Warwick Melrose Hotel Dallas

Celebrate

I wanted to work out Sunday morning but the hotel was charging $10 to use the gym. Meh, no thanks. Not worth it—especially since we were heading to another hotel that had a free gym and pool. It really bothers me when hotels nickel and dime guests. Despite that, the hotel was beautiful and an enjoyable stay.

Michael and I had a quick breakfast with his Dad and stepmom in the hotel restaurant. My cousins Melina and Leah were able to join us! I was so glad I got to see them. They both live in Dallas. The last time Michael and I were in Texas, it was for Melina’s wedding. It was so good to see them.

After breakfast we checked out and rented a car. Destination: Austin. Wedding stuff was over and Michael and I were off to celebrate our 4th anniversary!

The drive from Dallas to Austin is brutal—long, boring, nothing to see. We arrived in Austin around 3:45p.m., checked into our hotel (The Doubletree—very nice, glad we stayed there) and then headed downtown to start our festivities!

We walked around Congress Street—the heart of the action—and it was HOTTER THAN EFFING HELL. Oh my god. Sweat was dripping down my back and face at an alarming rate. It was so uncomfortable. See the above photo? Most restaurants and bars in Austin had these fans and misters to keep people cool. It felt nice.

We finally found refuge in a shaded outdoor patio beer garden. The huge trees shaded the guests and we settled in with some Texas beer (essentially like drinking water) and relaxed.

There was a band playing and it was just such a fun, cool vibe. I had plans to meet up with a friend who moved to Austin a few years ago. Neal met us at the food carts on Congress Sunday evening.

Michael and I got an order from the Fry Baby food cart to-go. It was 2 pieces of fried chicken (which Michael ate) and 1 piece of fried cod (which I ate) and some delicious, salty fries.

The three of us took dinner over to Barton Springs park to eat in the shade. I was so glad that we spent the evening with Neal. He was a fantastic tour guide. He suggested that I return to Barton Springs to go swimming, and took us around town to show us around.

Eventually the three of us ended up at the water front to see the bats.  It was clearly a popular event. The place was packed. We ended up waiting over 2 hours to no avail. Perhaps the heat wave made them not want to fly, but we eventually gave up. We were all disappointed.

Despite the disappointment, it was a fun evening with a friend. We dropped him off and then Michael and I headed to 6th Avenue to see the “action.”

6th Avenue was the party. Even though it was Sunday night, the place was popping! It was a row of restaurants, pubs, clubs, drive bars and crowded with people. It had a very Las-Vegas –Strip-vibe. It was just one big party!

We walked around and just checked everything out and then ended up getting a drink at The Driskill hotel. It’s right downtown and totally worth a visit. We both want to stay there next time—granted, if we can afford it. Something tells me it’s pretty spendy.

The Driskill is where the Top Chef contestants stayed last season for Top Chef Texas. It was totally cool to hang out there! The bar was classy and beautiful, and The Driskill does Air Conditioning right! It was like entering a walk-in meat locker. Gorgeous.

We tried the Texas version of an IPA. Yes, I am aware I am a total beer snob. If I can’t get the good microbrews that I like (and can find everywhere in the NW), I usually just drink wine. But I thought I’d give it a try. It was ok but not great. Better than Shiner, for sure.

It was a very, very long day and a late night but I was glad we stayed out and “partied”. If by partied you are imaging we were back at the hotel and asleep by midnight. 😉

QUESTION: Have you ever been to Austin? What was your experience?

Hot as Hades

I seem to only go to Texas for weddings. What’s up with that? As a Pacific NW girl, I’d never been to the Lone Star State and in the last 10 months I’ve been there three times. Not that I’m complaining by any means–I was happy to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and this time I was happy to be included in Michael’s sister’s wedding. We flew down to Dallas the day before the festivities were supposed to take place.

We arrived in Dallas and stayed with Michael’s family for a few days leading up to the wedding. Michael’s stepmom made her cheesy grits that I love so much and I ate that for days. It’s so good! I have the recipe and want to make it at home—will share soon. Below is breakfast on a small salad plate with one slice of bacon and tons of fruit salad.

Friday morning I planned on getting up early to workout but somehow slept through my phone alarm. It turned out to not be an issue, though, and clearly my body needed sleep. Michael’s stepmom dropped me off at the local YMCA. The plan was to use the elliptical for 30 minutes, then hit the pool. Of course by the time I was ready to swim, the one open lap lane was packed.  So I stuck with the elliptical and then finished with weights and kettlebell exercises. It was a good workout and I was happy I could fit it in before the chaos of WEDDING stuff!

Gym Stats:
Time: 1:24
Calories Burned:  651

The “wedding stuff” was a lot of “hurry up and wait.” But Michael and I were just kind of along for the ride, so it wasn’t a big deal. And it kind of forced me to relax on vacation and I rarely do that. Friday evening was the rehearsal at the church and then the rehearsal dinner.

The dinner was at a downtown Dallas restaurant called St. Martin’s Bistro. It was a  beautiful, romantic restaurant. The menu was fixed. They brought out some piping hot bread for us to munch on while everyone arrived. The small ballroom in the back had about 8 round tables set up for the guests.

The first course – It was a bowl of champagne brie soup. Sounds odd, right? It wasn’t. It was probably the best soup I’ve ever had in my life. It was creamy and I was sad when it was gone.

The second course – I chose the Roasted Beef Tenderloin Au Poivre with mashed potatoes and veggies instead of the fish or chicken (why would I go to Texas and eat fish?!). The meat was tender and soft, the mashed potatoes were creamy.

Dessert – We could choose either the Godiva white chocolate cheesecake or the Chocolate Terrine (flourless chocolate cake). I ordered the cheesecake and Michael got the chocolate and we shared. Smart move!

The rehearsal dinner was by far the best meal we had in Dallas. The favorite of the meal was the soup that I got. Michael got the Caesar salad, which was good, but he wished he’d gotten the soup!

For the first two days, I had a splitting headache in Dallas. I think it was the heat. I tried to drink a ton of water, more than usual, but I still ached.

Saturday – Wedding Day!

The day of the wedding. Everyone was out getting ready, Michael went golfing with his dad, and I slept in and then went for a run.  I had a pre-workout snack of a whole wheat English muffin and some fruit salad, filled my water bottle up and then headed out. It was 10 a.m. and 85 degrees. It felt hotter, though.

I set out on the neighborhood streets, running fairly slowly because I wasn’t quite used to the heat yet. I also hadn’t run outside since last Fall! Treadmill running is not quite the same. But my legs got their act together and I enjoyed my run. I got a bit faster, felt strong and confident in my body’s abilities.

Nice scenery to run by, huh? I tried to stay on the streets that had trees for shade. The heat was tolerable in the shade, but as soon as I was in the full sun, the burning heat beat down on my body and made me feel lethargic. The sound of the June Bugs in the trees were deafening.

I ran 2.75 miles and was out of water, so I headed back to the house for a re-load on water and sunscreen. I went back out and ran another mile or so before calling it quits.

Run Stats: 3.93 miles
Time: 52 minutes
Calories Burned: 537

I was so hot! My face was bright red. I just wanted to cool off, so I got in their pool and cooled off. I just swam for about a half hour until I felt cool and comfortable and then cleaned up and got dressed for the wedding.

We got to the church early. It was the church that Michael’s grandfather was the priest at and it was a beautiful location. Poor Michael was wearing a wool suit! It was 100 degrees in Dallas that day.

They did a bunch of photos before, and then the wedding began. It was a lovely, and short, service and everything went beautifully.

The reception was held at The Warwick Melrose hotel downtown. It was an old-world type of hotel. Our room was beautiful! The bathroom itself was to-die for.

The reception was held in their ballroom. It was a huge room with gorgeous decorations, pillars and breathtaking chandeliers. There was a long table for the wedding party and a stage with a dance floor.

Look at that cake!! It was gorgeous! And the groom’s cake was great, too.  The reception dinner was a smooth-oiled machine. The first course came out nearly immediately. It was a spinach salad with blue cheese, strawberries and candied walnuts. The waiters spooned the salad dressing for all of the guests (fancy!).

The salad was fantastic (and probably the last salad I ate in Texas LOL). The main course came out and it was chicken breast with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The entrée was really good too. The mashed potatoes were creamy and flavorful, the asparagus crisp.

The usual wedding stuff went on – speeches, dancing, cake cutting, etc. The cake was a white cake with coconut (a tad dry but tasty) and the groom’s cake was AMAZING chocolate—moist and fantastic. Luckily, all of the serving sizes for both fancy meals were fairly small so I never felt like I ate too much.

It was a beautiful wedding. The bride was glowing, the groom was happy, everything was beautiful!

And Michael and I danced many songs, which was fun because he’s not really a dancer. We had a blast!

QUESTION: What is the fanciest wedding you’ve ever been to?