Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Texas Weekend

Austin is GORGEOUS. (As a friend said - the vibe is just indescribable.) I think of Texas as flat and dry - I've visited Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Laredo, Waco and other dry Texas places in the past. I'd forgotten that Austin is in hill country and has rivers. No lakes - although Lady Bird Lake is a piece of the Colorado River. We went in mid-June for a weekend get-away/meeting a few of Guy's friends for a birthday event - Mike's 50th as seen below with Guy and Mike, the birthday boy! (He still looks 47, right?)

And I remembered Austin was hill country after we accidentally walked 9 miles the first day! We are such Midwesterners - it's only 1/2 mile, of course we can walk that! Do that a few times and BOOM! 9 miles just happens. (As do ginormous blisters but that is another story.)

There is art literally everywhere in Austin! They make art of nearly everything - witness the Hope Outdoor Gallery which was once a burgeoning condo development. You can't walk down a sidewalk without seeing art! Improvised spray paint art or gorgeous planned mosaics. There is no end to the creativity you see in Austin!

The food in Austin is out of this world. I did not have a single bad meal! The food was good for me (vegetarian, lactose intolerant, and gluten sensitive freak) and him (just loves good food). The funny thing was - we did no research and picked nothing in advance. We just stumbled upon places as we explored. A few times we used my Happy Cow app to find a place near us, due to ALL the walking blisters. Because I'm a serial sharer... here is my rank ordered list of AMAZING Austin food:
- The Peached Tortilla (Asian/Mexican fusion)
Blue Dahlia (fresh, seasonal- and the menu is the most beautiful blue which they make the dye for in their own kitchen!)
The Clay Pot (date night Indian and very large cocktails)
Koriente (fresh, reasonably priced Asian)
Frank's (gourmet hotdogs and amazing brunch - pictured is my plate of veggie Eggs Benedict)
The Goodall Kitchen (a touch pretentious with a limited menu but the art is absolutely museum worthy)
There were likely a dozen other places we could've easily tried - and might next time!

We stayed at The Pearl Vintage Inn Hotel which is wonderful location. A touch off the beaten path but close to downtown. Magically lit up at night  - like when we arrived - with tiny fairy lights on the trees. Private entrances for many of the rooms. In some ways it felt like a bed and breakfast. It's amazing - comfortable and quiet. We stayed in the Far East room which was Asian elegant and had wonderful furniture, plus included its own outdoor balcony where Guy took his morning coffee. (I sooooo wanted to have a reason to use the lovely outdoor bar on the 1st level.Would've been fun to host something there!) My only complaint was that the owners were obviously not foodie people. The "breakfast" offering was cut-up, store-bought pastries, sad granola, and overripe bananas + grocery store tea. No. But the room was beyond amazing - so win! (I got the fancy $20 bill chocolate at the airport store for a joke.)

During our wandering tour on Saturday, we stumbled into a African-American Writers event at the George Washington Carver Museum, which had the most lovely bathroom I've ever seen in a museum. And got a real sense of Texas history at the Bollock Museum. We also wandered around the capital building being totally tourists and taking pictures of various statues. Hats off the the Austin Parks Department - we found the Old Bakery Emporium which was so cool! Tiny shop (all things made by local artists over 50), a mini art museum, and a small history museum in one location near the capitol building.

I also happened upon the ModCloth Fit Shop in Austin! I'd literally seen a ModCloth dress on Instagram that week which I loved - and while at Sunday brunch at Franks, we spotted the shop on our phone maps within walking distance. Sadly, the dress was not what I expected (way more formal fabric and 3 skirt layers!) but I did find an adorable skirt - with pockets! While you can't walk out of the store with what you love, they will ship it to you for free and because you can try it on - you get the right size every time.

And since it was me traveling, what travel story could I tell that wouldn't include the gorgeous flowers? And a mystery. 

This pink flower was a tree that grew to our balcony and flowered.

This orange and yellow flowering bush was on our walk. I'm not sure what it is but I recognized it. Last year when i was in Tucson on business, there was one of these outside my hotel room which attracted various butterflies.

We passed several of these profusions of orange flowers on our walks. 

This blue flower looks like Phlox - but not quite - to my eye.

Last, but not least is this weird tangle of twig or vines is my mystery flora. I saw them in a number of trees - clustered like flowers. (This one had fallen - that's how I got the close-up.) When I first spotted them, I thought birds nests! But in looking at the fallen one, nope. Something else. Still not sure what as I wasn't sure what to search to find them and my flower identifying app has fritzed out. (If you know a good app for flower identification - please let me know!)

And that, my friends, is a 4 day weekend to remember. Time together, time to explore, time with friends, time to relax/recharge. What else could you ask for?

Take-away - Take time. Make memories. They are what lasts in relationships.

All photos by moi! And you can tell...

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