Tracy L. Barnett, Special for USA TODAY
Five cherished portals to America’s Spanish colonial past have just been elevated to the stature of Machu Picchu, Stonehenge and the Taj Mahal with Sunday’s decision by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to grant World Heritage status to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
“We are thrilled,” said San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor, calling from Bonn, Germany, soon after the announcement was made. “The decision came right after Independence Day and we felt we were representing the United States on a world stage, so it was very exciting.”
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By Tracy L. Barnett
Special package for USA Today’s Experience Weekend site
Remember the Alamo? Well, San Antonio has a whole lot more to offer visitors these days, almost enough to make you forget about that iconic shrine to Texas liberty. Miles and miles of newly developed spaces along the River Walk, an irresistible selection of fine dining experiences, a diverse and vibrant music scene, a sizzling nightlife – all of it colored by that special cultural blend that you’ll only find in America’s most Mexican of cities. Nowadays you’ll need at least a week to explore the best the city has to offer. But here’s a warning – once you’ve gotten a taste of the Alamo City, you may not want to leave.
Coasting along the Costalegre: Puerto Vallarta January 16, 2014Posted by Tracy in : Mexico, Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
Part 6 of a series
Driving up from the south in the golden light before sunset, we were entranced with the undulating highway hugging the cliffs and opening out to spectacular views of rocky, dramatic seashore. We passed Mismaloya, where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s steamy romance was captured for posterity in Night of the Iguana; past the little seaside villages where fishermen still cast their nets from wooden boats; plunged into the crowded cobbled streets of Old Puerto Vallarta with its jumbled mix of modernity and antiquity – Starbucks-meets-Maria the Taco Lady, on a grand scale. Later we’d immerse ourselves in the heart of this, but tonight we were headed straight through the city to the hotel zone on the other side, to a soaring white all-inclusive resort on the Marina called Vamar Vallarta.
Coasting along the Costalegre: Manzanilla and Tenacatita December 20, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, ecotourism, Mexico, Nature tourism , add a comment
Part 3 of a series
We awoke early this morning and went to the wildlife refuge at the backside of Barra de Navidad, a place seldom frequented by tourists but a hotspot for migratory waterfowl. A beautiful place to watch the sunrise and the sometimes extraordinary birds that appear there; once I saw several very large waterfowl that I didn’t recognize, over a meter in height. Today there were a pair of graceful blue herons fishing for breakfast; we observed them quietly before hitting the road north.
Today was the day we’d arrive in Cuixmala, the mysterious coastal refuge that was the high point of our trip. But first, we had a bit more coast to explore.
Panama’s Ngorongoro: El Valle de Anton October 5, 2011Posted by Tracy in : Uncategorized , add a comment
On Day Two of our Panama adventure, we climbed 1,800 feet to the Valle de Anton to see the world’s second-largest volcanic crater – second only to the Ngorogoro in Tanzania. We were met by Ivan Hoyos of Ancon Expeditions, Panama’s only Virtuoso tour provider and a conservation-oriented company linked with one of Panama’s oldest conservation groups. Ivan, who is cited in Lonely Planet, is a lively interpreter of the country’s history, culture, ecology, and almost anything that might interest a traveler.