Stomp…stomp…stomp (roars of laughter and guffaws). Stomp…stomp (loud voice talking about some bar). Stomp…stomp.
My family prefers staying in rentals over hotels for a reason. We can have leisurely breakfasts, relax on couches to watch some TV and generally feel like we’re more at home. But the above scenario was pretty much all that I clearly remember from the staying at this one in Austin, Texas.
Unfortunately, this unwelcome occurrence happened from 11 PM to 2 AM during two of three nights of our stay, right after RAS and I went to bed. Yes, I could’ve gone to their door and politely requested to tone it down. But since it was more because of the creaky old house’s structure than these people being obnoxious, there wasn’t much I could do.
The place that we booked for the weekend before I attended the Web Intensive was decidedly a mixed bag. Located in Clarksville, a prime neighborhood close to downtown and the Colorado River, the 1930’s Craftsman home had been converted into three rental units owned by the same person. While our bottom-floor unit was sparsely furnished in a college student apartment manner, it was clean and comfortable. It had character that most places we’ve stayed in sorely lacked.
All I will say is, as nice as the owner was when we complained about the noise (she called the renters upstairs to be mindful of us downstairs), I couldn’t give her the review on VRBO that she requested several times via email. And thank God we had plenty to do outside the rental, even though our Texas visit was largely confined to the central Hill Country.
RAS and were within walking distance from the flagship Whole Foods market, which is attached to their corporate headquarters. This particular store puts all other ones in the bush leagues. One of our smart-aleck names for Whole Foods is Whole Paycheck. We labeled this one Whole Mortgage. It just had some incredible products that I’ve never seen anywhere else.
This was the first time I brought hubby here in the three years I’ve been coming to Austin for the annual web copywriting conference each February. I thought he would like to see this town, arguably the only city in Texas we’d probably live in because of its progressive attitude and cool scenery. Also, how could you not love a place that unabashedly wants to keep itself weird?
So each morning of our three-day holiday, we ran down Lamar Boulevard, over the Amtrak tracks, past the very fancy YMCA to the popular Lady Bird Lake Trail. Despite its crowds, this is probably one of my very favorite running trails anywhere in the U.S. It’s a shady flat dirt path, with trees, brush and the Colorado River (not the same one as back here) lining the way. Roughly 10 miles long, it skirts both sides of the shore, and a series of bridges connect the north with the south. I’m still not sure why it’s called a lake here. Since it’s not contained and no wider than the river, it doesn’t look very lake-like at all.
Even with fragmented sleep, RAS and had plenty of energy to head to the trailer park food court I stumbled upon two years ago on my first Austin adventure. We decided to day-trip it to San Antonio. But or course, we had to eat lunch first.
On my first visit here, I didn’t go to the place everyone else went, Torchy’s Tacos. This was the original one, and now there are over two dozen of them across the state. RAS and I ordered four different items, two each – the Democrat, Dirty Sanchez, Fried Avocado and Chicken Fajita. They were Tex-Mex heaven in a box.
We then drove down I-35 to San Antonio. We might have stayed longer here if the girls had come with us, as the town is chock-full with “family” attractions (read kid stuff) like Six Flags and Sea World, but RAS and I prefer historical sites. So of course, we had to stop at the Alamo. This was the place I couldn’t find two years ago on my spontaneous night tour of the town.
One of the symbols of the state’s history, the Alamo undoubtedly continues to exert a strong historical and emotional hold on Texans. When Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1835, the Mexican government was determined to take the land back. A year later, the Battle of the Alamo was the culmination of a nearly two-week siege, and Mexican troops defeated the “Texians” by killing them off. This tragedy became the famous rallying cry of “Remember the Alamo” to the settlers and to Americans coming into Texas. With the ensuing Battle of San Jacinto, Texas assured its independence…until 1848, when the republic joined the United States as a state.
When you’re in downtown San Antonio as we were, you have to stroll down the River Walk. This grand Mexican-themed achievement in urban beautification stands as a testament to nearly a century of constant improvements and flood abatement. Sure, some of it is a little touristy, but I didn’t care. RAS and I hiked up and down its riverside pathways, which run on both sides of the San Antonio River.
As with any visit, our time here was way too short. But there was much more of Austin to see, as you’ll find out in my next entry…