Monday, July 8, 2013

San Antonio

I'm back!

What, you didn't know that I was gone?  Let me try that again. 

I was gone. 

I'm back!  Last week, 30-some-odd friends and I ran off to Texas together to meet up with about 25,000 more of us for an adventure.  The proposed rendesvous spot was San Antonio. 

 I was okay with that. It was gorgeous, especially from the balcony off our 16th-floor hotel room in the Hilton Palacio Del Rio, with the sun streaming down on the cityscape in the morning.

Like this. 

There was a pretty sweet view at night, too. 

Each morning included at least 15 minutes of soaking in the view while devouring a protein bar, my bargain breakfast of choice. It was heavenly, and I tell you I didn't want to leave.

A few levels below this balcony and the rooftop pool, San Antonio is home to a completely different world: The Riverwalk. It's exactly what it sounds like: the San Antonio River with cobblestone sidewalks on both sides for miles. It's full of restaurants, souvenier shops, art vendors, and hotels and laced with bridges from one sidewalk to the other.

 It's charming, with flowers and exotic-looking (to me) plants lining the walkways.  Mariachi music and enticing smells drift from the restaurants during the 4p.m.-6p.m. crush of people who spill from the city streets to the cool escape of the Riverwalk. River boats take groups of tourists for a look-see at all that the river has to offer.

 After spending a couple of days sightseeing, tasting the local fare (I ate my first tamale! I recommend them!) and lounging by the pool, it was time to get down to business. You don't just run off to San Antonio for no reason at all!

We were there for the National Youth Gathering, which is basically an explosion of blue-backpack-clad teenagers who love God all over the city.  You can't walk more than 10 steps without coming across a group of kids with light blue nap sacks decked out in buttons, their hands out for high fives.

There were groups from every single state (except West Virginia) and Japan, all there for the same reason.  It's a pretty amazing environment to be in! It's said that the crime rate in the cities where this thing takes place drops by astonishing amounts during the week that the kids are around. More about that tomorrow!

Love, Bella

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