After a day spent at the Natural Bridge Caverns, we threw the switch firmly in the "man-made" direction for our evening, by heading downtown to visit the San Antonio River Walk.
The River Walk is an intriguing blend of elements -- part shopping mall, part park, part tourist attraction. You head down a flight of stairs below car street level and reach miles of pedestrian paths that follow the San Antonio River. Hundreds of restaurants and shops (surely paying a fortune in leases) line both banks of the river, as tourist boats take sightseers up the river itself.
It being a jam-packed Saturday night, we had to wait an hour for a table at the steak restaurant we decided on for dinner, but that was time we filled walking along the river bank and taking in the sights. It was a neat atmosphere that it seems like other cities could embrace. (Some point to the Cherry Creek Greenway as Denver's version of it, but it seems like the Platte River could be set up to be even more so.)
At the same time, the River Walk was definitely a moment to appreciate how good we have it in Denver. The water itself was murky and unappealing, and the stale smell coming off it permeated the air. After the crisp cleanness of the Rocky Mountains and its rivers, we had to wonder if this is what most of the country mistakenly assumes rivers are supposed to smell like. (Then again, maybe when you get that far from the source, it is.)
The famous Alamo was somewhere nearby, but we didn't bother to check it out. Every friend we heard from before the trip who had seen the Alamo had said it wasn't worth it, and warned us that the site in general is in shockingly poor maintenance for a place many Texans won't stop going on about.
But we did get a fun little bonus after dinner, as we were walking back to our car. Our path just happened to take us by the Cathedral of San Fernando. It's apparently one of the oldest cathedrals in the United States -- interesting enough for some tourists. On this particular night, some kind of film/light show was being projected on the facade of the church, watched by a crowd of hundreds in the adjacent park.
We watched a snippet of a choreographed song or two before wrapping up our evening.