The moment I saw him, I opened my arms and waited for his little body to reach my embrace. He runs like a little penguin. I picked him up, and loved the lightness of his body (only light the first 5 minutes that you are carrying him, that is). I know it is rude to kiss other people’s babies, but I kissed his cheeks unapologetically. This was the first time meeting my nephew, Julian.
Julian was born in the United States. My brother and his husband adopted him from birth, which makes my relationship with Julian extra special. I felt tremendous love for him from the moment my brother called me to surprise me with the news. I have loved him every minute since, and feel grateful for this lesson. I do not want to offend anyone that firmly believes that blood is thicker than water. But love, now I know, has little interest in science. DNA, bloodlines, shared ancestry…I do not care. Love is love and needs no approval from society. It can be created and maintained out of thin air. Meeting Julian 1 year and 6 months after being born made me a little sad. Traveling full time makes it challenging to see everyone I love consistently. But in that moment, seeing his little penguin run, and his teal pacifier, I knew the timing was perfect.
I came to Austin to meet Julian, and to visit my brother and his husband, whom I had not seen in 3+ years. I came with my boyfriend of 2 and a half years, Bradley – so this was the first time they were meeting, too. We were excited to have this opportunity to spend quality time with my side of the family, and to be able to do so in a city that seems to have become more popular since I left the United States in 2015.
On our first day, we had breakfast at Torchy’s, a Tex Mex franchise. May I just tell you how much Bradley and I crave Tex Mex food! Living in Mexico City, Tex Mex is…nowhere. You will not get any burritos, or giant scoops of guacamole, no sour cream, and definitely no queso. Mexican tacos are completely different to Tex Mex tacos. Don’t believe me? Come visit! So we devoured some breakfast tacos – https://torchystacos.com/in/austin/
My brother drove us to a beautiful viewing point of 360 Bridge, a landmark. It was a gorgeous day, and this is a free activity if you have a car! I will let the following pictures show you why it was a highlight…
After enjoying the view, and the windy photoshoot, we drove to the Google campus! That’s right. Austin, Texas houses all those top notch companies everyone could dream of working for someday. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose information about the inside of Google. All I am going to say is that we had lunch there, and got a private tour that truly had me silently jammin’ to Britney’s “Work B**ch” song. It was definitely a tour to remember for Bradley and I.
Once we picked up Julian from daycare, we were almost ready to call it a day. But we made one final stop to the Village Farm Tiny Home Community – https://villagefarmaustin.com/ I have to say I got myself house buying fever. But I do not want just any house. I want an eco-friendly home that supports my resolution to go minimalist. Tiny homes are so in tune with where I am in life at the moment, and the dreams Bradley and I are projecting for the next 5 years. The thing about tiny homes, is that they feel so luxurious and homey. Here are some of my favorite captures:
As the wind picked up in the evening, we took our hungry selves to Patsy’s Cafe ( http://www.patsyscafe.com ) for dinner.This place was charming and unexpected, a detour from downtown. Sadly, there was no live music, which I was hoping to catch in Austin. But the food was so American, and it made me so happy. It is funny how you appreciate things in a different way when traveling the world for a few years. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed onion rings like that, and a proper American salad. My experience of American food that I do not see in other countries is that salads can be considered a very satisfying meal. So whenever I got back to the United States, I always make sure to order lots of salads at restaurants, and visit places like Panera. Patsy’s Cafe hit my salad craving spot for this trip. Just check out the shrimp and avocado chunks. Yum!
The following day Bradley and I had a walk down 6th street on our own. It was sad and heartbreaking. At 1 pm we were the only non-homeless people walking around the area.
It became so uncomfortable to be approached by different homeless people multiple times per block that we ended up walking into the next open restaurant. That is how we ended up in Iron Cactus – https://ironcactus.com/ . The food was fine, but the service was wonderful! We even got a complimentary appetizer for being first time customers!
Once again, I ordered a true American style salad, and Bradley had Tex Mex tacos. Tex Mex tacos are truly so different in ingredients and taste to Mexican tacos.
To our sweet delight, a homeless man was sketching us from the outside of the restaurant…
He dropped off his drawing with the hostess who gave it to us after our meal. I am so humbled and grateful by that experience. It showed me that no matter what our circumstances are in life, there is nothing that can stop us from practicing our talents and doing what we love. Passion in life, no matter where you are, will keep you moving mountains.
The weather was very cold and windy, piercing my ears so much I got a headache. It has been so long since I am in America’s “colder” weather. So we walked down 6th street and ended up in Trader Joe’s. It was my hope that Bradley would get to shop in this supermarket so many expat Americans have mentioned to him!
I almost bought the whole weight allowed in my suitcase, but ended up only bringing back some almond butter, which I had talked about so frequently to Bradley. We made a quick stop at Merit Coffee (222 West Avenue #120) to end the short and sweet downtown excursion. We were not in a rush as we had more downtown time scheduled for the next couple of days.
That night Bradley made jambalaya for everyone, and we had the best time sharing relationship anecdotes. Recently, Bradley has been meeting a lot of my family members, which has been so special to me. Next month is my turn to meet some of his family. As we are both country hopping, this was not possible until now. Our travels brought Bradley and I together, and have filled us with so many stories we love to share over too many glasses of wine. This dinner was probably my favorite memory of our Austin trip as I laughed harder than I have in a while. The magic that can happen around a dining table is lovely. Wherever you go, and whomever you visit, never miss the chance to cook someone dinner and sit together for a while. I have no pictures of this night. Unplug. Our cellphones can wait.
Stick around to find out my top food recommendations, and a self-walking tour of downtown Austin! Thank you for following Let’s Go Somewhere. I appreciate you.