First way: as tourists.

Since this was our first opportunity to check out this much-talked about city, we consulted travel sites, talked to current and former Texans and settled on an itinerary that included their top suggestions and also appealed to us.  We were fortunate to have friends join us for what I believe was one of the best days of sightseeing (because we were with them – thanks, Nick & Robin!).

Our day began at the LBJ Library.  It was very well curated. They did a wonderful job putting events in context and did not shy away from the controversial or unpopular aspects of Johnson’s life and tenure as president.

Upon entering the library you come upon this beautiful staircase.
Upon entering the library you come upon this beautiful staircase.
Going up the stairs you can see the stories of library materials.  I liked that they made the reference area a visual point of interest.
Going up the stairs you can see the tiers of library materials – 4 floors of them. I liked that they made the reference area a visual point of interest.
Faces done in metal at the top of the staircase.
More faces…and a classic smile from HST.
They had what I used to call in teaching a "synchronoptic  timeline". It shows a number of events that occur during the same time frame. It was one of the things that helped put events in context.
When I was teaching I like assigning my history students the task of creating a “synchronoptic timeline”. It shows a number of events that occur during the same time frame. The library had one, and It was one of the things that helped put events in context. Wonder what else happened in 1951???
An example of the displays. On the posts were telephones (the old fashioned kind) that were titled "Hold for the President".  You could push various buttons and listen to actual conversations that LBJ had with his professional colleagues. Most of the time it was LBJ doing the talking - and holding little back...until you listened to his conversations with Lady Bird.  Then you hear mostly her voice and his reply of  "Yes, Ma'am." It was delightfully striking.
An example of the displays. On the posts (the sides you cannot see, unfortunately) were telephones (the old fashioned kind: black with hand sets and rotary dials) that were titled “Hold for the President”. You could push various buttons and listen to actual conversations that LBJ had with his professional colleagues. Most of the time it was LBJ doing the talking – and holding little back…until you listened to his conversations with Lady Bird. Then you hear mostly her voice and his reply of “Yes, Ma’am.” It was delightfully striking.

After time at the museum gift shop we followed a recommendation from a LBJ Library staffer and headed to Hoover’s for barbecue – a natural choice for Texas dining. It is a local spot and quite popular. The creamed spinach with jalapeños was a unique side dish.

After lunch we went over to the University of Texas campus to go through the Blanton Museum of Art.  They had an outstanding exhibit titled “Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties”. It was a perfect companion event to the LBJ.  No photos were allowed in that set of galleries so I have nothing to show in the blog.  You will have to take my word for it: Fabulous!!!

Art gallery corner stairs
The lobby is a work of art in itself.
Another view of the lobby. I took way too many photos here because from every angle it is stunning.
Another view of the lobby. I took way too many photos here because from every angle it is stunning.
A taste of my favorites in the contemporary section.
A “taste” of my favorites in the contemporary section.

art - knotted cloth

art - spikes
The photo doesn’t show the dimensionality of this piece. It is made of canvas, wood and steel.

We followed up our museum visits with a walk along South Congress Street, called SoCo by locals. It is a very hip area and the weather was perfect for window shopping, a purchase of locally roasted coffee from Tom’s, and happy hour at “The Snack Bar”.

B&C @ bar

A sign too good to pass up.
A sign too good to pass up. Food trucks and trailers can be seen everywhere. It is a main form of dining throughout Austin and especially SoCo.

We ended the day with a late dinner at Stubb’s – another barbecue restaurant.  We got there at 9p and the joint was jumping’. We were lucky to get a table.  I recommend the beef brisket. Servings are generous and I was able to take some home to enjoy with our breakfast eggs.

Second way: a wedding and time with family.

We stayed in a VRBO and had a car, so were happy to provide transportation for arrivals.  Picked up son, Alex, and daughter-in-law, Melissa, from their morning flight and went directly to breakfast at Magnolia Cafe. It was on our list of recommended restaurants, and those folks were spot-on.  Since A & M couldn’t get into their lodgings until later that day we went out to see the Lady Bird Wildflower Center.  (I must say they were troopers – straight from a VERY early flight to sightseeing.) In spite of the intermittent showers we got to see some interesting flora and fauna.

wildflower sign

 

We were greeted by Sophia,  the owl who has made the Wildflower Center her home.  She and her mate have nested here for five years.  We were lucky to see her away during the daytime.
We were greeted by Sophia, the owl who has made the Wildflower Center her home. She and her mate have nested here for five years. We were lucky to see her awake during the daytime.
The gardens had a maze of paths and overlooks.
The gardens had a maze of paths and overlooks.
Thought the sign had an interesting warning.
Thought the sign had an interesting warning.
At last! The bluebells.  They were blooming everywhere.
At last! The bluebonnets – Texas’s state flower. They were blooming everywhere.
And the interplay of cactus flowering among the daisies was charming.
And the interplay of cactus flowering among the daisies was charming.
View from the tower overlook.
View from the tower overlook.

That evening, after a Happy Hour at The Four Seasons, we went out to dinner.  Happily, it had stopped raining and we were able to enjoy outdoor seating at a quirky restaurant called Fabi + Rosi.  It bills itself as a neighborhood restaurant offering European dining. We loved it!

fabi +rosi menu

And then the wedding itself.  The bride (who was marrying Melissa’s brother) had chosen a unique location – a ranch about 22 miles outside of Austin. How her planners got everything coordinated was nothing short of amazing. They actually created the entire venue in a pasture, even cutting a road for the shuttles that delivered the guests.

The tent where we dined.
The tent where we dined.
Cocktails following the ceremony.
Cocktails following the ceremony. Note the silver structure to the right: the rest room facilities; very well appointed. The tent to the far right is the staging area for food and beverage service.
The place settings were beautiful.  We each had our own blossom of butter!
The place settings were beautiful. We each had our own blossom of butter! The silver napkin rings were an assortment of styles.  The gave the setting a bit of unusual elegance.
Centerpieces were a variety of white flowers, arranged asymmetrically; felt lovely and organic.
Centerpieces were a variety of white flowers, arranged asymmetrically; felt lovely and organic.

And now we are back home thinking about our next outing: Virginia in May.  Another wedding, gatherings with friends, and helping Alex and Melissa move into their new home. The beat goes on…