It was our first girl’s only trip together.
Monse and I are both teachers at the same middle school: she teaches Social Studies, I teach Physical Education. Originally we were to have a group of three, but our other colleague couldn’t make it, so off we went on a girl’s adventure for two in Austin, Texas. We had no idea what to expect as neither of us had been to Austin, but we were ready!
We arrived at LAX early in the morning and were excited to move quickly through the security line as we both had TSA PreCheck. So off we went to security and sure enough, as always, I was “randomly selected” for additional screening. (How many times do you have to be selected before you feel like it is no longer random? It’s. Always. Me.) Monse grabbed my bags and waited for me while my PS Vita was checked for explosive residue. Once we were through security and into the terminal we found our way to the AAdvantage lounge (which is currently under renovation but still open for business). I have been to this lounge many times with my husband and have always found it to be a pleasant place to relax pre-flight. But during the renovation, the majority of it is closed off, making this lounge extremely cramped for the large amount of patrons in it. We found the only available table and sat. Unfortunately we were way too close to the snack counter which meant we were constantly being hovered over by travelers and their large backpacks. We had eventually had enough and moved on toward our gate.
Boarding was easy and we were both seated in aisle seats next to each other. It was wonderful! I was fortunate enough to have nobody in the middle seat next to me. Monse had the misfortune of an overzealous elbow lunging into her seat space. The flight was fun. We talked about my motion sickness, Monse’s love of Harry Potter, and I told her all about Final Fantasy X (which I was playing on my Vita at the time.)
Once we had arrived in Austin, we made our way to the Sheraton at the Capitol in Downtown Austin. It was an easy 15 minute drive from the airport to the hotel. It was a neat looking hotel with very friendly staff. We were pleased with everything at this point. We had a great view of downtown and we were within walking distance of both downtown and the capitol building, so off we went on our adventures.
Monse and I walked around the city to get our bearings. We found ourselves at Maggie Mae’s listening to some live music with one other couple. It was a bit awkward. Because of the lack of people there, the singer had the ability to read our lips while he was singing and commented on what we were saying once he finished each song. But we were enjoying the outdoor courtyard so we grabbed ourselves some drinks and settled in.
After a bit more walking we decided to head back and hang out by the pool. We got out there and played some cornhole (i am the corn hole master), ladder toss (Monse is the ladder toss boss), and took pictures with the “Howdy Y’all” sign we could see from our room.
We eventually decided to sit by the pool, if we could ever figure out how to get into it. The gate from the yard we were playing in was locked, so a 12 year old boy told us he would show us the way through the maze. We had no idea what he meant until we took the long walk through many different areas under the hotel to get to the indoor section of the pool. Once we finally made it, we chose to sit outside by the pool (and after many attempts to find an unlocked door, we were finally able to grab a seat). We were out there for less than five minutes before the mosquitos came out in full force and decided that they had a hankering for some Southern California girls.
To get away from the mosquitos, Monse and I decided to go into the hotel bar for a drink. We sat up at the bar, ordered our drinks, and waited. About 5 minutes passed when the manager asked if we ever received our drinks. After telling him no, he proceeded to berate his bartender about the long wait. She responded by angrily telling him that she was in the process of making our drinks. We started to feel a bit awkward as we could feel the obvious tension coming from our bartender. A minute later we received our drinks; a spicy version of the moscow mule for me and a mojito for Monse. The mule was pretty good, I would order it again. The mojito, however, was horrendous. We don’t actually know what it was because it tasted nothing like a mojito. It tasted like old syrup and vodka, like they had grabbed the mixture set out for the trash and made a drink out of it. Both Monse and I were feeling anxious because the situation already felt tense. We didn’t want to step up and ask for a new one with a bartender that was already unhappy with us. Monse was eventually able to muster up the courage to ask them to remake it. They responded quite unfavorably stating that they had already made it the way it was written in the menu. After some argument from both the manager and the bartender, the drink was remade and we relocated ourselves to seats as far as possible from the bar. The second mojito was good so we have no idea what she gave us originally. But the whole experience left a sour taste in regards to the hotel for the remainder of the trip.
Monse and I got up and went to the capitol building. What a cool building and beautiful grounds!
We even found an old-fashioned water fountain that was still in working order!
We got a great tip from a mom and her young son that the entrance around the right side of the building had no line. They were right! We were able to walk straight in and get through security in less than 30 seconds. The building was wonderfully air conditioned and had some great woodwork around each and every door. Paintings hung on the walls, getting older and older with every floor we climbed. It was an awesome experience and a must-see for anyone venturing to Austin.
After the capitol building, we spent some more time walking the city, deciding where to go for lunch. We walked down Congress Ave and found a trail that lead under the Congress Avenue bridge (known for its huge summer bat migration). We walked the trail next to lady bird lake and got to hear all the bats underneath the bridge!
We stopped at Micheladas for some nibbles and drinks to get away from the heat. By the time we left, the weather had changed drastically and it began to rain! We ran from building to building to get some shade from the rain. Eventually we made our way to 6th street and decided to go into one of the bars to relax and wait out some of the weather. We decided to go to the Blind Pig Pub and sit on the rooftop bar area (though thanks to my anxiety we had to pass it three times before I could actually walk in). Our plan was to stay for one drink and then to run off, grab some dinner, and head back to the hotel. Our flight was set for 6am the next morning so we didn’t want to be out too late.
5 drinks and some amazing live music later, we stumbled out of the Blind Pig Pub, walked down the very busy 6th street, grabbed a slice of pizza, and walked back to our hotel. We talked for hours after that and got about an hour of sleep before the alarm went off for us to get up and get ready for our flight.
We grabbed our bags, called down for a taxi, and headed back toward the airport. Both Monse and I were able to eat a light breakfast and grab a cup of coffee at the AAdvantage lounge before heading to our gate that was clear on the other side of the airport. Fortunately, we had been upgraded to first class for this flight back home. It was amazingly comfy for two people running on an hour of sleep and far too much alcohol.
All in all, Austin was a great choice for our short girl’s weekend away. We got to walk around a great city, see a very cool capitol building, and listen to some amazing live music. It was a great introduction to our travels together and we are ready for another trip soon!