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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
36 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
A
while ago, I made the
decision that the trips
I take need to have
purpose and mean-
ing and because of
this, I've set my sights on visit-
ing "the most walk able" cities
in the country. Austin, Texas is
the first on my list.
Fifty miles of scenic paths
connect all areas of the city, in-
cluding a 10-mile hike-and-bike
trail that loops through the heart
of the city next to the Colorado
River. The state capital of Texas
is not a typical state capital de-
fined by proper protocol and old
fashioned manners. It is a city
that defies stereotypes and is
filled with a creative spirit. Aus-
tin uniquely combines laid-back
with high-tech, Whole Foods
with start-up rock stars like Jan-
ice Joplin, and is surrounded by
the beauty of crystal blue lakes
and hilly terrain.
My home base while visit-
ing Austin was the Radisson
Hotel and Suites next to Con-
gress Bridge. The back door of
the hotel opens up directly to
the 10-mile-hike-and-bike trail
and is located in the middle of
the downtown action! The hotel
had everything I needed, includ-
ing incredible views of Town
Lake and the downtown sky-
line. If you're lucky enough to
be visiting between mid-March
to November, the back deck of
the Radisson is the perfect van-
tage point for witnessing one of
the most spectacular events that
happens in Austin. I will briefly
explain what all the excitement
is about. 1.5 million Mexican
free-tail bats live underneath The
Congress Avenue Bridge and at
dusk they all emerge and blanket
the sky as they head out to forage
for food. This single event has
created all kinds of bat-watching
tours, including kayak and Sea-
way Bat Watching Tours.
Austin squeezes lots of ac-
tion into a small downtown area.
Austin's music scene is legend-
ary, with nearly 1,900 bands and
a reputation that rivals Bourbon
Street. Music, including country,
blues or rock and folk can be
found in clubs throughout town,
including The Broken Spoke
where Kitty Wells, Willie Nelson
and George Strait often played.
I was curious and decided to
stop by The Broken Spoke on a
week day night. The place was
packed and super charged with
fabulous music, great people
and an electric atmosphere. As
I was leaving, I asked about the
broken down bus in the parking
lot with the headlights on. I was
told it served as a dressing room
for the bands. I laughed out loud
and thought to myself -- this
could only happen in Austin. No
wonder so many people want to
move here!
When visiting a city for a
short time, I have come to find
that taking a city tour is essen-
tial. A city tour gives tourists a
quick thumbnail sketch of the
history, culture and significant
points of interest in a few hours
time. There is a good chance it
will help you determine how to
spend your time on the rest of
your trip. Austin Overtures spe-
cializes in a 90-minute narrated
trip and sets up personalized,
creative trips as well. Our driver
and narrator, Christopher Gibson
was entertaining, funny, knowl-
edgeable, and he took us to
places that only a "local" would
know about. Christopher drove
us to a park filled with peacocks
and we ventured to out-of-the-
way vantage points to snap the
perfect photograph.
Austin is well known for its
chic, sophisticated bars and
restaurants such as La Condesa
that serves up Passion Fruit &
Spiced Mango Margaritas and
Watermelon-Elderflower Marti-
nis designed by mixologist Ju-
nior Merino. Junior has created
signature cocktails for dozens of
world-wide restaurants includ-
ing New York's Rayuela, Cafe
Frida and the Modern; Oprah
Winfrey's The Color.
Austin is also well known for
serving up some fine "trailer
food". I'm not kidding and didn't
even know what this was until I
experience it firsthand. The ex-
pansion from traditional taco
carts has virtually exploded into
parking lots filled with trailers
selling food. You can enjoy an
entire feast from "Fine Cuisine
out of an Airstream", or stop by
"The Mighty Cone" that serves
up Hot & Crunchy Avocado
Cones, Hot & Crunchy Shrimp
Cones along with Beef Cone
Sliders. I did have lunch at The
Mighty Cone and have to con-
fess that it was mighty good!
After a full day of exploring
the city, hiking in the hills and
stopping at The County Line
BBQ for lunch, my friend Mat-
thew and I decided to go wine
tasting in downtown Austin via
the back seat of a Pedi-cab.
When you think about it, it's the
perfect mode of transportation
for a wine tasting!
We started at Peggi House,
an historic 1840's landmark for
champagne tasting and contin-
ued on to Trio to sample flights of
white wines and creative appe-
tizers. We ended our evening at
Cru', sampling red wines paired
with pizza. Urban Wine Tasting
Tour offers pick-up and drop-off
from any downtown destination.
Delicious and fun!! I felt like a
kid flying through the streets in
the back seat of the Pedi-cab!
The next morning we made
the decision to drive 30 minutes
outside of the city and treat our-
Austin, Texas
The City with A Soul!
Article and Photos by Ann Nelson
Zip-lining over the tree tops with Austin Overtures Tours.
Austin trailer food court.