A couple weeks back I went to Austin in honor of my bestie's bachelorette party and it was ahMAAAzing! My first and only prior trip took place ten years ago for the Austin City Limits Festival and I loved it then and always wanted to go back. I've now officially been to three Texas cities: Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. My love for the Cowboys aside, Austin is far and above my first city in the Lone Star State.
It's also reallllllly beautiful! At least on the western half. I was stunned to see rolling green hills dotted with gorgeous homes, which in a way reminded me of Italy as far as anything can actually compare to the Italian countryside. We got an AirBNB house in lake country and it knocked my socks off! Super modern and yet rustic at the same time. My favorite part was the pool. You'll see why.
For absolutely no reason at all, I feel the need to tell you I did a toe touch off the diving board which my girlfriend Monica captured in slow motion. It was A) pretty dang good, B) better than any toe touch I did when I was actually a cheerleader in high school, and C) successfully executed without seriously harming myself. It's on my Instagram page if you're at all curious to see it! We all took turns doing various cheerleading jumps off the diving board, and let me tell you, there were some mean hurkies and abstracts going down on Eagle Lookout Drive.
The weather turned rainy so we packed up our swimsuits and spent the next three days exploring Austin! Which is ginormous by the way. Our Ubers (and Fares and Fastens) were all $$$. But nobody should get stuck being the DD when you're on a bachelorette party in margaritaville. Also, whatever is going on with Uber in Austin is super confusing. We took a couple Ubers but only because they would pick us up at our house which was located well outside of Austin proper. I guess it's a city ordinance thing? I have no idea. All I know is ride sharing companies are operating in Austin so if you're going anytime soon, I suggest trying Fasten first (it's cheaper than Fare), and then trying your luck with Uber.
One night, we ate dinner at Thai Kun, a restaurant in the family of Top Chef winner Paul Qui. I looooove Thai food, and the whole experience at Thai Kun was what I imagine tasting food on Top Chef would be like. Every bite was a conversation. The flavors were spicy, then cool, bright and sweet. The ice cream dessert was like the gum Violet eats in Willy Wonka, taking us through three distinct flavor profiles all in one bite. I recommend the chicken skins, moo satay, ribeye, and whole fish. It's meant to be eaten family style so you totally get a free pass to order one of everything LOL!
On the last day, we did Austin round robin style. We. Went. Everywhere. We took a quick trip by the University of Texas's campus so I could ogle the stadium (so jealous of Texas-sized football) and Kim could see the famous turtle pond. Sadly it was too cold to see many turtles but we did get chased by a red squirrel! The squirrels in Texas were crazy. I know that's a weird thing to blog about but seriously, they were noticeably cray cray. We walked down Guadalupe Street - their version of Franklin Street - and it had SO much personality! I loved the beautiful wall murals all over the city and on campus. If I hadn't been such a Tar Heel since birth, I think I would've really enjoyed UT.
Next we filled our tummies at Z Tejas, a restaurant that had been recommended to us several times so it felt like a must on our last day. When I lived in Wilmington and worked at Tower 7, I looooved the prickly pear margaritas we served and I haven't seen them anywhere else on my travels until Z Tejas! Aren't they the most gorgeous shade of purple? I need more prickly pear in my wardrobe :)
After lunch we went shopping in the Barton Springs area at a designer consignment boutique and their sister store filled with THE most beautiful vintage dresses I've ever seen. Kim kept saying they looked like wardrobe from The Astronaut Wives and she was so spot on. If I only had a more glamorous lifestyle that warranted such knockout clothing.
I didn't go home with any of the dresses, but I did leave with perhaps my favorite memory of the day: the sales associate who was asleep on the back couch for about the first ten minutes we were in the shop LOL! I could not stop laughing at the entire situation...especially after he exploded off the couch in a startled panic and then assured us all he felt soooo much better after his cat nap. Bahahahaha!
We found a flea market right before it shut down and I was mesmerized by the selection of cowboy boots. I had a pair circa 2006 when LiLo and the first run of Rachel Zoe-styled celebutantes were all about them, but honestly I'm not a cowboy boot girl. Just not my style, but I do appreciate them and if I lived in Texas I would totally dive in head first! The details, colors, and patterns are so eye-catching!
Speaking of boots, we went inside to listen to the live music and grab a beer, and when you see "German Sparkle Party" beer that's described as "Rubber Boots and Party Pants" that's what you order. So we did in appropriately Texas-sized mugs.
Okay, so while we're on the subject of "everything's bigger in Texas" I HAVE to show you this insane pastry we found in a random bakery located in a gas station market. Y'all. This was being sold as an eclair!!!! This is - what - a hero roll? A hot dog bun?! It's more of a sweet sub sandwich than anything resembling an eclair but we were all so in shock over it - and they were offering half-a-dozen pastries for a flat rate - we threw it in the bag. The photos are blurry because I was in tears laughing so hard. Nobody ate it (I can't say the same for the doughnuts) but our Tejas eclair will live in infamy for all time.
We capped off our Austin adventure with a trip out to Salt Lick, a legendary barbecue restaurant started by a child of the Franklin Barbecue empire. I can't even adequately describe the scale and level at which that place operates. We pulled in to a parking lot so enormous you would've thought we were going to a state fair. They had a winery and vineyard adjacent to the restaurant that was covered in the most beautiful flowers -- wisteria, roses, pansies, and so many other pretty blooms! If I wasn't all but drank out from the trip, I would've wanted to acquaint myself with this darling winery.
The food at Salt Lick was on point. We came for some stellar Texas barbecue and dang if that's not what we got. I'm a true North Carolina girl, so when I think barbecue I think chopped pork in whatever flavor of sauce you prefer (or side of the state in which you live.) Kim filled me in on the Texas brand of barbecue, brisket. So we ordered up a plate o' meat. Brisket, ribs, and sausage. We skipped chicken and turkey -- ain't nobody got time for that! We wore our eating pants! Like for real, I was in my lululemon leggings....
It was delicious, and that potato au gratin side dish was something I'll be craving forever and a day. Definitely worth the drive out to Driftwood for the experience...and for the absurdly large eclair ;D
In hindsight I wish I would've taken more pictures with me in them, especially the day we went shopping on South Congress. It's still kind of weird for me to ask my friends to snap photos of me, even though they know what I do for a living and all that. Some of them aren't really all that active on social media so I worry that they're just like "umm..okay?" Probably a me thing and not at all what they think but I'm just being honest. I need to get over it because -- as I constantly remind myself even when shooting out in public with strangers staring at me -- the awkward moment will pass, no one will remember it, but you'll forever have an awesome photo to enjoy! Next trip, I'll be much better about it. Swear.