Part 1 of Austin: a guide, reflections and a love story.

Never saw this coming!

I’m writing about Austin again.

Shocking!

But I just got back from spending  64.5 hours in that fine Texas town…and I must share.

We arrived around 10:30 Friday night. It was warm and a tad muggy and VERY windy. Our funky rental car took us for much needed food and beverage to World Famous 6th St. This was my travel companion’s first trip to Austin and she was instantly enamored with the crowds of happy people and massive choices of places to hang.  Our final destination was Opal Divine’s.  We were seated at a rustic picnic table on the large deck that looks over 6th street. We were parched and peckish. Since it was 11:30 by this time…a full meal seemed silly. Cocktails and appetizers seemed smart. Sweet potato fries with dill ranch–YES, the Divine Quesadilla; Spinach, mushrooms and roasted red peppers with cilantro pesto and feta cheese on a savory onion tortilla–OMG YES!  Then we had to figure out which cocktails to imbibe. The list is vast and varied, with each one sounding better then the next. I settled on the Divine Peach Lemonade which drew my attention with this description: The nectar of summer. Absolut
Apeach vodka, fresh pressed lemon and Cointreau. It was delicious. Each sip as good if not better then the last. I kept waiting for the taste to take a turn and not live up to the last drink, but it never did. It was delicious to the end. A lovely alcoholic experience. Kelly had a mojito, and while we are both completely spoiled by the mojitos at Rumba , she declared this one tasty and finished it easily.

With full bellies and the slightest of buzzes, we drove back to our hotel. A great Priceline deal provided us a relatively good location and lovely accommodations. I do believe that there should be a separate vanity in each hotel room so someone can shower, etc….while someone else preens and prepares for the day in ways that don’t necessitate privacy, but it is a VERY minor complaint. Our comfy beds welcomed us with soft linens and numerous pillows and we said good night to the Lone Star state with smiles on our face.

There was no early morning wake up call for us. THANK GOD. We awoke and started getting ready for the day at a leisurely pace. First order of business upon leaving the hotel was food. Destination; Magnolia Cafe . It’s not off the beaten path, rather, most folks beat a path there at some point when in Austin. Open 24/7 (the sign says “Sorry We’re Open”) a varied menu, beer….what more would one want? There is pretty much always a wait, but when you get to rub elbows with a gay softball tea, over accessorized UT students and the general tattooed masses of South Austin…it goes quickly. It is also recommended to take this time to peruse the menu.  If you can’t find something that strikes your fancy here, you are not hungry. Vegan—no problem. Gluten free….no problem. Meat eater….no problem. Want a gingerbread pancake with your Eggs Zapatino…done.

The location of Magnolia is nice also…as it sits at the end of the wonderful stretch of shopping, etc…known as South Congress, or SoCo. Parking can be a bit of a chore in this area, but The Cube had special powers and we found a space that we didn’t even have to pay for with little effort. First stop Tesoros. If you like folk art and finding things you can’t get just anywhere….go here! So many countries and ideals are represented here, it’s hard to not find something that strikes your fancy. Inexpensive accessories, fine handcrafted jewelry, milagros, sugar skulls , environmentally friendly pick up sticks made out of bamboo, handcrafted decorations made by Haitian artists that benefit the earthquake victims….something for everyone.

We didn’t buy anything there, I personally was somewhat overwhelmed as usual in this store, so we moseyed on. Next stop was Maya Star! Adorable clothes, fab shoes and accessories. Amazing toiletry items. It’s a great little store for window shopping. At least that is all we did there. Although I could see doing some major damage there 🙂

If you go to only one store on South Congress, hell, in all of Austin…go to Allens Boots! You walk in and are nearly overcome with the scent of leather. Then you notice all the colors and shapes and sizes and designs they have. I had decided that if I found a pair I really liked, I would bite the bullet and buy them. The first pair I loved was $500! I then decided that I needed to put a price limit on this because my mortgage company probably couldn’t care less how amazing the Old Gringo Abby Rose boots would look with a simple sundress. So I decided that $200 was my limit. It wouldn’t force me to eat Alpo or anything…and cowboy boots are an investment in my style future. The limit then went up to $300, then $400. Yet, even at that price point I could find no boots I loved. I found an AMAZING pair with so much detail I couldn’t even imagine how they were made….they were $1999.99. I passed. Kelly fell in love with a pair of boots. They were/are lovely! But her price limit topped out at $300….so we moved on.

Fondling all that leather and almost spending that much money makes a girl thirsty. So off we went to Shady Grove. Which is a good place to start back later……

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