Amanda and I just got back from an incredible vacation to Austin, TX. The motivation for the trip was the Q2009 conference. I wanted Amanda to experience what I experience in Manhattan last year at Q2008. The conference was Monday through Wednesday (4/27-4/29), but we decided to travel to Austin on Friday (4/24). We arrived in Austin, rented a car, and drove to Victoria, TX to hang out with Dee Dee (Amanda’s sister) and her family. We had a great time eating and listening to some original music (You all will be familiar with “Fast Road To Austin” in the next year or so). Saturday we drove back to Austin. We spent Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday getting to know downtown Austin. We loved having each others full attention for five straight days – really appreciated that. Sunday afternoon we were able to meet up with Duncan and Kathy and their crew from MBC. Great folks! We are looking forward to crashing their pad in Edinburgh, Scotland in the next year or so.
General thoughts on Austin:
- I would describe downtown Austin as “uncomplicated”. The roads are easy to walk and the restaurants are generally clustered together and easy to recognize.
- There are no chain restaurants in the downtown area. All restaurants were unique and added to the Austin flare. Some of the eateries Amanda and I enjoyed include Taverna, Taste, and Miguel’s, and Lanai. We found the corner of 4th and Colorado extremely entertaining Saturday night. We ate Torchy’s Tacos from the Hidden Coffee Shop for breakfast many of the mornings.
- Art is dripping off all of the walls of all of the shops and restaurants and there is live music everywhere.
- We were lucky enough to catch the Austin Arts Festival on Sunday. It was a big two-day event that featured about 300 artist from all over the country including many from Austin. Live music, lot’s of native cuisine, and lots of art. This is where we met Jeffrey Lorien, Co-founder of Zhi Tea – a small business in Austin that mixes and ships loose leaf teas. We bought the Monk’s Blend and the Ginger Peach Oolong. Both are very good, and I’m looking forward to ordering their Earl Grey.
- We did not get to see the bats. We went under the Congress Bridge on Sunday and heard them, but we never got to see them fly out (The South Congress bridge houses the largest bat colony in the US and at dusk each night they all fly out at the same time to eat dinner).
- Highly recommend staying at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel on 7th and Congress. Old hotel that has been restored. The rooms have a great feel to them – you don’t feel like you are in a cookie cutter hotel room.
- “Keep Austin Weird” is the city’s tag line. Austin has the energy of a college town, and the maturity of a bigger city all wrapped into one.
If you are looking for a fun place to get away – give Austin a try.
Special thanks to my parents and Amanda’s mom for keeping the kids for our get-away!