Wednesday we took Illa to the kennel, then got a cab to Dulles. Glad I checked in online, because United offers a discount on checked bags that way. The flight to Austin was decent, and on time. I’d booked rooms at the Holiday Inn on the lake, and while it’s a bit out of town, there’s a shuttle usually available, and we got it from the airport along with two flight crews (including the one from the plane we were just on). We checked in and relaxed a bit, then had to chose where to go for dinner.
We ended up at La Condesa, a Mexican fusion place downtown, mostly because I’d read they won a cocktail competition. They weren’t serving dinner, so we sat at the bar where I had that watermelon martini and Jill had a mango margarita, both very good.
After we were seated, Jill ordered the tortilla soup, a guacamole with a layer of chipotle & toasted almonds on top, and the fish tacos, while I got the Costillas de Puerco – spicy guava-glazed pork ribs. I liked Jill’s guacamole, but my ribs were unbelievably good – I preferred that sauce to most barbecue sauces. After dinner we decided to walk back along the lake. That was ok, but it seems to have aggravated the foot injury I got a couple weeks back, so I’ve tried to limit the walking since.
Thursday we went over to the 1886 Café & Bakery for breakfast. Jill had the banana pecan bread and a breakfast burrito while I had the 3 egg omelet, both nicely filling and Jill really liked the coffee. After that we headed over to the Whole Foods flagship store where we bought breakfast and beers as well as lunch. We caught a bus back to the hotel right outside.
Jill wanted to go yarn and window shopping down South Congress Street, but I wasn’t up to walking around, so she headed out after eating her salad. I ate mine a bit later after some surfing (free Wi-Fi in the room can’t be beat), then headed down to the pool overlooking the lake and read for a while.
Jill went to REI to pick us up some camp chairs, but my plan of getting some cheap ones we could leave behind was spiked by prices starting at $50. We decided to just get some of the padded fold up chairs that could fit in our luggage – those weren’t cheap either, but at least we can reuse them.
We went out to dinner at Stubb’s where I couldn’t resist trying the smoky jalapeno wings and a pulled pork sandwich and Jill got a two meat platter with the brisket and the ribs, both scrumptious. After dinner we headed around back to the concert venue, a sloped lawn leading down to a stage. It was the first show of Them Crooked Vultures US tour, and I had a feeling that we wouldn’t be anywhere near that close the next night at ACL (I was right). Dave Grohl was a monster on the drums, just hair and hands, while John Paul Jones laid down some heavy bass. One song seemed like “Trampled Underfoot”, just slowed down and spacier. It was great, but we got tired of standing and left with about 3 songs left to go (calculating from the setlist).
Friday we had breakfast in the room, then headed to Austin City Limits – not the festival, but the soon to move TV studio. We were there for a discussion on the history and evolution of the show, which included Alejandro Escovedo as well as Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks. We took a seat in the second row in front of the stage and marveled at how small the room actually is, then got a really entertaining conversation (I’ll post a link when it’s up).
Afterwards we went across the street to TerraBurger, home of organic burgers. We both got one (half off on Friday’s!), Jill got avocados and bacon on hers while I got bacon and jalapenos on mine, and both of us had side salad and Zevia Cola. Burgers were juicy and delicious, but we were soon on our way to Republic Square. It took a while to get our wristbands and board the buses, but soon afterwards we were walking into the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Phoenix went on just as we arrived and we were enjoying them, but I dragged Jill off after a couple songs as I really wanted to see Coheed and Cambria at the other end. We sat down and I enjoyed their prog heavy set. I wasn’t planning on seeing any of Bassnectar, but he pulled me in with a tease of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days” before switching songs. Jill wanted to get good seats for The Greencards, so we headed over there. I went to get a smoothie and caught some of Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 (with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar) before heading back.
The Greencards were most excellent, though everyone stood down front so I left Jill there and retreated to the side so I could sit. We headed to the next stage over to see Andrew Bird and saw the end of Thievery Corporation. Andrew Bird was ok, but I decided I’d rather see the majority of Them Crooked Vultures’ set. We were far away, but it was still good. We’d planned on seeing some of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and some of the Kings of Leon before leaving, but were getting tired and just stayed for 3-4 Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs before catching the shuttle back (apparently we missed Eddie Vedder joining Kings of Leon on their closing number – oh well).
Since we didn’t have dinner at the festival, that meant we could get something hot and fresh. We’d already decided we wanted to hit up Opal Divine’s Freehouse as it was the last night of half off on 30 types of Texas beer on draft. I had a couple of “anniversary” beers (appropriate since this is our big celebration) and the Newport Chicken Breast Club while Jill had an Austin Amber and the Turkey Reuben. Everything hit the spot, I was a little reluctant to leave.