2013 Holidays in Texas with Our Family
For Christmas this year, we decided to meet a). somewhere warm(er than Seoul), b). somewhere we’ve never been before, c). somewhere with a direct flight from Seoul, d). somewhere in the “middle.” We settled on flying into Dallas, TX and driving to Austin and San Antonio. It turns out there was a cold front while we were there (temperatures were on average in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s) but we still managed to have a great time with our families in Texas. Alex and I flew into Dallas the same day as Alex’s parents, and my dad flew into Austin the next night. Even Alex’s brother Freddy was able to join us for a couple of days in San Antonio.
Because I’m still jetlagged, I’m keeping today’s blog in a list format… 😀
- Texas State Capitol building in Austin: The reddish hue of the stone makes the building really standout in the Austin skyline.
- Austin Trail of Lights at Zilker Park: Even though it was REALLY cold, Alex, my dad and I walked for an hour along the lit path in Zilker Park, admiring the Christmas decorations and holiday music.
- San Antonio River Walk: Very beautiful pathway along the San Antonio River, made even more beautiful with the lovely Christmas lights and decorations. It was really neat to be walking one story below street level. The River Walk is lined with tons of nice restaurants and bars.
San Antonio Missions: These were originally built by the Spanish to help spread Christianity as well as to colonize the natives. We saw all five existing missions: Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, Mission Espada, and of course the most famous mission, the Alamo. We witnessed multiple weddings at the various Missions.
San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden: This garden used to be a former limestone quarry and was briefly renamed “Chinese Tea Garden” during WWII when there was growing anti-Japanese sentiment. There are lots of little pathways, ponds, and even a waterfall. The limestone architecture reminded Alex and me of our honeymoon resort in Jamaica…
- Christmas dinner at a Tex-mex restaurant with my dad, Alex’s parents, and Freddy. It was wonderful to enjoy great food with our family!
- Spending time with our family while traveling around Texas. Yes, at times it felt like herding cats when trying to get everyone ready to go in the mornings (“Be ready by 9 A.M. Ready as in ready to leave.” [9 A.M.] “Ok, I still need to shower…” “What part of ‘Ready as in ready to leave’ did you not understand?” And then leaving our hotel at 11 A.M.) but we still had a great time with our family.
- Having dinner and drinks with our friends Patty and Michael: how random is it that on our last night in San Antonio, we were able to see Patty and Michael (who had just flown in)? It was really nice to catch up with them over some really good Italian food (and two bottles of wine…).
[Reverse] Culture Shock:
- The portion sizes are gigantic! No wonder people are more obese in the U.S.
- In general, the people are big. We saw quite a few large people during our travels in Texas. In Seoul, you almost never see anyone even remotely heavy.
- The people aren’t as ‘nice.’ People didn’t hand us bills, etc. with two hands. People weren’t bowing to us. I guess we got used to Korean hospitality…
- You need a car to go anywhere. Almost nothing (especially in the suburbs) is within walking distance.
- Things are so CHEAP. And there’s so much variety! We couldn’t believe all the things that we could buy at Walmart.
- IKEA: I love IKEA and walking through all the various showrooms. It’s interesting and inspirational to see how you can get creative with a 600 square foot apartment! It was Alex’s parents’ first time to IKEA so they got to sit in and experience POÄNG, IKEA’s iconic chair.
- Walmart: You know it’s bad when you’re at a Walmart at midnight, buying a cart full of goodies, and your credit card company calls you the next day to report “suspicious activity”…
- Costco: LOVE LOVE LOVE Costco in the U.S. There are so few people… the aisles are so open… there’s no one in line for the free samples! Sadly, we canceled our Costco membership because it’s cheaper to join in Korea, and I don’t capitalize on the true perks – like filling up my car with gas, etc. in Korea. Alex PROMISES me that the first thing we are going to do once back in the States permanently is join Costco again…
- Trader Joe’s: Dark chocolate covered espresso beans… need I say more?
- Outlet shopping and malls.
- Chick-fil-A: I’d been dreaming about Chick-fil-A’s chicken tenders with buffalo sauce for months. The food and service did not disappoint!
- Taco Bell: Yup, gorged ourselves on Doritos Locos Tacos on the drive down from Dallas to Austin.
- Clay Pit: Really authentic Indian food in Austin. Even Alex’s mom enjoyed it! Definitely satisfied our Indian food craving. I ate so much that I was in a food coma while walking around the University of Texas at Austin campus!
- Due Forni: Really good Neapolitan pizza in Austin. The crust was almost perfect (Kesté in NYC being the best pizza we’ve ever had) but it was lacking a little something… salt maybe? The pizza definitely satisfied our pizza craving.
Salt Lick BBQ: Was it really worth a detour and one hour wait (at two in the afternoon)? Maybe. It was really cool to see the BBQ pit where the meat is cooked, and the brisket was some of the best we’ve had. The ribs and sausage were pretty good too. But I hate long lines, especially when it’s feeding time!
- Tons of Tex-mex all over Texas: Delicious, but probably why I gained a couple pounds in Texas…
- Starbucks: Yes, there are over 500 Starbucks in Korea, making Korea #6 in the world for total number of Starbucks. But Korean Starbucks don’t have the same limited edition holiday drinks … so I enjoyed a peppermint mocha latte on our first night in Dallas.
- Really good margaritas at the Tex-mex restaurants.
We just want to wish all of our family and friends a Happy New Year! May 2014 be a wonderful year for you all! Love you all! (Or should I write: Love y’all!)