Sunday, February 26, 2012

Austin

Monday meant a drive to that musical destination - Austin and we vowed to "keep it weird" as they like to say, there. My cousin Brian Power met us and gave us a great tour of the city - all the highlights - like South Congress Avenue, 6th street, University of Texas, neighbourhoods etc, Congress Avenue Bridge - where the bats emerge - but we were a couple of months too early for that..darn.

He also pointed out the tower at U of T made infamous by sniper Charles Whitman in 1966 - I understand through my research that is now open again to the public...with security guards and metal detectors. Yikes. He killed 14 people and wounded 32 in 90 minutes. He also stabbed his mother and wife to death before he got to campus.

Enough darkness - into the light. We booked a room at Brava House - built in 1889 through a Sears catalogue kit...there is a photo at the top. We had the Garbo suite - with our own dining room plus a front porch and back deck if we wanted it. There were also two cats in residence, a Siamese and black cat - who came to sit on my lap on the deck for a while. 



 That's me at the top of Mt. Bonnell - I hope I got that right...to get a good view of the city...
 We had lunch at Casa da Luz - which appears to be a yoga/meditation centre and had a great macrobiotic buffet with salad, soups, beans (of course), rice, greens and sauerkraut. We had a yummy dinner at Mother's - another Brian recommendation and I had barbecued tofu with sage mashed potatoes and black eyed peas with some blueberry pie for dessert.

That night of course we decided to take a musical excursion and walked over to "Flipnotics" a cafe/music space across the river and used the pedestrian bridge. The first act was a group of kids called "Stringband" I believe - they were not quite as polished as the bluegrass group that followed but they had a lot of enthusiasm and heart. Their mandolin player was quite good.

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On Tuesday (Mardi Gras) we visited the Bob Bullock museum to learn everything about Texas - a highlight was the Imax film we saw first - great music including "That's Right (You're Not from Texas)" by Lyle Lovett. Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel also has a part to play in the museum he's the guide to a tour of texas cities - interactive. I have to say it's true what they say - the stars at night are big and bright.

We had a delicious lunch at Veggie Heaven (on Guadalupe) - so much to choose from including an incredible Basil Tofu and some stir fry veggies - mu shu pancakes I would say and a taro bubble tea. Cornucopia - a local popcorn shop next door also lured us in - especially since they had vegan flavours! Walking back to Brava House we checked out shops on 6th street - including a spice shop where I bought Tahitian vanilla and tomato powder - the owner was super nice and helpful - distributing my bottle of vanilla into two smaller ones to satisfy Customs. We also enjoyed looking at kaleidoscopes and even saw glass work in one of the shops that we recognized - we have two large vases by the artist from Mississauga.

An attempted foray to the Continental - already packed had us deciding to cocoon that night - we enjoyed at meal at the Natural Foods cafe (taco salad) and bought some goodies for later - including an almond cookie shaped like Texas.

Wednesday meant shopping on the many interesting boutiques on South Congress - buying some Texas pecans and a grapefruit and on the road back to San Antonio. Another more leisurely stroll along the Riverwalk and having a margarita during happy hour at Cafe Ole, then revisiting Green Vegetarian - portabello mushroom, artichoke and spinach quesadilla and a raw veggie plate with Pecan Hummous - scrumptious...in fact - I have made some today.

Our flight back through Denver was relaxed and unadventurous - in fact it was nice to get a breath of fresh, cool mountain air...part of my mind is still back in Texas, I think I understand people's attachment to it - the Imax film said 80% of Texans believe in heaven and 98% already believe they're there...

That last photo of Fraser beside a cactus - shows that yes, everything is bigger in the Lone Star State.
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