Road Trip Reflections | TX | March 2024 - Part 1, Hello San Antonio!

My pup Valentine and I have been on an indefinite road trip, living nomadically since October 2023! If you'd like to see more posts & vlogs about our travel adventures, please click here.

In this post: driving to San Antonio, arriving at our AirBnB, The Pearl, Brackenridge Park, & The Japanese Tea Garden

HELLO SAN ANTONIO!
THE DRIVE & ARRIVING AT OUR AIRBNB

There was a major chance in scenery as I got closer and closer to San Antonio--the land around me became filled with lush green trees and I even saw some purple pink wildflowers dotting the sides of the roads (little did I know I will be seeing MUCH more of that!) I have not seen green or color in at least a month so it really stood out and the pretty drive was very enjoyable! I also passed by ranches with cows and horses--I always love seeing animals out in green fields grazing.

I was so excited to see these flowers in the pic above but they were really nothing compared to what I would see!

The road was easy to navigate. There were a few curvy / hilly areas but nothing that was scary or difficult. 

When I was about an hour away from my AirBnB, I definitely got the feeling that I am now in the city again! The freeway was big and busier, there were a lot more cars and people drove a lot faster!

I was getting used to how warm it was and the day we arrived was no different, I think it was in the high 80s! I unloaded everything from the car and noticed the flowers by the front door. I also set up my desk then took Val for a walk at the park and caught the start of the sun setting and some beautiful cloud formations!

This is the first time in awhile that I've had  a separate bedroom (vs a studio type layout) so the AirBnB felt really big! I liked the minimal decor, the fun colors, and this solar lantern and the shapes it created at night.

I got in on a Saturday and was excited to check out the Pearl and the farmer's market the next morning. Here are a few other places we checked out our first few days in San Antonio!

THE PEARL
A REVITALIZED BREWERY & THE FARMER'S MARKET

Part of the reason I chose this AirBnB was because it was so close to the historic Pearl--a brewery founded in 1883 turned marketplace and gathering space! The river runs along it and there are restaurants, shops, farmer's markets, apartments, and a hotel there.

My first impression was: this place is BEAUTIFUL! 

It turned out to be a great place to walk Valentine, especially in the evenings (so we didn't have to go out in the 90 degree heat!) because it felt really safe with people and security always around. It was such a nice place with many different types of birds and turtles there as well as flowers and lily pads. 

There were also a lot of stray cats there which made me sad :( but during my stay I noticed kind people would leave food and water out for them and checked on them to make sure they were OK. Hopefully there is some type of trap and release program happening since that's the only way to really prevent more cats from becoming strays. One cat even started following us!

I went to the Pearl often since it was literally a 5 minute drive away! We got to see it all different times of the day and even saw a proposal!

I had seen many people take photos here: before school dances, engagements, graduations, so I thought the proposal set up was for a photo until I realized the he was standing there by himself!

By the time we walked the loop it looked like it was about time for it to happen. There's seating right across from the set up so I sat down with a bunch of other people--many were randos like us lol. And even though marriage has never been high on my priority list or something I wanted, I am happy for others if that's what they want and it happens for them!

He paced around and then she finally showed up! He proposed, she said yes, and we all clapped and cheered! 80% of us were not friends and family but I loved how we all came together to help them celebrate :)

Parking was also very convenient: the lot right in front of the Emma Hotel is free for the first two hours as well as the River West Parking Lot on E Elmira St (this was out go to since it was basically a straight shot from our AirBnB!). They never filled up except during spring break but even then I was able to find a spot!

We checked out the farmer's market which happens on Saturdays (mostly food vendors) and Sundays (a mix of food and artisans). A lot of farmer's markets actually don't allow dogs so it was so nice I could take Val! We saw lots of other pups there too!

There weren't that many vegan options but I got some amazing vegan focaccia and fresh veggies including lettuce and purple daikon to share with Valentine! Also had to take a pic of this pup hitching a ride! Looks kinda precarious from the back but sturdy from the front lol.

BRACKENRIDGE PARK
AN URBAN OASIS

I had NO idea there was so much nature here in Texas and how easily accessible it is even when you're in the city! This was a less than 15 minute drive from our AirBnB and while it was called a park, it was pretty close to being a forest for me! It's also HUGE! There are places that are more wooded as well as areas with picnic benches and playgrounds. There's also a nice paved walkway and we met many cute dogs here!

We also met 2 ladies who were getting ready to leave in their car when they saw Val. They asked if they could pet her and got out to say hi. They were super nice and sweet to Val; one of them also has a senior pup. We got to talking and I told them we were visiting and asked if they had any recs. They recently went to Hardberger Park and loved it--it's also where the land bridge my friend Vanesa had mentioned before so I definitely wanted to visit!

This became our second favorite spot to go for walks after the Pearl (mostly because of distance). We also saw so many flowers and cardinals every time we came here, and heard many bird songs. 

Parking was also very convenient, lots of spots in different areas of the park.

JAPANESE TEA GARDEN
ONCE A LIMESTONE QUARRY

I wasn't sure what to expect when we walked up to the garden because you can't see much from the outside. We were there on a weekday morning so lots of parking and not many people had arrived yet.

We made our way up the steps and onto this large covered area--then I realized we were quite high up and looking down, I could see the entire garden on a lower level which was much bigger than I thought! It was a really lovely surprise.

Apparently this garden began as a pit (that makes a lot of sense now) and used to be a limestone quarry and cement factory. In 1916 the Park Commissioner looked at this empty area and saw something beautiful in its place--a Japanese style garden with a waterfall and koi pond. 

The grounds are very neat and well cared for and it is dog friendly! Note that there are quite a few stairs to get down into the garden.

4 or 5 cars were pulling in as we were leaving so I'm glad we got there early enough to almost have the whole place to ourselves!

That wraps up our first week-ish in SA. I was lucky enough to get to see so many things so this recap is split into a few parts--you can find them here.

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