We were getting those end of holiday feelings and real life things invaded our thoughts but we had a day and half left and set out using the back roads to go into Austin. We ended up accidentally driving through Texas State University campus. All the roads signs had the Longhorns burnt orange logo. The facilities that they have is mind blowing. There was a separate soccer stadium as well as an enormous American Football stadium. I since found out that the stadium can seat just over 100,000 spectators which makes it bigger than any stadium in the UK.
After some research we found free parking on 6th street that put us within a few blocks of the State Capitol Building. Surrounded by park land this is a smaller version of it’s D.C cousin. Another place that was empty of activity but open at 07.00 daily. We walked up to the East Entrance but were guided to the North Entrance. There was an airport type security screening to go through and then we were inside. We picked up a self guide leaflet and started in the rotunda.
It was clear that if Texas can put a star on it they will. Almost everything from door handles to benches to fences and gates in and out of the capitol had a star on it. The rotunda was stunning and each level had portraits of Texan Governors and Presidents of the Texas Republic evenly spaced out. The Senate and House of Representatives Chambers were open but not in session. All the original walnut tables and desk of office are there and if it was in session there is plenty of seating in the viewing gallery above.
It is a very impressive building with long corridors and high ceilings and a very wide stair case where the lifts are located either side of each floor. An underground extension was added in 1993 that houses the cafeteria and more offices and even a shop.
We walked from the Capitol down Congress Avenue towards the Ladybird Lake. One of the stores we passed was decorated with posters and signs for the F1 Williams team and I found out later that this was a pop up whilst the F1 was in town.
There was a buzz around the city and there were quite a few visitors wearing F1 team shirts. We popped into the Marriott and there was a complete wall selling F1 merchandise.
The afternoon was taken up with some retail therapy, dinner and then returning to Congress Avenue Bridge as the sun went down to watch the nightly flight of the bats. Approximately 2 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost under the bridge and on their nightly flights eat an estimated 10,000 – 30,000 pounds of insects. It was fully dark when they started to come out and had attracted a crown of around 200 people either on the ground at water level or on the bridge. We were stood under a street light and you could just about make out waves of activity but they move so fast that it was hard to see anything clearly. Apparently in the summer months they start flying en mass at dusk when it is easier to make them out.