Adventures in Austin!

Originally published on 22 August 2012.

And we’re off again! This time I’m taking you to Texas to visit my friend Jill. She moved from DC to a place far, far away… College Station, TX. When she left I promised a visit, and we all know I try to make good on promises to visit.

I found this fabulous deal on a plane ticket to Houston a couple of months ago, and on Thursday the time had finally come to go see my friend! She picked me up at the airport, even though it took her over three hours to get there with traffic. I can’t even tell you how good it is to meet up with a far away friend and catch up live and in person!

Texas experience number one: FOOD! We needed some authentic Tex-Mex, and Jill said there’s a place that has the greatest dip on earth. She was right! It’s called Cowboy Mud, and it involves queso, guacamole, back beans and jalapeños, and maybe a couple of other things as well. It was amazing on everything, including my fish tacos!

Next piece of fun: Kickapoo Road! And the next: Westward Ho! Yes, those are actual road names. They made us giggle. Oh, and we also passed a sign that read, “Goats for sale,” just in case you need a souvenir! Loving the backroads of Texas!

We had plenty of time to talk in the car, so we headed to bed pretty quick–we were both pooped! We’d already decided we’d be going to Austin the next day, and Jill had a special belated birthday surprise  for me… We’d be staying at the historic Driskill Hotel!

On our way out of town on Friday, we stopped at Grub Burger to eat with some of Jill’s coworkers. I’m not one much for burgers, but the “burger of the sea” (aka yellowfin tuna) was incredible, and the sweet potato fries were even better! And then the trek to Austin officially began!

Jill had stayed in the Driskill before, and she knew I’d love it. She was right! It was built in 1886 by Colonel Jesse Driskill, a cattle baron from the great state of Tennessee, my home state! We got checked in, sat back and relaxed, and before we knew what happened we were both taking naps. Luckily for me Jill decided to wake me up when it was time to get supper! We both love Mediterranean food (not authentically Texan, I know), and we’d heard about a good place just down the street from our hotel call the Athenian. It’s a winner.Next on the agenda: the Haunted Trolley Tour!


Apparently, Austin is an extremely haunted city, and our hotel is an exceptionally haunted one! Our guide was dressed in 1890s garb, hat and all. She was very enthusiastic, as any tour guide should be. We started at the Capitol, and while she’s not supposed to talk about the ghosts at the Capitol when she’s giving tours there, she did make sure to mention that it is in fact haunted—ghosts have supposedly even been caught on security cameras!

We made three stops on our tour, all of which were a little bit creepy. Our guide showed us pictures of ghosts that had been seen in those places and recordings of them talking as well. Creepy! The best stop was our hotel. She took us all to the lobby and told us tales of people who’d died in the hotel, former owners, guests who smelled cigar smoke in the non-smoking hotel, etc. Jill and I were glad to be sharing a room that night!

When the tour was done and we’d returned to our rooms, we saw that someone (a maid? A ghost?) had come in and turned down our beds for us. They even left a yellow rose for us—the yellow rose of Texas!

Can you find the rose?

It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep, but Jill wasn’t so lucky. She kept hearing the people next door (we thought it was a bachelor party) whooping and hollering and running up and down the hallway. I didn’t hear anything… could it have been ghosts?

Saturday morning we got up lazily (the beds were SO comfy!), checked out, and headed to breakfast at the award-winning Kerbey Lane Café. YUM! They had all kinds of options, not just breakfast, and they’re open 24 hours a day. If ever in Austin, make sure to take a trip here! It’s delicious!

Next up: a true test of friendship. One can tell that Jill and I are good friends because she went to the Whole Foods Headquarters, farmers’ market, and artists’ market while I went on a history tour. Neither of us was offended and neither of us minded in the least! She got some great stuff, and I got some fabulous insight into Austin!

All in the details… yes, I’m the person who takes pictures of hinges.

Austin was founded in 1839 (three years after Texas won its independence), and it was at one time called Waterloo. The Texas Capitol building looks exactly like the US Capitol, except it’s 14 feet taller and made out of sunset granite from a ranch just outside of Austin. The owner of the ranch gave an entire MOUNTAIN of the granite to build it!


Jill and I met up after our tour to eat at a barbecue place called Uncle Billy’s Brew-B-Q, because you have to get BBQ while in Texas.

Texas version of salad, including BBQ!

On our way back to her house, we took our time and found the Austin post card:

And I had the biggest macaron of my life:


Thanks for joining me on this adventure! Who knows where I’ll pop up next!

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