Monday, July 7, 2014

the weekend that almost wasn't

I normally don't care to celebrate July 4th since I hate water and the sun and am indifferent to fireworks. However, this year we made plans to go to Austin with my friend Sara and her husband Bryan for a little mini vacation. Lots of emails and gchats were exchanged and me being me, I was excited yet nervous about the trip - What if we annoyed them? What if I felt sick and held the group back? What if the things we told them were going to be so fun were incredibly boring? Luckily I was wrong and we all had a great time (I'm pretty sure, at least) but something I never would have thought of went pretty wrong. This is long so I bolded the best parts.

Bryan offered to drive so they picked us up early Friday to go to Austin. We first planned a stop at La Barbecue to give Sara and Bryan their first stand-in-line for Texas BBQ experience. We got in line at 10:15 for an 11 a.m. opening. We quickly realized it was BYOB so Sara and I walked to a liquor store and came back with a six pack for each of us (we like to be prepared, okay?). It took until after noon before we got our chance to order, but the food was great and worth the wait. We ordered too much and all wrapped stuff up to snack on later.

Band, long lines, and tons of food = par for the course in Texas BBQ

We got a deal on Priceline to name your own price for two rooms in downtown Austin. We tried to drop our stuff off at the hotel, but were told that the hotel was full to capacity and we couldn't check in until the official check in time (3pm), so we went shopping on South Congress. Unfortunately a lot of the big stores were closed due to the holiday, but we got to walk around a little and take pictures in front of the "i love you so much" wall. We were hot and sweaty and still had time to kill, so we drove to Lick for ice cream. I was intrigued by its cool flavors (strawberry balsamic, goat cheese and honey, things like that) but was mostly underwhelmed with the execution. I tried the Texas Au Lait and Texas Sheet Cake and both were fine but I didn't love either.


In front of the mural on South Congress where you can kind of see my awesomely tacky sunglasses | cute area where we stopped for pics (but the lighting wasn't on our side. Also, I got sunburned).

3:00 rolled around and we were hot and a little sunburned, so we wanted to go back to the hotel to check in and shower and relax before going out for the night. Totally reasonable, right? We go to the hotel and give our name at the desk and we are told that we have one room... um, we are four people. Two adult couples who aren't related and didn't intend on sharing a room, no matter how wonderfully we all got along. The hotel told us that there was a mistake in Priceline's reservation system and that they only had one room for us for two nights instead of two for two nights and they were full to capacity so couldn't give us an extra room. They offered us one room with two beds (no) or to call a sister property for us to see if they had availability and we would incur any expenses (um, it was a holiday weekend - hell no). Very long story very short, we sat in the lobby of the hotel for nearly three hours on the phone with Priceline and their third party who communicates with the hotels and no one knew where the issue came from. I almost thought we were going to have to just head back home instead of dealing with it. We think that the hotel was at fault, and after they spoke with the third party, they offered us a night at a nearby hotel at no charge and then to come back to their hotel for the second night. The third party also had an offer coming to us that we were waiting for - it ended up being a night at a two-star hotel (we had paid for 3.5 stars) THIRTY MILES FROM DOWNTOWN AUSTIN. Um, no, all of our nighttime plans were to eat and drink nearby so we could walk or take an affordable cab and everyone could have fun. So we took the hotel's offer and headed to a hotel about a mile away for a night. We can all laugh about it now, but it was three very annoying hours squatting at a hotel with a staff who wasn't friendly to us until the last thirty minutes.

I hate to admit it, but the location of the second hotel (Town Lake Holiday Inn) was awesome to go to Rainey Street, where we wanted to spend the night. It was less than a mile to walk there. Rainey Street is an adult alternative to Sixth Street - the bars focus more on cocktails, food, and a slightly less drunken clientele. We went to No Va (kind of an old timey feel), Javelina (my favorite - we had a quiet table in the corner of the patio), and Lucille (great idea in that it had hammocks and cool seating but loud and a little bit younger). We also checked out a tapas food truck. It was an early-ish night so we could get up early the next day.


Cute sign on South Congress | Jester King | There was a weird gaming conference going on so we walked down the street behind a horse and a chicken, of course...)

After a breakfast made of leftover BBQ (Andrew heated a sausage in a glass. So classy), we went to a farmer's market and sat in the park in the shade and just people watched and talked for over an hour. Then we headed to the State Capitol of Texas and went on the self-guided tour. I amused myself by taking pictures of as much Texas-themed stuff as I could. We planned to spend the day at Jester King Brewery, which Andrew and I went to just a few months ago. It is a great place to go with a small group, though - affordable drinks, pizza, and permission to just sit and hang out. I tried a raspberry drink that was technically a beer (though it didn't taste like one) and a few ciders. We played Uno and discovered we are all super competitive. I haven't played that game in years but I may have to get a deck of my own soon. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon.


Outside | Texas State Representatives | Texas glass and doorknob | The Rotunda | Former Texas Supreme Court | Texas Capitol door hinges | Outside the elevator door

We checked into hotel number two (they greeted Andrew by name as we walked in - we definitely left an impression) and rested and then went out for dinner. We went to Second Bar and Kitchen, which we have been to before and honestly wasn't as good as I remembered. There was no plan for that night, so we turned to Yelp and ended up at HandleBar, a bar where all of the male bartenders have amazing mustaches. They were also wearing SHORT shorts and there may have been a nearly naked picture of Burt Reynolds behind the bar. It was almost a gay bar and the people watching was great, but it got crowded, fast. We walked toward our hotel and ended up at Easy Tiger, a beer garden next door. They had games to play but not a lot of pieces, so I downloaded the Heads Up app. I've seen it played on Ellen but never gotten to play myself. You guys - it is SO MUCH FUN. Best dollar I've ever spent! We were loud and obnoxious and played and drank until nearly 2 a.m. when my phone finally died. Probably my favorite thing we did.


Thanks to Sara for snapping these awesomely awkward pics of us playing Heads Up!

On Sunday morning, we slept in a little and went to breakfast at Cenote. We headed back to Houston and stopped at Bucee's on the way since Sara and Bryan had never truly experienced it. Bucee's is basically a convenience store on steroids - it sells produce and home decor and snacks and t-shirts and souvenirs and more. I had so much fun on the trip - it was nice to experience a favorite place with friends and show them why I love it so much. It was also new for us to have a trip that was more about experiences and less about food. Even though there were no fireworks, it was a perfect way to spend the 4th.


                  Blonder Side of Life

23 comments:

  1. Yikes :( I hate when someone else messes up but you get stuck with the problem of fixing it..Glad it all worked out int he end though!

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  2. I had the same issues with Priceline when I rented a car, they didn't put the reservation in correctly. Totally stinks but glad the hotel finally stepped up and made it right. Texas BBQ is some serious business! Looks like you all made some great stops and had a great time!

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  3. I hate when logistical snafus happen! At least it all worked out in the end. Still a total bummer to waste 3 hours.

    D and I are definitely going to have to visit Austin. In all of your posts, it seems like our kind of town.

    So glad y'all had a great trip! Even though a Fourth without fireworks ... I can't even. ;)I saw fireworks 2 nights in a row, Thursday and Friday (if that tells you anything)!

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  4. i would have lost my shit; esp if i were hot, sunburned and tired. i hate it when that happens but i'm glad it all worked out in the end :) sounds like a fab weekend anyway!

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  5. what a fun weekend! i am so indifferent to fireworks too, i get bored easily. gosh what a pain with everything that happened with the hotel, glad you got it semi sorted out, but seriously what a pain.

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  6. I am a towering inferno of rage when someone screws up and no one will fix it. I'm glad it got sorted and everything turned out great. It sounds like a fabulous weekend.

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  7. Your weekend sounds like so much fun! I must make it down to Texas at some point for that BBQ.

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  8. I'm glad it ended up being a fun weekend despite the snafu with the hotel! I've never been to Austin but now I have a few ideas of places to visit if I go :) I'll also know to be prepared to wait a long time for some barbecue - yikes! Looks totally worth it though.

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  9. You were in my neck of the woods this weekend. I live in Austin! I love all those places that you mentioned. Especially some good Texas BBQ!!!

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  10. Ugh that really sucks about the hotel! So glad that everything worked out though & y'all had a great time!

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  11. ugggh i HATE when stuff like that happens, especially when you made sure your reservations were correct before going and whatnot. glad that it didn't ruin the trip though!

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  12. what a nightmare with the hotel! Glad things kind of worked out though. I've always wanted to go to Austin and now I want to go even more!

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  13. like everyone else said, so glad that things worked out for you all!! that seems like a fun time. I want to check out that heads up app now! :)

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  14. Sadly, I would have probably extra overreacted to the hotel situation. I'm glad it all worked in the end, at least! It looks like a great time after all that. I'm totally curious about BBQ that you wait on for an hour...I bet it's heavenly ;)

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  15. The hotel debacle sounds horrible, it's good you can laugh about it now though.

    I want to try the heads up app, it looks like a blast!

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  16. OMG what a nightmare! I'm sorry that happened to you! A very similar thing happened to Brian and me in the Dominican. We got to the resort and they told us our reservation was for the day before we got there and that we were lucky they didn't cancel our reservation since we "didn't show up." They said we'd either have to pay for an extra day at the end (because they also had us scheduled to leave a day earlier, basically they pushed our whole schedule back by a day, if that makes sense), or just leave early. They were so unbelievably rude and nasty, and most could barely understand even rudimentary English. We showed them our reservations that showed we were clearly correct, yet they still fought with us for about 4 hours. We had just got off a long plane ride and driven an hour to the resort, and for the entire four hours we sat in the lobby, no one so much as offered us a drink or snack. I just sobbed the whole time and Brian took care of it, and eventually we got what we rightfully had paid for, but it definitely tainted our trip!

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  17. I LOL'ed at the first sentence because that is 100% me as well. Can't believe what a nightmare you had with Priceline, OMG. I used the name your own price thing for the first time a couple months ago and had such an excellent experience I used it again a week later. I would have flipped my shit if that happened to me, no question about it.

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  18. I am with you 100% on the first sentence! AMEN! Sucks about the hotel, but glad it didn't completely ruin the weekend for you! I actually hated Austin the last time I was there because of 6th St. Nice to know there is an alternative for the aging!

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  19. I kinda like that BYOB idea when going to a restaurant... never done that before!

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  20. I love BYOB when I'm prepared for it! What a screw up, Priceline! Glad the hotels eventually worked out but that seriously must have been awful in the meantime. Sounds like a fun trip regardless!!!

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  21. OMG I would have lost it!! I'm glad you got it worked out though! The BBQ looks fantastic! I love the Easy Tiger, the set up is so neat and I really liked the beer cheese. Sounds like a wonderful trip and really fun (except for the hotel part)!

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  22. Sounds like you guys had a great time...minus the part of the hotel mix up!!! I always am nervous to book places on third party sites for this very reason!!! I have heard too many error stories!

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  23. Oh heck no. What is wrong with people thinking that a sub-par hotel that far out of town is a suitable substitute. Ridiculous! This is exactly why I usually avoid traveling over a holiday. I'm sorry girl, believe me when I say, I feel your pain.

    Everything else about the trip sounds amazing though. As per usual I'm drooling over the BBQ! Love the Love you so much wall and the wish you were here sign. So fricken cute.

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