Friday, November 16, 2012


Click on A Picture to See All Pics…...


  It is a three hour drive(171 miles) from Houston to  Austin,  capital of Texas, developed on the banks of Lake Ladybird, a Colorado River reservoir in its downtown. We straightaway go to Mount Bonnel, an 870ft hill named after the newspaper publisher and resident of Austin since 1836, George W. Bonnel. It is a chilly afternoon in the month of Christmas, with fascinating and soothing fall colorations of leaves abstractly spread all over the surrounding hills, due to thin fog mingled with sunlight!

In Winter Colors
The Long Lake!

The pleasant climate, the long river, the pretty houses along the river with  clear, still waters before them, give us heaven of a time on the hill, after a long drive and, not an arduous climb. Also known as Covert Park, the  tourists invariably picnic here to have beautiful views of the city at different times. Enjoying the unpolluted atmosphere with the other tourists, we slowly climb down and reach our already booked hotel, relax and refresh ourselves.

Christmas Decorations

   We come down into the spacious lounge, decorated for Christmas, collect the necessary information at the reception and move into the town from the backside of the hotel, along the cool, relaxed lake, enhancing the beauty of the Ann W. Richard’s Congress Avenue Bridge and the handsome buildings of the downtown in front of us! The bridge shelters the largest urban colony of Mexican free tailed bats in the world in summer, numbering over 1.5 million. In the winter season as they migrate to Mexico, we miss the spectacle of the emergence and flight of the bats from under the bridge at dusk for food.

Downtown, C.A. Bridge

Well, this long tailed state bat  of Texas and Oklahoma is also the icon on Bacardi brand of rum; I don’t think anyone would like to be stuck up with an ominous vampire reminded by a bat or alcohol at large!

Keep Austin Weird

   Soon we are in the downtown enjoying the chirpy evening time as it is weekend, walking towards the classic Capitol Hill. By the time we reach the massive complex it becomes dark with the  building turning into a gorgeous silhouette. We decide to walk back, take our car and go into residential areas where it is Christmas time illumination and festival mood and people moving all over the places, some of them, also with their pets. Many groups also move in huge illuminated, horse drawn carriages, having fun in the chilly night. Our grandson also gets some goodies from the merrymaking families! During the Diwali festival many people do the same in our place in their cars, but most common people try to do the same on foot, all the time fearful of the fireworks, heavy sound and smoke pollution everywhere! 

Fest lights, pets...
Fun n Cheers

Well, we have very pleasant time with the people wishing each other and also us, as we go back to our car and head for food to a very popular restaurant on the lake, where we also find plenty of students deeply engrossed, of course in studies, with their laptops; hey, many of them are the bright Indians along with other Asians! We are around the prestigious University of Texas, Austin, with over fifty thousand students and believe me, some time back, they had to evacuate their hostels due to a terrorist bomb threat!

A Good Dinner

Well, this super power, a seat of the highest levels of education in the world can manage the fireworks for the people beautifully on great occasions, but managing terrorism and sudden strife is its brobdingnagian problem at present! It’s quite late into the night as we walk back to our car amidst illumination and reach our hotel to have a good night’s sleep.
Morning Joggers...
Just Lovely…!

 Our hotel is on the banks of the Lake having spacious walking paths by the side, giving exceptional views of the downtown across the lake in the misty morning as we walk along with morning walkers, joggers and people walking their dogs. Soon we engage a small canoe and go paddling into the lake; it is a sheer delight in the morning with calm waters, birds basking in the sun on the green banks and a lovely small steel bridge amidst, perhaps a woodlet. 

Basking in the sun
Us Canoeing

Energised by the lively surroundings and the cool touch of atmosphere, we paddle in the glistening waters reaching different points, for an hour; then we pleasantly return to the bank, disembark and walk into the downtown to explore the city further.

A Woodlet!
A Colorful Canoe..

  From a distance we have a look at the vast dog park buzzing with a variety of dogs and their masters and on the way also find a cute dog to pet with the permission of its cuter owner. As I am reaching Poonam(my better half)) waiting for me as she observes a cyclist in the opposite direction; she brings to my notice a phrase on the wall, ”We are all connected”, quite human and interesting! And as we reach the street, on the other side, we find a whole lot of protesters camping calmly with the slogan “The state is not the solution” on their tent! 

Frost Bank, With Santa in the fore

Problematic Demands…!
Well, I think, in the  capital of the largest state of the most powerful Democracy of the world, freedom of expression is bound to be the ultimate solution to overcome grievances! We slowly walk in the not so busy downtown watching the magnificence of the streets and buildings, modern and classical.Soon we start moving on the congress avenue ,the Capitol Hill being at least a mile away and soon come across a vibrantly painted Guitar titled VIBRANCY on the roadside. A group of Arts school students also approach the monument,which could be rotated, and as we talk to them they tell us that it is a part of their project to study a number of such sculptures and monuments.

Spirit of Life!
They also tell us that Austin throbs with live music 24 hours of the day and any time its a thrill to attend Austin Symphony Orchestra conducted by the maestro Peter Bay; alas, we fall short of time!

Goddess of Liberty
 Leisurely and steadily crossing the streets we reach the majestic, over 300 ft tall, Texas State Capitol Hill topped by the sixteen foot statue of Goddess of Liberty. Designed in Italian Renaissance revival style by E.E.Meyers in 1881 and completed in 1888, this luxurious beauty of a building crowned with an artistic dome, renovated several times by now, occupying 2.25 acres with nearly 400 rooms is a National Historic Landmark with a 22 acres complex of gardens,sculptures and additions all around! Well, walking towards it through lush lawns, we come across an interesting fountain with a naughty, bare child trying to stuff a goose into a bag. Then we move on to the oldest ‘Heroes Of Alamo’ monument installed in 1891,depicting their names.


Soon we are inside the building with the sunset-red-granite facade(most of the structure is of limestone from the nearby Oak Hill, hidden behind the walls and in the foundation), courteously received and checked by the security and as I have a cursory glance around,  my eyes are arrested by the big bronze star at the base of the dome at the pinnacle of the 218 ft high rotunda.  

Grand Corridor

The Rotunda Rising

We pleasurably walk through the majestic corridors with aesthetically patterned, mirror like, terrazzo flooring reflecting the ornamental lamps above. Then we start climbing the luxuriously wide carpeted staircase,  with grand mahogany railings supported by rich blue-green and gold balustrade, to reach the second floor.  I walk around the circular balcony watching the lifelike paintings of the VIPs and then  peep over the extended railings around the balcony to find the fine terrazzo mosaic with the Great Seal of the rotunda surrounded by the seals of the six countries that governed Texas earlier! 

The Great Seal
Texas Senate Chamber

Then we go into the exquisite Texas Senate Chamber which happens to have a huge, illuminated Christmas Tree, well below the expansive roof with chandeliers. The luxurious natural brown leather upholstery of the chairs is appealing in its simplistic grandeur and the whole chamber bears an individualistic richness; typically American! We enjoy the festival atmosphere in the chamber with other tourists and proceed to the extended Capitol, again with large utility spaces for the representatives, a bookstore and car parks. Without spending much time, we come out and bid goodbye to the memorable landmark.

 Then we leisurely move by car in the nearby  labyrinth of the University of Texas and pass over the celebrated Tower, the 28 stories 300ft tall main building of this towering seat of learning in the country. Headquarters or regional offices of a number of Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Google, IBM, Texas Instruments, 3M, Whole Foods Market bear a testimony to the high standards of education and development; visit  with plenty of time in hand,  there is a lot more to do and see in Awesome Austin!


Raja Ram Atre




1 comment:

M.A.Bueno said...

Un estupendo viaje.Saludos.
A great viaje.Saludos.