Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Keep Austin Weird: My Long Weekend in Texas

If you follow me on Instagram (hey, follow me on Instagram!), you might've caught photos of my long weekend in Austin, TX, for the bachelorette party of my dear friend Jill, who's getting married in New Orleans this March. Though I've been to Austin before, it was for South by Southwest in 2013, & I was very overwhelmed by all the goings-on that encompass that event. It was a great time, but I wouldn't say it was an accurate view of regular Austin. This was a great opportunity to see Austin when it's a little bit more normal.

Except is Austin ever normal? The city's whole slogan is "Keep Austin weird," & indeed, this liberal gem in the midst of otherwise-way-too-southern-for-me Texas is one of the quirkiest cities I've yet to visit.

Obviously, we ate a lot of tacos while we were there. We ate twice at Con Madre, a food truck attached to a gas station, & one apiece at Torchy's & Tacodeli. Con Madre, I think, was my favorite, though the queso at Torchy's was some of the best I've ever had, & Tacodeli had a killer vegetarian sweet potato taco with pepitas. I also ordered fancy tacos for dinner at Alcomar on Sunday night - stuffed with lobster tail! My grand taco tally for the three days we were there? Eleven.














Without set plans during our visit, we spent a lot of time just wandering around, seeing what Austin had to offer. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't particularly cooperative; it was overcast nearly our entire time there, raining off & on all weekend, & on Sunday night, there was a terrible thunderstorm. Still, with the help of the nonprofit rideshare app Ride Austin (because the city doesn't have Uber or Lyft), we managed to get in a lot of shopping on South Congress Street - book-ended by taco meals, of course.

I'm always on the lookout for unusual souvenirs I can't get anyplace else, & I really scored on this trip. I walked away with a throw pillow printed with a Revolutionary War-style portrait of Bill Murray from Triple Z Threadz & a Catholic Mexican-style prayer candle with Michelle Obama's face on it from Prima Dora, along with a gorgeous handmade ring I scored on the cheap at Pop-Up Austin. I wanted a neon dinosaur planter from the Plaid Pigeon, but I didn't trust myself to try to travel with live succulents!

Here are just a few of the colorful sights we took in as we wandered.



 


























 


We also stumbled upon (OK, sought out on Google Maps) the city's famous "I love you so much" graffiti, which is spray-painted on the side of Jo's Coffee. Did you know it was spray-painted for an engagement shoot? We waited in line to take a bunch of pictures in front of it, & though we accidentally cut a few folks in the process, everyone was really nice about. How can you be mean when you're standing in front of such lovely words?


One of my favorite spots was Uncommon Objects, a massive, sprawling antique shop on South Congress Street. It was full of strange &, well, uncommon objects, like a hippopotamus skull & a million other things I can't remember but definitely wanted to own. The shop seems to go on forever, every corner of it filled with tons of goodies to look at. It reminded me a lot of one of my all-time favorite stores, the Antique Emporium in Asbury Park, N.J., though, dare I say it? Even cooler. Had I not been with a group of people, I probably could've spent a whole day in here - although for the sake of my bank account, I suppose it's good that I didn't.









Since it was, after all, a bachelorette party, we also partied a little bit, too. Saturday was our big night out, starting with incredible BBQ & fancy cocktails at Lamberts downtown, & then we went out on 6th Street... where our plans hit a snag. One of the members of our group had lost her driver's license earlier that day while wandering South Congress, & though she had lots of backup forms of ID, none was enough to get her into Barbarella, the dance bar we'd wanted to go to.

Dejected, we figured we'd have to call it a night & go drink at our AirBnB, but lo & behold, we encountered a very dumb and/or very inattentive bouncer at a bar down the street. He let all of us in with no problem! Though the bar wasn't as iconic or as crowded as Barbarella surely was, at least it was somewhere - & then Jill, the bachelorette, won a round of free shots. We had the dance floor to ourselves, we talked to a lot of friendly southern strangers, & best of all, we found a photo booth.










 

Aside from dinner, we stayed in on Sunday, pre-gaming a bit beforehand & afterward just watch standup comedy on Netflix. Our AirBnB was so cozy that I could've stayed inside the whole damn weekend & not minded a bit (though I'm obviously glad I didn't!). Oh, yeah, & speaking of the AirBnB: The bride's sister decorated the whole place with penis-shaped confetti that we had a helluva time trying to clean up before we vacated the premises on Monday! 

And I haven't even told you about our AirBnB! I took tons of photos of it because I thought it was amazing, owned by a fascinating shaman/psychic/hippie/gypsy/real estate agent... but I think this is enough photos for one post, don't you? Lots of the house pics are on Instagram, if you want to check out the witchy vibes our temporary abode gave off. Needless to say, here's how I feel about Austin:


I'd love to make it back there again soon. So many tacos await!
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