One of the bonuses for me when Melissa mentioned Austin as our southern get away, was that I would be able to check out the city and see if I actually wanted to move there. Austin is fighting with Minneapolis right now for top spot on my where I will move to list. Problem is, I’ve never been to either one, just heard so many good things about both of them, and know people in each. This gave me the chance to see if I actually want to move there before going through all the work that comes with job hunting and then going down for interviews and finding out I don’t like it.
If you have read the previous Austin posts, you might be wondering if I did anything besides eat and drink all weekend. Rachael has told friends about everything we did while I was there and they ask something along the lines of, ” so was she here for a week?” No three nights, two full days. This is totally fair question in all reality and many food and drink spots were definitely on the map as must do/see places. Still, I had some time between stuffing my face, to actually do a few extra activities or check out a neighborhood here and there. Since we did a lot of biking around, I saw a lot of the city as we moved from restaurant to bar and so on. All of these things, not just the tourist stuff, are what make a city actually livable, so for my final Austin installation, I’ll show you all the cool stuff in between the food and drink.
Two Stepping at the Broken Spoke
Our first stop after dinner Friday night was at the Broken Spoke to do some dancing. I don’t think you can go to Austin without finding some place to do some good old two stepping to a country band. We grab a drink and sat down at a table to watch the couples dancing out on the floor. Rachael was telling me to just wait and some old guy will be over to ask you to dance. As she was saying this that exact thing was happening and I was out on the dance floor trying to pretend I know what I am doing. I have no clue and I know the two step isn’t that hard, maybe I just have an issue with being lead around. Maybe I should have learned to do it in South Dakota, I really have no excuse. A couple others tried to teach me and one was semi-successful and not my grandpa’s age. The band was good and cover was only $10, totally worth it. They also have this little museum area in the middle with images of all the people who have been to the Broken Spoke, there are some pretty big country stars on the walls. I also recognized it in a episode of my latest Netflix obsession, Friday Night Lights.
Wandering through the Farmers Market
I love a good farmers market. I happened by this one on my way to do some shopping on Saturday morning. It had full on food stands making breakfast burritos, selling coffee and yummy pastries. The veggie and fruit stalls were all located along one isle on the outside and if I was planning to be there for more than the weekend, I probably would have bought a few things. It was so nice because things were spread out a bit ,or maybe it was just early, and it wasn’t so crowded as the ones in New York. People were also out volunteering to help clean up the park and spread compost around trees and such. It was a perfect little scene.
Shopping on South Congress
I spent quite a bit of time wandering up and down South Congress Street. There are a bunch of fun boutiques and vintage shops all along the way and a big area full of food trucks. I thought about trying to stuff some more food in somewhere, but I think I might have burst so I stuck to the opposite side of the street. Hotel San Jose is right next to Jo’s and I know you’re suppose to be able to go in ,but I was too chicken and just snuck a peak of the beautiful courtyard through one of the open gates. I love how covered it is covered in vines. One of my favorite places was Uncommon Objects. There were so many things that I wanted to take home. If I move here, I know where to go for some decorating objects and furniture. Feathers was an adorable vintage boutique that I some how managed not to buy anything though I did try a few things on and contemplate some vintage gold shorts. I also found myself in Mayas, By George, and Blackmail. I really don’t know how I didn’t end up with a few new outfits and more than one pair of new shoes. I did end up buying a headband from a woman, JaHanna Martinez, who was originally from New York and had moved with her family to Austin. She was in a little flea market area that was set up in an empty lot along the street full of jewelry and accessories. I couldn’t resist it.
I mentioned the Oasis in my food post, but I want to talk about it again because it is much more than a restaurant. It is perched on a cliff on the side of Lake Travis, which is a dam. The dam was only at like 30 percent capacity or something low like that. There were plenty of docks running out on dry land from their mini mansions all along the low edges. You can even hike out to what is know and Sometimes Island when the water is this low. Really it is a peninsula right now. It was a pretty amazing view. The place itself is just huge. There is an old bridge, a water tower, and an odd space ship thing to name a few of the odd things you will find around the area. Go check it out if you get the chance. The drive out is nice too, takes you through areas you don’t see downtown.
I picked a perfect weekend to be down in Austin weather and event wise. I love kites and I love watching people fly kites. Rachael and I locked our bikes up and walked around the park. The park was full people, kids and dogs. Pretty much everyone had a kite and a picnic spot in the park. I made friends with a particularly adorable Australian Shepard puppy, I might have thought hard about puppynapping. The kites were pretty awesome too, although I thought we would have seen more massive kites, the ones that are like 25 feet long. Either way it was still really fun walking around and seeing everyone out having a good time.
Skee ball at Lavaca Street Bar
So technically this probably should have found it’s way onto my nightlife post, but it was sort of forgotten and really we were there for skee ball. Rachael is on a league and they play there Sunday afternoon. You play ten rounds on teams of three, whoever has the most points at the end wins. I have not played skee ball in a very long time and certainly not outside of an arcade of some sort. The other team was missing a player so I actually got to play and was terrible. In fact, we lost, but it was still pretty fun, but they sure talked up Austin in the process.
This place is awesome and something I didn’t know anything about that Rachael took me to. As you can see from the pictures, it’s several levels of concrete walls with coves and random culvert pipes half out of the ground covered in graffiti and most of it is pretty awesome. It seems like it is one of the places to get engagement or baby announcement photos taken. Definitely one of my favorite places by far.
The Texas Capitol Building and Congress Street
The capitol building is pretty impressive sitting on top of a hill at the end of Congress Street. The building is made of red granite which seems to be the top choice for countertops in Texas. The building looks good in it, the countertops… I could do with out. We road all round the building to make sure I saw it from all angles. In the back there is a plaza space where there is a large shaft to allow lights into the underground office areas that are under the plaza. They didn’t want to ruin the historic plaza so they build under it. Kind of a cool idea, I just hope no one is stuck with a crappy back office with no visible window. I was also told there is an empty circle on the building that is to be filled in when Texas finally succeeds from the United State. It will happen at about the same time North Dakota gets it’s name changed to Dakota and Staten Island breaks off from New York.
After going around the capitol, we headed down Congress Street back towards 6th Street. There is the site of the capitol building that burned down just across the street from the current grounds and a bunch of other interesting buildings along the way, like an old theater and some beautiful old buildings. One of which had been the tallest in Austin until its neighbor was built so the owner added two more stories to be the tallest once again. There is also a statue of Angelina Eberly in her nightgown getting ready to fire a cannon. Way back when she caught a group of men trying to steal the government archives and move them to Houston to make it the seat of the government. She fired the cannon, spooked the thieves and woke the city and Austin remained the capitol.
Some other buildings worth noting
There are a couple buildings that I would like to note since I am supposed to be an architect and have great opinions about such things. The first one is the Frost Bank Tower visible from just about everywhere and it is supposed to look like an owl. The story I was told is that the architect applied to UT and didn’t get in, so he went to Rice instead where the mascot is the owl. He was later commissioned for the job and created what is actually a very beautiful building. From an angle, it does look like and owl, especially at night, this was his snub to UT. The building is downtown and looks like it is in alignment with the clock tower at UT. You have to give the guy credit for not making an absolutely terrible building in revenge, but a beautiful one that most people in Austin seem to like.
The next building on the list is the armadillo inspired Austin City Hall. I wouldn’t say it’s the best building I’ve ever seen, but it is interesting and I do like all the materials together. This building did stir up some controversy, or so I was told. The tail sticking out over the street may be overkill though. There were some nice exterior spaces around it and I am curious how all the angles and turns work from the inside. It’s located right off Lady Bird Lake and in the middle of downtown where there is some adorable boutiques for shopping, so just take a walk around it as you hop between shops.
Last but not least is the US Courthouse. It is located right next to the farmers market mentioned above. It was another building that I liked the mix of materials and the layering of stone. It just opened late last year, so maybe that explains some of the gardening going on while I was at the market. It was kind of in an odd place for what the building purpose is, so I would be curious to see what happens around it in the neighborhood.
That, my friends, is finally the end. I had so much fun and I can’t wait to go back for Austin City Limits and explore some more. Maybe set up and interview or two or three… get a job… and move(!?!?!)… guess we shall see how the year pans out and if any other city can top it.