Gypsy's Travels

Monday, September 17, 2012

Casa de Luz and "this feather house"

Sister Bert and I headed out for an evening "out of the box." Austin's theme is "Keep Austin Weird" and I can only believe that evenings like this one certainly help maintain the tradition.

We began with dinner at Casa de Luz, a vegan restaurant adjacent to dystheater, the site of the play we planned to attend.  The food was quite good even though we were not sure what we were eating. We did read the reviews before going, so we took our own salt shaker and used it liberally. The restaurant was not too crowded. Several families and couples sat at the various tables and amiable conversations drifted across the room. I think you are expected to join in at the seated tables as the room fills. Bert and I sat at a large, round table for 8-10 all to ourselves. We felt as if we were obvious newcomers to the scene, but the people and staff were very friendly and helpful.

After paying a set price for a set meal when we entered, we found a table, served ourselves some soup, salad, and a drink, then proceeded to eat while waiting for our filled dinner plate to be brought to our table. There was a choice of beverages - water, cool hibiscus tea, cool lemon grass (and something) tea ( no ice), or an unpronounceable hot tea designed to relieve stress and pain.

Sunday Dinner
September 16th 2012
Always Vegan, Organic, Gluten & Allergen Aware
Soup - Sweet Potato This was good but too sweet for my taste. It was toned down somewhat after we sprinkled some stuff from a shaker jar sitting on the table and added some of our salt.

Salad - Mixed Greens with Casa Dressing and Almonds I think this had some kale, among other greens. I am not a fan of the stronger tasting greens, but this was actually a delightful salad. Still don't know what was in it. The dressing was delicious.

Basmati Rice with Carrots - Had a thick sauce on top which added taste. I thought the sauce looked like B-B-Que sauce, although not as strong. Ever the cynic, Bert thought it was a dollop of tomato paste from the can. Quite good.
Pinto Beans - Very good. Not flavored as much as in our home cooking
Parsnips, Carrots, Snow Peas and Burdock - Burdock and parsnips were some other veggies I had always been curious about, but had not tried. This was a nice tasting dish.
Blanched Greens with a Pepita Basil Pesto - I think these greens may have been kale, but I am not sure. I did not like them but they were more palatable with the pesto. Loved the pesto.
Pickled Cabbage - Another very good dish.
Prepared with LOVE by:
Rosa, Sandra, Maria, Vega, Alfreda, Blanca - How nice that they recognize the efforts of he cooks!

All in all, the dinner was much better than I expected, but I will not become a vegetarian any time soon. The nicest thing about the meal is that  since it was vegan, I did not have to worry about ingesting dairy products. We were expected to bus our table after we finished eating, scraping the uneaten portion into a container for recycling.

The play,"this feather house," was was written by an Austin local, Linda Ramsey. It was definitely way out...or perhaps we are just not "hip" enough. The large audience in the small space laughed many times when neither of us got the joke. Still, we enjoyed the acting and it was definitely a different event.  I didn't mind busing our own tables, but drew the line at the sign in the bathroom urging us to clean it if we had a few spare minutes....LOL. It is a small theater group so it should not have surprised us when they asked us to put our chairs away.

It is the out-of-the-ordinary things that make life so much more interesting

Friday, August 3, 2012

Spain 2012 - Settling In

Preparations for overseas travel begin long before the trip, especially when you are trying to mesh different activities. I thought everything was in place when Emily and I set off for the airport on July 1st. Unfortunately, we did not learn until after we arrived that our flight had been cancelled. Anger and disappointment mixed like oil and water. I didn't know which would win but instinctively knew that yelling and screaming would do no good. Fortunately, we had the option of turning around and going home until the next day. Also, I had planned a few extra days prior to the first event which meant we would still arrive on time.

Note to self: Always allow an extra day or so for unplanned delays. Find a way to check the flight status prior to departure, preferably a day ahead, even when it has been "confirmed" ahead of time.

The flight had been confirmed but then cancelled. The airline called a number (presumably the travel agent which subsequently denied having the message on their machine) and "No other flights " were available. I was geared to be upset with American Airlines but have since been tempered by their adequate service for the rest of the trip.

I had never before been to Spain so I was stumbling around on the Internet to find my way. After booking our flights, the next logical order of business was to find lodging. Lodging was plentiful in our first stop, Madrid, but there were many factors to consider. Price, of course, but even more important was safety. A woman and young girl traveling alone must make some allowances for their perceived vulnerability.

I finally settled on the Mora Hotel (Hostel Mora) which I booked through There were a few negative reviews, probably disgruntled Americans who expected everything to be "just like at home" but the positives appeared to outweigh the negatives and the room was easily booked. I provided a credit card number which was not billed until we departed from the hotel. The flight delay had thrown a kink into our plans and I was concerned we would have to pay for a night when we had not been there, but I notified the hotel immediately and they were very accommodating.
Our room was small by American standards but adequate for us and we were out and about almost all day. The building was old but newly refurbished and held the  charm of an olde worlde hotel. We took an elevator to our room on the third floor and were grateful we did not have to walk and carry our luggage up the minuscule stairs. We wondered why there was no electricity when we first arrived in our room. Then we recalled that the room key had to be inserted in the slot by the door to activate everything. 

  A tiny balcony overlooked the busy street below, but the noise and light were blocked from our room by double windows / doors and, with the room fan on, we slept soundly without interference from the outside world.

The hotel was just across the street from the Botanical Gardens and very near El Prado, so we overlooked a nice little park with lovely, warm street lights.
Emily slept for 16 hours after we arrived then I let her choose what she wanted to do on the first day. Of course, the answer was "Go shopping!" 
We quickly learned that "Rebajas" meant "Sales"!