A Holiday in Austin

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to a return to Austin. A long Memorial Day weekend and sweet friends meeting up with me there made the prospect of visiting even better.

I decided to take a train there and then fly home in case the train experience proved less than exemplary. I don’t often have foresight, but this time I did (somehow… who knows, but i did).

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I made the best of a delay by – what else? – taking photos of my bag.

My Amtrak experience began on a less than propitious note when the train was delayed for over two hours. As it was a 4 hour ride, this didn’t bode well for my plans on getting into Austin early.

I was apprehensive about the train to begin with and the delay didn’t help, but once I got settled into my upper seat and the tops of trees and buildings began rolling past my window, I was able to prop open my book and relax a little while the scenery raced by.

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Rain approaching. Little did I know that this would be a sign of weather events to come…

After what felt like an eternity, we finally got into Austin. It wasn’t the worst experience, but I doubt that I’ll be riding the Texas Eagle again. If Amtrak is interested in gaining more customers, here are some suggestions from a first-time passenger:

1) Clean the passenger cars out as often as possible. After passengers disembark, clean & disinfect the area that they just left.

2) Clean the bathrooms (heck, updating them would be nice as well).

3) Be on time.

4) Provide wifi.

My Austin friend picked me up and we headed to meet up with another friend (who had arrived already from North Carolina) and get Thai food for dinner. We settled on Titaya’s Thai and on arriving the restaurant was so crowded that the only chance for a table was when the kitchen would be closing. Obviously that wasn’t going to work. The restaurant did allow us to order take out, so we ordered a few things to try. The beef pad thai was basic, but the curry was good, if mild. In all a satisfying meal, but that could have been because I was starving.

The next morning was Saturday, and yet another friend had arrived by the time we were ready for breakfast. We decided on a whim to try Hotel San Jose’s brunch.

Perhaps it was the outdoor dining, where we sat beneath leafy boughs that speckled sun beams on us while chirping birds fluttered unseen and swimmers splashing in the pool behind the shrubbery, but in any event, we were all enchanted. The food was tastefully prepared with just enough to feel as though we had variety without a burdensome amount of choice. There were sweets, breads, fruit, vegetables, egg cups, quiche, and latkes. Nothing missed and we spoiled ourselves with indulgent lingering over our plates.

When we were finally able to pull ourselves away, we walked up and down South Congress, taking in the shops before the rain began. At an outdoor market I spotted the most adorable dress hanging from a vendor’s tent. I tried it on then and there, and then spied yet another darling white dress. The abundant detail on both were incredible. After much agonizing, I finally bought both. Because when you can’t decide, you just buy them all. Once I figure out how to wear them without revealing, er, too much (the dresses are completely sheer), I will be pairing them with sandals for the ultimate hot weather outfit.

It’s exhausting to shop, so we revived ourselves with iced coffees and teas at Jo’s Coffee.

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Oh, and photo ops by their iconic wall.

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My sweet friend and I were caught in a candid. Love!

The weather had turned rainy while we were on our way to the Museum of The Weird. On entering and finding out what this really was (not a museum, but a sideshow), we opted out and decided to visit the Capitol instead.

We were surprised at how busy it was, with men in suits rushing around, carrying briefcases and on their phones. Not exactly a Saturday afternoon scene, but after wandering around for awhile we happened into the visitor’s gallery and an active House session.

Every good Texan feels no small sentiment of pride when visiting the state capitol.

After an early dinner at Chuy’s, we split up and I went shopping at the Domain with my Austin friend while the others went back to their hotel. The outdoor mall was charming, with a nice variety of luxury and affordable stores. The weather started to turn stormy, so we headed to Crema Bakery & Cafe, as I was on a mission to try as many coffee shops as possible while in Austin. However, I had mixed up this place with another, Cafe Creme, which was what I had originally intended to visit. (Dear cafes with similar names, please change yours so that it’s not confusing to poor tourists. Thank you.). Crema Bakery & Cafe was a disappointment, and my friend and I left our cookies & cream cupcake and brownie cup unfinished, as we felt these treats lacking in good, fresh flavor. While there we began getting tornado and flash flood warnings, and made it back to the apartment before the worst of the weather hit.

Shoefie at the Domain. I loved the outdoor design of this shopping mall.

Part 2 will cover our second day in Austin, including more coffee and restaurant reviews.

Until then… xo

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