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Austin, San Antonio, Texas Hill Country trip report

Austin, San Antonio, Texas Hill Country trip report

Apr 16th, 2006, 05:48 PM
  #1  
J62
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Austin, San Antonio, Texas Hill Country trip report

Just a brief report on some parts of our recent trip.

Austin
Stayed several nights downtown at the Hampton Inn. Location was great - a few short blocks from Congress St, Town Lake, & 6th St. Walking distance to several good restaruants and close to the free 'Dillo trolley bus to get around town. Rode the 'Dillo back and forth from Whole Foods and up/down Congress several times - saved tired feet for another day.

Room was very spacious, clean, and bed very comfortable. Parking is valet only, $14/night.

Ate one night at Roaring Fork on Congress. Excellent food & service. Not cheap, but portions were generous. Not what I would call a must go-to destination restaurant, but very good nonetheless. PF Changs is right across the st from the Hampton Inn. Same menu as other PF Changs - a step or 2 above your typical suburban US Chinese restaurant - perfect for a family dinner without spending a fortune. Food visit to Austin would not be complete with BBQ, so went several times to our favorite, Rudy's on Loop360. "Worst BBQ in Texas" is the slogan. Nothing better than some moist brisket on a slice of white bread, cold root beer to wash it all down. New Whole Foods downtown is also great. Several in-store bistro counters serve up some nice dishes - perfect for a lunch or quick dinner even.

San Antonio
We usually stay either on the Riverwalk or at the Hill Country Hyatt. Decided to check out the new Hyatt vacation club (Wild Oak), next to HC Hyatt. All in all I think I like the HC Hyatt Hotel better than the Wild Oak. On the plus side, the suites are magnificent inside. Full kitchen, granite counters, separate 1br w/ king, in suite washer/dryer, and beautiful bathroom. If spacious, luxurious room is your what you want then this place is great. Having full kitchen helped us save a bundle on meals (breakfast/lunch/snacks) over the resort hotel, so the difference in price of the vacation club was just about offset.

Plus. Pools. One large inside/outside pool with 2 water slides (48" min height). Definitely geared towards older kids. Lazy river tubing pool was not heated (I think it is at the HC Hyatt), so water was a little chilly for mid April 85degree days. Unlike the hyatt it's fully open to the sun, so I am sure that it'll warm up quickly through May.

Minus. Vacation club/time share atmosphere. Earliest checkin is 4pm, checkout is 10am. They'll offer you late checkout at $20/hr. 10:01am housekeeping (+ supervisor) was at the door - felt like I was being evicted, even though I'd already checked out and was just taking the bags to the car. At the HC Hyatt I've always been able to request a noon or 1pm checkout w/o issue to be able to enjoy the morning at the pool. Not so here.

Minus. Vacation club/time share atmosphere. Unlike the resort, there is no central location or centralized feel at the vacation club. Rooms are located in several separate buildings - you have to cross the parking lot to get to the pools, and walk down the driveway to get to the general store. (we shopped for food at nearby supermarket - 5min away).

SA Restaurants
Boudros on the Riverwalk. Definitely a step above most of the other places we've eaten at before. Reservation was required for outside table - walkups were placed inside. Same food, but the outside riverwalk atmosphere is just a lot of fun to enjoy.

Gruene
About halfway between Austin and SA, next to New Braunfels. A couple of cute little shops, but I would not go out of my way to visit Gruene again just for shopping. Primary purpose was for toobing. Water was a little cold for 2hr float immersed in the water so we rented a couple of 2man rafts from Rockin R rentals. 20% coupon (weekdays) from the web saved us some $. Next door is Gruene River rafting co. (www.toobing.com). Same prices, same equipment. Spent about 2hrs on the river, including a couple of stops along the way to enjoy rope swings into the cool water, spash, etc. Lots of fun.

Fredericksburg
I understand the draw of Fredericksburg (old time village with lots of quaint shops), but it just doesn't do it for me. First store with TX kitch is interesting but after the 3rd stuffed armadillo holding a TX flag or can of novelty "Roadkill Armadillo Stew" the novelty soon wears off. We made it "on our way back from SA to Austin, so it wasn't really a detour or side trip. Hill country wildflowers were very poor this year, reportedly due to lack of rain. Didn't climb Enchanted Rock this trip. (prefer to wait till mid August, 2pm) when it's a little warmer.

Fun trip. Thanks to all who have provided tips (directly or indirectly).
J62 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 05:54 PM
  #2  
J62
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Forgot to mention the bats in Austin. Definitely a must see spectacle. Sit on the lawn on the SE side of the Congress st bridge about 15min past sunset to witness the marvel. Steady swarm of bats emerging from under the bridge lasted about 15min straight. Hard to imagine how many bats there are!
J62 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 06:26 PM
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DON'T try to climb Enchanyed Rock in the afternoon in late August. It is like climbing a giant heat lamp! The rock just radiates heat!! We made the mistake once and we won't try it again...

Yes, the lack of rain has seriously hurt our wildflowers this spring.
ChristieP is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 06:29 PM
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J62, you are kidding about the Enchanted Rock comment, right? Seriously, we climbed it this winter and the high temp was 60 that day. It was hot then! Glad you had a good time and thanks for a great report.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 07:17 PM
  #5  
trippinkpj
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I'm surprised the bats were out in April. We were there in April 01 and hardly saw any. This past August when we went, we saw a lot of them. Glad to hear the Roaring Fork is still very good. We really enjoyed it on our 01 trip.
 
Apr 17th, 2006, 03:56 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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"(prefer to wait till mid August, 2pm)" LOL, J62. Unfortunately, Fredericksburg has become very kitch over the years--I rarely go there anymore. Thanks for the trip report--glad you enjoyed a fun trip!
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 04:31 AM
  #7  
J62
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comment about Enchanted Rock mid Aug afternoon was tongue in cheek, of course.

I have climbed the rock in the summer, but only with an early am start time. Views, stillness & exhiliration are definitely better early am vs mid day, any time of year.

I remember vividly descending around 10am one time when it was already near 90, on the way to 100+. Saw many people on their way up - one group I'll never forget. Mom and dad with a starbucks coffee in hand, kids and grandpa already struggling with the heat, not a drop of water between them all. All wearing flip flops to boot!
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Apr 17th, 2006, 04:19 PM
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With the lack of rain how was the water flow in the Guadalupe river? I've been there when it was low and got bumped on the rocks too much in the tube.
ipod_robbie is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 10:03 AM
  #9  
J62
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water flow in the Guadalupe was a little low.

1st stretch of the river from Gruene to next city park/exit area was ok - a few rapids. Raft had enough clearance in the deepest part of the rapids. In a toob you're likely to get bumped around a bit. This section normally takes about 2hrs as a float. In the raft it was about 1hr.

2nd stretch (to the last exit area) water was deeper, flatter and calmer. I would not recommend toobing this section since there is little to no flow. Raft was ok - not too exciting, no rapids, but still fun.
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