Week 18 – Texas

I finally left California this week and headed east to see the real America. The America of Republicans, cowboys and all you can eat buffets. Yes, I’m in Texas y’all!

Austin

My first stop was Austin. I had heard it bucked the trend of Texan cities, being liberal, cycle friendly, vegetarian and has a live music scene. It didn’t disappoint. One of the highlights was a huge outdoor spring fed outdoor pool. It was weird swimming amongst salamanders, rocks and plants but cool too. The pool is massive, it must be over 200 foot long. It is called Barton Springs and is highly recommended on a hot day.

Barton Springs

A history of Texas

Another highlight is the Bullock Texas State Museum, where you can learn all about the history of this huge state. I found out that Texas was originally called Tejas, when it was part of Mexico.

The Mexican republic was created in 1821 when ‘New Spain’ broke away from Spanish rule. The Mexican republic had a ‘recruitment drive’ to populate the republic. Over the next few years, lots of new people moved to the area, mainly those of European descent. However, over the years a wedge was driven between those of Spanish descent and the Anglo population.

The state subsequently declared independence from Mexico and the Republic of Texas was born. Then Texas became part of the USA in 1845 and the USA became involved in the US/Mexican war over Mexican interests in the area, which the USA won.

A slave receipt

Texas joining the USA was controversial, as it was a slave state and the northern states did not want another slave state joining the federation, as it gave greater weight to the idea that slavery would remain. Subsequently this led to the American civil war. I saw in the museum a ‘receipt’ for a slave woman who had been bought, which was shocking to see.

An 1846 Stars and Stripes flag

I also saw one of the early stars and stripes flags. In the early days there were no real guidelines as to how the flag could be represented, and you can see from the photo above the stripes are different and the stars could’ve added in any way.

Next stop, San Antonio, location of ‘The Alamo’.

San Antonio

The Alamo

San Antonio’s biggest attraction is The Alamo. The infamous battle of The Alamo in 1836, which saw the death of the famous Davy Crockett, happened in an old Spanish Mission from the 1770s. The entire army defending The Alamo were killed by the Mexican army. The Alamo has since become a totem for Texan liberty and freedom.

San Antonio has some great architecture. During the late 1920s-1930s, due to the depression, a large public works programme happened across the city, leaving San Antonio with a legacy of some great art deco style buildings. It also has some earlier Victorian era buildings.

The Bexar County Justice Centre (1896)
The Tower Life Building in San Antonio (1929)

Art

San Antonio has a really great art gallery, and I spent about two hours there. You can walk there from Downtown along the river. The gallery has impressive collections of Egyptian art as well as some really interesting art from south east Asia. A few of my highlights are below.

Marcus Aurelius, AD 140
Yogini, early 11th C
Medicine Buddha sand mandala, 2001
Dog, China, Han Dynasty 206 BC

Houston

Last stop on the Texas leg was Houston. Just for one night which is enough! Houston is huge. It’s the 4th largest US city. It’s pretty scary in parts too. I went trolling off looking for a vegan restaurant and landed in the middle of mugging central. Pretty sure most tourists don’t venture where I went!! Houston has a serious homeless problem it’s very sad.

The restaurant was great though had a great vegan salad & green juice. Maybe not worth dying for though haha!

Houston skyline

Next stop, New Orleans!

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