You know those important steps in a relationship? Go on holiday together, have your first fight, join your Netflix accounts? Well, I had a big one when I went to Texas to “meet the parents”. This was just over a year into the relationship, and I hadn’t really met anyone’s parents since high school, so I was a bit nervous! And also excited, because I was going to Texas!
First stop, the parents. They live in Fredericksburg, a small “German” town equidistant from Austin and San Antonio. As a German, I was keen to see what that looks like. And I was not disappointed. There’s plenty of shops selling Lederhosen and Dirndl, restaurants with names like Otto’s Bistro and Ausländer (Foreigner) and a few street names are German, like the Marktplatz (Market square). It is unfortunate that everyone thinks of Germany as being just Bavaria, but eh.
Anyway, due to some delays at Houston airport, because their ESTA program was down (the Visa linked to your passport), we didn’t actually get in until 1am. And with the time difference, that meant we’d been up for 30 odd hours. So meeting the parents started out blurry-eyed and barely coherent. But the next morning was better. We got some pancakes and I got to meet the parents and the older brother. And the dogs! And the cats!
Their house is a typical one floor spread out structure that could probably fit 3 of my flat. Actually, the extension in the garden in which we stayed could fit about half of it already. There’s an awesome cinema room and a pizza oven in the garden. I have a thing for US houses, even though when you see them being built you wonder how they’ll ever survive anything. But too much HGTV (or whatever bits and pieces I can get in the UK) have taught me to appreciate real estate porn. And I have definitely reached an age where I can appreciate a good kitchen island, a nice porch and a pretty front room. Or maybe I was always like that because I clearly remember loving IKEA from a very young age.
They took us to a BBQ place about an hour away. This was my first US BBQ experience, and let me tell you, it’s worth it. You queue outside where the grill is, and then choose which meat pieces you want. They have sausages, ribs, chicken, steak… Everything is smothered in sauce and they just wrap it in paper and drop it on your tray. Then you go inside and can choose sides, like Mac & Cheese or fries. Beans, onions, white bread and sauces are all included and available at the back. It’s sloppy, you get your hands and face full of sauce and for some reason, you never ordered enough ribs. But it’s great.
We took a little gander through Fredericksburg and had dinner at Hondo’s on Main. This was an amazing experience, as they had a live country band and people danced around all night. Some locals and Dan’s Mom even tried to teach me the two-step! I can’t remember what we ate (Burgers? Fried chicken?) but I’ll always remember dancing arm in arm with some ladies.
The next day we went to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site to visit the Texas White House. After becoming President upon the death of JFK, Johnson liked to spend a lot of time in his home state and used his own ranch to hold meetings, entertain foreign dignitaries and just get away from DC. The ranch has famous cows and Longhorns, an old Presidential plane and plenty of original furnishings that take you back to the 60s.
After that, we left Fredericksburg and went onward to Austin, where Dan had a conference and I could sightsee. The first thing we did was have some Freebird’s, which is hand down, the best Burrito ever. Chew on that Chipotle! Their lime and cilantro rice is so much more fragrant, and they’re just superior. After that we went to the nearby Congress Avenue Bridge where, I kid you not, bats fly out every night from April to September. Bats. Hundreds of bats. It’s AWESOME. Try to go several times, as we had more luck on the second try. And by that I mean we say 5000 bats instead of 2000. But it’s worth it.
The next day, I went to visit the Texas Capitol! It’s much bigger than the Capitol in DC (everything in Texas is bigger they’ll have you know), and it’s a pretty pink colour. They have tours every day and it’s a great way to learn something new. Afterwards, I wandered over to the Bullock Texas State History Museum for even more history and culture. It was full of kids (which, working in a school, I tend to try and avoid while on holiday), but I still had space to roam. The museum has the perfect mix of artefacts, videos and exhibits you can play with so it’s not boring. I took a short walk around the University of Texas at Austin campus and marvelled at the huuuuge Football stadium that just pops up as you walk. I met Dan for some Chick-Fill-A and a little clothes shopping.
Another day, another town! Dan drove us to San Antonio so I could see what happens to towns when no one lives in the centre anymore. It’s unfortunate that they have what looks like it used to be such a vibrant town centre, but now is just a couple of malls, the Alamo (remember the Alamo!) and empty shops. We went for lunch at one of the restaurants lining the Riverwalk, a fake stagnant river surrounded by shops and restaurants. While trying to eat my amazing Fajitas, I was attacked by one of the many ducks that roam the river. Ducks can be nasty.
So that was my first Texas experience. I loved Austin and I would love to go back and see more bats, and maybe head to a cool concert (Austin is the live music capital of the world). I would also like to see Houston if I ever got the chance, and just take a drive and look at all the open space that’s available! We don’t have much open space in Europe, let alone England.
Pictures: author’s own