I had the privilege of being invited to visit a friend in Austin, Texas for her birthday celebration last weekend. Austin has been near the top of my places to visit list for quite a few years, mainly due to said friend telling me about its undeniable awesomeness when she visited a few years ago for her birthday. Between the Southern culture, the Hippie vibe, the Tex-Mex dining experience, the live music atmosphere and the downtown bar scene, I knew it would be a place I would feel immediately at home.
As usual, I wasn't wrong.
I flew into Austin Friday afternoon and was immediately whisked away to the Four Seasons Hotel for happy hour. Of course the hotel is gorgeous. I was told I might see one of the city's celebrity residents, but no such luck on this trip. Now, while at one point shots were purchased for $12, I tell you that it was worth it. The Four Seasons was a perfect place to begin the trip. At one point, I saw a man wearing a tuxedo jacket made of gold brocade and black lace. I kid you not.
After we finished at the Four Seasons, we headed to Downtown Austin and went to a lovely outdoor bar called The Belmont. It was a swanky place full of swanky people, and although myself and the birthday girl made it upstairs and crashed a private party, our friend got snagged by security and we rejoined her downstairs.
What can I say about the Belmont? We were immediately taken in by the friendliness. A sweet old southern gentleman approached us as soon as we set foot near the bar and bought our first round. There was a never-ending supply of attractive Texans to keep us entertained, including Bachelor Party No. 1. We laughed, we danced around, we drank alcohol. I may or may not have thrown up in the parking lot on the way out.
Saturday morning was laid back and chill. We headed to an Austin landmark, Rudy's BBQ - which was in a gas station convenience store.
The food? Orgasmic. The atmosphere? Hilarious. They handed out sheets of wax paper as plates. They gave tastesamples of all the different BBQ we could order. Lunch was served with half a loaf of white bread. There were funny signs all over, a hand washing jacuzzi...the list goes on and on.
After we ate Austin's cure for a hangover, we headed to New Brunfels...which has an amazing River Rafting Experience - or as they call it, "toobing". We were entertained by what we referred to as Tom Cruise circa "Cocktails"...we loaded up a cooler with an 18 pack of Miller Light, wrapped our cigarettes in paper towels and stuck them in special water-resistant containers sold by the souvenir shop, and jumped on the bus. Let me just tell you, if you are anywhere near the Guadalupe River, you MUST go toobing. It was the most fun I have had in one day in years. Seriously.
We spent the first hour floating down the river, drinking our beer, getting rained on, telling stories. We encountered two rapids. Not TOO bad, but still unsettling...then came the third. Let's just say we lost our shit on the third one. We ended up basically being rescued by a bachelor party of 6 guys. They collected our toobs, helped us get our things together, and calmed us down. We ended up spending the rest of the 6 hour trip tethered to their kayaks, or should I say they were tethered to our cooler of beer? They provided an endless supply of laughter, assistance through the rapids and penis jokes. Because, really, what fun is it if there are no penis jokes?
After we survived the toobing experience, it was on to a local bar - which was beer and wine only, no food and no credit cards accepted. The bachelor party joined us and we heard more penis jokes. As we all stank of river and were a bit dazed and confused by repeatedly being bashed into river rocks, we decided to call it an early night and began the hour-long trek home. A few of the guys were online and we exchanged Facebook friend requests (gosh, I love Facebook). As we drove home, we realized that there was a not so pleasant smell emanating from the backseat, where all of our clothes and towels were from our so-called "lazy river experience."
Halfway through our shower and pajama routine, I got a mysterious phone call from a Texas phone number and andimmediately sent it to voicemail. Upon checking said voicemail, it was one of the bachelor party guys asking if we would like to join them at their bonfire. Of course we went! It was only 1 am and after showering, we had renewed energy. We ended up taking some wine and sat around the fire for a while enjoying even more penis jokes. We really had a great time...despite the penis jokes.
As a side note: men in Texas are so different from men in Florida. We talked about it on the way out there, the fact that we would never consider hanging out with a bunch of guys we just met in the middle of the night...but these guys were such gentlemen, so sweet - we knew they were harmless.
Sunday morning we took a few hour long nap and then headed out to hangover cure part 2 - a TexMex lunch at Chuy's. This place was as full of character as the people we saw there. Between the hubcaps on the ceiling, the flirtatious waiters, and the prayers written on the silverware containers, we laughed non-stop. Oh, and the food was awesome! We followed this lunch up with a little tour through the town and then dropped our friend off at the airport.
We ended the birthday girl's weekend with a quiet evening at a wine bar...well, it was quiet for a while. But that's another story and the details are blurry because I was mostly falling asleep at the bar because I'd slept so little the nights before.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. Each time I visit a new city, I have a set of criteria I run through - could I live here? How is the weather? How friendly are the people? Do I like the food? Austin was a check, check, check, check. I will definitely be making a return visit ASAP.