Category Archives: vacation

Tour de Austin, y’all!

IMG_2010I really enjoy Austin, I’ve been twice to visit my aunt, and we actually thought about moving here before we ended up in Charlotte.

I had been toying with the idea of going to BlogherFood for a few years, but couldn’t get it together. This year with the conference in Austin and the fact we have family there, it was almost perfect. The problem was the Blogher Food ticket price was INSANE. Sorry, but over $400 to attend a conference and listen to people talk about things I kinda know about, and I have a successfully run kitchen already? Nah. I spent $40 on tickets to see Mumford & Sons instead. YEE-haw! Wasn’t the timing so convenient? Marcus must have received our travel memo.

IMG_2031We stayed at my aunt’s where the kids were treated like royalty, giving us the ability to take the city by the beer glasses and GO. I deemed the trip “Tour de Austin,” as we hit as many bars and restaurants as possible. A few spots included The Bat Bar, The Ginger Man, Dizzy Rooster, Pete’s dueling pianos, and Maggie Mae’s. Thanks to the wafts of patchouli and weed up and down 6th street, I deemed Austin “The Asheville of Texas.”

Texas heat is definitely not like the Carolinas, it’s hot as hell but the air isn’t sticky and humid. For every alcoholic beverage consumed, it’s necessary to drink half gallon of water so you don’t pass out, vomit, or scream obscenities at strangers. All things that this crowd has done at some point. Actually, Tricia did have a bonding moment with a group of strangers on this trip, but that’s a story for her to tell.

We tried out Roaring Fork for dinner, it was nothing short of a bunch of foodgasms. We shared things like beef tenderloin fondue, green chili mac & cheese, and little cornbread muffins. I’m not a huge “meat” orderer, but the filet was unbelievable. Orderer may or may not be a real word, now that I typed it, but I don’t care because that filet was the best.

IMG_2023We made half an ounce of effort to do something “educational” and checked out the Texas State Capitol Building. And by checked out I mean we all dragged our feet and walked to the front gate, paused to see who was was going to volunteer “eh, let’s skip this because BORING…” I can’t be a bad example for Maeve (haha) who was with us so I had to pretend I wanted to see it. (zzzzz) At least we went inside, I even took an interior picture of the dome to prove it.

Sunday before the concert we headed out to Lake Travis. My last visit to Lake Travis was in 2000. The land was green, lush and the lake was covered in boats. I didn’t even recognize it. The lake is so low that there are giant islands of dry land above the dam.

IMG_2075Totally shocked. You can see it in this picture a bit:

Okay, I’ll fess up, we did pop in to The Oasis on Lake Travis for some queso, chips and cheap beer before lunch. Apparently it’s an Austin rite of passage (my second visit, I forgot about noseeums sneaking around chewing on my flesh). But we had lunch at Soleil next door. Food? Amazing, classy (yet they let the kids in) fancy, all with a view.

I had a beautiful cheese plate, but after 3 glasses of wine we ordered fish and chips because alcohol makes you want to eat bad things that are not swimsuit sporting approved.

I can drive like a Texan (lunatic), and this proved to be very handy as I toted everyone around in my super sexy minivan. (thanks for the major hook up, Enterprise!) And did I mention we were going to see Mumford again? Yeah, I’m starting to sound like a groupie, traveling around the country stalking a band, maybe I’m already there….

IMG_2065Austin built this new Formula 1 racetrack called Circuit of the Americas out in the middle of the EBF boonies, with a 30 minute drive outside of the city, with only cows, hay and a VFW nearby… but it’s also really awesome. The Austin360 Ampitheater is located in the middle of it. They had tons of food and booze trucks set up (Titos sponsored) with a tent, beer pong, and cornhole for entertainment while you waited for the show.

Which was amazing, obviously, except the ampitheater was like being slow cooked in a crockpot with 2,000 other bodies. Whatever, it was worth it. I even kept my mouth shut, not uttering any bully words at Mary Katherine Gallagher screaming in my ear for 2 hrs like she was being murdered. Thank you, mango tequila slushie.

The flight home seemed like it was going to suck, since American Airlines cancelled our flight. But somehow they rectified it, we made our connection and ended up home on time. So, I probably won’t be seeing Mumford again this year, and we didn’t get to meet the band this time, but just before we left for Texas OUR HOUSE SOLD! We close July 9th and then we are homeless. I’m currently googling tent options, or maybe I’ll get an RV and end up back in Texas in my aunt’s driveway, because she did extend the invite.

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Bahstun.

IMG_4544Or to everyone not from that area, Boston.

Those temperatures are completely unacceptable.

I don’t like to be cold, but wanted to see Mumford and Sons, and had never been to Boston. Tricia put her magic spin on the trip (Kelly & Heather, you will do as I say) and reminded us how “affordable” off season travel is. That is, if you don’t factor in multiple bar bills from drinking alcohol in order to stay numb enough not to care it’s below freezing all day.

Not gonna lie, the snow was pleasant and it snowed all three nights we were there. At night it sparkles and looks so charming, Tricia hollering down the sidewalk in awe, mouth gaping open trying to eat flakes, like each time was the first time she’d ever seen snow.

“IT’S SNOWIN’ Y’ALL!!!!!”

The wind was not so cute. My souvenirs all came from sporting good stores and were labeled “North Face.” Because what could be a more appropriate memento of Boston than ski wear.

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 Being inappropriate is kinda my thing. Give me a few bloody mary’s for breakfast after a 12 hour bender and you get this.

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John Hancock’s grave. The joke is in the design of his headstone.

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View from the hotel window. It even looks cold, right?

The Omni Parker House is where they “invented” Boston Cream Pie. Bringing food and history together in one place delights me. I am originally from the city known for chicken wings (and unimpressed with snow.)

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Obligatory bridge shot- The Tobin Bridge and Fenway Park.

Thank you, trolley tour, because city tour buses = destination cliff notes.

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 We get down and dirty when we have fun, this moment resulted in us being cut off at the bar.

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 And finally the event we went to Boston for in the first place.

 

 

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Figueres, Spain. Where weird was born.

When I was 6 years old or so, my pediatrician was arrested on child molestation charges. Lucky for me, my mother never left me alone in the room with him as I had issues with seizures and fevers and if I was at the doctor something was not cool.

My next physician was my doctor until I moved away at 24 yrs old, Dr. Ruth. (No, really.) Whenever I went into the doctor’s office I would sit on one side of the waiting area and stare at the craziest mother fucking poster ever. I was obsessed, and this was it:

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Persistency of Memory. Salvador Dali. 

dali1I am sure I had plenty of nightmares thanks to this melting clock scene (and the phenobarbital). Yet time and time again (year after year) I went into the waiting room and stared, totally entranced. When I started college, I took my first Art History class. (I know, yawn yawn.) But after my intro class my first semester in college, along with some prodding by my professor, I knew Art was going to be my major. I was obsessed, and finally learned about this eccentric painting and its creator.

Dali was the first artist to inspire me. Obviously I would be attracted to someone this peculiar and completely whacked.

The train ride was 2 hours from Barcelona to the Theatre-Museum Dali in Figueres.

What I did not know? I was going to meet him for real.

dali4Sort of.
I had not a CLUE he was buried there.

I expected all kinds of Dali’esque madness seeing as he was the director of this shrine.

The town is tiny and cute. You walk up roads that look more like paths, a giant open air shopping market (not a grocery store, a REAL market). The signs suck and they’re very confusing. I was starting to get pissed off until I passed a building with cows and horses built onto the balconies like it’s normal:

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We had to be close. And then this:

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Eggs.

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Our hostess, the voluptuous boob lady standing on a car with a Buddha head greets you in the courtyard. I have a ton of pictures of this place as well, it’s not easy to pick one crazy piece over another.

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See this mural? Look at the people standing underneath. That’s how big it is.

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I had to climb a wooden camel to take this picture, no joke. And because I was nervous, I totally jacked up the fact it’s Mae West if you take the picture correctly. Google it.

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Dali sculpture. Because it’s good to be well rounded- you can regenerate body parts or make furniture out of it.

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The hands of God are nothing compared to those giant feet.

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He was a total perv. I’ll let you find all of the ways yourself.

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Last but not least, his self portrait with bacon. My favorite ever.

Thank you, Salvador Dali.

You inspired me with art, make me feel less crazy and that makes me happy.

 

 

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Breathtaking Barcelona.

barc13Not only is Barcelona incredibly beautiful, I’ve never seen so many facinating and unique architectural buildings in one place.

Barcelona was never on my top 10 list of places to go, not for any reason in particular, but it just hadn’t crossed my mind. I know I like to play the “I have an Art History Degree” card, but I also graduated from college 7,000 yrs ago and I’ve forgotten A LOT.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Catalans, as our trip to Italy was less than friendly (RUDE). Spaniards are much nicer, for the record.

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We stayed at the U232 and it’s a beautiful hotel, but it’s not really near anything except Las Arenas (now a mall) and I’m not a shopper.

It was much easier to get a 2 day tour bus pass. I love those goofy buses. If I’m going to spend that much money going to a European destination, I want someone to cart my ass around until I see every little bit of it. I also want to get on and off like a merry-go-round because wine stops are the best stops.

I was in Barcelona approximately 20 minutes before I began to stuff my face. I am not exaggerating when I say that the best food I’ve had on any vacation ever is Spain. I actually remember each and every meal, even if it was a bowl of olives.

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I say that cautiously, because I love fish. If it wasn’t for bacon, I’d be a pescetarian. If you hate fish, you may not feel the same way about Spanish cuisine. And there’s probably something wrong with you unless you have an allergy. (then you get a pass.)

Paella. Need I say more. I ate it THREE times while I was there. I prefer to eat tapas all day long versus a big, bloating meal. (except paella, and if you’re nice I’ll share.)

I only drank wine. I didn’t give a caloric crap. I always just say “red” and whatever they happen to bring me (which was always ridiculously cheap compared to what we pay in the US) was always wonderful. Or I was too buzzed all day every day to know better.

Port de Barcelona was beautiful and busy. The weather was so weird, it was warm and humid, but not warm enough not to wear a jacket.

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Olympic leftovers circa 1992. Then I found what I was looking for, a guide book.

(I also found a used condom on the beach, not what I was looking for.)

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I bumped into this guy and was like “hey, I know him!” My tiny brain recognized the name, and realized this dude’s architecture was going to get heavily stalked by me.

Im actually sad that I’m not going to bore the hell out of this entry by posting the 324 pictures I took of 3 buildings. Even though it’s kind of killing me, because the inside of these buildings is even more wild than the out. Maybe one day I’ll pin them on pinterest because I could come back here and link it up….(that will never happen.)

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Casa Batllo  barc9

And most impressive of all- Sagrada Familia

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We spent hours combing these buildings, inside, outside, and on each roof. I have pictures of doorways, floors, light fixtures- I was mesmerized. But this trip got a whole lot better once I decided to go and visit my favorite artist of all time.

Salvador Dali.

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