Last week I received an email mentioning San Antonio, TX and since I had not been there yet, but had been planning to visit at some point, I thought this would be a good time to take a quick trip to Texas. I had heard many good things about the city from friends so, knowing well that a two day trip (even less, once we consider the time spent on the air and in airports) would not do it justice I figured that at least I was going to have a taste of it, and perhaps come home with a good photo or two.
San Antonio, from a touristic perspective, is a city rich of points of interest and is also quite affordable. I was able to book a nice hotel just five minutes walk from The Alamo and Riverwalk for a very reasonable rate.
I wanted to travel very light, with a change of clothes in my small backpack and just my 5D Mark II and its 24-105L lens (which turned out to be a good choice), I also brought a circular polarizer which I ended up not using.
The evening of my arrival day was spent taking photos of the Alamo from outside as it was already closed. I tried to be creative in the way I included people, as the location is crowded at all times and I didn’t want to end up with photos of a building surrounded by people but rather with the people telling a story. After that I strolled around Riverwalk taking more photos, and working with some long exposures to catch the movement of the passenger boats that run up and down the river. As I didn’t have a tripod with me I used whatever support I could find. Can you tell from a photo when a wall was used instead of a tripod? I can’t. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite photos I took of the Seattle skyline was shot using a trashcan to steady the camera. Do I encourage everyone to always travel without a tripod? Would I fly all the way to Easter Island without a tripod? Certainly not, but at times, when weight and movement restrictions are the most important things to you, being able to improvise can make the difference between a good photo and a bad snapshot.
Riverwalk is a vibrant, entertaining location on the sides of the San Antonio river, filled with fancy hotels and great food outlets. That alone, makes you want to go back to San Antonio. Fortunately for me it’s passed high season therefore the city was not overly crowded with tourists and the temperature was comfortably warm, rather than uncomfortably hot.
After a good night sleep I went back to the Alamo for some more photos and this time I was able to get in (free admission, donations appreciated). The courtyard is quite nice and there are many details to photograph, one of my favorite was the lone star on a metal bench. I only had two hours left before catching a bus back to the airport (with a 4 hours layover in Salt Lake City, which I would have definitely preferred to spend in San Antonio) and I wanted to see more of the city. I walked to the San Fernando Cathedral, which is the oldest standing church in Texas, beautiful inside and out. I took some photos of the nearby City Hall building, and then walked to the Market Square where good Mexican food abounds. My day in San Antonio ended with a good and abundant meal at a very low price. Perfect ending, isn’t it?