Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pinoy in Texas - My short trip to Austin and San Antonio

Austin - Texas Capitol Building floorI recently traveled for work to our Austin, Texas office and stayed there for a week. It was my first time traveling to Austin and Texas and I was determined not to go to Austin and not see Austin. Outside of the office work hours, I squeezed in time to see a few of the city sites.

What I discovered is a neat town that has lots of history, loves good music and loves to eat and drink. A bonus trip was a visit to pretty San Antonio.

I only saw a few tourist sites in the city during the week. Those that require visiting hours were already closed by the time I leave the office in the evening. I had to stay over the weekend so I can see two or three sites.

This is a bird's eye view of Austin. From the airplane, the landscape is flat lands as far as the eye can see. It may look flat from above but there are areas dotted with hills especially the ones near the lakes.
Austin - Aerial View 

This view is from South Congress Ave. The Colorado River cuts through Austin and divides the city in half. North Congress Ave is north of the river. South of the river is South Congress Ave. Notice how the Texas Capitol Building is center of the skyline.
Austin - View from South Congress Avenue 

This view is from North Congress Avenue looking south toward the river. I've been told that Austin is experiencing an economic boom which then resulted to a building boom. I saw lots of modern looking condos in the city.
Austin - North Congress Ave 

This is the Texas Capitol Building. It is a huge and majestic looking building that is the focal point of Austin, the capital of Texas. It is reddish in color and you can see the Capitol building from almost anywhere in the city. It was about to rain when I took this photo.  Unfortunately, I didn't make it on time for the last  free guided tour of the day the first time I went there so I had to come back another day.
 Austin - Texas Capitol Building 

Mijo arrived in Austin on a Thursday night so he can also see Austin. We both joined the free guided tour of the Texas Capitol Building during the weekend site seeing. The dome of the Texas Capitol building is huge. In fact, that's my first impression of Texas. Huge. This picture was taken from the Rotunda.
Austin - Texas Capitol Building dome 

Two late 19th century paintings hang on the walls of the 
Texas Capitol Building's South Foyer. One of them is The Surrender of Santa Anna by William Henry Huddle (1847-1892). I didn't know the significance of this painting in Texas history until I read and saw references to this painting again later that week during my trip to historic The Alamo in San Antonio.
Austin - Texas Capitol Building painting 

This elegant hotel is a gem in Austin. It is called the Driskill Hotel. It was originally built in 1886 and still continues to be a landmark on 6th Street in the heart of Austin.
Austin - The Driskill 

This is Driskill's Hotel's columned lobby, shiny marble floors and elegant stained glass dome.
Austin - The Driskill interior 

Inside the hotel is The Driskill bar. I've read about this bar in travel guide books. The bar is as oppulent and elegant as the hotel. Even though I was wearing shorts, I did not hesitate to go in. I had to try the Batini, I thought to myself.
Austin - The Driskill bar 
Here's the Batini. It is supposedly the official cocktail of Austin and it was originally concocted at The Driskill. It is made of Tito's Handmade vodka, hibiscus and ginger simple syrup, and agave sweet and sour.
Austin - The Driskill Batini 

We also visited the LBJ Library and Museum near the University of Texas.
Austin - LBJ Library 

Austin - LBJ Library mural 

Here's a dinner I had at the Steeping Room at The Domain. The Domain, 15 minutes from downtown Austin, is a posh mall which is near the hotel I stayed at during my official business days. I had to move to a so-so hotel in downtown when my official company trip was considered over. :)
Austin - The Steeping Room tea service 

One of the highlights of my trip to Austin was a visit to Paul Qui's restaurant called Qui. I felt completely at home. Plus Chef Qui came by and said hi. What a nice guy!
Austin - Qui crowd 

Mijo and I were told that the wait was going to be an hour. We sat by the bar and ordered these very tasty mojito.
Austin - Qui Mojito 

Twenty minutes later, we got a table. This was a freebie.
Austin - Qui Freebie 
For appetizer, we ordered sardines. Of course, they were tasty and had crunch skin.
Austin - Qui Sardines 
Next, we ordered this modern Kinilaw, which is a Filipino ceviche.
Austin - Qui Kilawin 
Next to our list was this Duck Tapa which is the duck version of the Filipino beef tapa.
Austin - Qui Duck tapa 
We ordered this Bulalo which is a reduced version of the Filipino bulalo. It was the tasties food I've ever eaten. The sauce is just bursting with flavors!
Austin - Qui Bulalo 
For dessert, we decided to get this cheese ice cream sandwich which reminded me of cheese ice creams in Manila. This one was topped with shreded cheddar cheese.
Austin - Qui Ice Cream sandwich 
And of course, halo halo. It was delicious and modern looking. Can I call it designer halo-halo?
Austin - Qui Halo Halo 

On Monday, my team mates took me to Chuy's for a taste of the real Texas.
Austin - Chuys 

I was walking around South Congress when I took a photo of this boot store. Might as well.
Austin - South Congress Ave scene 

Before Mijo joined me in Austin for the weekend, I was eating alone after work. I went to Jasper's also at The Domain. They truly know how to cook a delicious medium steak in Texas. I only ate half of this serving.
 Austin - Jaspers Flat Iron steak 

This is one of the spicy margarita's I've had while in town. I was under the impression that spicy margarita is all the rage now in Austin. This one is by Gloria's Latin Cuisine which is also at The Domain.
Austin - Glorias Spicy Margarita 

This coffee and blended coffee were taken at Halcyon coffee bar lounge.
Austin - Halcyon Cafe 

We sampled this delicious Mac n Cheese at 1886 Cafe and Bakery.
Austin - 1886 Cafe and Bakery Macaroni 

I even tried breakfast at Magnolia Cafe for a good Texan style breakfast. The portions are huge but good.
Austin - Magnolia Cafe 

This is Amy's Raisin Crunch ice cream.
Austin - Amys Ice Cream Raisin Crunch 

A bonus in this trip is a visit to the historic The Alamo in San Antonio. San Antonio is about an hour and a half drive from Austin.
San Antonio - The Alamo 
This is where I learned that Texas was its own country before it joined the Union.
San Antonio - The Alamo barracks 
My visit to The Alamo gave me an understanding why Texas is the way it is.
San Antonio - The Alamo history 
I also learned that the Texans actually lost the war at The Alamo. However, they won at the battle of Santa Anna.
San Antonio - The Alamo a story 

We also visited the picturesque San Antonio River Walk. I had heard before about how pretty it is but I think it is even prettier in person.
San Antonio - River Walk 
This is the amphitheatre near The Villita.
San Antonio - River Walk theatre  
Here is another view of San Antonio River Walk.
San Antonio - River Walk boats 

We stopped for lunch at Cafe Ole in San Antonio before heading back to Austin. Here's another one of Texas' spicy margarita.
San Antonio - Cafe Ole spicy margarita 

San Antonio - Cafe Ole Chicken Acapulco

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised on how I liked and enjoyed Austin and San Antonio. I am glad I went to see the city during my business trip.


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