Halloween in Austin and the Texas Hill Country

It is pretty well known that Halloween is one of Garrett and I’s favorite holiday. Although we had fun last year transforming ourselves into a Kudu and Gemsbock in Gabs….celebrating just wasn’t the same because people just don’t really get into dressing up in Botswana. When I found out my sister was getting married the first weekend in November – I jumped at the idea of coming a week early to do Halloween in Austin. Downtown Austin is where I spent some of my favorite Halloweens in college. I love it because everyone gets so into their costumes and the streets of downtown get saturated with costumed revelers. This idea was made even more perfect when our friends from Denver decided to come down and meet us to spend Halloween in Austin. I couldn’t think of anything more amazing!!

Caitlin, TJ, Megan and DeJean met up with us on Friday. We stayed downtown at the JW Marriott which was amazing because the location puts you right in the heart of Austin nightlife and we had a sweet view of Town Lake. We started off Friday night by heading out to Raney Street. This is a new area in Austin that didn’t exist when I lived here! It was awesome! I was so impressed and really wished it had been there when I was in college. We went to dinner at Odd Duck which I have been hearing about forever. It is a hip restaurant known for its eclectic flavor pairings. The only problem was that we were only able to get a reservation at 9:30 so by the time we got there….we were kind of too drunk to properly enjoy the food. But from what I do remember it was awesome!

IMG_1005We started off Saturday getting treated to Caitlin’s hangover cure – fancy IV fluids. She hooked TJ and I up to some normal saline with extra vitamin boosters. This was my first time getting an IV for a hangover…..and I didn’t handle it well. Ironically, even though I am a doctor, I hate needles and hate even more the idea of fluids being pumped into my veins. I was pretty much the worst patient ever. Tj has had them before so he was a pro. I expected that it was going to be this amazing transformation that wiped away all semblance of a hangover and made me feel like a new person. But honestly I couldn’t tell much of a difference after….but you never know how much worse I would have felt without it!

IMG_20171028_153357_045We did Saturday brunch at a East Side Tavern so I could give them a little taste of texas BBQ. I know its not the best BBQ place around, but man its hard to get brunch reservations for a group! They had awesome queso, margaritas and micheladas which is all I care about! We spent the afternoon walking around Town Lake and the downtown area.

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Saturday night is when we decided to go out for Halloween because the 31st awkwardly fell on a Tuesday this year….so the only option was to go out the Saturday before. Deciding on our costumes was quite difficult. I really wanted to go big with a group costume but knew I would have limited time to work on making it. It took months of floating ideas until I came up with the perfect mix of originality and creativity but also cheap, comfortable and something I could make in a day…..Hungry Hungry Hippos! I also loved that it pulled in one of our beloved African animals! After the group agreed on the idea, I had to brainstorm how to actually make it happen. I planned out the supplies that would be needed and made a list for my mom to collect. I found basic colored scrub suits on amazon so that everyone could order their own. I picked up the supplies from my Mom in Houston and then I turned our hotel room into a costume workshop! I went into a frenzy of cutting and hot glue gunning to fashion our hippo heads. It was so fun! I love crafting and I love making costumes most of all! I miss things like this in Africa because there aren’t craft stores and I basically just don’t have time for doing stuff like this.

I was so excited at how great to costumes turned out! I glued the heads to baseball caps to make them easy to wear which really worked great. We got such great reactions everywhere we went! I feel like we could have definitely won a costume contest but that would mean we had to stay at a single bar until 2am and we were too busy bar hopping around for that.

We started the night at Grizzeldas – a modern Mexican restaurant on the east side. Megan and DJean dressed at as Koko and Ice Cube which was soo awesome!! I just felt like we all had the most creative costumes of anyone we saw out!

After dinner we started on “dirty six” – which is what it is known as these days. This used to be my main hangout in colleges. It was “the place to be” every weekend! Now most of the bars are run down and filled with mostly trashy younger kids. Most people over 30 don’t show their faces around there anymore…..but not me! I was soo excited to show my friends all my favorite college bars. I still love dirty six! It made me sad how some of my favorite places don’t exist anymore or are basically an empty shell – like the Aquarium. My favorite spot has always been the Blind Pig so I was happy to see that it was still in good shape and a popular spot.

IMG_20171029_002807I was also SHOCKED at how expensive stuff has become on 6th! I ordered a round of shots at Latitude which is where we used to start the night with $1 jaegerbombs. This time I ordered a round of 6 shots which ended up being like $50! When did Austin get so expensive! We pushed our way all the way down to west six which is where the older crowd hangs out these days. We ended the night at J Blacks where Garrett got hit on by a guy dressed up like Willie Nelson.

IMG_20171029_122303Sunday we met up with some of my college friends at Takoba for more tex-mex food, queso, micheladas and margaritas. We basically ate queso at every meal and it was incredible. It was so nice to catch up with some of my favorite girls! After brunch we tried visiting an Oktoberfest at Austin Beerworks which was a major fail. I forgot how awful weekend traffic can be and we got stuck trying to drive back.

It was so devastating having to say goodbye to Caitlin, Megan and DJean on Sunday. The weekend went by soo fast! At least TJ was able to stay Sunday night and we could fit in one last awesome meal at Uchiko – basically our favorite restaurant in Austin. I am always blown away by the food here!

This weekend was beyond amazing! It was a perfect mix of my favorite people and one of my favorite cities. I just miss being around friends I love and hanging out. Of course we have friends in Botswana, but it is just not the same. These are my people and I have missed them more than anything!

I still cannot get over how Austin has literally transformed into something I no longer recognize! It has grown up into a mature cultural center with literally endless fun activities going on 24 hours a day. It was overwhelming. It was awesome.

After bidding farewell to Tj, we headed down to New Braunfels to do some hill country exploring and meet up with more friends/family. First we met up with Andrea, my friend from internship who lives in Houston now. We hung out at Gruene Hall, explored old town New Braunfels, tried a few bbq joints, looked for the best kolaches and did some shopping at the outlet mall….the typical texas stuff that we miss! It was great to catch up with Dre and hear about her life over the past few years.

Next stop was Fredericksburg to meet up with Garrett’s parents. They had booked us at a cute B&B, the Fredericksburg Inn. We had plans to do some hill country wine tasting and made our first stop at Lost Draw Cellar. We were pretty disappointed in the taste and also horrified at the cost of the wine tasting! I thought Texas Wine Country would be more affordable but it was priced like the most premium vineyard tastings in Napa! So we decided that was our last wine stop…. Instead we hung out at a local tavern. We had dinner at The Cabernet Grill which was excellent.

We spend the next day walking around shops along the main street and had some beers at Fredericksburg Brewery. The time passed way to quickly and it was again time to leave. Luckily, we would be seeing Garrett’s parents again at my sister’s wedding so it was not a sad goodbye. What an awesome week of partying, relaxing, eating, seeing loved ones and showing Garrett around my favorite parts of Texas. It was perfect!

 

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