Austin, Rediscovered

 Jo's famous "I love you so much" wall graffiti

Jo's famous "I love you so much" wall graffiti

I just returned from a long weekend in Austin, Texas.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I've been to Austin in the past, but when Travel Texas asked if I'd like to take another look, I didn't hesitate to say yes!  In just four short years, I can't believe how much the city has grown and yet, the feelings I have will always remain the same.  Austin has become the hub for many up and coming companies and several established companies have migrated to Austin.  Because of this, as well as general city growth, it seems to have doubled in size.  With people comes progress, but what I love most about Austin is that no matter how large it gets, the heart and soul of the city will never change. 

I ventured  on this trip solo and decided to make up my agenda as I went along,.  Each time I would get a recommendation, I would ask for another at the recommended place.  I arrived at the Austin Motel, (which was my home base for the next few days) and asked the staff where I should go to eat.  Immediately, he looked at me with wide eyes and told me to go to Veracruz and Dee Dee.  Being that I was hungry, I decided to take a trip to both.  So far, this trip is off to a good start. I know I will be eating way too much but isn't that the point of experiencing a city?  Yeah, I thought so, too.

Being that we're on the subject of food, this takes me to one of the handful of reasons of why I love Austin so much... the food.  Sure, you can eat well in a lot of major cities, but there is just something special here.  I'm a casual dining person so most of the places I went to weren't "wear a dress or tie" fancy, but I think they all deserve a mention here.  

My top 10 favorite restaurants/eating establishments from my Texas adventure weekend :

These establishments were just what I uncovered over the weekend, but I'm sure I would have discovered more hidden gems as time went on.  I have to say that I can highly recommend each one on this short list.  Just a tip for some, if not all, of these places... there is a wait.  With all good things, patience is key. 

Moving along... another favorite activity to do in and around Austin is swim. Even if you're not a swimmer, take note because each of these places is a sight to see and explore.  I wouldn't hesitate in a heartbeat to go back.

My top 3 swimming holes in and around Austin:

 A couple jump into Jacob's Well

A couple jump into Jacob's Well

 A swimmer jumping into Jacob's well.  Be sure to jump in the right spot!

A swimmer jumping into Jacob's well.  Be sure to jump in the right spot!

3) My hotel pool at the Austin Motel

Once I was done swimming for the day, I knew immediately where I was headed next.  The best place to spend dusk is either on or below the Congress Avenue bridge to watch the bats come out for the evening. Believe it or not, Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world.  Once you see it for yourself, it will be easy to believe.  With millions of bats living under the bridge, it's no wonder that hundreds of people come out each night to see it for themselves.  I spent one evening on a boat tour that I would highly recommend.  For $10 on Capital Cruises, you will get an evening cruise on Ladybird Lake with a guide that will give you as much history and facts about Austin as you want to know.  It was worth every penny.  Of course, the highlight of the evening is the bats.  I even went back the following evening to watch them from the bridge.  Both viewpoints are amazing. 

 Congress Street bats from the bridge

Congress Street bats from the bridge

 View from Congress Bridge

View from Congress Bridge

When I get the chance to watch TV, I have to admit that I'm a big fan of the show, "fixer upper" on HGTV.  I don't know when it happened, but I just loved the design style and chemistry between Jo and Chip.  I'm not much of a reality show watcher or even a watcher of TV, but it was the one thing I wanted to watch, when I got the chance. The show is over but that didn't stop me from seeing first hand the empire they have made for themselves in Waco. I took a day trip from Austin and my plan was to have breakfast at their restaurant, Magnolia Table and then spend the afternoon at the Silos.  After doing some research, I was warned that both places are extremely popular and the common tip was to get there early.  I did and yes, there was a wait just as expected.  Like most people there, I decided to stick it out until I was able to get a seat to eat and enjoy the atmosphere. They say that good things come to those who wait and I have to say that yes indeed, good things came my way. I was truly impressed with the friendly staff and delicious food.  Not able to decide on one thing, I ordered the kind breakfast and avocado toast...both delicious. After lunch, I then headed over to the silos a short drive away to experience the shopping, see the garden, and try a blended watermelon from one of the food trucks scattered throughout the grounds.  The shared tables at the silos and at Magnolia Table was just the thing to get people talking,  Even as a solo traveler, you won't be lonely or bored here... I had some enjoyable conversations and laughs with strangers, just by sitting next to them.


Sadly, all good things come to an end. On my last day in Austin, I revisited some local shops on Congress Avenue and took a short drive to the Austin Art garage to see some work from local artists.  I also took a walk through neighborhoods and admired the architecture throughout the city.  As usual, a few days is still not enough time to do everything I wanted to do.  However, the time I spent in Austin and surrounding towns was something I'll never forget.  It's easy to get caught up in visiting far away places, but there really are hidden gems in our backyard.  I have to say that I still have a crush on Austin and the city will always hold a special place in my heart. 


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