Saturday, May 2 to Thursday, May 7, 2009
Hyatt Regency San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas, USA 78205
Tel: +1 210-222-1234
San Antonio is in Texas, the second largest state in the US. To put Texas into perspective, Texas is 3 times the area of the United Kingdom and almost twice the size of Japan. Houston is a third of the state away, and is a three hour drive. If you miss your connection in Houston or Dallas, do not even think of driving the rest of the way unless you really love driving.
San Antonio International Airport is about 9.2 miles (15 kilometers) north of the Hyatt Regency-San Antonio. It is served by many US airlines; as far as I can tell, the only non-US airlines are Mexicana and AeroLitoral (a Mexican regional airline). If you are coming from outside the US, you will probably clear customs at another hub before connecting to San Antonio.
The Amtrak Railroad Station is about 0.9 miles (1.5 km) from the hotel.
The Alamo: The site of the ferocious 1835 battle between Texans seeking independence and Mexicans trying to put down the rebellion.
Hemisfair Park: Tower of the Americas, originally built for the 1968 World's Fair; Institute of Texan Cultures; customs, dress and skills of early Texas residents
McNay Art Museum; works by the masters, and native American arts and crafts.
Mission San Jose Y San Miguel de Aguayo; restored Spanish colonial gristmill
Natural Bridge Caverns
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch; drive through safari. None of the 50 types of exotic animals will be speaking at the PIUG meetings.
River Walk; footpaths along the river passing galleries, craft shops, restaurants and bars. (Technically, I never really passed any of the bars, but I suppose it can be done.)
San Antonio Botanical Gardens
San Antonio Museum of Art
San Antonio Zoo
Sea World San Antonio. The killer whale, sea lions and other sea life are not native to San Antonio, which is about 140 miles from the nearest salt water.
Witte Museum; Interactive exhibits on Texas history, natural science and anthropology.
San Antonio lies, in the words of the famous song, "Deep in the heart of Texas". It is at the crossroads between the Hill Country, fertile East Texas and the flat chaparral to the south.
San Antonio was originally a Coahuiltecan Indian village. In 1718, the Franciscan mission San Antonio de Valero and its protecting fort were built. When Spanish cavalry occupied the mission in 1803, they changed the name to Pueblo del Alamo, possibly named after the Spanish word for the cottonwood trees that grew by the river, and possibly because they could not pronounce Coahuiltecan.
To populate and preserve Spain's hold on the region, the Spanish government sent several dozen colonists from the Canary Islands to the mission in 1731. Four other missions subsequently were built along the river south of town. The missions flourished at first but eventually were weakened by increased hostility from Apache and Comanche tribes. Inadequate military support made matters worse. By 1794, the mission era had come to an end, and the Alamo was secularized, becoming a military post.
The first American attempt to colonize the frontier was made by Moses Austin, a Missouri pioneer who obtained a land grant from the Spanish. Moses died before his plan came to fruition, but his son, Stephen, brought 300 American families to settle in Texas in 1821. The colony became the foundation of the Anglo-American presence in Texas, and in only 14 years, U.S. settlers came to outnumber the Mexicans four to one. Disgruntled with Mexican rule, the Anglo-American and Mexican colonists established a provisional government with Sam Houston as the head of the army in 1835.
Thus began a constant struggle between the Texians, as the local inhabitants were then called, and Mexico for control of San Antonio, which became the site of many battles. Mexico's dictator, Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, sent Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cós to subdue the rebellious Texians, but Cós was unsuccessful. Infuriated by the defeat, Santa Anna and nearly 4,000 troops attacked the Alamo, where its 189 defenders fought valiantly to their deaths. Among the fallen were James Bowie and the legendary Davy Crockett.
Texas' entry into the union in 1845 as the 28th state opened San Antonio to immigration from Europe, predominantly German. Texas left the union in 1861 for the American Civil War, but rejoined when the war was over in 1865.
The city soon found its niche in the beef industry. Local cattle barons blazed the legendary Chisholm Trail from San Antonio to the railheads in Abilene, Kan., to drive cattle to northern markets. (Note for our foreign colleagues; When you think of a cattle drive, do not think of cows and bulls behind the wheel of a truck; think of the movie City Slickers.) With the arrival of the railroad in 1877 the city was directly linked to new northern markets; thus San Antonio's economy steadily improved.
"The street system of downtown San Antonio was laid out more than 150 years ago, and in many instances follows old cattle trails. Because the system has been described as being roughly similar to a skillet of snakes, you should study a city map before starting out." (AAA Tourbook)
There are boat, bus and trolley, and walking tours of the city. I could not find any swimming tours.
The PIUG Meeting will be in San Antonio during the Cinco de Mayo festival, which will be celebrated this year on May 5th. The holiday celebrates Mexican independence from the French. (Visitors from Questel that day may want to tell people that their accent in Canadian.) Many celebrations will be at Market Square downtown, and will feature music and food.
National Public Radio, news and views KSTX 89.1 FM San Antonio
Texas Public Radio, classical music, KPAC 88.3 FM San Antonio
Radio 1200 AM, WOAI, is all news
Average maximum / minimum temperatures in May are 85°F / 65°F (29C / 18C).
English is one of the more popular languages in San Antonio.
When you think of Texas, you think of cowboys and the Old West, and there is lots of shopping where you can satisfy your cravings for those types of items. The surrounding hill country has many lakes and dude ranches; Western horseback riding is especially appropriate there. San Antonio has the usual golf, tennis, and other sports. There is a professional basketball team, the San Antonio Spurs, and several college and minor league teams.
Telephone: +1 703 706 4220, x-4820
Email: don.walter @ thomsonreuters.com
Any opinions, wisecracks and attempted humor expressed here are mine and may or may not be those of my employer. Especially the wisecracks and attempted humor.