17.05.15 – Texas – Day 17, Austin

One of my major objectives of this holiday has been to buy a pair of cowboy boots.  I did have a quick look in a Western store early in the holiday but the shop staff weren’t very helpful and the store itself didn’t carry a large range of boots.  Then there was Pinto Ranch Fine Western Wear in Dallas.  Gorgeous boots, hideous prices.  I’ve researched Western Wear shops in the local area and decided to give Allen’s Boots a go.  It has an excellent reputation for having a large range of books and being very helpful.  Perfect!

The shop was about a 30 minute drive from the hotel.  We found the shop easily enough but parking was a bit more difficult.  We drove round the block a few times before locating the parking for the area in a multi-storey car park.  It is really badly signposted and it was just by sheer luck that mum-in-law spotted the sign for it.  I was ready to give up and move on because all the on-street parking was residents parking.  I’m glad we didn’t though!

Allen’s is located at 1522 South Congress Avenue.  The area has a really nice vibe about it. Very laid back and trendy, perfect for spending a lazy Sunday afternoon just chilling out.  I would have liked to have spent some more time in this area exploring some of the little shops, eating at some of the restaurants and discovering the food trucks.  According to my guide book, Austin is famous for it’s food trucks.  One of the bars/restaurants which was set back from the main street had a band playing lazy laid back songs.  I  could happily lose an afternoon here.  I felt instantly relaxed and in tune with the area.

I20150517_190826‘ve talked a lot about how much I like Texas and how I think I could live here.  If I were to live here, I’d want to live in Austin.  It is not as rural as some of the places that we have visited but it would form an ideal base. I would prefer to live in a city and be able to visit the country when I had free time. I need to have a bit of hustle and bustle in the area in which I live.

Allen’s Boots proved to be a delight.  It was every bit as good as the online reviews suggested.  The staff were helpful, friendly and approachable.  I have wide, manly feet and the assistant suggested a certain brand – El Gringo. Unfortunately they didn’t work for me so I asked about men’s boots and how they differed.  She helpfully told me that the designs are quite similar.  I’m a UK size 7 – 8.  Men’s and women’s sizes differ in the US so the assistant suggest that I try men’s size 9.  I found them a bit big so settled on a size 8.  After much searching and wrestling with the boots, I managed to find a pair that fit and was within my price range!  Woooohoooo!  I am now the proud owner of a gorgeous pair of boots.  They rub a bit on the ankles but I’m sure they will soon wear in.

20150517_142207_HDR20150517_134353After my successful shopping trip, we headed to Austin State Capitol.  I’ve never been to a Capitol building before so I was looking forward to seeing it.  It really is a beautiful building both inside and out, set in gorgeous, green grounds.  I must confess, the weather was searingly hot so I didn’t linger long in the grounds.

As you’d expect, you have to go through the usual security checks when you go in – bag checks, scanners etc.  It is a government building so it stands to reason that they have to be thorough.  I liked the fact that you could freely take pictures.  You can either take a guided tour which takes around 45 minutes or do a self guided tour.  20150517_143607We opted for the self guided tour.  You can walk up 4 levels but can’t get all the way up into the dome.

Hubby commented that the Capitol is a bit like our Houses of Parliament in the UK and I guess it is in a sense.  Various courts are housed within the Capitol.  I’m not familiar with American politics and the law system so I couldn’t tell you what each court does.

20150517_155217 We were in desperate need of a coffee once we’d finished the tour. The on-site coffee shop wasn’t open on a Sunday so we drove to the nearest Starbucks.  It was near the university and was full of students.  It had a deliciously trendy and 20150517_155104geeky vibe.  As well as armchair seating, there was a big bench in the middle of the shop where you could plug your laptop in and work!  I loved it!  I could imagine sitting here for hours with my chromebook and a drink.  I think I could be very happy in Austin!  We planned to have a big dinner in the evening so I only had a sandwich for (a late) lunch.  It was delicious!

20150517_204341 20150517_194616Dinner was at Olive Garden which is an Italian chain.  We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table but that gave us time for a drink at the bar – Peach Bellini for me!  Service was a bit chaotic but the food itself was delicious, much better (and cheaper) than the Italian restaurant we visited in Corpus Christi. Hubby and I shared a started and for main I had ‘Tour of Italy’ which was described as ‘Three OG classics all on one plate! Chicken Parmigiana, Lasagna Classico and our signature Fettuccine Alfredo – all with homemade sauces made fresh every morning’.  It was delicious!  I couldn’t eat it all so some of it came home with me.

We ordered the cab home from Uber.  We have a lady driver who exclaimed ‘oh aren’t you tall’ to hubby when he got it!  She was very excitable and the cab ride home was an experience….She even laughed at my father-in-law’s jokes which delighted him no end!!

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