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Tony and I spent a long weekend in Austin (we got home yesterday), and both of us are 100% ready to move there. We loved it. Here’s a highlight reel of one of the happiest, most fun vacations we’ve ever had…

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{Tony even found his dream car in the valet at our hotel!}

Per the usual, we ate our way through the city. But this time, we really ate our way through. Tony’s bosses at School of Rock are Texans with a sweet spot for Austin, and they sent us a list of their favorite restaurants, bars and music venues to hit. Check back tomorrow for our restaurant guide to Austin… But for now, I will tempt you with this: We ate Amy’s Ice Creams blended with Mexican vanilla, sea salt, peanut butter and cookie dough at least once a day. We averaged 4-6 meals per day. (Not snacks. Meals.) And every morning, I woke up to a latte and pile of breakfast tacos. Haven’t gotten the courage up to weigh myself yet, but I did have to leave my pants unbuttoned on the plane, so I know serious damage was done.

Friday evening, we landed in Austin. Tony carried everything except my iPhone because he is a gentleman disguised as a meathead.

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We drove straight from the airport to load up on tacos and queso dip at Torchy’s Tacos. (If you’ve never tried queso, you haven’t yet lived! It’s basically melted Velveeta mixed with all sorts of unhealthy things, and you use greasy, salty tortilla chips as the vessel to get it into your mouth.) Then we went to Radio Coffee & Beer, the best concept I’ve ever seen. Tony got Stumptown nitro brew, which they have on tap, and proceeded to spend the rest of the vacation pondering whether it is possible to put a cold brew tap on a wedding registry (TBD). I got wine. It’s an indoor-outdoor space with live music, and dogs are allowed. The menu consists of tacos and pizza. I’m pretty sure heaven looks like that place.

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{One of many awesome signs at many awesome restaurants + coffee shops}

Then, we got some ice cream to go for the drive out to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, where Tony’s brother and sister-in-law were staying for a work conference. This was the real reason we were in Austin; they recently moved to India for work, and it was a whole lot cheaper to visit them in Texas than in India.

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{Favorite sign we passed on the highway}

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{Wildlife we spotted while driving. Wish I’d gotten a pic of the armadillo we had to throw the brakes on for, but we were too excited for it to even occur to us to take a pic!}

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{Very specific speed limit}

Plus, we missed Nick and Nikki and waiting until our wedding this summer to see them was just too long. I drank more wine with them, then when they were ready to go to bed, Tony and I left for The Broken Spoke, a glorious throwback honky-tonk bar that Willie Nelson supposedly frequents. It was packed with an interesting mix of bachelorette parties and hardcore Texans there for date night, and everyone was on the dance floor. Tony and I attempted to join. He was good. I was not. We loved it.

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After some serious two-stepping, we drove straight to Whataburger. There were a bunch of cops there in the midst of what appeared to be a pretty intense arrest and it was 1am, but we didn’t care. We took our chances and it was worth it. We survived, ate burgers and fries in the car and finally checked into our hotel around 2am.

Saturday, I awoke to a latte and two breakfast tacos sitting on the bedside table next to me. I made the mistake of eating them, fully knowing Tony and I were about to head out on a run. I’m proud to say I did not barf. (The sad truth is I’ve probably abused my body enough by eating crap that it was prepared for this sort of poor life choice.)

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{Tony’s running outfit}

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{Posing in front of the crew regatta}

We ran along the water and pretended we lived in Austin. As soon as the run was finished, it was time to eat again! We met my Uncle Paul (who lives in that wonderful city) at Stubb’s BBQ, stuffed as much food as we could into our bodies and admired the posters of all the bands who’d played there. Then we got ice cream. Did I mention I want to move to Austin?

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Then, we drove back out to Lost Pines, where Tony and I befriended T-Bone and Boo Boo. I am now hellbent on acquiring a pack of alpacas; I hear they are easily house-trained and have the personality of dogs! I spent the rest of the weekend pondering if you can register for alpacas (TBD).

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{T-Bone}

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{Me + my bestie Boo Boo}

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{Okay, ONE more of T-Bone!}

Tony and I spent Saturday afternoon at the Lost Pines’ hotel spa, where we both got facials. It was called Spa Django, named after Django Reinhardt, so I chose to listen to the namesake’s music while getting my treatment. I later learned that Tony requested Michael Bublé. I get to marry the man who listens to the Bubs while getting an afternoon facial… I am the luckiest.

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While waiting for Nick and Nikki to finish their conference, we lounged in the jacuzzi. It poured rain. We didn’t care. We were on vacation, and we were going to live it up, even if “living it up” meant sharing a hot tub of water with several drunk strangers in a downpour. (It was actually super fun. Maybe because my face was glowing and I was chugging wine.) That night, the four of us checked out an unassuming taco truck, Las Trancas, that I’d read was Paul Qui’s favorite truck. And Paul Qui is one of my favorite chefs and tacos are some of my favorite food, so it sounded all-around magical. And it was. Most of us played it safe trying the usual menu suspects, but Nick went for the cow tongue and fried cow intestines tacos. All of us loved what we ate.

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Then, we got more ice cream and hit The Continental Club, where we caught Planet Casper and collectively remembered that live music is a spiritual experience, just the best thing in the world. There were all ages and types packed into this place; from ironic hipsters to a little old lady in a beautiful hat covered in flowers. Everyone danced. Then I think Tony and I got more tacos, but it was kind of a blur after that.

Sunday, I woke up to more tacos but used some self-restraint and went for a run before eating. Once we were done with our tacos, we drove straight to Gourdough’s, where we shared three donuts: One with peanut butter frosting, brownie chunks, chocolate chips and chocolate sauce. One with cream cheese frosting doused in melted cinnamon butter. One with peanut butter frosting, fried bananas, bacon and maple syrup. Then we talked about where we should go for dinner.

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{We made it all the way to the end of the trail and EARNED those donuts!}

Sunday was also the day we checked into the Hotel Saint Cecilia, my new favorite hotel in the U.S. of A. Every room had record players (and you could check out records at reception), prosciutto and brie in the mini bar and looked like this:

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{View from our patio}

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{They even have ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES in their minibar}

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So, of course I forced Tony to stage a photo shoot.

Sunday night, we hit Uchiko. We first ate there a few years ago while visiting my uncle, and both of us have included that dinner in our top three best meals of all time. Our return did not disappoint. We ordered pretty much everything on the menu. (Don’t worry, we still had time for more ice cream after.)

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Monday, we woke up from our food coma to the sad realization that it was time to go home. Tony rushed out for some breakfast tacos, then we met Nick and Nikki for one last lunch. Kirby, one of my best friends from college who I hadn’t seen in 10 years met up with us, and we day-drank then got more ice cream.

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{Me + Kirby. WE HAVEN’T AGED ONE DAY. Don’t we still look 18??}

In the midst of this bender, we got notice that our flight had been delayed… And then delayed again. And delayed again. We would miss the meeting we were flying back for. So, we decided we might as well stay for one more night! There was more ice cream to be eaten! But American Airlines has this super cool policy where a flight has to be delayed over an hour in order to change without a fee. So, four minutes shy of a free change meant a $400 change fee. After almost an hour (oh, the irony) on the phone, they generously offered to knock that down to $200. We passed. So, we dejectedly headed for the airport. Waze got us lost, for some reason taking us on some back road near the tarmac and I had a panic attack that we’d be mistaken for terrorists. (We weren’t then, but I was later. Sort of.)

Monday at the airport was also the closest I’ve ever come to a one-night stand. Backstory: I had to renew my license last week and my new one hasn’t arrived yet. The DMV’s new thing is to hole-punch your driver’s license, presumably so you can’t sell it to some kid hoping to look 21. The downside of this is that apparently this puts you on the “maybe a terrorist?” list, and the TSA agent patted me down more intimately than a doctor. She never even asked my name. Some teenagers took a picture. Tony thought it was hilarious.

By the time we finally made it to our gate, our flight had been delayed more than an hour. And the one helpful American Airlines employee I’ve ever encountered happened to be working the desk. She moved us onto a flight the next day at no additional charge, we called the Hotel Saint Cecilia, and they upgraded us. To the nicest room I have ever stayed in. It had two porches, an outdoor shower, three rooms and the decor of a dream Pinterest board:

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So of course we had to stage another photo shoot! Tony bought me a dress, took more photos because he is the sweetest man alive, and then Kirby met back up with us and we went back to The Continental Club, where musical prodigies the Peterson Brothers Band were performing. The Peterson Brothers Band consists of 16-and-18-year-old brothers. They were spectacular.

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{Peterson Brothers Band}

We loaded up on barbecue, went for drinks at Hotel Saint Cecilia, then ventured back out for more ice cream. I spent the rest of the night wandering around our suite, pretending I was Scarlett O’Hara.

Tuesday, we finally headed home. We ate breakfast tacos in the car, our trip through security was far less traumatic and we had one last ice cream hurrah in the airport. I’m desperate to go back already.

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I spent my freshman year of college in Texas (partly because I had a full scholarship, partly because I had a really sad fantasy of marrying someone with the arms of Schwarzenegger and the accent of Forrest Gump). My grandparents were die-hard Texans, I still have a lot of family there and I adore (most parts of) southern culture. In Austin, it felt like we were living a life curated by NPR, narrated by Matthew McConaughey and cooked by the best chefs in the world. We loved every minute. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose… Texas forever!


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