Paseo del RioJanuary 2, 2009
I mentioned the River Walk in my last couple of posts and got some inquiries as to what that is exactly. I’m sorry I didn’t make it more clear. I am speaking of the Paseo del Rio; the River Walk here in San Antonio. The San Antonio river runs through the city downtown and a wonderful little tourist area has grown up along it.
The San Antonio River has a history as long and colorful as the River Walk itself. It was a life line for inhabitants in the area for three centuries. It still is a life line for many, as it is the largest tourist attraction in San Antonio beating out even Sea World and Six Flags Over Texas.
The River Walk came about as a result of efforts to control flooding on the river. It doesn’t rain much here, but when it does, look out! Water surges into the rivers and floods are common. Dams, a flood gate and a bypass channel were built to control the level of the water downtown.
An architect in the area, Robert Hugman, envisioned the banks of the river as a world apart from the city’s streets- a balance between commercial and park-like atmospheres. It didn’t come about overnight but slowly developed and grew over the years, from 1921 until today. I think if Mr. Hugman could see the Paseo del Rio today he would see his vision brought to life.
I think the best way to approach your River Walk experience is by descending one of the many stairways from street level to the River Walk level. As you descend down the steps you are transported from the hot, busy, noisy streets of our big city to the cooler, relaxed, quiet atmosphere of the River Walk. The gentle sounds of the river, waterfalls and the breeze in the trees all contribute to the relaxed atmosphere while the lights, flowers, colorful umbrellas and the people make the mood festive.
The edges of the river are lined with umbrella covered tables, cafes and shops. There are a wide range of restaurants from which to choose and you have the choice of dining outside or inside (read that: in the air conditioning!). There are lots of souvenir shops and vendors and don’t forget to take a ride on a gondola for a different perspective of the River Walk.
I hope that you can make it to Paseo del Rio some day. I know that I’m always looking forward to my next visit!