In early May I took a trip to Austin to visit my amazing friend Sarah. It was my first time in Texas (outside of airports) and ended up being one of the best weekends I've had in a really long time. Sarah and I go way back to my days in Amsterdam. We met in 2007 at the student center of the University of Amsterdam. I had an extra bicycle and she was in need of one. Done.
Throughout our residencies between Europe and the States, we've stayed in touch and have bonded further over the last year as we negotiate the ins and outs of running full-time photography businesses. The weekend was an opportunity to have an in-person pow wow and eat all the tacos and bbq.
It's pretty widely known that Austin is a great city and I was not disappointed. After arriving in the afternoon and dropping my stuff off at Sarah's super cute house, we headed to Licha's Cantina for tacos and margaritas. Because, you know, Austin. Uber had just stopped service in the city a few days before (what?! so crazy) so we took off on foot, which is one of my favorite ways to explore.
After dinner we wandered around Sixth Street, stopped for drinks at Small Victory and then ice cream at Gelateria Gemelli. I thought we were done for the night, when Sarah decided we should pop into a place a few blocks away from her house. We entered The White Horse (self-described as East Side Honky Tonky) and it fulfilled every dream I've ever had of Texas.
There was a country band playing while people young and old two stepped (lined danced? I don't even know) their hearts out. We got Lone Star beer (yes) and then a man asked Sarah to dance. To my utter amazement, she said yes!
If you've been following her 12 Experiments project, I shouldn't have been surprised, but it was my first time seeing people dance like that and I had no ideas she had the skills. I was asked to dance by several men who seemed in disbelief that I wouldn't not be able to dance like that. I even turned down their offers to teach me, happy enough to watch Sarah twirl away on the dance floor.
The next morning, we went to Lady Bird Lake to take Sarah's dog Kevin for a walk. It was a bustling park, full of people running, kayaking, and watching the wildlife, including a swarm of baby turtles hanging out by some rocks. So cute!
After our walk, we grabbed drinks at Juiceland and, after a quick stop to change clothes, headed to Black's BBQ in Lockhart, Texas. Yes, we drove 45 minutes outside of the city for some amazing BBQ and I was not disappointed. Hello, most delicious ribs ever. And just look at those side dishes. Intense. Our eyes were obviously bigger than our appetite and we ended up packing up the rest for a midnight snack. I definitely couldn't eat like that on a weekly basis, but it was a fun experience and an amazing atmosphere.
We went back to Texas to relax for a bit and, after somehow working up our appetite, we headed to Contigo for dinner. A 'ranch-to-table' restaurant with fresh, seasonal Texas-driven ingredients that I had heard great things about. Loved the drinks, pictured at the top of the post. On the left the Violet Sabbatical with vodka, berries, mint, and lemon. On the right, El Pepino with tequila, cucumber, lime, and mint. The food was also exceptional, and the starters vegetable-driven, which was just what we needed after the BBQ lunch. Pictured here. Rainbow carrots, leek, brown butter, and pistachios. Beet, spring onion, mint, and pickled strawberries. And Texas okra, walnuts, tomatoes, and sherry.
I expected the weather to be sunny, warm, and humid during my trip, but we actually had a substantial does of clouds and rain. At night it cooled off so much that I wished I had brought more sweaters. I was happy to be able to enjoy the city without the heat and humidity that I've heard is to be feared. The patio at Weather Up Bar where we enjoyed more yummy cocktails. The last stop of the night was Justine's Brasserie, a late-night spot that feels like you stepped back into 1920s Paris. More drinks, more food. I don't know how we did it all. And funny enough, the website homepage says "Very late dining. When you think you've gone too far, keep going." Touché.
When we woke up Sunday morning, we were determined to explore a bit more of the city. After brunch at Clark's Oyster Bar, we walked all over, visiting an art gallery, a bookstore, a few shops, including the super cute Take Heart, and eventually settled in at a cafe to get some work done. In between all the eating and drinking, Sarah and I spent a lot of time discussing our photography businesses and sharing experiences on everything from pitching to client experience, social media to pricing. We wanted to start putting some of the things we had talked about into action.
It was such an inspiring weekend, not just for the experience of exploring the incredible food and drink scene in Austin, but for what I took away from those conversations. It's been invaluable for me to be able to dialogue with someone who has similar values and keep me accountable in my business. Prompting growth and development and challenging me to fine-tune the things that work and evaluate areas that may not be working. And to be able to do that with a delicious spread on the table made for one fine weekend indeed.