I wasn’t ever fond of traditions – the old self would never agree to having any sort of routine, nothing as predictable or mundane as “tradition.” My better self however, is fond of making an annual commitment around my birthday, to be more exact, to take a trip in favor of adventures with new and old friends, it’s a sort of compromise.
When I turned 26th, I ventured off to say one last goodbye to New Orleans, I told no one, said goodbye to no one, and ate cake by myself in tears, both heartbroken but at the same time hopeful for a new year full of new opportunities. At 27th, what started off as a solo trip to San Francisco ended up as a girls trip that reunited friends from all over the US, Peru and Panama!
This year, I decided to travel more than 1,000 miles to spend my birthday with one of my oldest, best friends; it’s important as we grow older to spend time with people who knew us when we were young, right?
Now The Road Is Easy
Cruising through my early 20s was like going through a never ending roller coaster ride, it had it’s many ups that were as steep as the downs, and no matter what I did: closed my eyes, prayed, hoped, cried, screamed, my life felt like on some sort of auto pilot that had no reset settings.
Fortunately, the ride came to a crashing halt when I turned 25 and from there, my life took on a more manual, hands on approach. One of the reasons why I was able to pick up after being so broken, was because of the support system I had of loyal, understanding, compassionate and loving friends as well as family. So I made a promise to myself that I would try as much to bridge gaps whenever I could, to stay in touch, and continue to strengthen my relationship with my ride or die friends, and family members.
Everything is grander in Texas, and for good reason!
Getting to Austin was an odyssey in itself that involved a loss of connecting flights, temporarily lost bag, tears, anxiety, mild sense of doom, and eventually euphoria when I finally made it! Though delayed, my best friend Erica who you may recall from Dosi Blends, was ready to start the trip with the best of intentions.
Our first stop was The Roosevelt Room, their happy hour on Tuesday last the entire night so it was the best way of celebrating my miraculous arrival for the night. The night involved, a seemingly inaccurate sighting of Father John Misty, the most delicious craft cocktails, a mild flood and pouring rain which in the end obligated us to stay out the entire night!
Erica has got me hooked on this amazing concoction she has every morning, a mix of ginger, cinnamon, and other magical ingredients that will awaken you in the most calm and warm way, but alas it’s her recipe so you can ask for it yourself at @Dosiblends.
A morning workout, at 28, has proved to be the most efficient way to burn off any sluggish energy that you may be bringing from a night before. But after that, I was really looking forward to having my first cup of coffee after a 2 month hiatus – and what a better place to do that at the famous Latin American coffee shop, Nenai. The alfajores are out of this world (made by owner Glady’s Benitez mom) and the coffee aroma gave me that home out of home feeling I love having while traveling.
The Comedian and the PoolBoy
Let’s start with the oasis, Pool Burger is like entering an alternative, tasty universe in the middle of the city. The music, it’s vibes, the tropical variety of drinks, and most importantly the fact that you CAN get a vegan burger with fries. Highly recommend the Bird of Paradise, and their happy hour special are $5 rosés and $2 draft beers!
The verdict? No fry left behind.
TIP: Whenever I plan a trip I use Instagram to scoop out places and save them as collections under the name of the destination, as pictured below.
Why? Because it makes it so much easier to reference than a doc itinerary of any kind. Now, back to your regular porogramming…
Next on the checklist: The South Congress Hotel, we made our way up to SOCO and despite the rush hour traffic, made it just in time for their happy hour! The hotel is aesthetic goals, it houses Central Standard, Lobby Bar and Mañana Cafe. It also has the trippiest bathroom that gives of a That 70’s show meets Fargo vibe.
What instantly drew me to the Lobby Bar was their giant smiley pins that bring to mind The Comedian from Watchmen, after snapping this we ordered Palomas, drinks are half-priced during happy hour! (FYI) I was also very fond of the bar tenders Canadian tuxedos, highly approve of this uniform and will continue to campaign in favor of denim on denim.
There’s a DJ playing live, the mood is très chill, the place is not packed which is perfect for when you’re trying to have a solid conversation with an old friend. After a while we decide to head next doors to Central Standard to check the space out.
It does not disappoint, we grab one more drink and begin a conversation with a Puerto Rican gentleman who’s about to head back and is having a celebratory goodbye treat, by himself. We discuss the fucked up situation, the lack of concern, what its like to be without power, we discuss astrology (he’s an Aquarius, my favorite kind of people) Austin, karaoke and vintage shops.
He was kind enough to write a list of authentic to-do’s on a napkin, seeing as my phone battery had long gone by this point, but seriously it’s a rare sight to see anyone handle pen and paper these days! We bid goodbyes and after a long afternoon, head back to Erica’s to recharge for the night.
I‘ve always felt lucky to be a person that can actually say they have great friends. Last year while in San Francisco, an Uber driver, after learning we were all gathered here in my honor, said that I must be a hell of a good person, or have some really good karma.
As we picked up Sofia who had just traveled 12 hours via bus to spend a weekend with me, I recalled what the driver had said to me, I’m so blessed to have such genuine connections with people and that’s why I do as much as I can to keep them alive. Sofia wouldn’t be the only traveling to see me for the weekend, but first, things first.
I had heard of Native Hostels as the new IT place in Austin. We checked it out for the night, grabbed some drinks, and enjoyed their live music; I still want to know who the DJ was as he played remixes to Selena’s classics and for that I will be forever grateful to him, dancing to the Queen of Tex Mex was the perfect way to end the night.
The weather had been terrible for the first two days, flood warnings, torrential rains, dampness everywhere… but luckily for me, it was just a temporary fluke. Come Thursday, we had the best patio weather you could have hoped for on a trip. Naturally, and because I really think I was an iguana in a past life, I sunbathed for a couple of hours before heading out again.
The agenda included strolls around downtown, and a stop at the lively Upstairs at Caroline’s for some very appropriate aperol spritz and some jenga, I’m not a fan of the American favorite, “corn hole”, foosball or shuffleboard, but from what I gathered this place offers them along with great happy hour discounts!
I wasn’t really expecting to meet an international crowd at such an American bar but leave it to me to run into the only Brit* and Irish* guy there. We bonded over the Brit’s French bulldog, Tommy. Brit and Irish work at a tech company around the corner, Brit is from London, and Irish is from Dublin. We hang out for a few, play a terrible game of Jenga, enjoy slushies and Irish teaches us how to say cheer in gaelic, slàinte along with a Irish toast, céad míle fáilte, which translates to “One hundred, thousand welcomes.” I think it’s the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.
We part in typical millennial fashion, exchanging IG handles and move on over to popular Rainey Street. We stumble across the UN-BAR-LIEVABLE, that’s really how it’s called – and are immediately drawn to the psychedelic slide. Think of this bar as the equivalent of a grown-up playground, but not à la Dave & Busters, more like hula hoops included, for real.
There’s live music and refreshing, spicy margaritas, there’s magnetic boards along with magnetic letters on each of the tables across the bar. It’s not crowded but the street overall is. We play around for a bit and make our way to The Container Bar, where we ended the night alongside a group of Irish guys who were coming in from Vegas, hopping our way around 6th street, listening to their Celtic chants, and dancing our night away at Kingdom.
This Austin trip could not be complete without some more reunions. Dominique, who I met at coding camp, took time off to drive herself to Austin for the weekend. Kim and Brooke, ex co-workers of mine who I hadn’t seen in years, joined me as well. I was surrounded by a myriad of loving friends, and we celebrated in the best way we could, which leads to…
Ladies Who Brunch
For my final day we decided to treat ourselves to brunch at the newly opened Le Politique in Downtown. Kim and I have birthdays that are one day apart so we decided to do a joint celebration filled with copious amounts of bubbly, frites and french inspired brunch plates that included the fluffiest, most buttery omelette I’ve ever had.
We talked, we laughed, we sorta teared up, we remembered good old days, we debated about our future and we ended brunch making the hostess throw us a mini photoshoot, in true millennial fashion. If you didn’t Instagram did you really enjoy it?
Friendship is like a river; it flows around rocks, adapts itself to valleys and mountains, occasionally turns into a pool until the hollow in the ground is full and it can continue on its way.
Just as the river never forgets that it’s goal is the sea, so friendship never forgets that its only reason for existing is to love other people. – Paulo Coelho
In favor of traditions, this is one I intend to keep for as long as I possibly can, my friends are like a revitalizing energy, it’s true that they say, “tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”, well like that Uber driver once told me, I must be one hell of a person to have the company of such great people- and that is something that I will always keep in mind.
Work hard to bridge the gaps between your friends, the older you get, the more you will need those who knew you when you were young.