first photo on the slideshow) is what I equated with the Alamo. I imagined a large wooden fence around this church and that’s it. The church itself is MUCH smaller than I imagined, whereas the grounds covered a lot more acreage than I expected. In fact, the Alamo was actually much larger than the park that is there today. Some walls of the Alamo and the remains of buildings were found all the way across the street. It was both more and less than I expected.

I didn’t know enough about history to know the story of The Alamo. I don’t know how I got a 4 on the AP American History test without being able to say anything more than, “Davy Crockett died there, and I think it was the Mexicans that killed him…” Fortunately, there is a wonderful exhibit in the Long Barracks that explains this history. They even had an episode of a show from The History Channel showing. I recommend going through the Long Barracks before you go into the church, even though the church is the first thing you encounter when you come on the grounds.

We went to The Alamo three times while we were in San Antonio, mostly because our hotel was right next to it. I loved taking pictures there. The preservation societies in San Antonio have created such a sunny and beautiful atmosphere there that photography is simple. A trip to San Antonio isn’t complete unless you remember to visit The Alamo.

Where: The Alamo – San Antonio, TX
300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, Texas – Google Map
Telephone: (210)225-1391, ext.23
Fax: (210)229-1343

Admission: Free (Please make a contribution)
Hours: 9:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. Monday through Saturday and 10:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. on Sunday

September 29, 2006

San Antonio, Texas: The Menger Hotel

Filed under: Lodging,Places To Visit,Texas — Laura Moncur @ 4:47 pm

Water so hot it will scald you.They say that the Menger Hotel is haunted. If it is, the ghost has inhabited the fixtures of the hotel itself. It’s the hotel that wants to kill you. The step in your room that leads to the toilet tries to trip you in the middle of the night. The outlets in your room aren’t grounded (except that one by the bed). The water that comes out of the faucet is so hot it could scald you. The ever oscillating shower head alternately freezes you and burns you.

Yet, I LOVED The Menger Hotel and would love to stay there again all because of three little words: Location, Location, Location.

The Menger Hotel sits right between The Alamo and the mall. Walk a little further and you’re on the Riverwalk. If they could somehow transport the five missions that are scattered throughout the town near The Menger, I wouldn’t have needed a rental car.

Add to all of this the history and beauty of such an old building, and you have the perfect hotel, despite any burns you may have incurred during your stay.

As far as the ghosts are concerned, I don’t think there are any. We were there for a WWII Reunion with hundreds of people. At the Air Force Base, the announcer asked if anyone in the room had seen a ghost and not one of those hundreds of people raised their hands. Maybe they didn’t count the entity in my room trying to kill me…

Where: The Menger Hotel
204 Alamo Plaza San Antonio, TX 78205 – Google Map
Tel: (210) 223-4361
Fax: (210) 228-0022

September 28, 2006

Wimberley, Texas: Destination – The Andrew Sisters Revue

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Video — Laura Moncur @ 4:51 pm

We went to San Antonio for a World War II Reunion of the 303rd Bomb Group. The highlight of the evening for the final banquet was an Andrew Sisters Revue performed by Destination. I went to the banquet expecting a typical faire of WWII era music sung poorly by a local band. They were a local band from Wimberley, Texas, but they sang beautifully. See for yourself here:

Click here to see the video

Destination performs regularly with a full orchestra in Wimberley, but they are also available if you have an event in Austin, San Marcos, Mustang Island or San Antonio. They’ll do right by you. Can’t say they’ll do the same for their “fellas” overseas…

Where: Destination:

MySpace Page – Destination Trio

She also performs with Gypsy Moon:

MySpace Page – Gypsy Moon Music

For Booking Information: Phone: 512-396-7171

September 27, 2006

San Antonio, Texas: Bill Miller BBQ

Filed under: Food,Places To Visit,Texas — Laura Moncur @ 4:52 pm

Bill Miller BBQ

Scattered across San Antonio, are the humble Bill Miller BBQ restaurants. They are a casual oasis of BBQ that beckons to me at every few street corners. We finally stopped at Bill Miller to see if it was all that Texas BBQ was supposed to be.

Order your meat with the sauce on the side.

I was told long ago that the hallmark of good Texas BBQ is that they cook the meat without sauce and let you add the sauce to your liking. That’s exactly how they did it at Bill Miller. I had a piece of brisket and some chicken. Both were tender and moist before we used any of the sauce on it.

For me, it's all about the sides.

For me, though, it’s all about the sides. I can’t eat too much meat, but I can enjoy good bread, potato salad and coleslaw all day long. Fortunately, Bill Miller BBQ had enough of those as well.

The service was efficient and friendly.Bill Miller has a bakery where fresh pies are baked every day and brought to the stores. We had a choice of at least three different pies. When there is that much variety, it’s hard to choose just one. We had two and stole bites from one another’s.

After I had loaded up on food, the service was efficient and friendly. They served us up what we wanted and checked us out quickly so we could eat it. I really liked that I could just go through the line, get my food quickly and immediately go to my table to eat. It smelled so good, I don’t think I could have waited for traditional sit-down service. Luckily, they served cafeteria-style, so I didn’t have to wait any longer than it took me to get through the line.

I forgot to take a picture of my food until it was all gone. Yum!In fact, I couldn’t wait. I forgot to take a picture of my food until it was all gone.

Want to know the best part? It was cheap. For both Mike and I to eat, it was around ten bucks. We had more food than the two of us could eat plus dessert and we only spent around ten dollars. They have locations in San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi. If you find yourself in Texas, make sure you try out Bill Miller’s BBQ. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll be surprised how much food you get for your buck.

Where: Bill Miller BBQ
P.O. Box 839925
San Antonio, Texas 78283-3925
Phone: (210) 225-4461
Fax: (210) 302-1533

Restaurants all over San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi:

San Antonio: Google Map

Austin: Google Map

Corpus Christi: Google Map

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