Facebook, this one’s on you

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My only experience in Texas. Clearly from back when I was still a meat-eater. And, no, I did not try to eat the 72 oz. steak.

When Caitlyn recently told me it might be possible to get a rare, uninterrupted five-day break from her job, my travel ears perked up.

Typically, we had been resigned to two-day “weekends” (every Monday and Tuesday) as our only option for vacations, limiting us to short sojourns to nearby Midwestern cities. But five days? Ah, yes, I could finally start planning our first “real” trip of 2014. The goals: Go somewhere affordable and, preferable, warm.

But where to go? Las Vegas? Too expensive for what we wanted to do (we don’t gamble, but we do want to see lots of shows and eat classy food). San Francisco? Even more expensive than Vegas. A cruise? Airfare to the port in Miami was ridiculous. Cincinnati, and save money for a European vacation? Maybe. Show up to the airport and see what last-minute flight deals we can get and leave it to fate? Could be fun.

Then there was one more option – Austin, Texas. It’s “weird” – so the folks on the interwebs say – veg-friendly and, most importantly, significantly warmer than the subzero temps we’ve been enjoying in the Circle City as of late. Best of all, airfare and lodging for three nights was manageable – coming to about $850 –and it seems like a walkable city. It’s also the only city in Texas we have any interest in visiting, probably because of its quirky and more liberal nature. Side note: I have been to Amarillo – briefly – just long enough to swing intro the Big Texan, home of the “Free 72 oz. steak.” If you can finish it off in an hour, at a table on a stage in front of everyone, then it’s free. Even when I was a meat-eater I found that to be gross.

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My Texas experience is not very diverse.

I put it to a Facebook vote and it came down to Austin or Ohio (and save money for a European vacation). In the end, we went with Austin, and will be enjoying a short trip there very soon. On the docket? Tickets to a play, a comedy-meets-magic show at Esther’s Follies, live music, good food and, we hope, cooperative weather.

For lodging, one of my fellow bloggers suggested going through Priceline’s “Name-Your-Own Price,” even though I am a staunch supporter of Hotwire. I’ve never been burned by Hotwire, but I heeded this other blogger’s advice and experimented with Priceline. I asked for a 3.5-and up star hotel, downtown, for $99 per night and scored a deal for more than half off at the Radisson downtown. Other research online indicated it was under renovation, so I’m hoping this deal won’t come back to bite us. It is in a killer location, off Congress and just blocks from the famous 6th Street, home to dozens of live music venues and bars.

Any suggestions on places we should visit while in Austin? Updates of our trip to come …

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