Tourist in My City

What is one thing I miss these days? Travel. My previous job had me traveling the world for 12 years. I won’t lie; it was hard at times. Living out of a suitcase, being gone for a month or more at a time, missing my husband and fur-baby, missing out on important life moments with friends and family, and skipping events I had helped planned were all sacrifices I had to make while my job sent me away. The upside was that I got to see places I would have never had the chance to see if it weren’t for the job. I went to the Philippines, El Salvador, Mexico (Mexico City & Guadalajara), and Argentina, plus many great cities in the U.S. several times over, like Los Angeles, Chicago, even had a chance to visit the Smokey Mountains during one of my many assignments in Tennessee. Granted, not all my trips were glamorous, but I always made a point to visit important museums like the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL, visit the famous Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC and hiked beautiful outdoor trails in Norman, OK. Some of my funnest moments were taking trips with my coworkers to small towns, enjoying the scenery, discovering new places, and creating bonds that surpass our time working together. Even better when I had the chance to bring my husband along when he could make it out for a long weekend, and most of my coworkers would also have their spouses or partners fly in during the same weekend and we would fill up half a restaurant with people getting to know each other, enjoying amazing food in a new city or country.

Before COVID (BC), I moved to a new position that had little to no travel involved. I pursued this move because I wanted something that would keep me home. My husband and I had started to try to conceive, and it would just be too difficult to raise a family if I was to be gone 50% of the time. We also had plans to travel the world for leisure as we had just taken a trip to Europe, and Cuba the year before that, and our plan for 2020 was to visit Japan. Right before the closures in 2020, we had taken trips to New Orleans and Puerto Rico, the latter being at least annual to visit family and site visit our rental properties. But, as travel is extremely risky in the wake of meteoric rises in Coronavirus cases, we made the decision to avoid all travel until things calm down. It’s hard, because we love to travel and explore new cities, enjoy their food and culture, but as I made many sacrifices while I travelled for work, this is a small sacrifice for health and safety for us and for others. In the meantime, I’ve come to appreciate my city so much more. Visiting and discovering San Antonio with fresh eyes, and enjoying parts that I hadn’t had the chance to because I was always gone. The Alamo City is beautiful, rich in history and full of magical corners just waiting to be admired.

Let’s talk about this gorgeous Casino Club Building! The Casino Club was San Antonio’s first social club and theater, and originated from meetings of twenty Germans who gathered for conversation and sociability in 1854. The club was chartered in 1857, with a membership of 106 men, all German Texans. The club’s building on Market Street, formally opened in 1858, had on its west side a bar with skat tables and reading room, in the center a ballroom that could be converted into a theater with a stage and balcony, and on the east side a salon and lounge as explained by the Texas State Historical Association. They would hold many activities, including balls and formal affairs, and though it was exclusively a man’s club, through 1946, parents would formally introduce their daughters into society as part of their annual events. The building is a historical landmark in the heart of San Antonio, built with club rooms, dining rooms, dormitories, and a ballroom. Today, the building houses apartments and is recognized by the Texas Historical Commission and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photograph, Casino Club original building. Image available via Casino Club Building.

Of course, we explore the city very safely. We wear our face masks when walking around in public spaces and avoid crowded areas. We have done more nature walks and hikes, not just in San Antonio, but also around the Hill Country surrounding our city. We also support local restaurants, and though we’re still not comfortable enough to do sit down service in restaurants and bars, we do take out, delivery and even food truck delivery, which has been such a fun experience. The best part of living in Texas is that now we can even get our favorite cocktail drinks delivered as well, so those famous margaritas from our favorite restaurant our made fresh right outside our door.

So, yes, I do miss traveling and discovering new places, but we’ve made the best of it and discovered new places by becoming tourists in our own city. I’m sure there are still many things left to discover close by, and many safe, distanced activities we can do, so as soon we start seeing an improvement in the numbers for COVID-19 cases in San Antonio, we’ll surely be touring a bit more. It really is up to us to get this under control. By following the CDC guidelines, wearing face masks, avoiding crowded activities, washing your hands, etc. we can get to a semblance of normalcy sooner.

Photo credits: Anna Angenend Photography

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