Tues. Dec. 12, 2017:
I had slept poorly because I did not anticipate how smart (is that the right word?) my body was. I thought I could trick it with DayQuil, the thinking was it would alleviate my symptoms just long enough to let me fall asleep. Like clockwork, I woke up four hours later miserable. I should’ve splurged and gotten NyQuil as well.
Brent had an early business meeting so I was on my own for part of the day. I started out at the historic Driskill Hotel that Google Maps told me to go look at. The lobby was gorgeous and they had a nice Christmas tree. The restaurant in the hotel wasn’t busy so I had breakfast there. Given I had slept in and missed the free breakfast at our hotel- again. Who stops serving breakfast that early?! I ordered a cappuccino and a cinnamon bun. I forgot that I was in Texas when I ordered. I was served a massive cinnamon bun. I had to hack at it with my fork to get through it. The businessmen beside me laughed at the enormity of it as they were leaving and I joked back that it’s the perfect way to start the day. Even given the size of it (about the size of a small child’s head) I managed to devour 2/3 of it before I had to give up. I couldn’t keep it as leftovers for lunch because I had a small purse and I was heading to an art gallery. I must’ve made some garbage-can-diving pigeons day.
I’m not sure if we didn’t notice it the day before but I was glad to see that there was a Christmas tree outside of the Capitol, complete with Christmas carols playing over some speakers. The blue jays from the day before were still hanging around in the trees. I cut around the state Capitol on my way to the Blanton Art Museum on the University of Texas campus. I was really excited to see a photography exhibit they had about photography and roadtrips in America. The exhibit was even better than I had imagined. It was not the work of one contemporary artist, instead it featured artists like Ed Ruscha and Robert Frank. It was amazing and it is one of my favourite art exhibits I’ve ever seen. I was not a fan of the more contemporary stuff, thankfully there wasn’t much of it as it was a small museum. Even still, they had the requisite religious paintings. They also had antiquities but due to the small size of the collection it was just a selection of intact items, rather than that plus a bunch of just shards. In addition, the vases had mirrors behind and underneath them so you could see every detail (they were in great condition). There was one unsettling Baroque painting where everyone was grey, aptly titled Death of Rachel. They all looked like corpses or zombies. I finished the museum in an hour because not all the galleries were open, new stuff was being installed.
Up next was The Contemporary Austin. It was even smaller and luckily admission was free. I say luckily because I was not at all impressed. It turns out the one artwork I wanted to see, a sculpture by Ai Weiwei wasn’t even on display there. It was somewhere else within the city. At least I’ve learned my lesson to read the museum website more carefully. The other installations were beyond weird and exactly what one would expect of a gallery connected to an art school. I was out of there in under 10 minutes. It would’ve been sooner but I pretended to admire and contemplate the work. When in reality I was trying to think of how to describe it later on. All I could think was weird. There was also no one else in there besides staff, who outnumbered me 3-1.
The Contemporary having taken way less time than anticipated left me with a few more hours. I was still not even close to hungry, I stopped in at Starbucks on my way back to the hotel for a tea. On my walk back I was on the other side of Congress, the side we for some reason kept crossing over from. I passed by a bar that made me do a double-take, it was called Mort Subite- one of my favourite Belgian fruit beers! Could it be? I added it to my list of things to research back in the hotel, along with the botanical garden near our hotel. I also stopped in at CVS for more pocket packs of Kleenex. I popped into a liquor store but they did not sell singles.
A guy on a bike was approaching the intersection where he faced a red light. His brakes must have been broken because he was attempting to stop with his feet and his back wheels almost skidded out in front of him. And when the light turned green… off he went, cycling at a mad speed. He had so narrowly avoided disaster, clearly his brakes were not working and off he went.
Back in the hotel room I set about researching. The Wilker Botanical Garden was too far to walk to and back, it was only a 15 minute bus ride from just outside the hotel. But the garden appeared to be quite big and I still had an evening of walking ahead of me. And I was not feeling 100% great. I briefly considered going to the mall but it was even further. Instead I took a nap. Well I tried to, I ended up just laying there. I remembered that my dad was crazy for Biscoff cookies and I had not seen any grocery stores as of yet. How could all of downtown Austin not have a grocery store? I remembered seeing people downtown with Trader Joe’s bags and I was right, there was one nearby. The internet also said Trader Joe’s was good for getting single bottles of beer. It was settled. I would head out on a short walk, with a brief pitstop at Starbucks. I ended up getting the Trader Joe’s version of Biscoff cookies and building my own 6pack. Back in the hotel I settled down with a “Not Your Father’s Mountain Dew.” Which I thought was going to be a citrusy beer, not boozy soda. It was still delicious and it hit the spot. It paired well with watching shitty TV. Brent got back around 4pm but it was still too early to head out for dinner (I was still barely hungry). Instead we watched Chopped and South Park.
We went to Threadgill’s for dinner around 6pm, just in time to miss the happy hour deals. Brent did not believe me when I said it was a shoe’s throw from the hotel, literally just up the street. They were known for their chicken-fried steak. I instead opted for the buttered grilled catfish with a side of corn and mashed potatoes with gravy. The catfish was way better than the chicken-fried steak. It was a very cheap dinner especially for how much food we got. And the service was so fast. Alas, I was too full for dessert.
On the way to Antone’s bar we passed by our bat friends again, but there was no sign of them under than a few streaks in the lamplight. We had looked up the schedule for the bar but the band did not come on until 10pm. We were just going ot have a drink and see what the music venue looked like. We were pleasantly surprised to walk in and see a band playing. I guess they must have been the opening act that the bar failed to list. Adding to the surprise: there was no cover and there was a surprising amount of people in there for a Tuesday before 8pm. We got the last few stools at the bar. I ordered a rum and coke and the bartender was very generous with his pour or else it was a very flavourful rum. We stayed for a few songs and then headed out. Our night was not yet over.
As it turns out Mort Subite is a Belgian beer bar and we could not pass up a chance to check it out. Even if I was sick and living on DayQuil. The choices were not as varied as at Bangers but it was still an impressive selection- even if they didn’t have Cantillon. The choice was easy, as I had tried the Silly Sour the night before., I lived on the Kriek Lambic when we visited Belgium leaving me with the two options: cherry wine or lemon-cherry sour The Bruery. The choice was obvious. I knew going into it that the beer would be sour. But it was sour! It was two types of sour and it kept making my face pucker. It was definitely a sipping beer. That combined with my full stomach, I was only here for one drink. Plus, Brent mentioned that he had gotten an offer for free holiday drinks at our hotel. It was fun to watch TinTin at the bar. It was surprising how busy Mort Subite was as well. Maybe Austin is just a bar town.
Back at the hotel bar the bartender had no idea what we were talking about. Which is good thing because I was not feeling another drink. It turns out that the free drink was at our next hotel. Oops. I was exhausted, my nose was all stuffed up and it burned. It was barely 9pm and it was time for bed.