Sunday, July 1, 2007

Austin Recap: Salad Bar of Music

I'm sorry to report I didn't take a single picture while in Austin. But I did have a fabulous time. I learned a very valuable lesson: I never want to be THAT girl. You know the one, the girl that sticks out at dinner, talks too much, doesn’t know anything about anything, drinks too much, wears skimpy clothes, tells lie after lie after lie. One of the women who traveled with us was THAT girl and she drove me crazy.

My favorite things in Austin were (I recommend that you do these things when you go):

1. LBJ Museum and Library. No trip to Austin is complete without a tour of this museum. It's free, air conditioned, and educational without being too academic and stodgy. There were pictures and things I read that made me tear up. Very touching. Don't forget to examine the hall of portraits of the presidents and then the one of first ladies. I was particularly struck by the changes in hair and clothes fashions through the years and even the change in portraiture styles through the decades. H.R.Clinton is in pants! When I left this museum I thought to myself that I might like to see all the former presidents’ libraries. Is that possible?

2. Manuel's restaurant. Fantastic, healthy Mexican food. Absolutely gourmet and good. If you partake, you'll want to try the cucumber lime martini. But one is enough! It kicks off a great afternoon of eclectic window snooping on South Congress.

3. The Neill-Cochran house museum. I mentioned this place in an earlier post. But it really was a fantastic experience. I learned more about Texas in this one house than in any other place I visited there. The docent gave me a private tour and she knew more about Texas and Austin than anyone I had met. She was delightful and the house was amazing. Abner Cook, who was a master builder (no real architects in America at the time it was built), built it and many mansions in the area including the Texas Governor's Mansion. You can go see it at They had 3 crazy quilts – mind-blowing.

4. Zilker Botanic Gardens. If you plan to visit these gardens you should plan to spend at least 2 hours, if not more. Just remember to take bug spray and lots of water. Texas is HOT. The gardens add an extra element to the humidity factor -- with all the fountains and pools -- so you'll literally feel like the heat is reaching out and touching you. Not unlike afore mentioned steam bath. My favorite section of the park was the Oriental Garden (I thought this term was reserved for rugs), but it was really more of a Japanese style garden with koi ponds and meditation paths.

5. The steam room at Barton Creek Resort and Spa. Not kidding, very hot and steamy and wonderful for my skin. After just 15 minutes I felt 5 years younger. My massage sucked, however.

Now, I know what you're thinking, live music isn't in my top five. But that's not really my thing. I love history and this trip was meant to relax me -- a break away from the kids. I also enjoyed walking the Fazio course at Barton while Steve and his business associates golfed. The caddie fascinated me. I had never watched (or used) a caddie. I can truly appreciate what they bring to the game, now. I enjoyed watching my husband play golf and I really liked watching him "do business" on the course and at dinner/over drinks. He's a true pro!

Austin is small enough that you can see all these sites in a day -- or maybe two. Just make sure your rental car has “neverlost” and that you have a guidebook. I literally just went down the list and typed in address after address. It was simple as pie! (Which is a really stupid thing to say considering piecrust is one of the hardest cooking techniques I have yet to master.) I should say it's as easy as cobbler.

I did see/hear some live music while there. It was impossible to miss. It's everywhere, including the airport. And it is genuinely good. I think this would be an ideal trip for my brother Trent. (You could see a million types of music in a night.) We went dancing at Broken Spoke -- which had a live band; dinner at Eddie V's -- which had a live singer; and walked 6th Ave and South Congress -- both streets are lined with lounges from which you can hear who is playing from the street. It was like a salad bar of music. Like what you hear, take some. Don't like it, move on. Eaten too much, and it all tastes the same.

After the trip I told Steve that he should pursue any work opportunities he hears about there. I would like living there.

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