Mmmm, made-to-order omelets, bacon, sausage, waffles ... a continental breakfast at the Hilton Garden in San Antonio was just what we needed to start our next adventure in none other than the capital of the Lone Star State, Austin, Texas.
The previous day, we had a very busy but extremely fun time in San Antonio. We started off by eating at the top of the Tower of the Americas; yes you read that correctly, the TOP! As we sat down at our table, I moved my backpack to the ground and realized it was slowly moving away from me. Holy cow, the floor was rotating! We were able to truly see the beautiful city of San Antonio in its fullness.
From left: Jessi Hennacy, Debotri Chatterjee, Andrew McNair, Laura Nelson, Ben Brown and Johanna L'Heureux have fun with the murals in San Antonio.
After finishing up delicious smoked salmon, we headed toward the infamous Alamo. Because the only information I knew about the Alamo was from the movie with Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton, I was very excited to see it and learn more.
Then, we checked into our hotel and prepared for an evening on the San Antonio River Walk. What a lively place! With shops, restaurants, hotels, live music and other attractions, you can imagine the amount of fun we had. We ate at a Mexican restaurant right along the river and took in all the excitement the city emitted. Later that night, we went on a riverboat tour and got to see all that the river walk had to offer. What personality this city has! We got back to our hotel and slept extra well that night.
The Blue Cow at the San Antonio River Walk
The agenda for our day in Austin consisted of attending Austin Symphony July 4th Concert and Fireworks starting at 7 p.m.
Until then, what does a group of college students do in the capital of Texas on the Fourth of July? Well, we obviously had to visit the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum. We entered the building and were happily surprised to find out that because it was Independence Day, the museum was, and this word has become quite rare nowadays so I didn't take this lightly, FREE. There also happened to be a traveling Beatles exhibit that complemented the history of Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird quite nicely. After taking our fill of history, we decided to eat at Torchy's Tacos, where I ordered the "trailer park taco," which consisted of fried chicken, green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo and queso. I've realized fried chicken is good no matter what you put with it. We also ordered some "lil' nookies," which are deep-fried chocolate chip cookies dusted with powdered sugar. Yum.
From left: Jessi Hennacy, Johanna L'Heureux, Laura Nelson and Debotri Chatterjee at the Beatles exhibit in the Lyndon B. Johnson Library. Paul, George, John and Ringo walk across Abbey Road in Westminster, London.
After this, we walked around downtown and then to the capitol building. Then we made our way to the bank of Lady Bird Lake at Vic Mathias Shores. Lawn chairs in arm, we walked past many food tents and small shops, enjoying the sights and sounds of Austin on the Fourth of July. We claimed our territory on the lawn – on one side we saw the beautiful Austin skyline, and on the other was the stage where the Austin Symphony Orchestra would be performing later in the evening. Slowly, the green grass surrounding us started to be replaced with all sorts of colors, faces, sounds and activities. We ate, laughed and relished in the beautiful evening. Finally, it was time for the Austin Symphony Orchestra to begin. Wow, what an incredible performance. Hearing the 1812 Overture live was truly an experience. Then, to add to this auditory stimulation, the fireworks show commenced. The combination of the symphony playing and the fireworks lighting up the sky is something I'll never forget. What a great weekend in beautiful cities with some pretty cool people.
View of Vic Mathias Shores as people gathered to hear the Austin Symphony Orchestra and watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Johanna L’Heureux is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Plant Science from Dudley, Massachusetts. She is a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying biochemistry and molecular biology. Her summer project involves performing a screen for bacteria that can render heat tolerance to winter wheat during germination and seedling emergence.