Starling Travel

May 29, 2007

San Antonio Botanical Garden Video

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Tourist Attractions,Video — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Last year, when we visited San Antonio, we took a tour of the San Antonio Botanical Garden. I filmed a walking video for Starling Fitness and it is finally ready!

I’m offering this DVD for $5 including shipping and handling in the continental U.S. If you live elsewhere contact me and we’ll figure out how much it will cost to ship to you.

Order Starling Fitness Walking Videos Here

Here is a glimpse of what the walk will be like:

Click here to see the video

Video Description:

I was lost and unprepared for the hot Texas weather, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the garden’s beauty. From the native Texas grassland areas to the indoor fern grottos, I filmed all that the San Antonio Botanical Garden had to offer.

Wander along the garden paths. Watch the birds fly past you and squawk at you from the trees. Smell the herbs and flowers in the garden for the blind. Breathe in the humid air in the fern grotto. Explore the historical homes of Texas’ past. Chase down the golf cart. Can you keep up?

If you are missing the beautiful greenery that Texas has to offer, you can enjoy it every day with this video.

Order Starling Fitness Walking Videos Here

October 16, 2006

San Antonio, Texas: Casa Rio Restaurant

Filed under: Food,Places To Visit,Texas — Laura Moncur @ 4:29 pm

Casa Rio in San Antonio, Texas

With a setting that looks like a postcard, the Casa Rio sits on the Riverwalk attracting tourists with the scent of their food and their singing. I live in a town with excellent Mexican food, so I expected touristy faire at Casa Rio and to be honest, that’s what I got. The food was good, but nothing was even near the spiciness that I’m used to. I enjoyed the enchiladas and queso sauce on my chips, but nothing brought tears to my eyes.

What I enjoyed most was the singing.

Cantados at Casa Rio by Laura Moncur

We were surprised at the reasonable prices of the food, so we sprang the ten bucks for a song. We figured we would have paid twice what we were paying in any other touristy place, so we were happy to splurge. The group singing played typical songs that are requested all the time like La Bamba and Tijuana Taxi, but they did it in such a congenial manner that I had a blissful moment when they were playing. Friendly AND professional, all at once, I felt so grateful that I had paid for a song. It was worth it for that moment of Zen.

Casa Rio in San Antonio, TexasWhere: Casa Rio
430 E Commerce St
San Antonio, TX
Google Map
Phone: (210) 225-6718
Fax: (210) 225-2216


Sunday – Saturday
11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

In January

  • Monday – Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Friday & Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Closed Sundays in January

October 11, 2006

San Antonio, Texas: High School Homecoming Mums

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Video — Laura Moncur @ 4:30 pm

During our trip to San Antonio, Mike and I took a break and went to Michaels Arts and Crafts. We went there to look at arts supplies and just relax. We have Michaels in Salt Lake City, so we thought it would be a familiar reminder of home. Instead, it was a very different store. There were two full aisles of ribbons in bright, primary colors. It was so interesting, I took photos. Michaels announced to the residents of Texas that they were your Homecoming Headquarters, but I had never seen anything like this for Homecoming. What was all this stuff?

While I looked at all the ribbons, flowers and megaphones, I became more and more confused. I asked one guy who worked at service desk what it was all about, but he was unable to explain it to me. I returned to the ribbons. A kindly woman said to me, “Ah, it’s Homecoming Time. They’ve got to get their mums ready.” I pounced on her like a housecat left alone too often. With some coaxing, Joan Anderson was willing to explain it all to me.

Click here to see the video

Texas sure does love their high school football. Using the artificial mums, ribbons and other decorations, you can create a Homecoming Mum. They are for girls and they wear them to the Homecoming game. It’s not for the dance, just the game (you get real flowers for the dance). This is only for football. Basketball doesn’t get this kind of attention.

I don’t know if this is still the case, but Joan says that the boys’ mothers would make the mums so the boys could give them to the girls they like best. A girl could have many different mums from many boys. The girl with the most mums is the most popular.

“Look there. There’s one over here that has three mums on it. This girl would have to be very special, wouldn’t she?”

Part of me wants to get a whole pile of mums from every boy in town. I want to be the girl with the most mums. I want to be very special. This Texan practice feels very guttural to me. I can feel it in my bones and gut. We had nothing like this in Salt Lake City, Utah. Who knew I would find something so unique and foreign a mere 1800 miles away.

For more information:

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

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