Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Whirlwind Weekend

I think I have finally recovered from the weekend to have the time to write about it.
Friday morning at work I received a couchsurfing request for the following morning. After clearing it with husband that he would be ok with two complete strangers staying at our play I said sure! we'd love to have you!

Saturday morning husband and I went for breakfast tacos at Maria's Taco Xpress which is a funky little place on S. Lamar.

While waiting for our food I got a text that M. and C. were on the bus not too far from our place. Oops! Grabbed our tacos to go and hurried home. 
Since they had been traveling all night, they understandably wanted to freshen up a bit, so we chatted and got to know each other while they took turns showering.
Then we headed off to show them Austin.
First stop was the Austin Farmer's Market at 4th and Guadalupe where C. got to experience some of the Austin friendliness when he was given a free tub of hummus after purchasing some dolmas from Mediterranean Chef, which was super nice of him. Definitely check him out at the farmer's market. C. let us each have a dolma, since husband and I had never tried them before.

Next we headed to the Whole Foods flagship store on 6th. Not only was it great since our couchsurfers have special diets, but Saturdays are always fun to visit for the free samples. Husband ended up buying a bottle of Valley of the Moon syrah wine which was just one of the several wines we got to sample. Since C. is vegan we insisted he had to try some of their gelato. It's amazing how creamy they get the flavors without using milk.
At that point I had to leave them with their gelato to attend my friend Em's bridal shower out in Cedar Park. Husband stayed with them, and they ended up at the ice skating rink on the roof of Whole Foods which will be available until January 16.

I met back up with them at the capitol building where we sat out front for a while enjoying the nice weather.
I can remember enjoying the capitol grounds as a kid mostly for the fact that it has nice grass and small hills that were a lot of fun to run up and roll down.
When we finally went to go in we had an awkward encounter at the security checkpoint. Ever since a gunman opened fire at the capitol months ago they now require visitors to go through metal detectors and inspect your bags. We walked up to the building and peeked inside to see if there were any restrictions (apart from firearms) of what you could have on your person. Well, there were no signs. So we went through the line and discovered that apparently knives are fine, but if you have a small amount of rum buried in a backpack the state troopers will not be happy with you. not at all. But it was okay after I took the bottle to throw in my car and we had a good time exploring the building.
Although I've been to the capitol many times, it was my first time to the third floor. We all got a good kick out of reading the names of past governors and checking out what facial hair was fashionable at different times.
My Tulle cyber Monday deal items arrived in the mail and the weather was nice, so I was feeling very happy in my new dress. 

From the capitol we made a quick stop at home then headed to the Alamo Drafthouse in order to watch the film Rare Exports which husband and I saw a trailer online for that morning, and it looked so awesome we had to see it (plus it was a good excuse to show our visitors the best movie theater in the world).
Check out the trailer for Rare Exports:

You won't view Santa the same way ever again.
When we arrived at the theater we found out that they had a photographer there to take photos of you with a 'feral' Santa. Check out the other photos from the first day they did it - the Santa looks great for the part. I love the Alamo Drafthouse so much for having such fun and creative ways to enhance your movie going experience.

After the movie we headed to Zilker Park. Unfortunately due to budget cuts the Trail of Lights isn't on this year, but they still had the Zilker Tree up so we all took a dizzying spin underneath.

Behind a Christmas tree next to one of the vendor's trailers at Zilker there was this fellow:
 Another quick stop home and then we walked downtown so M. and C. could see 6th Street at night. Being a Saturday night, it was very busy. We saw lots of people dressed as Santa, reindeer, and even a Christmas tree. We ended up at tattoo shop on Red River where C. got his first tattoo, and M. helped talk a drunk, 18 year old girl out of getting a tattoo she would probably regret, along with alerting the staff that the girl was under the influence. Her poor friend had been trying unsuccessfully to get her to leave and not get the tattoo. Kids these days...
We headed home and ended up playing Monopoly until about 2am when we figured we should get some sleep.
Woke up early and headed back to Whole Foods to pick up some food before road tripping to San Antonio.
We walked along the Riverwalk.

We stopped for a drink at a British-themed restaurant where our foreign visitors got a lot of attention from the friendly staff. We had a good time talking with them and promoting couchsurfing/traveling with them along with sharing what pubs are really like in the UK.

From there we headed to the Alamo, with a quick stop into a restaurant that we saw had a photobooth that the four of us crammed into
I like that the Alamo is free to view and even nicer is they offer free informational presentations as well. We listened to talk on the battle for Texas independence which was a nice overview of the war, and I think helped give meaning to the building to our guests. It was interesting and educational and not too long that you would get bored (although we maybe could have done without the chilly wind at that point). We looked around a little bit more, but my side was really hurting me for an unknown reason, so we went back to the car and headed back to Austin.
I took a power nap before we all went to dinner and then headed to Red's Indoor Range where you can rent guns and shoot them. Now I hate that people own guns, I am wary of anyone who likes guns, and I think most people are misinterpreting the 2nd amendment. Having said that, since they are legal and when a lot of people think of Texas they think of guns, I thought it might be interesting to go to a gun range. We all shared a 9mm and a box of bullets. I discovered that guns are much, much louder than I thought. I flinched every time the people on either side of us shot theirs, which amused the employee who stood with us the whole time. He kept trying to tell me they aren't *that* loud and that there's nothing to worry about.

He seemed impressed though when it was my turn and I shot two bullets through almost the exact same spot, but the target wasn't that far away. He should see me at archery!
The gun range was an experience. I'd consider going again, if I could be assured there wouldn't be anyone else there, because the other guns were so.freakin.loud. And I'm just generally nervous around people with guns. You never know who might by a random psycho, especially since violence and suicides at gun ranges aren't unheard of.
 We couldn't stay too long at Red's since we only got there half an hour before they closed, so after we went home so husband could go to bed and the couchsurfers could pack their things. I took the to the Greyhound Station so they could head to their next destination. It's crazy how about 36 hours before we were strangers, but I felt really sad to see them off. I had an awesome weekend with them, and I hope I showed Austin off well.

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