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Published: April 1st 2017
Each year, a couple of my college girl friends and I plan a trip to a new city we haven't been to before. This year, it is Austin. Lizzie and I had heard so many good things about this place, and I had never really hung out in Texas, but Candice was skeptical. Until she started looking further into what to do. Then, Candice basically planned our entire trip.
I arrived on Thursday night, the night before our little group was to meet up. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express near the airport and just got caught up on some sleep and enjoyed my nice hotel room. The next day, I was allowed a late checkout, then took the free shuttle to the airport to meet up with my friends. The airport is very nice - there are a few bars and restaurants to choose from, some cool art, and LIVE music! Pretty nice, indeed. We took a cab to our condo near the South Congress area and figured out our way in. It's two floors with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, so plenty of room for us to spend the weekend.
After catching up for a few
minutes, we decided to walk to the grocery store. It was hot. Very hot. We just got some very basic supplies, like water, sparkling wine, and cheese, and walked back in the heat. We were a little bummed as there is no uber in Austin; actually Candice and Lizzie were almost beside themselves. Finally, we contacted our host and he recommended RideAustin, which similar to uber, but non-profit. This thing really saved our hides this trip. So, our first stop this evening was South Congress Café. We had quickly made reservations, but when we arrived, there was plenty of room on the patio so we were able to spend the next couple of hours chatting with drinks, nibbles and great weather. It was fortunate that we were content to just relax and talk because service was super slow; at one point the manager came over and offered to knock off our crab cakes from the bill, but that actually didn't happen and we still got charged. But you know, it was worth it. The food (crab cakes, brie, and fries) and drinks were delicious. We decided to get dessert elsewhere and were looking forward to the cupcake food truck, but
they closed early due to being sold out. So we wondered around some more and finally found a nice little outdoor table at a hotel where we got dessert and wine. I got a late harvest Riesling (dessert wine) and enjoyed the lava cake while the other two enjoyed the other dessert. Then we went home and crashed.
The next day we had an appointment to get our hair did at a salon near downtown. We got a super hot driver, who took us the super long way around, so our ride was super expensive. Ugh. But I got my hair styled and head massaged, so I was happy. Candice and I were college roommates for five years, and memories came flooding back in a cloud of hairspray - our stylists were not using enough apparently! 😉
Candice had made us a brunch appointment at Perla's in the South Congress area and this was my favorite food stop of the trip. I didn't realize that Austin was such a foodie town until then. I was torn between so many different items, but finally settled on a spicy bbq shrimp and grits with a poached egg. Oh. Em. Gee!
Lizzie had crab cakes and Candice had some gianormous pancake thing that took all three of us to finish. And of course we had a sparkling rose to drink with it. So good.
Next we wandered around, shopped, I got some great earrings from Kendra Scott, and finally wound up a Guero's, a Mexican restaurant on the street. After each having a delicious basic margarita, we were able to snag a table outside to people watch, getting some more margaritas and chips. Well, we people watched Miranda Lambert and her boyfriend trying to get a table. We almost invited them to sit next to us but just giggled mostly instead. We decided to hit up the nearby cupcake truck since we'd missed out the night before. We each bought two to bring back to the condo and we slowly consumed them over the next 36 hours.
That evening, we changed into our finery and prepared to head to the "Dirty 6" in downtown Austin, a known hangout with lots of bars and live music. Our RideShare driver (I think his name was Ed?) picked us up and when we said where we were going, he tactfully recommended us
to go to "West 6" instead. I guess three well dressed, older women probably wouldn't enjoy that scene - as he put it: drunked frat boys and beers spilled all over you. So, he gave us a recommended location and we were so thankful for him! We wound up at a bar up the hill, open on three sides and looking out onto the entire city. We stayed here for a while and enjoyed the view. Next we walked around and found ourselves at another bar restaurant where there was an outdoor food truck. We got tacos (me shrimp, them fish), which were ok, and listened to a great live band. However, I guess they were done after just a few songs and a DJ with rap music came on. So we left and found the bar which had an outdoor fire pit. Here we relaxed until I finally said I had to go to bed. I'm so old!
The next day we took a tour to Texas Hill Country. The first stop was the Salt Lick, one of the signature Barbeque places of Austin. We had 45 minutes to sit, order food and eat. The tour guide recommended
pork ribs and turkey, so I picked the pork ribs, which were quite delicious. I think it was also my only meat over the whole weekend, besides seafood. I had also brought a bottle of wine from my winery to enjoy with our lunch. Our next stop was the Duchman winery, set in an idyllic location. The tasting was a whopping $20 for six choices. Granted they gave you a decent pour, but it was the most expensive place I'd been; maybe Sonoma / Napa, but that's Napa, and most places in Southern California are pricey but you also get to keep the glasses. Anyway... The wines were pretty good and we purchased one to enjoy outside while we waited for our shuttle. Our last stop was the Fall Creek Vineyard, which was my favorite of the two, and again $20. We got to sit at a barrel on the balcony and enjoy another incredible view. I liked these wines better, including a blend, which was $50. After asking, they gave me a discount on bottle purchases (not the tasting), so I got a Tempranillo and Lizzie got a Tempranillo Cab Sauv blend. Very beautiful day!
After resting at
our condo for a while, we went back out as we had made an appointment for a sunset boat ride. First we stopped at the Hyatt Regency for a delicious strawberry flavored drink while over looking the river (Lady Byrd Lake, actually). Then we hopped onto our boat, where we were seated right behind the captain and behind a super group of similarly aged people. The timing was perfect as we got a nice view of the city and the sunset, then returned to the bridge to wait for the bats. By this point, Candice really had to use the bathroom, and as reminiscent of my college days, when she has to go, she lets everyone know, and since I had to go and she was making me laugh, I then started to suffer as well. So, the bats were not as enjoyable as they could have been, or maybe they were more so. All I knew is when we saw the first bat, she asked the captain if we could go back now. We didn't and got to see close a million bats take off from under the bridge and out for their evening hunt. It was pretty impressive.
Next we went downtown again to a restaurant called the Condesa, where we had some more Mexican food. I had a chile relleno, which was a bit rich tasting, so I'm still going with the shrimp and grits as my favorite meal. The next morning we went back to South Congress Cafe for brunch, where I had something called a Migas Dias, which was like scrambled eggs and peppers with a corn tortilla and black beans and a potato cake. Soon, it was time to say our goodbyes. We split up with me and Lizzie heading straight to the airport, where we had a couple of beers before finally taking our separate flights.
While it was more expensive than I anticipated, I think Austin was my favorite of all our girls' weekends. So far.
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D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
Bats, bats and more bats
I've seen this in Carlsbad but still need to see them in Austin. Great stuff.