Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Missions of San Antonio

Remember The Alamo! That's what everyone kept saying to me when I told them that I was going to San Antonio, Texas. So I obviously knew it was a thing (and a thing to check off my bucket list), but what I didn't know was that there are a whole bunch of churches from this time period with a similar heritage that are worthy of checking out along with The Alamo (and dare I say, even better than?).

'What are the Spanish Missions of San Antonio?' I hear you ask.

That's an oddly specific question, considering I didn't actually tell you what they were called yet. And why are you interrupting me, I was about to tell you about them.

The Spanish Missions were a series of five colonial era walled estates set up in what is now downtown San Antonio following the river to the southern edge of the city. They were established in the 18th century as an extension of the Spanish Government and Catholic Church to convert the local indigenous tribes to Catholicism, teach them the Spanish ways, and help them. 

Today 4 of the 5 missions still serve as active churches and are run by the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park.

The Alamo
{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

Set up like a museum and proper historic attraction, there are videos to watch, text panels to read, and history actors to interact with all to learn about the bloodied and varied past of this Spanish Church. Although I definitely found it interesting, but I didn't so much feel emotionally connected to this history. It might just be that I didn't know enough about it to feel that connection, much like I would expect a Texan to have to same reaction to visiting the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City; interesting history, but difficult to connect with the significance of it all.

{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio


Mission Conception
{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

It is possible to walk or bike the 10 miles of trial that mostly follows the San Antonio River from The Alamo to Mission Espada, but when I'm being a tourist, sometimes the fastest route is the best route. Borrowing Selena's car for the day, I was able to visit all 4 remaining churches and not get sunburned or tired.

Mission Conception, established in 1731, was my favourite of the missions--the interior still has beautiful remains of fresco paintings and is an impressive looking structure.

{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

Mission Jose
{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

Mission Jose was the second mission built, in 1720, after The Alamo. This mission became known as a major social and cultural centre. Some of the compound walls are still standing and on the day of my visit there was a funeral taking place in the church and so I was unable to see the interior. The main visitor centre is located at this mission with a chockablock full gift shop.

{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio


Mission San Juan
{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

Quite honestly, Mission San Juan (1731) was the most boring because I could see all I could access from the parking lot. On a bluer skied day, I could have taken some nice pictures of the white stucco building, but that's about it.

{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio


Mission Espada
{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

The southern most mission of the five missions and my other favourite is this tiny gem, Mission Espada (1731). That exposed stone and brick! That lush moss! I mean, just look at that doorway!

{Erin Out and About} The Spanish Missions of San Antonio

Although the historical perspective of these missions is outdated, I just like looking at old buildings in original settings. If you're looking for something more to do than just The Alamo, the other missions are certainly worth a gander.

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Friday, 25 May 2018

Sakura in Kariya Park

Seriously! How does this happen? 

One minute we are freezing, icing up our house windows as we stare longingly outdoors, straining to spot signs of spring...and hope...and renewal...and most importantly warmth! Then, next thing you see the trees fully laden with leaves, flowers are bursting with blooms and baby animals are scurrying around trying to catch up to mom and dad. 

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

This year, I somehow missed the transition period of winter to spring. And it's actually my most favourite time of year, because it has so much exciting hope wrapped up in each new bud and each sprouting stem. I too feel like I'm getting a rebirth with the transition of the seasons. Sure, I make New Year's resolution-like plans each January, but in the dark, cold months of winter those plans, as well intentioned as they may be, don't feel possible until the weather starts to change and people start getting outside more. There just feels to be so much possibility in the spring. Is it just me?

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

To start off my season of hope, for the last two year, I've been partaking in Hanami, which is the act of enjoying the sakura (cherry blossoms) usually with a picnic under the trees. This is a tradition from Japan that is wildly popular and with clusters of these cherry trees all over the GTA (and Canada generally) it is likewise here too. Last year I spotted some of these trees on the side of a road in Brampton and stopped by to enjoy them in my own city. The year before I went to High Park to join everyone else in seeing them there.

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

Like spring, the sakura are super ephemeral and disappear as quickly as they come. Kariya Park in Mississauga will already look so different from when I took these photos just a couple weeks ago.

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

{Erin Out and About} Sakura in Kariya Park

There are enough places to enjoy sakura in Toronto and the area, that I think for the next few years I'm set for different places to go for this very brief spring happening.

Do you have a springtime ritual?



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Thursday, 17 May 2018

What I learned in Texas

I still have posts from Newfoundland that I want to do, but writing about Texas last week has got me on a kick. I really did enjoy my time there, but I do feel a bit ripped off weather wise. It was overcast and cool most days. This Canadian was not prepared for the single digit temps so far south. Not prepared mentally or vestment-ly.


I learned that Texas isn’t always hot and this lead me to take note of other things I learned in Texas. 

1.Longhorns’ horns are longer than I had imagined 
{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

Thanks to the rodeo being in town, I got to meet a real-live longhorn cattle. I was massively impressed by the length of the horns and equals parts not understanding how they function with such large things jutting from their heads.

2. I don’t hate country music as much as I thought I did
{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

Part of the rodeo was a concert of Brett Eldredge. I have never heard of him or his music before, but I did find myself clapping along. I particularly like his one about whiskey. True story.

3. Friends are important 
{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas
Bathroom selfie in the wine bar Selena took me to right after I landed.

Now this one I did know, but it’s good to be reminded of this every once and awhile. My 2018 is including more self-care and as I’m figuring out what that means exactly to me, I know that carving out time to spend with friends is good for my soul and I need more of it.

4. Cactuses are super cool
{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

I’ve seen them on tv before, but never really in actual life. Like in the wild. Even on my trip to Las Vegas, I didn’t come across too many cactus in the city, but in Texas they were all over. Each time I saw one, I was delighted (clapping and giggling like a child!). They are sooooo weird! How are they a thing?


I’m realizing now that I did see some in the desert in Bolivia, I remember a particular moment when Eimear touched one thinking it was a normal soft plant and we laughed at her silliness. Cactus are prickly! (Yes, I said cactuses)

5. Sweet tea is the nectar of the gods
{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

Seriously, no wonder childhood obesity is such a problem, I would be a fat kid too if I had sweet tea growing up. How is this not a thing in Canada!! 
Hot Tip: Don’t want it too sweet? Mix unsweeted tea with sweet tea to taste. Damn! So good!

6. Texas has a distinct gastronomy
{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

I didn’t particularly think of Texas having a distinct food pallet. I had assumed portion sizes were going to be giant because America, and I wasn’t wrong there, however I was still introduced to some great food. Texas BBQ is now my most favourite thing. 

Barbecued meat? Good. 

Beans? Gooooood. 

Creamed corn? Gooooooooooood. 

We need more Texas BBQs in Ontario.  I also had actual Texas Tex-Mex which included breakfast tacos, tamales, and other delicious Mexican inspired foods.

Also did you know that The Phoenix Saloon in New Braunfels is the home of chili powder?!

{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

7. Everything is soooooo spread out
{Erin Out and About} What I learned in Texas

One of the best reasons about visiting places where friends live, is having access to some home conveniences, like a car. No need to rent, take a bus, or waste money on cabs. 

San Antonio is VERY spread out. A car is a must! A big thank you to Selena for letting me borrow her car!!



Have you ever gone somewhere with preconceived ideas and were immediately humbled by how much you really didn't know?

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