Tuesday, May 29, 2012

RT12 Day 7: Austin Part 2

Last day in Austin. A lot going through my head about this trip. Long story short, moving away from the Bay Area is hard for sure, but knowing firsthand that Austin is a pretty cool city... that makes it a little easier. And now that I have a student ID card with a picture that's worse than my driver's license photo, the whole thing is starting to feel "real." Overwhelming, but in a good way. 

New school, new start.

I got to visit the MES department this afternoon and meet some of the faculty. The department chair took me to lunch at a Palestinian restaurant near campus, then I met with a professor who works on Comparative Semitics. Turns out, in addition to being brilliant with languages, the guy's a birder. I have a bird "thing." Not so much a phobia as an every-fiber-of-being, capital-H hatred. And there is a species of bird here that make absolutely horrifying noises. Like spine-chilling screeches. I'd been trying to identify them since I got here, and this birder-professor solved the mystery: they're grackles. And oh my GOD these things are everywhere. They make normal chirpy sounds, too -- but watch the video and see if you can hear the noises I'm talking about. Don't let the males' shiny exterior fool you. They're hostile creatures, and vicious: 

After my meetings, Dad and I came back to the hotel to escape from the grackles (turns out you can still hear them through the lounge's glass walls!) and to get a break from the 97-degree heat. I took this opportunity to plan the next leg of my trip. As with all of my "planning" for the trip, it was back-of-the-envelope style -- literally, in this case. 

For dinner, we walked back downtown. One of the things I like about Austin is how walkable it is. Here's a view of the state capitol building from campus:

There's even a pedestrian bridge connecting the north and south parts of the city. Lots of joggers on the adjacent Lady Bird Hike and Bike Trail. 

We ate at Malaga Tapas and Bar. Good food, nice presentation, and relaxed atmosphere. Who knew breaded and fried avocado slices could be good?

The omnivore was happy with his crab cakes and lamb. We're 3 for 3 on restaurant choices -- a pretty good record.

The capitol is lit up beautifully at night:

Another testament to the city's walkability. These two photos were taken from the same spot:

Saying goodbye to Austin for now, and waking up bright and early tomorrow morning to embark on the 9-ish hour trip to New Orleans!

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