Austin – what a great town

After spending a few days in College Station and enjoying the company of family, we made the weekend trip out to Austin – where we originally flew into.  We were excited to explore this storied college town that is known as one of the South’s greatest cities, and the live music capital of the US.  This has turned out to be a fantastic city, one that we have really enjoyed.


We drove into Austin and made our first stop Mayfield Park.  Mayfield Park was basically a garden/nature preserve that offered some small hiking trails through a forest.  As we walked through I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Blair Witch Project.  As we walked into the walled area of Mayfield and saw all of the peacocks and other large birds.  We collected some great pictures of these beautiful creatures, as well as some night shots of us around the scenery.


As we were walking out, we spotted a huge one in the tree – which we noticed by the bird’s um. rainfall.


We headed out from Mayfield over to Mount Bonnell, which is a large hill that’s capped off by a series of stairs.   It reminded me of Red Rocks in a way. When we got to the top we were treated of a nice view of the river overlooking the city.  The houses nearby were large and extravagant.  Coupled with driving up and down large hills, it almost had an “LA” feeling to it.

We drove into downtown and arrived at our hotel – the Hilton Garden Inn.  The hotel had a nice 18th Floor Bar that had a really nice appetizer, with some really underrated appetizers.  My sister aid that the queso dip was the best that she had ever had.

We headed out to downtown, starting our evening with dinner at Piranha Killer Sushi.  This was a great middle-of-the-road sushi place, with reasonable prices, a great atmosphere, and good food that was presented well.  If you’re in Downtown Austin, in the mood for Sushi, and aren’t looking to spend an arm & a leg – give them a try.  We were pleasantly surprised.


Next up was the staple of our trip: seeing a band play in the live music capital of the US.  We went to the storied Elephant Room, which is a place that has been a live music staple in Austin for quite a while.  We caught a modern/experimental jazz band called “Blaze”, a quintet featuring drums, bass guitar, trumpet, bari sax and a turntable.


The experience we had at the Elephant Room, described in one word, would be “token”.  As someone who appreciates and makes live music, it was spot on for what I was expecting and hoping for.  The picture in my mind, was illustrated by everything in the Elephant Room: the fact that it’s in the basement and dark, making it an underground experience; the fact that it was classy, but yet a little dirty; they had a diverse and eclectic mix of beers; and the band that played was rooted in jazz, but doing something strange and new.  As it turns out, the experience was exactly what I expected – not that it’s a bad thing.

What made the live music experience in Austin so compelling was the fact that the mystique of live music scene was enough to draw people out.  As with each band performance, you have the friends and fans that come out to see the band – this is typical of what you see in a city like Denver.  Unlike Denver though, the remainder of the room was filled with people knowing that they were going to see some live music that they may have never heard before, offering a great intimate musical experience.  The fact that people seeking this experience filled the bar only added to the venue (and city’s) reputation for the great musical experience.  In a circular way, the city’s success feeds on itself, creating an environment that leaves musicians in other cities very envious (and perhaps even a little jealous).  It was really something to see.

Speaking of things to see, we departed the Elephant Room and made out way over to the famed 6th Street.  Christina and Tony had been there a few weeks back and saw the street lined with various bars and clubs, and were eager to see what this place would look like on a weekend.  What we saw on Saturday was unlike anything we were expecting.  It turns out that 6th Street is closed on weekends to allow for the volume of pedestrian traffic.  The people descend upon the street in a way that more resembles Bourbon Street in New Orleans, only with newer surroundings and a wider street.  The whole scene was just chaotic.  We ended up not going into any bars, and made our way back to our hotel room.

The next morning we woke up to join my cousin and her family for breakfast at the Kerbey Lane Cafe.  They served these wonderful gingerbread and pumpkin pancakes, and we were treated to some great new tastes.  We were also entertained by my second cousin, who will turn 2 in a few weeks.


Austin turned out to be a great city, definitely exceeding my expectations.

Enjoying Texas

It’s day three down here in College Station, Texas, where were are visiting my sister (who is going to grad school down here) and her husband.  We flew into Austin late Wednesday night and saw that even the airport has stages for live music!  We’re heading up to Austin as I write this, so hopefully will have some pictures to post of the live music scene.

As soon as we stepped out of the airport, we were welcomed by that Texas humidity.  It’s definitely not the pleasant Colorado fall weather out here. Thursday had temperatures spanning to the high 80’s, with the humidity approaching the same.  I think we ended up bringing the cool weather with us though, as on Friday it cooled down to the 60’s with very low humidity.  Today is the low 70’s with the humidity staying low, feeling like a pleasant late-summer day.

The last two days were filled with me working, but I did manage to break away in the evenings to enjoy some great restaurants Christina & Tony found.  We had lunch at Madden’s, in the neighboring town of Bryan.  They had the most amazing tomato bisque that was simply to die for!  We also enjoyed lunch at “Freebirds” which is basically a variation of Chipotle.  For those in Fort Collins: I’m not sure if it would rate the quality of Big City Burrito, but it was definitely a step up for Chipotle and maybe Qdoba.  For dinner we went to FishDaddy’s Grill House, which had some excellent smoked ribs that were a great value.  We’ve definitely ate well down here in Texas!

On Friday afternoon we went to the Messina Hof Winery and experienced a brief tour followed by an excellent tasting.  if you’re a fan of sweet wines, this would be a great winery for you.  They had a really good Port that went well with chocolate, as well as the Solera Sherry – which tasted like a cinnamon roll.  At the vineyard there was this pond that was full of turtles.  When we approached them, they all swam right over to us, thinking we were going to feed them.  It made for a crazy picture:



The Vineyard also made for some pretty pictures as well:


Before we left College Station my sister gave us a tour of the Texas A&M campus.  It’s a beautiful, spread out campus.  One of the highlights was this tree that created it’s own arch over the sidewalk.  They say that if you walk under the branches with the person you love, that you’ll be together forever.  Bethany and I snapped a picture under this tree:


We then stopped off at the book store and snapped a picture in front of her new university:


Next up: Austin!