My biggest Christmas gift was given to me and Curtis by my mom… two nights away for New Year’s Eve in San Antonio. Mom took care of all the arrangements and put us up at the Westin River Walk with a River Walk view of course. We had a room on the 15th (top) floor and checked in on the 30th. Walking into our room, we immediately went to the balcony and stepped outside to check out the view.
Directly across from us was the Tower Life Building (I have a nighttime version of this view as well later).
Tower Life | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/5 | 1/500 | ISO 640
Looking down, we had a great view of the River Walk. We saw hordes of tourists on the river boat cruises.
Hotel River Walk View | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/320 | ISO 1000
Hotel Balcony | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/320 | ISO 640
Looking directly down from our balcony, we could see the Westin’s pool… it was located on the 4th floor and is gorgeous at night (also seen later in this post!).
Hotel Pool Daytime | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/320 | ISO 1800
Looking off to the right (see the rooftop pool?), this gorgeous building caught my eye… especially with the sun setting behind it. It’s actually a condo building! The Granada Home Condos.
Granada Homes Condos | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/320 | ISO 560 | -1 exposure
We rested for a while, then decided to go down to the river level of the hotel to have a drink at the hotel bar. I got this shot of the Tower Life Building at night before we left. It was lit up red and green for Christmas.
Tower Life Nighttime | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/250 | ISO 4000
After having a drink at the hotel, we wandered street level for a bit, then went down to the River Walk. It was thronged with people. The line for a cruise was at least 50 deep. I’ve never seen anything like it. The lights were gorgeous reflecting off of the water.
River Walk Nighttime | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.5 | 1/250 | ISO 12800
I love the way the lights look when thrown out of focus.
River Walk Lights | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.5 | 1/250 | ISO 12800 | +1 exposure
We ate at a restaurant called Barriba Cantina… well, we actually just had some queso and another margarita, if you want the honest truth! Then we wandered for a while and had another drink at the County Line bar. We sat there for a long time just chatting and laughing and embarrassing the bartenders. Finally, we ended the evening at the Esquire Tavern, the oldest bar on the River Walk. Curtis had the bartenders make him a bartender’s choice drink as long as it had tequila in it. It was so yummy… the glass was washed with absinthe, then they added cocoa. It was very flavorful and delicious. At this point, we decided we were pretty tipsy and should head back to the hotel. When we got back, I was mesmerized by the pool view.
Hotel Pool Nighttime | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.5 | 1/200 | ISO 7200
The next door hotel’s rooftop pool was equally as beautiful.
Rooftop Pool Nighttime | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.5 | 1/250 | ISO 12800
We ended up sleeping in quite late, got up, had a cup of coffee, then went back to bed until mid-day. It was delicious. So so so indulgent. And well… I was a little hungover. LOL. When we finally ventured out, we heard that the Alamo Bowl’s college football teams were in town (TCU vs. Oregon) and they were having pep rallies that afternoon. We saw this dance team dressed as storm troopers. Curtis’s friend, Tony, had the best ever comment to Curtis’s cell phone shot posted to Facebook, entitled The Invasion Has Begun: “Don’t worry, they’re terrible shots, and you live in a state where most folks are armed.”
Storm Trooper Takeover | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/320 | ISO 160
We had a late lunch at Tex’s Riverwalk Sports Bar so Curtis could watch part of the Ohio State game. The food was pretty good and there were oodles of Oregon and TCU fans all along the River Walk outside. The bar was located inside of the Hilton and they told us that the big fireworks show and party was going to be in front of the hotel later that night. After lunch, we wandered over to the Rivercenter Mall. The Christmas tree was spectacular!
Rivercenter Mall Tree | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/320 | ISO 5000
While we were leaving there, the TCU band and football team came by on river boat cruises! I actually captured some video of this too. It was really cool!
TCU Pep Rally | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/200 | ISO 11400
We wandered for a long time, stopping for a bite of ice cream, and checking out the pre-party festivities in front of the Hilton. Then we went back to the hotel for a couple of hours to rest. Finally, hunger drove us back out. Instead of a fancy dinner on New Year’s Eve, we decided for some pizza at a hole in the wall place called Panzanella. It was soooo good. They were located on the street level, so you could see carriages passing by outside.
Panzanella Pizza | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.2 | 1/125 | ISO 2500
They had a graffiti wall that was epic! Curtis got some photos too and one of the people working there asked for his contact info to get photos for their website.
Panzanella Pizza Graffiti | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.2 | 1/125 | ISO 2000
After dinner, we went back up to street level and wandered around. There were so many people. I saw this cool building entrance and had to wait at least five minutes for the crowd to clear enough to get this shot.
The Vault | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/125 | ISO 12800
The colors of the umbrellas, along with the colored lights draped in the trees, and the red and green of the Hilton made for a very festive sight.
River Walk Color | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/125 | ISO 12800
We started heading over to the big party area in front of the Hilton… I couldn’t believe the crowds just coming up from the River Walk!
Crowd | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/125 | ISO 12800
This event was so big, it had live coverage from a couple of news stations. There was a huge boom camera going over the crowd (you can just see it behind the reporter).
Countdown Coverage | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/125 | ISO 12800
We didn’t quite make it until midnight (it was freezing cold!) but I did get this shot of the front of the Hilton. Only after downloading it at home, did I realize it spelled Noel.
Hilton Noel | Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/125 | ISO 12800
We made it back to our room just in time for the countdown and fireworks. We watched the celebration live on TV and if we had stayed, we would’ve ended up on San Antonio’s live coverage. But I’m glad we were back in our room, because we had the most spectacular view of the city… fireworks in every direction you could see (I put an iPhone video on Facebook that night). It was loud, people were hollering, it was electric. Happy New Year!!!
Thanks for looking and here’s to a Happy 2016! A special thank you to my mom for making this all possible. And to Anna and Dominic for being well-behaved while we were gone. <3<3<3