Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Keep Austin Awesome

Sunday, I decided to make a quick trip down to the Texas Capital. I haven't really spent much time in Austin, but I've always had a good time anytime I'd been and felt like a jolt of "Texas" before my year abroad. I arrived Sunday and had drinks with my friend Caroline, who ended up being my hostess for the next two days. We had some rose and then headed out to dinner at Z Tejas, a delicious tex-mex place on 6th Street.

On Monday I walked down to Cafe Medici for coffee and some time lost in my current book.

Then I headed out to Mecca, aka BookPeople. The famous book store in Austin has some great events, and though I only browsed their shelves and picked out some titles that I want to read, I could have spent all day in there. I love getting lost in titles and book descriptions, and I only left because it was lunch time and mama was getting hungry. I decided to go to the Whole Foods, which I hadn't been to before and since we know how much I love grocery stores, I was so excited to shop around. Well, I ascended the escalator and didn't even know where to look. There was a very intense cheese section, specialty items from all over the world, a huge nut and trail mix bar, BBQ stand, sushi section and lots of things that I wanted to put in my mouth right away. I thought I would grab some food from their main little pre-made section, but I was extremely overwhelmed. I kept going back and forth trying to decide what I wanted. But it's kind of difficult to listen to your stomach when half of Austin is very assertively walking with purpose to the sandwich station and salad bar while hurrying to get back to the office. I approached the counter with sandwiches, pastas, meat and fish, and told the guy that I was a little overwhelmed. He looked at me very sympathetically and said, "yeah, there's a lot of stuff here." You can say that again.

Though I was kind of enjoying the chaos that is Whole Foods at lunchtime, I wasn't feeling any of it. I bought some delicious-looking hummus, salsa and thai-seasoned cashews and headed to my car. I'm sure when I go again it won't be so ominous and scary, but at the time I felt like Jon Snow about the climb the Wall with no Ygrette there to help me out. I ate a handfull of cashews in the car and felt better. Cashews make everything better.

Moving on. I drove around downtown for a bit and decided to go to lunch at 24 Diner on Lamar. I sidled up to the bar and had an amazing turkey burger and a glass of rose. One thing I've learned throughout all my solo travel is to always eat at the bar. You meet people, get to know the bar tenders, and it's really not as awkward as you'd think. I had time to catch my breath and meet some strangers just passing through.

Later, I met Caroline for dinner at Odd Duck and had a great meal of little bites before we headed to a pub quiz with some of her coworkers/friends. I did lots of pub quizzes in Nicaragua and was happy to be back at it, even though this one was really hard and I only knew a few of the answers. Regardless, it felt like the perfect Austin night: a foodie dinner followed by fun bar activities.

One of our dishes: a twice baked potato with braised goat, cheddar fondue and green tomato.
Caroline decided to take the next day off and we went to the Barton Springs pool. A spring-fed pool within the city limits, Barton Springs is the perfect place to go when temps are in the low 100s. We swam in the cold water, people watched on the grassy knolls, and caught up on life.


So pretty.

As we were driving back into town to change and get BBQ, Caroline suddenly shouted, "Jennabeth! How do you feel about snow cones??" I hadn't had one in ages and didn't exactly know how I felt about them. But she swore that they were a good idea on that hot day, so we pulled into Sno-Beach for some refreshment. Plus, desserts before meals are always a good idea. There's a reason snow cones are a typical American treat. They were so cold and good after our swim and I relished the throwback to childhood. Except for when a bee thought my snow cone was a flower and was really trying his darnest to pollinate it. I screamed "BEE!!" to the amusement of some passersby. I'm turning red just thinking about the embarrassment...

It's all smiles until a bee decides to RUIN YOU.

After a delicious BBQ lunch, we said our goodbyes and Caroline dropped me off at the condo. Driving the long drive home last night, I knew it wouldn't be my last time in weird ol' Austin.

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