Having failed to notice that the clock in the room was set on Eastern Standard Time (Texas operates on Central Time), the alarm went off an hour earlier than intended, and we were up and dressed before we realised. The Alamo was not yet open, so we went in search of breakfast.
Most of the riverside restaurants were closed, still clearing up from the night before, but we found a Tex-Mex Café called Zuni’s that was open.
The menu offered standard breakfast fare of waffles, pancakes and eggs, but our attention was drawn to the tortilla with scambled egg, bacon, jalapeno peppers and salsa verde. With coffee and apple juice, this seemed an ideal combination!
After breakfast, we visited the Central Library (an extraordinary ‘enchilada red’ building, six storeys high) to check our e-mail, before viewing The Alamo.
(A short history lesson: The Alamo mission was held for 13 days in 1836 by a small garrison of about 200 men, against about 4,000 of Santa Anna’s troops during the Texas Revolution. The defenders of The Alamo died rather than surrender to the Mexicans, and amongst those killed were Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.)
Few of the walls of the The Alamo are original, but the Church and some of the barrack walls have been preserved, and much of rest of the mission has been restored. Sadly, the large compound in front of the mission has been replaced by Alamo Plaza, and is surrounded by tacky shops and entertainments.
The Church is now a shrine. Inside, visitors of all nationalities pay their quiet respects to the men that died. In contrast with the commercialism outside, the shrine itself is low-key, containing only relics of its history, and a model showing the layout of the mission as it was in March 1836.
Americans are often very dismissive of their history, preferring instead to look to Europe for ancient castles and royalty. But we find American history all the more fascinating because it is so recent. It is extraordinary when you think that there are photographs of so many American historical figures: the people who were instrumental in the creation of the United States. We found our visit to The Alamo a very humbling experience.