Good evening Lj readers,
how are things? Hopefully well. I : am back! from a recent trip I took to Austin, TX. I did something new and put in a hotel bid via Priceline
's "express deals" service, in which you pay a set amount and the company picks the hotel for you. I got one right next to downtown, in a good location (and saved $16 / night). woo!
After arriving in town and Supershuttle
-ing to the hotel, I walked along the north side of town to a cafe' on the west side for which I had a coupon. Intending to do a circle of downtown, I stopped at various places. The weather was quite warm while I was there - I observed people tended to wait in the shade when at the crosswalks, even if the shade wasn't next to the road, heh. Thankfully the humidity wasn't overtly high or low.
I went into a Whole Foods
on Lamar (right next to the corporate offices!), where I found some interesting foods including a blonde (white) cucumber and a pink pearl apple (which was pink on the inside!). At a nearby fancy Starbucks
I picked up an Austin
-only gift card and tried a rare Clover
reserve coffee from Ethiopia (Gedab).
In the early evening I walked along the riverside and across the famous Congress bridge, known for the bats which live underneath it and come out during twilight, but it was earlier on when I was there. Some ceramic skulls at a Dia de Los Muertos-themed store near the river.
Today was an "explore University of Texas" day. U of T (Austin), one of the two largest colleges in the US (OSU here in Columbus is the other) is located just north of the city. After visiting a deli too early to order lunch yet, I relaxed at a nearby Starbucks
and tried another Clover
coffee - La Roca from Nicaragua. After eating I headed to the Blanton
museum, a sort of on-campus art gallery. The top floor, where most of the collection was housed, was closed for renovations but the bottom level was open. I saw some Goya sketches and Xu Bing's Book of the Sky
, invented-language media which consisted of about 4,000 made-up characters. Amazing!
I continued walking around campus, past statues of horses and in and out of various buildings (the arena, the science building etc). I admired students in suits - quite a feat in warm Texas weather.
Later in the day I arrived at the Harry Ransom
Center, another art center of sorts, on west campus. There I saw a Gutenberg bible, the first ever photograph and a retrospect of photographer Elliot Erwitt's works. Heading back to the hotel, I randomly discovered an Asian noodle place (Ramen Fukuya
) and had a delicious vegetarian bowl.
Today was an "explore South Congress" (the 'gay neighborhood' of Austin) day. After lunch at a deli, I headed south down the Congress bridge. Quirky shops awaited on the other side, as well as the usual things (apartments, an Aveda
etc). Although reading about it, I didn't necessarily have a plan to stop at Big Top Candy
, a well-stocked candy shop, but found myself encountering it on my walk. I went inside and bought a piece of chicken-and-waffles-flavored salt water taffy, as well as some roast-beef-flavored gum (yes, roast-beef-flavored gum).
Food trucks were here, as they are in many parts of Austin as a whole. I had some ideas as to where to eat already, but indeed yesterday, when exploring the University area, stopped at one and bought a carrot-cake-flavored snow cone.
I headed west some more, through quiet residential neighborhoods, then turned north again and cut back through downtown to the hotel. Quite a walk! A mural near the university, of a main tower from the university!
I checked out of my hotel (enjoying a summer rain 'bath bomb' the evening before), then left my luggage with the front desk boy. Today was an 'explore the capital' day. Austin is the capital of Texas as as whole, and the government agencies meet in a tall, classical dark tan rotunda building surrounded by grass essentially just west of where my Super 8
The main circular area inside has portraits of all of past (and, I assume, present) governor(s) of the state hanging on the curved walls, some on each of the four levels going up to the 'lone' star at the very top of the ceiling. I saw Ann Richards' picture as I randomly explored. The senate was not in session, so the second-story room was open to the general public. They even had an original historical chair, used up until the 1950's or so, on display!
Overall Austin had lots of fun new things to eat, as indicated in this LJ entry, heh. A fair number of surfaces in most parts of town have detailed murals painted on them. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the subjects - horses are next to a girl in 3-d glasses, for example. The pictures are multi-colored and often meticulous - a real testament to 'street painting'.
For a gallery of 11 pictures, one may click here
Okay. Have a good night!