I’ve recently started the hashtag “#GoodbyeAustinTour.” This has created quite the rumpus. It’s not that we are leaving Austin permanently as much as we are ready to start the next leg of our journey, the next chapter of this very incredible book. As I’ve mentioned here in other blogs there’s no telling what will happen next. Our schedules are extremely flexible. The only thing I can promise is that I would love to have you along on this adventure with me, sharing each and every step.
Currently I have a calendar in flux. What I would like to see in the future of this blog are suggestions for travel from you the Searchers. I would love to receive your prompting on where we should go. I’m hoping that you will inundate my email with “unobtainable” proddings for places that you believe are a must see or maybe even places that you would like me to go explore on your behalf. The calendar will always remain open and fluid but I would love to honor your adventures alongside mine. Granted there will be times where I cannot accommodate but for the most part I will do everything in my power to make these mutual dreams come to fruition.
In order to create something in as epic proportion as a flexible year abroad there is much to be done here on the home front. There are business matters to settle, footprints to minimize and homes to rent, homeschooling materials to coordinate and so much more. This takes time. My hope and intention is to keep our pallets satiated with some minor travel until all of these moving pieces have settled and we are in a position to dive in fully and unencumbered. That having been said, for the few months that it will take to gear up for this grand adventure I intend to treat Austin (my own backyard) as a vacation spot where I hustle to explore and unveil all of the hidden treasures in the city. Hence the generation of the #GoodbyeAustinTour.
Over the last few weeks here we have been having a blast with this concept! Just the other night I wandered into my “backyard” with a date and the city grew like a shrink toy exposed to water before my very eyes! On the heels of New York the architecture in the city looked so much more chiseled and inspiring. Details I had failed to notice suddenly captured my eye. I stopped at a building mesmerized by its dynamic and inquired with my date as to what the building’s name and history were. I was disappointed in myself to hear the name, “Driscoll hotel” roll off his tongue. I had been in this building just a few short months before during SXSW (South by South West.) I had enjoyed quite a bit a laughter and merriment in this very establishment and yet I had missed it’s eccentricity. How long has my blindfold been on? How much else have I missed everywhere else? Even trying to consume the adventures in the every day details as though it’s my life source I am missing everything in front of my very eyes. The notion of how tiny I am, how big everything around me is and how much I’m going to miss in spite of this inspiring adventure is simultaneously humbling and dominating.
We began the night at a fantastic hole in the wall, German steakhouse, called The Hoffbrau. It reminded me of a small café that I might stumble upon in my own little country town. The menu was concise and the food delicious. We shared a steak between the two of us and it could have easily fed more. At the waitress’ behest and outside of my usual I opted out of my whiskey neat and tried a Tom Collins. I was not disappointed. Anything added to my whiskey is usually too sweet for me but I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful balance of flavors in this particular drink. Not too sweet and not to subtle it went down smoothly. I may have had another if we weren’t hell-bent on a whiskey walk. My date tonight is military like myself and has the same adventurous spirit that I do. This lead us to the discussion topic of a cities hidden jewels. That paired with our mutual admiration of whisky lead us to the all to obvious conclusion that we MUST find and explore some of these silent wonders this very evening. Spontaneity speaks to me and he was speaking my language. There are nine speakeasy bars known to the public, and for the time me, located in Austin. We needed to see at least two. And so was born our very own scavenger hunt.
The firehouse bar was our first stop. You walk into a tiny and unassuming hostile where you are greeted at the front desk as though the only thing they have to offer is a room. Had I not been with my date there is no way I would have known to reach over to the bookshelf a foot away from him and pull it back to expose quite the hotspot.The excitement and buzz coming from the other side of the bookshelf was enticing but more importantly it shocked me. How they controlled the noise level between the two rooms so as not to give it away was beautifully accomplished. The room was dark as with most speakeasies. The primary colors were black and red. This particular hide-a-way reminded me of the hush-hush bar that we visited in New York and I wrote about in a previous blog. The design was contemporary meets industrial. There was quite a bit of copper, wood and steel. The bartender was as entertaining as he was personable. We made quick friends and he made me one of the best whiskey sours (raw egg of course) I have had to date. My recent travels and exposure obviously have Lin Manuel fresh on my mind because I swear I either found his doppelgänger or his stress relief side job as a bartender here in Austin. Photographing the place like a tourist I finished my drink, guaranteed the bartender I would return and headed out to the next stop.
The Cowboy bar. The inside is very speak easy but the outside more night club. There are two ways to get into this speakeasy, the first and most utilized is to call ahead and make a reservation, but where’s the fun in that? The second way to gain entry is to watch for the red light to turn on. Once you see the red light it means they are allowing free seating or waiting list seating. Just press a button on the intercom and make Mr. Handlebar mustache the doorkeeper aware of your interest. There is a wait time associated with this second method but you can leave your name and number and they will get back to you IF and when there’s ever a space for you allowing you time to grab a quick bite at the best wurst food truck or the ever toted seafood wall restaurant around the corner.
Leaving the cowboy bar we decided to go in search of some Pappy Vanwinkle. The first bar we stepped into was completely sold out (no surprise there) but made a suggestion of where we might find some. From there it was an easy “ride.” We polished off the absolute last of their 10-year-old Pappy but we were directed by the bartender to another bar where there was a 12-year-old pappy. The joys of everything being in walking distance in Austin rapidly became noticeable and so did the lack of Uber. Never fear, this is a city, of course there’s a rickshaw. * As a sidenote I might start to purposefully find the rickshaw everywhere we go.* This however did not stop us from trying another 12 year…….or two. The taste distinction between the Pappys was very evident. But almost too much between Pappy number one and Pappy number two. My date and I are increasingly curious as to which of these bottles indeed contains Pappy. This of course is the reason we maintained course and sipped a few more…. With the sole purpose of discernment of course.
Having sipped enough (and of course waited the responsible amount of time) we decided it was time to call it quits. Only 2 speakeasies in but I promise you Searchers that I will be bringing you into the other 7 shortly. Walking back towards our cars and wrapping the evening I can’t help but be enamored by this city as well. The same things that usually speak to me have captivated me once more. The architecture, the sights and smells, the sounds of the chaos and the ever present art. So close and so accessible I can not wait to pick it apart for all the happiness and excitement that’s within it. I want to devour the city as though it’s my last time so that when I am halfway across the world and someone mentions something alluring in Austin I will be able to engage in a conversation and not regret what I missed. And so was born the #GoodbyeAustinTour.
As always I cannot wait to engage on this journey with you. Please feel free to; like, share and follow of course! Email me your travel suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to sharing this with you!