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Our Trip to Austin last weekend was truly amazing. Before I sing the capital city’s praises, let me begin with the backstory. Last spring, our only son graduated from nursing school and moved to Austin to be closer to his girlfriend. We flew to Austin to attend her white coat ceremony at the University of Texas (the white coat ceremony occurs when pharmacy students begin their professional education). Her ceremony was delayed because of covid. She actually began pharmacy school last fall. At any rate, we were thrilled to see both of them and explore their amazing town.
A Quick Trip
Our journey was not planned far in advance, so we didn’t have the luxury of staying very long. We flew in on Southwest Airlines and booked an airbnb that was close to downtown. My husband doesn’t really like to fly and I don’t like busy interstates. We were quite a pair as we flew to Texas, rented a car at the airport, and drove to our destination.
The last time we flew, we borrowed carry-on suitcases and chose not to check our bags. This time, I bought a hard plastic rolling suitcase covered with dogs and other Parisian images. We chose not to check baggage once again. I was glad about that decision when the couple in front of us complained of lost luggage on the connecting flight from Houston to Austin.
Where We Stayed
Our airbnb was well-priced and in a terrific location. However, it was truly vintage, as described. In fact, it was so vintage as to be a little rough around the edges. My husband said he liked the location so much that he would be willing to stay there again in spite of the lack of polish. I’m sure he loved the price. The cacti in the rock yard were gorgeous and I liked the mural on the outside of our bungalow.
We woke up early on Saturday and decided to explore the downtown area while everyone else was still asleep. The architecture in downtown Austin was beautiful! The building in the upper left-hand photo looked like the game Jenga. The silver and copper geometric shapes shone against the blue morning sky.
The White Coat Ceremony at the University of Texas
Because of covid, each pharmacy school student had a separate white coat ceremony with up to eight guests. Obviously, the ceremony was short and sweet with plenty of opportunities to take photos. Congratulations, Mika!
Meeting the Family
One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Mika’s family. Both of our families are loaded with girls. We have four daughters and Mika has two sisters. While we were there I realized that my son is in the same situation there as he was here in South Carolina- surrounded by wonderful women and one male patriarch.
The Food We Ate in Austin
You can’t go to Texas without eating bbq! The meat tray at Terry Black’s was like nothing I have ever seen. In contrast to South Carolinians, Texans prefer beef bbq over pork. Brisket is definitely king in the state capital. The picture does not do those humongous beef ribs justice. The artist in me loved the mural.
Vintage Coffee Shops
Jo’s Coffee on South Congress Street (the popular “SoCo” area) was right up my alley. My husband ordered a black coffee and a kolache. I had never heard of or seen a kolache (a sausage roll) before. My latte had an artisian design and the parfait was divine. The cranberry yogurt parfait looked so good that I ate it before I thought about taking a picture. Jo’s is one of the many restuarants/coffee shops in Austin that boast a vintage theme.
Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake
The hike and bike trails at Lady Bird Lake (named for Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife) boast 10 miles of terrain to explore. Safety is not an issue since the park is loaded with people from daylight til dark. The scenery is amazing and the trail is suitable for walkers, runners, and bikers. Most of all, everything is free, including the parking.
My Bucket List Activity
Throughout the years, our family vacations have always revolved around amusement parks. How I longed for museums, canoe rides on lakes, musicals and plays, and stop-and-shop tours while contemplating yet another roller coaster! Lately I’ve been able to do many of these things. We went on an informative historical tour of St. Simons in May, saw the broadway play Hamilton on Our Trip to Chicago in 2019, and rode in a canoe on a lake in Austin this past weekend. I can cross that one off of my vacation bucket list. I had so much fun. I would love to try kayaking and paddle boarding next. We live near the ocean, but I would feel safer doing those activities on a lake. Henry and Mika are kayaking in the middle picture.
Watching the Bats Under the Congress Street Bridge
From March to October, people stand on and under Congress Street Bridge from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm and wait for the bats to fly out for their nightly feeding. The atmosphere is festive and expectant. You have to go early if you don’t want to drive around looking for a parking spot like we did. The goal is to see the horde of bats silhouetted against the night sky. We didn’t see the bats framed against the night sky, but we did see them pour out from the left side of the bridge. watching the bats was the grand finale of Our Trip to Austin.
My Favorite Sights
I hope you enjoyed Our Trip to Austin. I highly recommend visiting the city that doesn’t feel like a city at all.