Monday, September 24, 2012

Austin and All Points Beyond, Part Three

Texas Capitol. I've been to Austin at least 10 times, and have yet to actually walk inside and take a look.
Sunday morning. I had everything packed up and in the rental, and we elected to grab brekky before heading to SoCo for more shopping and such. Finding brekky involved a lot of walking until we found a cool spot.
It was going to get hot, but at least there was lots of cool parts of the city to check out before we fried.
We did eventually find a cool spot that was recommended to one of us. And it totally worked for us. In fact, it was a fantastic idea. I was sold after seeing the sign.
"Happy Hour ALL DAY"? Sold.
Malaga Tapas & Bar. This place hit the spot. Our little quartet feasted. And when I mean feasted...we basically went all out and ate like kings and queens.
Feasting like a king. Two eggs scrambled with sauteed shrimp and garlic sauce, along with potatoes. On the bottom right of the plate was this paprika based sauce that I dipped the potatoes in. It was excellent.
There there was decent coffee. Endless cuppa Joe, for the wicked and hung over. And all was good.
I so wanted to swipe one of these comically small spoons. It was for the coffee.
We spent a lot of the time talking about the night before and what happened to me when I vanished with the ladies. Then there was talk about work, which I totally decided to forget about with a couple of mimosas.
Mimosas in the morning fix nearly everything in the universe.
We were full and happy, and that meant we needed to find out where we parked our cars. I volunteered to drive, since the other car was in a car park in the shade. And it was nearly 100 degrees, or would be shortly. Middle of the summer in Texas, and that's how it is.
And there was more walking. At least it wasn't 100 degrees. Yet.
Next stop was the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery which was fun to try and find while the GPS got us lost. Two u-turns later and we arrived. Finally.
The GPS may have been a bit kooky, but we eventually got to where we needed to be.
The place was pretty cool and one of our number really wanted to try out the cake balls at Holy Cacao. I tried out their shakes, which were brilliant. It was like drinking a cake. But being lactose intolerant, I was probably going to pay for it later. We cooled off with some drinks from Torchy's Tacos, then dropped off two of my coworkers at the downtown car park (so they could head back to Killeen early). Then it was just Paula and I, off to SoCo.
There were a lot of people out, but they were further down the street. Plus, 100 degrees.
I showed her Service Menswear, where she ended up getting something for her hubby and I picked up a pretty cool t shirt. We also headed to Tesoros Trading Company, along with a slew of other cool shops. Then the heat really got to us, and we headed back to the car, past this strange...guy/thing.
Not what it appears to be...
Paula thought it was a statue. Because, logically, who in their right mind would be wearing that in 100 degree Texas heat? But this is Austin where they love to keep it weird. Suffice to say, once he moved, a slightly startled Paula knew what I had suspected--that the guy wearing that is nuts, funny, and that Austin is indeed weird. Love this city.
Heading north on Congress and hitting the road.
Alas, it was time to head back to Killeen. And back to work for one more week. Boo. The rest of the week was quite uneventful, aside from a cool trip in Killeen to Cheddar's Casual Cafe (which they seriously need to open in Orlando--this place rocked, on the food side and the drinks side...their happy hour is perfect).
Inside of Cheddar's...wicked skylight. It was brighter inside, but my phone's camera was...temperamental.
Cheddar's had a really cool fish tank...but I was too interested in the properly poured Jack & Coke to snap a photo off. And the dinner distracted me as well. Hit the spot and all that.

Friday night rolled around again, and I'd be home sometime Saturday evening after a non-stop flight from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Orlando International Airport. I hopped in another rental car and headed out from Killeen to Austin for one more night at Barbarella.
This was somewhere after Barbarella, probably at Elysium, which rocked. And yes, you should probably check Elysium out as well. The shot? Straight-up Jagermeister. Because sometimes a Jager goes a long way.
After a night of catching up with my old transplanted friends from Orlando to Austin--Holly and Jacob--I headed to The Jackalope, and then back to the hotel and set my alarm to head back to the airport on time. Let's just say I've got a history of running late to airports. Besides, sometimes it's enough to make sure.

Once I turned in my rental and went through the security theater (after dealing with some TSA worker with a little too vivid an imagination and on a power trip after I forgot that I had a bottle of water in my bag), I ran into another coworker with whom I shared the same flight home. We'll call him Bucky, after Captain America's sidekick--because they look alike, only my Bucky is like 15 years older and has a family. Anyhow, we ended up at Earl Campbell's Sports Bar on the main concourse. And that's where I decided to dive into a couple of things, namely dinner.
I ordered a shot and this is the result. Don't know what it was, but it was the best the lovely bartender could pull together without any top shelf. Surprisingly, it was good. She McGyver'ed it out of random stuff, and vodka.
The first shot I had after lunch was decent, and a good primer to do what I like doing before a flight, getting a buzz--because in reality I've never been a fan of flying, and I checked the motion sickness pills that I usually carry with the luggage. Bad move. Or good, depending on your point of view.
First beer I tried out? Hamm's. Bucky recommended it after trying it first himself. Cheap, but good. But I got bored and wanted to try out something that I missed during the whole trip.
The National Beer of Texas.
Next up was Lone Star Beer. Very ubiquitous during my two and a half weeks in Texas, and what I would best describe as the PBR of Texas. And somehow it was light years better than actual PBR.

A quick two hour flight and I was back in humid Orlando. Definitely a different kind of heat.
Having a quick cig.
I headed outside to have a quick smoke, as the carousels at OIA were and always are notoriously slow. 20 minutes later, I had my luggage, and my cousin swung on by to pick me up.

Overall it was a fantastic trip, aside from the work part. Actually the work part was good as well, since my team accomplished a lot of what needed accomplishing. The fun parts in Austin were a well-deserved bonus. I ran into old friends, met new potential friends, and had a ball just being out of Orlando for a while.

A lot of things went through my mind in the days following the trip. Could I move to Austin? Would it be a good idea? Would what I need be a fresh start in a city that had my name all over it? Perhaps...but those were questions for another day. And last time I checked, we had plenty of those.

Next: A change of pace! I review a couple of bars that I call my usual haunts in Orlando, along with a few off the beaten path. Allons-y!

Once again, a big thanks to Paula at Eat: Watch: Run for hooking me up with a few of the pics in this post. And peruse her blog for insights on running, pop culture, and her interesting experiences along the way. And bunnies. You can find her here:

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