Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trip to Austin, TX

We go to Austin, Texas once a year for a family visit, so this post encompasses a couple of years. There are many things to do in Austin, of course. Here are the ones we've experienced so far. There aren't many, but with a toddler in tow we are a little restricted for now.

THINGS TO SEE

The bats! Each dusk between March and October, millions of bats take to the skies from their daily perch under the Congress Bridge. It's breathtaking! Because of the way the bridge is constructed, the underside is the perfect habitat for bats. They burst into the night every night from spring to fall in search of insects. In the fall they migrate south. You must see this.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Very lovely. A wonderful way to spend a day in nature. There are things for adults and children. Since we had a 3 year old with us, we especially enjoyed the children's activity area where kids could explore waterfalls, play in the sand, step in dinosaur footprints, and burn off energy. Wildflowers abounded even though autumn was approaching. There are benches where you can rest in the shade and also a reasonably priced cafe. Check out the photos.

Zilker Metropolitan Park

Be prepared for a lot of walking. There are places to sit as you wander through this year shaded wonder. A stream runs through the center...when the rain allows it. It's a nice place to take a baby in a stroller. You can move along at your own pace, simply enjoying nature.

PLACES TO EAT

Rudy's BBQ

This is always on our list of must-eat-at places. Order at the register, carry your meal to the indoor picnic tables in a milk crate, eat your food off butcher paper. Love it, love it, love it. I always order brisket. The meat is so tender you don't need a knife. I put it on bread and top it with pickles and thick creamed cream for my own special sandwich.

Phil's Icehouse

I never eat burgers...until I'm at Phil's. Once a year I indulge. The burgers are to die for. I think it's the bread that makes them so great. Served with a side of regular french fries and sweet potato fries. And Amy's Ice Cream is in the same building when you're ready for dessert.

Independence Fine Foods

The food was excellent and the staff very customer service oriented. You'll find a wide selection of meals and desserts. We went there twice during our visit and will return again the next time we're in Austin, Texas.

Galaxy Cafe

We went for dinner, but weren't so hungry because we'd had a late lunch. You order at the register, then sit down and it's brought to your table. You must have your order ready before you reach the register. It isn't easy choosing among all the dishes. I chose a club wrap. It was delicious and perfect for my limited appetite. I would have given them five stars, but I had a glass of chardonnay with dinner and it wasn't all that great.

PLACES TO STAY (or rather, one place to think twice about)

Microtel Inn and Suites, Austin Airport, Austin, TX

This was our fifth stay at this motel. I doubt we'll go back again. We don't ask for much, but we do ask to not be stressed out. Not so this time around. With the exception of desk clerk Patricia, and an older balding man whose name I didn't get, there was no customer service.

We arrived on a Thurs and were assigned Room 308. The next morning (Fri) we discovered the shower wasn't working. It shuddered and groaned unless it was on hot. We managed to find a way to make it work quietly by turning the water on hot, then engaging the shower and slowly moving the lever into cooler temps. It was still too hot, but we were able to shower that first morning. My husband reported the problem to the clerk at 0900 that same morning. The clerk looked blanked and confused, dashed from computer to computer and said, "Okay." When we returned to the motel that night, I stopped at the front desk to request an extra pillow and blanket from the male clerk on duty. He seem flustered and confused but said he would get them. I indicated I would wait. Then my husband came down from the room to report that not only had the shower not been fixed, the room had not been serviced. At that point another older balding man intervened. There was no report of the shower not working. Housekeeping indicated we had told them not to clean the room. We made no such request and had left at 9:30 that morning. The older man offered to move us to another room, but it was late and we were tired. He retrieved and delivered the pillow and blanket to me.

On Sat morning, my husband attempted to shower. In the middle of the shower, the lever dropped and he was scalded. I went down to the front desk and reported the incident to Patricia, who immediately moved us to the next room (306). She said she could hear the noise from the shower down in reception and couldn't figure out what it was. She thought it was something on the second floor. In any event, I was able to shower in 306. Unfortunately, it was a handicap room and not acceptable for us. Patricia subsequently moved us to another room (408) and put 308 out of service.

On Mon, we returned to our room to discover our key cards didn't work. My husband got new ones and we walked in to discover the room had not been serviced (again). I reported the problem to the clerk (Joseph) who said he'd report the incident to the manager and get back to us. I told him we didn't want housekeeping up here at this time of night. He said he still had to report it and would see if the manager would do something and he would call me. He never called. Never apologized. I wrote a full letter to the general manager and have yet to receive any response. As of the writing of this review, it is now Wed and we are home, having left the day before. Plenty of time for the general manager to have responded.


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