North America, Travel, United States

Austin, TX 2013: Day 4

My last day in Austin started off with crawfish!! I didn’t even know what crawfish is, but our trustworthy Google and Wiki explained to me what it is. Then I thought Sebastian from Little Mermaid was a crawfish, but apparently he is a red Jamaican crab or something like that so not a crawfish. We waited for our friend from San Antonio to arrive in Austin, then we all drove down to this awesome crawfish place that I forgot the name of…

The restaurant looked like a ship, and we had two more friends that joined us so between seven of us, we shared two huge plates of crawfish. So basically crawfish are the little cousins of lobsters. And the two girls who joined us for this crawfish fest were from Louisiana, so they knew the ‘proper way’ to eat crawfish. They were also telling me that you shouldn’t be wearing white when you are eating crawfish, but of course, I was wearing a white shirt. Nonetheless I didn’t have a single tiny stain on my shirt when I was done breaking all those little tiny backbones of these crawfish!!

SOOO GOOOOOD! It was quite spicy, but it was yummy spicy. Also, I’m allergic to jumbo shrimps but not lobsters, and I didn’t have any allergic reaction to these crawfish as well. After we finished these delicious sea creatures, we went for an ice cream and headed home again to pick up my suitcase as my flight back home was at 7pm. Everyone came to the airport with me to send me off, and we took a mandatory group photo ❤

I’ll be seeing Doris from Austria in Milan in July when I’m in Italy this summer, Lina is going to try to make it in Milan around that time as well, Jonathan in Seattle or here soon since he works in Seattle, and hopefully I’ll get to see all of them soon! It’s purely awesome to have friends all over the world and share moments of my life with them!

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North America, Travel, United States

Austin + San Antonio, TX 2013: Day 3

As I point out again how much food I eat every time I’m in Austin, we woke up the next morning and went to Juan in a million (Get it??? JUAN in a million? Soooo punny lol) for some breakfast taco. I, for one, never had tacos for breakfast and it certainly was interesting – and delicious! 

Of course, being in Texas, portions are huge so I shared the dish with my friend. Mmm, just looking at the picture makes me hungry! It had eggs, potatos, cheese, and other breakfast-y stuffings and their hot salsa was a perfect complement on this dish.

After we stuffed ourselves with this yummy stuff, we began our journey to San Antonio, TX. It took us about two hours of driving to get down to San Antonio from Austin, and it certainly felt very different from Austin. Buildings were very Spanish-influenced looking, the weather was amazing (it was around 0~5 degrees Celsius in Vancouver and raining, so any temperature higher and dryer would’ve made me happy), and the River walk was so pretty! There were a lot of tourists, including US Air force guys out for their break as well.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that I was expecting more of an actual ‘river’ for river walk but it was more like a stream that goes through the town with lots of restaurants and bars on the sides (not that I’m complaining..). In my summer dress, drinking agave margarita out in the sun with my friends was more than I could ask for. And to finish the tour, we walked down to the Alamo. Again, I have to admit that I was expecting something more grand for this landmark, but it was a small battlesite with much bigger history. I’m not too knowledgeable in American history so it was good to have these Texans with me to explain what happened here a couple hundred years ago.

Then we were on the road again back to Austin, to enjoy my last few bits of SXSW. We wandered around Rainey and Sixth street again until later that night we met up with my friend’s brother and his friends on West Sixth. We met up with them at Key bar in Warehouse district, and they had these awesome shakers with homemade popsicles!! I tried out their Hard Crush shaker, which is pomegranate vodka and lemonade with pom/berry popsicle. The music was good, drinks were awesome, I much preferred the crowd here than the ones on the other side of Sixth street, and it was so nice to just relax after being stuck in the rush hour traffic for almost three hours on our way back.

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North America, United States

Austin, TX 2013: Day 2

On the morning of my second day in Austin, we of course went down to Round rock to have those fantastic Round rock Donuts for breakfast. I had these the last time I was in Austin as well, but we had to take our Austrian friend there. I love these donuts – there are tasty, so cheap, and if anyone is in a mood for donuts they of course have the Texas-sized donuts that is literally bigger than my head. Their original donuts are pretty similar to Timmy’s original glaze I think, but they are more yellow and quite chewy. Their parking lot is always full, and I’m always so surprised how many people have donuts for breakfast; My usual breakfast routine involves granola cereals, but I guess other people don’t mind having donuts for breakfast as much as I do 😛

After breakfast, we headed down to 6th street this time. I would say that it’s like their version of our Granville street – people busking here and there, full of people, many bars and chill out spots. After just wandering around 6th street, we went back to Rainey street since we have RSVPd for different events on Rainey. Nonetheless I don’t think RSVPs were mandatory, because they didn’t check anything; we just lined up like other people and went in like other people :/

At the first venue these fellow Canadian guys from Toronto called The Airplane boys were performing and they were actually pretty good! The other venues had some country-folky kind of music, some had heavy metal, some with electronic/DJs. At Hide & Seek there DJ Flume was spinning while we were there, and he also was good – and he had a sexy accent as well 😛 Cool accents make everything sexier, I’d say….

While we were walking around 6th street, this girl was handing out tickets for one of the big shows that night. And she told us that Skrillex was going to be the secret special guest that night!! It would’ve been lovely to go, but this day was actually my best friend’s birthday and we were supposed to have her birthday dinner with her family so we went back to Leander around dinner time.

My best friend’s family is originally from El Salvador, and they definitely know how to cook – especially meat of any kind. Last time I was in Texas for her graduation they were feeding me so much I felt like I’d have to roll to the airport, and this time was no difference. Her step-grandpa always makes the best pork ribs with salt and pepper rubs, and this time he cooked roasted meat which was in the oven for hours and hours! And her brother baked an awesome tres leches cake, which was sooo yummy.

Thank goodness we were walking every day for like 10kms, otherwise I actually would’ve needed to be rolled to the airport…

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North America, Travel

Austin, TX 2013: Day 1

I took 3 days off work to go back to Austin, Texas to see my best friend from exchange and a few others (March 13-16). I was in Austin for the first time last year in December for her graduation (University of Texas, Austin – Hook’em! 😉 ) and this time was for a little reunion with my exchange friends!

It couldn’t have been a better timing, since it was the SXSW week! And my flight to Austin was landing around midnight, so we planned that we would head straight to the city from the airport – and we did. Anyhow, let’s start this chronologically.

My flight (with Delta) from Vancouver was at 8:30am, connected in Minnesota, again in Atlanta, then Austin, finally. Quite ridiculous flight plan, but hey what can I do – that was the cheapest flight option available at the time. The last time I flew with Delta was more than 13 years ago, and it was such an unpleasant experience I never even thought of flying with them again. But fortunately this time around it wasn’t as bad as the last time!

3-20-2013 9-57-28 AMI left my apartment in Downtown Vancouver at 6:30am PST, and when I arrived in Austin it was 11:30pm CST; I technically spent the whole day at the airport, in the air, or waiting for the connecting flight. I had lunch in Minnesota airport, and it was so interesting to see this Japanese restaurant with an iPad at every table. I’ve seen restaurants that use iPads as a menu, but not at a restaurant in an airport! I ordered Pad Thai with chicken; it was ridiculously expensive ($17+tax+tip) but I compensated for this as I paid $8 for my dinner in Atlanta 😛

 

No surprise that I was exhausted by the time I actually got to Austin, but nevertheless I got changed at the airport washroom, and my friend came to pick me up at the airport with two other friends! I haven’t seen one of them since last year when I was in Austria, and the other one for at least two years since I met him in Hong Kong! So there were a lot of hugs, and then we headed down to the city.

We got to the city a little past midnight, and headed to Rainey street for SXSW. That street had an interesting history, where these sisters just started buying houses on that street and turned them into bars with different themes. Some had covers, some didn’t, so we automatically went into the ones without covers 😛 We hit 4~5 different venues, including Lucille which was one of the newest bars on that street, and headed home not too late since we were (or at least I was) too tired.

 

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North America, Travel, United States

Emeryville & San Francisco, CA 2013

After New York, I had to fly in to San Francisco for work. So I had to call for a cab, and I was astounded to find out that you have to pay this ‘reservation fee’ to make a reservation for a cab!! In Vancouver, you can make a reservation for a cab any time of the day without paying any fees for it, and you can always call a cab right when you need it as well. But this system seemed to be non-existant in New York which I found very surprising. Maybe it’s because there are just so many cabs driving around the city you don’t even have to call for one; but I still very much prefer our friendly Vancouver call cab system 😛

Anyhow, I made a reservation for Carmel taxi services the night before, and it costed me $34 + tip from Upper east side to LGA. The only thing is (and I do this EVERY TIME I’m at LGA, stupidly enough) I got off at the wrong part of the airport. LGA is divided into three parts, Gate A, B, and C, and I thought I was at C but then it turned out I was supposed to be at Gate B. So then I had to take the airport shuttle from Gate C to B, which clearly was not the smartest thing to do. Fortunately I had more than enough time to be at the correct Gate then flew to Denver, Colorado for my connecting flight.

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From Denver, I caught my next flight to SFO. It certainly felt like a long day, and since I arrived 45 minutes later than my colleagues who left from Vancouver, I had to get a cab for myself to the hotel in Emeryville. It was a pretty expensive cab ride – it came down to $85 including tip. The traffic on the Bay bridge was horrible as I landed just around the rush hour and not to mention there was a fee to cross the bridge. I was absolutely glad that my company was paying for this cab ride. When I got to the hotel, a few of my colleagues were heading out to go shopping, but I decided to settle in for a short while and went down to the hotel bar to join the rest of them. New York was pretty warm with around 6~8 degrees Celsius, but I was really happy with SF weather for sure. And also I’ve never been in Emeryville/Oakland area, so it was pretty interesting as well.

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The first night people from Vancouver office and Emeryville office went out for Mexican together at Chevy’s. The drinks were HUMONGOUS, and I liked the nacho chips in Sombrero 😛IMG_5414

After dinner everyone went back to their rooms to rest, and my friend in San Francisco came to visit me with cheesecakes from the Cheesecake factory! I haven’t seen her since two summers ago, and it was great to see her again.

 

Since Emeryville and San Francisco was a work trip, I didn’t do too much stuff so I’m just going to condense everything I did in a single posting. So the second day in Emeryville was all meetings, and everyone from all three Vancouver, Emeryville, and San Francisco offices went out for bowling in Alameda. It was definitely very entertaining, and I was so surprised at myself how good I was at bowling! I haven’t went bowling since high school which is at least 6~7 years, but I managed to get the personal high schore of 124!

On our last day in San Francisco, we checked out in the morning and went to tour around the Emeryville office for half an hour and all left together to check out the San Francisco office. The view at this office was amazing, IMG_5415

After this office tour, we got a couple of hours of free time. So me and my colleagues went down to Union square and parted our ways to do our own stuff. Since I was just down here in San Francisco 7 months ago and did all the touristy stuff, I decided to look around Nordstrom for an hour and met up with my friend again to have lunch at Perbacco (http://www.perbaccosf.com). I was craving for Italian so I made a reservation at this restaurant. It’s right in the Financial district, so it was very busy during the lunch hour. I got the Pappardelle and my friend got Scarpinocc. They were both pretty good, but I completely forgot to take pictures of them. Nonetheless, we got Espresso Bonet for dessert, which was great. Certainly recommend this dish.

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And with this, I ended my time in San Francisco and headed back home.

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