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Austin, Texas – Part 1

October 18, 2009

We’ve always wanted to Austin, Texas, so when Alaska Airlines announced non-stop flights from Seattle we jumped on the introductory prices and booked a mid-October trip. We were hoping to get an extended summer, with 80 degree weather but were greeted with what we were told is very rare, mid 60’s, grey sky, rain and drizzle (just like Seattle). Oh well, we made the best of it.

Instead going with a hotel room, we opted for an apartment rental that we found on VRBO.com.  The Riverside Gem was a perfect retreat!  It had all the conveniences of home including a 37 inch LCD TV, full kitchen, Espresso machine, comfortable bed and A/C.  Todd an Amy were great, leaving us alone, but making sure to ask if we needed anything when ever they saw us.  On our first day Todd even drove us the mile to South Congress, to make sure we knew the walking route.  Amy also made us aware of Uncle Billy’s , that did not show up in our Google Maps search.  They were also very apologetic for the poor weather.  It was conveniently located just across Town Lake from downtown, an easy mile or so walk or a quick bus ride got you right into the heart of the Austin action on 6th Street.

An Austin attraction that you can not miss is the Bats.  From mid-March to early November every sunset you can see 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats fly out from underneath their summer home in the expansion joints of the Congress Avenue Bridge.  It is not to exciting on a overcast night, but on a clear night it is amazing.  For more than 20 minutes we saw bats streaming out from under the bridge and fly off over the city to parts unknown.  You can check out a short video here, but you really have to see it for yourself.

Gourmet Pudding!

Gourmet Pudding!

We really enjoyed the South Congress district with it’s trailer based eats and it’s quirky shops.We preferred W 6th St, to the hustle and bustle of E 6th st.  The latter really more for the college and 20 something crowds.

Surprisingly Austin, was a fairly green city.  There was green grass and trees a plenty. We had hoped to do some urban hiking on the Barton Springs trail, but because of the weather it was closed.

Were we able to find good beer in Austin?  Well, the answer was yes.   Austin has no shortage on bars.  I’ve never seen so many bars in a US city before, especially on 6th Street.  Many do not have extensive tap lists, so you need to pick wisely. Our favorites were Doc’s Motorworks on South Congress , Little Woodrow’s on W 6th St and the Alamo Drafthouse .

053The first two set in former automotive garages with large garage doors and spacious outdoor areas. They featured many Texas brewed beers including those from Austin Breweries: Independence, (512), Live Oak and Real Ale from Blanco, Texas.   Doc’s has Texas beers for $2.50 on Tuesday nights, and Little Woody’s has the same special on Monday nights.  The Alamo Draft House has great locations where you can order a drink and eat good food while watching a movie.

All in all we had a good trip to Austin. We will go back somedayto hit the breweries we missed, hoping for better weather.

-to be continued-

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